Camels, Eyes Of Needles, And An Old Proverb

Readers are likely to have heard, in one form or another, the New Testament proverb, “And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24).  The saying is an old one, and probably was in common currency centuries before its alleged utterance by Jesus.  I find proverbs and adages interesting, as they contain not just worldly wisdom, but information about the culture and period in which they were composed.  This point was recently impressed upon me while reading a forgotten bit of nineteenth-century travel literature, the Rev. F.J. Arundell’s 1834 memoir Discoveries in Asia Minor.

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The Chain Of Fortune Links The Fates Of Men

The British invasion of the Dardanelles in 1915 is a text-book example of how wishful thinking and imagination can override sound judgment and careful planning.  The idea of knocking Turkey out of the war with an amphibious landing at Gallipoli, followed by a march on Istanbul, was in principle strategically sound; but as a practical matter, the British simply lacked the tools and leadership for the job.

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What You Wish To Avoid, Fortune Compels You To Do

It often happens that we are forced to accept what we wish to avoid.  Avarice, for example, defeats itself; and the miser who in futility clings to every penny finds himself compelled to part with greater sums than he might otherwise have spent.  The health fanatic who obsesses about every morsel of food that goes into his mouth, or cup that is pressed to his lips, finds himself harassed by ailments and bodily infirmity, while the moderate enjoyer of pleasure scarcely has a need to visit the physician.  The athlete fixated on avoiding injury brings it down upon himself.

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The World’s Smallness, And The Permanence Of Noble Actions

The world is a much smaller place than we are aware.  Things we do, actions we take, can have far-reaching effects that come back to us in ways we can never imagine.  While events, places, and the flowing rush of time are shifting and transitory, the power of virtue is such that it transcends time and place.  I was reminded of this recently after reading the Second World War memoirs of Col. Hans von Luck, a German commander who fought in all the major theaters of the European war.

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The Wise Sayings Of Ibn Zabada

Abu Talib Ibn Zabada was born in Baghdad in 1128 and lived his early life there, although his biographer Ibn Khallikan says his family was based in Wasit.  He is described as a poet, jurisprudent, and administrator of exceptional talent and wit; his letters were said to be singularly refined.   “His epistles,” says Ibn Khallikan, “are remarkable for the graces of their style, the elegance of their thoughts, the beauty of their ornaments and the delicacy of their allusions.  In drawing up dispatches, he paid more attention to the ideas than to the cadence; his letters are elegant, his thoughts just, his poetry good and his merits are so conspicuous that they need not be described.”

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