Huston. Smith.

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One of the spiritual giants of our time, Dr. Huston Smith, passed away on January 1. Huston brought amazing insight into religion, probing the differences and similarities of the religions of the world. I honor his life by sharing just a few quotes from this extraordinary gentleman and scholar. I recommend any of his books, almost all of them are still in print, but for today I encourage you to enjoy the following . . .

“The faith I was born into formed me. I come from a missionary family – I grew up in China – and in my case, my religious upbringing was positive. Of course, not everyone has this experience. I know many of my students are what I have come to think of as wounded Christians or wounded Jews. “

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“Science is empirical, all about physical senses that tell us about the world. But physical senses are not the only senses we have. Nobody has ever seen a thought. Nobody has ever seen a feeling. And yet thoughts and feelings are where we live our lives most immediately, and science cannot connect with that.”

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“I am critical of modernity giving science and technology a blank check as if it were the fountain of all truth. That is not true. And I think I may have introduced a word which has now caught on quite a bit, scientism. Science is good. It simply reports a discovery.”

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“God has to speak to each person in their own language, in their own idioms. Take Spanish, Chinese. You can express the same thought, but to different people you have to use a different language. It’s the same in religion.”

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“Walnuts have a shell, and they have a kernel. Religions are the same. They have an essence, but then they have a protective coating. This is not the only way to put it. But it’s my way. So the kernels are the same. However, the shells are different.”

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“Poetry is a special use of language that opens onto the real. The business of the poet is truth telling, which is why in the Celtic tradition no one could be a teacher unless he or she was a poet.”

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“Swallow your pride and admit that we all need help at times.”

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“At the center of the religious life is a peculiar kind of joy, the prospect of a happy ending that blossoms from necessarily painful ordeals, the promise of human difficulties embraced and overcome.”

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