Happy Birthday to Mr. Charles Dickens!

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Today is Charles Dickens’ 208th birthday, and I celebrate this extraordinary writer who gave the world a plethora of books, filled with dynamic and lasting characters, an attention to life, concern with the condition of the poor and suffering, and joy. In Dickens’ works is a celebration of humanity as well as a condemnation of the capacity of human beings to be inhumane to each other.

I have had the good fortune of not only reading many of his excellent books, but also I have taught them in various courses. Among his novels that I have used in my classes are A Christmas Carol, Hard Times, and A Tale Of Two Cities.

Dickens was not only an exceptional writer but also beloved by humanity. His was not work aimed at solely literary critics. Like Shakespeare, Dickens was loved and is loved by the mass of people, and I celebrate that love.

Happy Birthday to you, and I wish that your writings continue to be read and loved, Charles Dickens!

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The Liberal Arts: Crucial for Education and Society

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I was looking over some of my early blogposts, and I decided I wanted to revisit this piece about the Liberal Arts–the humanities–and their importance. The idea I write about in this little post is crucial for our society–the importance of the Liberal Arts in Education.

I had a piece published in the “Education Guide” of the Sunday, 2/15/15, edition of The Morning Call, the largest newspaper in the Lehigh Valley, PA. I am very proud of have the article in the paper, because I am very proud to be part of the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA.

The Wescoe School is the name of the adult college program for Muhlenberg College. In this school, adults are able to gain full Bachelor degrees in a variety of majors and programs as well as certificate of study if they are focused on one specific area.

I have been teaching college English courses for many years, and I have been an adjunct instructor at many colleges, but I am deeply impressed with the quality of education and the care for the adult students that are demonstrated in this program.

I was honored to have been asked to write this piece, and I hope that I delivered a clear and sound explanation of the Liberal Arts, both in terms of history and application. I am an unrepentant Humanist; I still believe in the power of education to help people and in the ability of writing and words to help bridge gaps among people. Even at my age, I remain an idealist. Especially in the Wescoe program, I see education having a positive impact on students, many of whom have never attended college, might be starting their higher education in their 40s or 50s, and many of whom have full-time jobs and families. Their ability to learn and achieve never fails to humble me and to reinforce my belief in the strength of the Liberal Arts.

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Quotations From A Generation of Lost Leaders

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“If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”

                                                                      John F. Kennedy

 

 

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“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”

                                                            Martin Luther King Jr.

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Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

                                                                     Robert F. Kennedy

Quotations on Leadership

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“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

                                                                    John F. Kennedy

 

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“To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”

                                                                   Theodore Roosevelt

 

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“All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope”

                                                                   Winston S. Churchill

Cowardice, Hypocrisy, and Corruption

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Those who follow my blog know that I try to keep politics out of it, but I can not sit by and ignore the utter insanity of the events that keep happening–of the never ending mass shootings in our country. Then politicians, the President and many in Congress, come out and offer their prayers and thoughts, while they take blood money from the NRA and the gun manufacturers.

How many innocent people, how many children, both elementary and high school children will have to die and be wounded before action is taken to correct the situation?

When will Americans say, in a united voice, that this will happen no more, that we will hold politicians who do not enact reasonable gun legislation responsible for their increasing cowardice, hypocrisy, and corruption? I have never been a one policy voter, but now I will never vote for a politician who does not support gun legislation, and I hope the majority of Americans say the same thing. Only then, can real action be taken, and the situation can be changed.

I am not arguing that Americans should not be able to have certain guns for self-protection or hunting, but no citizen should be allowed to have an automatic or semi-automatic weapon.  They exist only to kill as many people as possible in a short a time as possible.

And for those who would scream out “The Second Amendment,” I suggest you read it, parse it, analyze it, and understand its intention. We have a military now, and a militia is no longer needed.

As a nation, we need to grow up and act as responsible adults. We need the United States of America needs to be a civilized nation where children and teachers are safe in school, where people can gather to enjoy an evening out, and where attending a concert is not an act of bravery in the face of danger.

We need responsible gun legislation now.

How many will join me in voting against any politician who will not support such laws?

Quotations on Thinking–Revisited

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“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

                                                                             Socrates

 

 

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“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

                                                                              Albert Einstein

 

 

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“Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible; thought is merciless to privilege; thought is anarchic and lawless, indifferent to authority, careless of well-tried wisdom of the ages. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid. It sees man, a feeble speck, surrounded by unfathomable depths of silence; yet it bears itself proudly, as unmoved as if it were lord of the universe. Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man”

                           (Russell, Bertrand. Why Men Fight 178-9).

 

 

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“All good writing is inherently subversive.”

                                                                          Charles F. French

Quotations on Education

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“Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.”

                                                                        Walter Cronkite

 

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“He who opens a school door, closes a prison.”

                                                                        Victor Hugo

 

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“Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.”

                                                                        Malala Yousafzai

 

Quotations on Integrity

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“I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.”

                                                                 Frederick Douglass

 

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“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”

                                                                Martin Luther King Jr.

 

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“One person of integrity can make a difference.”

                                                                Elie Wiesel

What Is One Of Your Favorite Movies?

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I have posted before about favorite books.  I will come back to that idea again in the not too distant future, but I was thinking about movies, because I am going to teach a hybrid online/traditional in-class course on Literature and Film at Muhlenberg College for The Wescoe School (the adult program) this summer. This will be an early question I will ask my students, so it is only fair that I think about it.

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My answer would be the same as if this question were for books: The Lord of the Rings by director Peter Jackson (all 3 movies considered to be one–the same as with the books.) I think this adaptation is one of the best adaptations of a book to movie that has ever been accomplished. I love the depth of the story, the issues raised of political power and corruption, war and peace, good and evil, life and death, love and hatred, industrialization and the decimation of the natural world, heroes, both large and small, and the connection of all people. I recommend this filmic adaptation to all.   Please also read the books!

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So, I ask everyone: what is one of your favorite films?

Quotations on Bigotry, Justice, and Injustice

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“What a sad era when it is easier to smash an atom than a prejudice.”

                                                                     Albert Einstein

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“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

                                                                     Martin Luther King Jr.

 

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“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

                                                                     Elie Wiesel