July 2016
Stay Sharp: Motivational Story

Once a sturdy woodcutter in search of a job went to a timber merchant and he got it. The pay was really good and so was the work condition. For those reasons, the woodcutter was determined to do his best.

His boss gave him an axe and showed him the area where he supposed to work.
The first day, the woodcutter brought 18 trees.

“Congratulations,” the boss said. “Go on that way!”

Very motivated by the boss words, the woodcutter tried harder the next day, but he could only bring 15 trees. The third day he tried even harder, but he could only bring 10 trees. Day after day he was bringing less and less trees.

“I must be losing my strength”, the woodcutter thought. He went to the boss and apologized, saying that he could not understand what was going on.

“When was the last time you sharpened your axe?” the boss asked.

“Sharpen? I had no time to sharpen my axe. I have been very busy trying to cut trees…”

So What We Can Learn?

Our lives are like that. We sometimes get so busy that we don’t take time to sharpen the “axe”. In today’s world, it seems that everyone is busier than ever, but less happy than ever.

Why is that? Could it be that we have forgotten how to stay “sharp”? There’s nothing wrong with activity and hard work. But we should not get so busy that we neglect the truly important things in life, like our personal life, taking time to get close to our Creator, giving more time for our family, taking time to read etc.

We all need time to relax, to think and meditate, to learn and grow. If we don’t take the time to sharpen the “axe”, we will become dull and lose our effectiveness. 

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No Act of Kindness is Ever Wasted: Motivational Story

Following is a true story of Dr. Howard Kelly, a distinguished physician who, in 1895, founded the Johns Hopkins Division of Gynecologic Oncology at Johns Hopkins University. There is still some doubt about the wholesome truth about this story. May be some part is real while some part is fictionalised. But keeping all those debates away we must readily admit the most precious lesson that this story passes to us.  

There was a poor boy named Howard Kelly. He used to sell goods from house to house only just to earn a living and pay his education.  One day he felt so hungry and decided to ask for something to eat at the next house he is set to visit. However, he lost his guts to ask for a meal when a beautiful young woman opened the door for him.

Instead of asking for a meal, he just asked for one glass of water. But the young lady noticed that he looked hungry. So instead of water she brought him one large glass of milk.

He slowly drank the milk and asked “How much do I need to pay”?

The lady replied, “You don’t have to pay me anything as mother taught us to never take any pay for kindness.”

The boy said smilingly, “Then I thank you from my heart.”

As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but his faith in God and man was strong also. However, that little act of kindness made a mark on his heart and made him feel stronger and better. He was ready to give up in his life before that happened but because someone had showed him kindness in a much unexpected event.

Years had pass and the young woman became seriously ill. The local doctors were kind of baffled of her case so they sent her to the hospital in the big city. A specialist is needed to study her rare illness so they consulted Dr. Howard Kelly. He is a renowned Gynecologist who founded the Gynecologic Oncology division at Johns Hopkins University.

When Dr. Kelly heard the name of the town where the patient came from, an inexplicable light filled his eyes. He immediately went to see the patient and recognized her at one glance. Determined to save her, he went back to the consultation room and did his best to save the life of a woman who once made a difference in his life. After a long battle, he finally won.

Dr. Kelly requested the hospital accounts to forward the final bill to him for approval. He looked at it and without any hesitation wrote something on the bill and had it sent to the woman’s room. The woman got the bill and was afraid to open it for she was so sure that the cost is high and would probably take all her life to pay for it. But when she finally opened it, something caught her eye. At the corner of the bill were words she hardly believe her eyes. It is written: 

“Paid in full with one glass of milk”.

Signed by Dr, Kelly

Tears of joy flooded her eyes as her happy heart prayed: “Thank You, God, that Your love has spread abroad through human hearts and hands.”

Moral: Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind. No act of kindness is ever wasted. Begin it today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by night. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.

Now you have two choices. You can share this post on and spread a positive message or ignore it and pretend it never touched your heart.
How has the Bible influenced English Language and Literature?

The Bible being the Holy Words of God is the sacred book of the Christians. The literary influence of the Bible has been tremendous, all pervasive and perennial. In fact the Bible has been providing the English men of letters spiritual themes and also modulated their literary style. It has gifted ample vocabulary, most beautiful quotations, maxims and phrases. The whole range of English language and literature is much indebted to the Bible for its dignity and richness.

Bible is divided into two parts:

                   i) The Old Testament
                   ii) The New Testament 

TheOld Testament consists of 39 books and the New Testament 27, making in all 66 in the entire Bible. The Old Testament deals with the narrative history of Jewish civilization and the primeval history of Creation. The New Testament with the Gospel of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John glorifies the life and preaching of Jesus Christ. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew language while the New in Greek language.

It was St. Jerome who made the first translation of Bible in the 4th century A.D. This was in Latin and called ‘vulgate’. During the O.E. Period Bede had translated a portion of the gospel of St John. Wycliffe (1320-84) took a great initiative in completing two versions of Bible. William Tyndale, the Reformation leader made a wholesome attempt at this task and translated directly from the Hebrew and Greek originals and not from the Latin ‘vulgate’. Subsequently Miles Coverdale brought a complete English Bible which was printed in 1535. After Tyndale, attempts were made at numerous translations, the chief of them being Cranmer’s Great Bible (1539), the Geneva Bible (1556), and the Bishop’s Bible (1568).

The greatest and the most popular version of the Bible is King James I’s Authorised Version of Bible (1611), a works of 47 recognised biblical scholars for four years. They compiled the Hebrew, the Greeks, the Latin vulgate and many other translations into a new excellence. Its sweet fragrance pervades almost the entire arena of English language and literature. As Moody and Lovett put it “In the King’s Bible we possess monument of English prose of no particular age, but gathering into itself the strength and sweetness of all ages.”

According to Compton-Rickett “The influence of Bible is two folds – there is the rhetorical influence of the Old Testament and the convention of the new. It has both the thematic and stylistic influence.

The Bible carried new coined expressions to all the strata of society: ‘tender mercy’, ‘loving kindness’, ‘peace maker’, ‘glad tidings’, ‘scape goat’ and so on. Many Biblical phrases are now used as idioms, ‘to hope against hope’, ‘olive branches’, ‘to cast pearl before swine’, ‘the eleventh hour’, ‘wash one’s hands of’, ‘to kill the flatted calf’, ‘a howling wilderness’, ‘a broken reed’, ‘a good Samaritan’, ‘swear of the brow’, and so on.

The influence of the Bible spreads all over English literature, particularly the thought and style of great English prose writers. This Holy book ignited Bunyan a lot to pen down his magnum opus, Pilgrim’s Progress. The historian Clarendon and Fuller, catch some measure of the stately rhetoric of the Old Testament. While Sir Thomas Browne in his quaint Religio Medici, Robert Burton in his Anatomy of Melancholy and Jeremy Taylor in a varying ways testify to its influence.

In the world of English poetry Milton, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, Shelley, Pope, Dryden, Tennyson, Browning were highly charged up with the light of the Bible.

English drama has also been influenced by the Bible. In fact it was in the middle of the Church that English drama born and brought up. Previously Miracle and Morality plays of the Middle Ages originated from Bible. Playwrights like Marlowe, Shakespeare, T.S. Eliot, G.B. Shaw owed much to Bible.

Among other writers Cromwell, Wesley, Richards, George Fox, Emerson, Walt Whitman, Abraham Lincoln, and also Mahatma Gandhi were under the influence of it that changed their outlook and sharpened their imagination.

Let’s sum up in the voice of George Sampson, “The greatest of all translation is Bible. It is even more than that: it is the greatest English book, the first in the English classic.... It is in a singular degree the voice of people.”  

 Also Read: Comparison between Old Testament Vs New Testament of Bible.

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Impact of Puritanism on English Literature or Who are the Puritans? What effect did Puritanism have on the course of literature in the 16th and 17th century?

In order flush out and purify the Church in England a religious reform movement took place in the late 16th and 17th century. This movement is termed as Puritan Revolution. Not satisfied with the change that King Henry VIII, Edward II, and Queen Elizabeth made after Reformation, some extreme Protestants exhibited their contempt and discontentment. It laid the foundation stone for religious, intellectual and social order of New England. Puritanism, however, was not only a historically specific phenomenon coincident with the founding of New England; it was also a way of being in the world, a style of response to lived experience- that was reverberated through American life ever since.

The Puritans coloured their lives on the preaching of religious reformers, John Wycliffe and John Calvin. They had their own sets of beliefs and idealisms. These are:

          1. They believed that The Bible represented the true law of God. So they always wish to reshape people and church on the ideology of Bible.

          2. They were up against the episcopacy or the rule of Bishop. Instead they wanted church to be managed by a group of ‘presbyters’ or elders. 

          3. They believed the voice of God in each man’s conscience and hence no priest or bishop could rightfully come.

          4. They insisted on extreme austerity of worship, believing that images, ornaments, alter, rituals, embroidered surplices owned by the priests.

          5.    The puritans were strict disciplinarians who stressed on grace, devotions, prayers, and introspection.

          6. They hated to see the Church being reduced to political body. They challenged Elizabethan religious settlement of 1559 to solve the religious debate. They didn’t accept the Tudor doctrine that every member of the state was automatically the member of state Church.

Charles I of England made efforts to purge all Puritan influences in England, which resulted in the Great Migration to Europe and American colonies. Those who remained in England responded to this persecution with the English Civil War (1641-1651) which led to the execution of Charles I, the Exile of his son Charles II and the rise of Oliver Cromwell.

The Puritan period was too short for a man to be born into it and reach manhood while the influence was strongest and too stormy. Poets like Andrew Marvell, Abraham Cowley and John Milton led their tremendous impact on Puritan poetry. Milton’s Paradise Lost is a dream for the Puritans. In the field of prose literature Robert Burton and John Bunyan are worth mentioning. Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress had kissed the zenith of success and is well regarded “Next to Bible” (Taine). Undeniably, this book is the greatest product of Puritan literature. There was a steep decline of drama in the puritan period. After The Tempest in 1611, the productive energy of English renaissance seemed to dry up.

While the Puritan literature speaks of age of sadness, gloom and pessimism, the Elizabethan literature throbbed with youth, vitality and hope. The Elizabeth literature was intensely romantic; in Puritan literature critical, intellectual takes the place or romantic ardour.

The large victory in the Civil War supplied oxygen to the Puritans to set up the Commonwealth. Oliver Cromwell built his military dictatorship during Protectorate, but in 1660, monarchy was restored. Though failed, the Puritans left their shoes to put on for the Whig Party into the Political affair of England.