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From Hildegard Abess at Rupertsberg to Henry, King of England, greetings:
When a certain man holds a high office over other men, the Lord commands him:
“Yours are the gifts of giving, it is by ruling and defending, protecting and providing, that you may reach Heaven.”
But then a bird, black as pitch, will come to you from the North, and it will say:
“You can do whatever you want; so do this and do that; make this excuse and that excuse, for it does not profit you to have regard to Justice; for if you always consult Justice, you are not the master, rather you are reduced to mere slavery.”
It is imperative that you not listen to the Thief who so counsels you, who is like the one who in the First Age stripped humanity of its great glory, when from dust humankind was made in a beautiful form, and when it received that vital spark of life. Rather you must pay your attention to your Father the Creator, especially since your mind is well-intentioned, and thus you will willingly do good unless you are overcome by the squalid habits of those around you and become estranged from Him in the course of time. Dear Son of God, you must flee this environment and call on your Father with all your might, as He gladly reaches out His hand to help you.
Thus may you live forever and dwell in eternal happiness.
–Hildegard of Bingen, letter to King Henry II of England (ca. 1154)(composed when Hildegard learned of Henry’s falling out with Thomas à Beckett, Archbishop of Canterbury) from: Analecta Sanctæ Hildegardis Opera. Analecta Sacra, vol. 8, p. 556 (J.B. Pitra ed. 1882)(S.H. transl.)
More from Scott Horton:
No Comment — March 28, 2014, 12:32 pm
On CIA secrecy, torture, and war-making powers
No Comment — November 4, 2013, 5:17 pm
An expert panel concludes that the Pentagon and the CIA ordered physicians to violate the Hippocratic Oath
No Comment — August 12, 2013, 7:55 am
How will the Obama Administration handle Edward Snowden’s case in the long term?
Discussed in this essay:
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert. Henry Holt. 352 pages. $28.
The extinction symbol is a spare graphic that began to appear on London walls and sidewalks a couple of years ago. It has since become popular enough as an emblem of protest that people display it at environmental rallies. Others tattoo it on their arms. The symbol consists of two triangles inscribed within a circle, like so:
“The triangles represent an hourglass; the circle represents Earth; the symbol as a whole represents, according to a popular Twitter feed devoted to its dissemination (@extinctsymbol, 19.2K followers), “the rapidly accelerating collapse of global biodiversity” — what scientists refer to alternately as the Holocene extinction, the Anthropocene extinction, and (with somewhat more circumspection) the sixth mass extinction.
Ratio of husbands who say they fell in love with their spouse at first sight to wives who say this:
Mathematicians announced the discovery of the perfect method of cutting a cake.
Indian prime-ministerial contender Narendra Modi, who advertises his bachelorhood as a mark of his incorruptibility, confessed to having a wife.
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Science’s crisis of faith