There are so many things I took much longer to learn than I should have. Here is an incomplete list.
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There is nothing wrong with old ideas, so long as they are true. And there is nothing admirable about new ones, if they aren’t.
There are some truths which do not have to be proven, but are needed for working out all the other truths.
Even the most obvious things can be doubted. The test of a truth is not whether I doubt it, or whether I am able to doubt it, but whether the reasons for thinking it is true are better than the reasons not to.
There are a great many truths that we can’t help knowing at some level. Even so, we may not be aware of knowing them, we can deny knowing them, and we can pretend to ourselves that we don’t know them,
The fact that I suppress what I know and pretend not to know it, even though I do know it, does not keep my buried knowledge from influencing my actions – but, since I suppress it, it distorts my thinking and influences my actions in a perverse way.
We like to ask “If there is a God, why is there any evil?” Here is a better question: If there isn’t a God, why is there any good?
Wisdom is a virtue, not a talent, and so it is not the same as mere intelligence.
Intelligence is a talent, not a virtue. Even so it is less about sheer ability than about the organization of personality.
There is more than one kind of intelligence, and I am a fool if I dismiss the kinds I don’t have as unintelligent.
The only remedy to the abuse of truth is more truth. Suppressing truths because they seem likely to be abused is futile, because they are all likely to be abused. For the more truth a falsehood contains, the more persuasive it becomes, and so the more useful it is in making excuses for evil. If an error or deception did not contain at least a grain of truth, no one would fall for it.
The only remedy to injustice is to do justice. So called reverse discrimination is not the reverse of discrimination. It is only injustice with a new set of perpetrators. Reparations are not due from the innocent.
Some natural selection buffs claim that the human mind is just a meaningless and purposeless result of a process that did not have us in mind. Hold on a moment. If it were, then there would be no reason for confidence in any conclusion of reasoning whatsoever – including the conclusion that our minds are a meaningless and purposeless result of a process that did not have us in mind.
No one can invent new values or a new morality. What appear to be new ones are merely the results of cherry-picking elements of the “old” morality, exaggerating them, and ignoring all of its other elements. This was Lewis’s great insight.
The greatest blessings we receive in life are undeserved. For example, I didn’t do anything to deserve good parents. On the other hand, it is not unjust for a person to have such a blessing, and it is not an act of justice to try to erase it. What justice requires is gratitude for blessings received. What charity requires is trying to act in a way that blessings of the same kind may be more widely enjoyed.
The two great natural goods of marriage -- the turning of the great wheel of the generations, and the union of a man and woman who cooperate in turning it -- cannot be separated without damage to each of them. To suppress either one for the sake of happiness is to poison the very roots of joy.
The reason we have sexual harassment is that we do not believe in chastity. In the end, the only way to discourage unwanted advances is to condemn immoral ones. To discredit sexual harassment, one must discredit sexual sin.
Sins are not "mistakes." Mistakes are things we didn't mean to do.
To give the appearance of doing wrong, when it could have been avoided, is to do wrong. This used to be called the sin of scandal, but we have misappropriated that useful word and put it to different purposes.
Refusing to repent is equivalent to refusing to be forgiven.
We say we must “forgive ourselves” -- but no one can really forgive himself, because he is not the one who is principally concerned by his wrongdoing. Instead one should confess wrong and seek forgiveness from that person – and from God.
One who has been unable to trust his father has a much more difficult time learning to trust the One from whom all fathers take their name.
A feeling cannot be promised. When we promise love, therefore, we are not promising to have a feeling. What we are promising is an enduring commitment of the will to the true good of the beloved – even when feelings change.
Love without truth is an illusion. To spare someone the truth is not worth the name of love. If he is hurting himself, telling him so is not judgment but compassion; not telling him is not compassion but indifference.
This list is about things I was slow to learn, and that last one wasn’t really hard for me. But to tell such things in just the right way and in just the right season – and to listen to what I need to hear in turn -- that was.