Leonardo, where are you?


I just finished “How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day” by Michael J. Gelb.This is a fantastic book, one that all should read. The information is useful no matter who or what you are. Leonardo’s life lessons are timeless and learning about how he looked at life how he saw life was fascinating. I will be looking up more books concerning his life. Managers, Teachers, Parents and everyone else needs to read this book, we need to return to being renaissance men and woman once again.

So what is a renaissance man? And why do we need them again?

As to the first question, what is it:

The common term Renaissance man is used to describe a person who is well educated or who excels in a wide variety of subjects or fields.[3] The concept emerged from the numerous great thinkers of that era who excelled in multiple fields of the arts and science, including Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei, Copernicus and Francis Bacon; the emergence of these thinkers was likewise attributed to the then rising notion in Renaissance Italy expressed by one of its most accomplished representatives, Leon Battista Alberti (1404–1472): that “a man can do all things if he will.” It embodied the basic tenets of Renaissance humanism, which considered humans empowered, limitless in their capacities for development, and led to the notion that people should embrace all knowledge and develop their capacities as fully as possible. Thus the gifted people of the Renaissance sought to develop skills in all areas of knowledge, in physical development, in social accomplishments, and in the arts. The term has since expanded from original usage and has been applied to other great thinkers before and after the Renaissance such as Aristotle, Johann Goethe, and Isaac Newton. (source)

Basically, it is a person well versed on many fields of study, what we would call today, a well rounded education. But really it is more than that. It is more than just getting your Liberal Arts degree.Well at least how we in modern times view it:

457px-Septem-artes-liberales_Herrad-von-Landsberg_Hortus-deliciarum_1180The phrase liberal arts (Latin: artes liberales) refers to those subjects which in classical antiquity were considered essential for a free citizen to study. Grammar, Rhetoric and Logic were the core liberal arts. In medieval times these subjects (called the Trivium) were extended to include mathematics, geometry, music and astronomy (which included the study of astrology). This extended curriculum was called the Quadrivium. Together the Trivium and Quadrivium constituted the seven liberal arts of the medieval university curriculum.

In modern times liberal arts is a term which can be interpreted in different ways. It can refer to certain areas of literature, languages, philosophy, history, mathematics, psychology, and science.[1] It can also refer to studies on a liberal arts degree program. For example, Harvard University offers a degree of Master of Liberal Arts, which covers biological and social sciences as well as the humanities.[2] For both interpretations, the term generally refers to matters not relating to the professional, vocational, or technical curricula. (source)

The classical Liberal Arts is the definition of a Renaissance man, it is the study of Leonardo and many others. It is the study we need to return to, it is the study the will teach us to think. Modern-day Liberal Arts, modern-day education is not setup to teach thinking, it is set up to teach remembering. Students are not encouraged to think freely, but rather to retain what was told to them. The modern-day education system is one based on indoctrination not liberation. Leonardo’s education was geared towards discovery, experimentation and liberation. His disciplines ran across many areas of study, but he, as many renaissance men, had the ability to see the connections. The lines between art and science are blurred as are the lines between religion and science. The cross training and encouragement to push the envelope was the hallmark of renaissance training.

So why do we need a Renaissance man today? We have people who specialize in areas of study, so why should a rocket scientist care about the science of art? Why should an artist care about religion? Why would someone need to know about logic and rhetoric when they push a broom for a living?

Because life is connected, because the betterment of all starts with the betterment of one. Because life is more than what you do, it is who you are. And who you are is shaped by what you know. One of the main principles of Leonardo is connectedness, Leonardo saw the connections between seemingly non-connected objects. For example do you see the connection between a frog and the internet? Think about it… There is a connection. The frog has webbed feet and the internet is also called the World Wide Web. So both frog and internet have some sort of web. It is this connection, relationship that Leonardo saw, and it is this connectedness that we are missing in our lives.

p17Leonard saw the world not separate from humanity, but just a part of it. He saw the flow of the rivers to be the same as the flow of blood, the grass as the skin and the rock as the bones, he was a oneness between humanity and nature. Leonardo understood the connectedness of the clouds to the rain to the oceans, he saw the dependence of one upon the other. Leonardo is considered a great artiste, the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper among the greatest art works in all of humanity. Yet he was much more than that, he was a scientist and inventor, a caterer and party planner. Leonardo used his talents to enlighten and entertain, he was known for a beautiful singing voice and accomplished musician. He understood that a holistic lifestyle was a healthy life style. Leonardo understood the body and mind connectedness, he was physically and mentally fit, because Leonardo knew that one could not be truly whole if a part of him was left to waste.

The Renaissance man of antiquity needs to be restored. We need to nurture and grow our children with a desire and fascination for learning. To question and explore their surroundings and to see the world, the universe with the eyes of openness and wonder.

We need more Leonardo’s’ in todays world, we need men and woman who are willing to expand their horizons, to cross over disciplines and to not fear failure, for through failure comes discovery. We need to foster the exploration of connectedness, we need to discover the universe anew.

Leonardo, where are you? Where have you gone. When did we decide that men such as Leonard are obsolete? Why did we decide they are of no use? the enlighten of man has many casualties, and this is one. But all is not lost, we can return, we can learn to think like Leonardo, we can create a new Renaissance, we just have to try.

God Bless

Paul Sposite

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Quiet: A Lenten Reflection


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“Teach me, and I will be quiet; show me where I have been wrong.
Job 6:23-25 (NIV)

This past weekend I attended a silent retreat offered by Miles Christi religious order of Brothers and Priest. This was the first silent retreat I have ever been on, and anyone that knows me, knows I love to talk, so I know this was going to be a challenge, but I was willing to suffer and offer it up for Lent. I wanted a challenge for Lent, something to force me out of my comfort zone, and I figured 3 days of silence would do the trick. I must say I was pleasantly surprised with the over all retreat, and with my ability to stay silent. Miracles do happen! God is good, and just.

Being quiet is not a normal human state, we are made for sound, talk, hum, sing, whistle, be-bop, scat, you name it, we do it. We like noise, we like to hear it and we like to make it. Think about it, how often do you really have quiet in your life, your day, your moment? Not very often, if at all. Noise defines us, comforts us, noise is proof out existence. Some like the noise of the city, the rushing of cars the beeping of horns and the constant chatter of people, others it’s the noise of the country, the wind in the trees, the signing of the birds and the rushing of the brook. Noise, Noise NOISE… Its everywhere, is it any wonder that the idea of a silent retreat seems so odd… That it seems so quiet…

Quiet, shhh, don’t talk, be still and hear my voice…

 

11 The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

1 Kings 19:11-13 (NIV) (bold and color change are mine)

It is only in the quiet that Elijah could have heard Gods whisper. The sounds of the everyday life would have gotten in the way, the noise of work, home and friends would distract and the gentle whisper would have been lost.

Noise is not only on the outside of us, there is also interior noise, the noise of the mind. The thoughts and distractions our minds place before us when ever we try to quiet it, to hush it and allow the quite to enter. We hear the music of our childhood or we chatter to ourselves, we do anything to not have to face that moment of quiet.

Why, why do we fear the quiet so much? What are we afraid of? What makes the quiet our enemy?

When we are quiet, when we are still, that is when we hear the whisper of God, that is when denial is no longer an option. Quiet is that moment we must face ourselves and our creator, when we must listen to His voice and must hear His command. It is the time of reconciliation of our outer self to our inner self, our humanity to our soul. It is the moment of God asking us “Why have you taken so long to be with me in this moment of quiet?”

In the whispers of our days, we hear the voice of God, in the quiet of our nights we converse with God.

Quiet, let the whispers of God fill your soul.

This Lent try to find sometime to quiet your heart, still your mind and listen, just listen and hear the gentle, soft loving whisper of God. It’s there, God is always talking to us, He is always responding to our request, answering our prayers and telling us He loves us. All we need to do is stop talking, stop the noise and to quiet ourselves in front of the Lord.

Find time this Lent to visit with Jesus in the Sacrament, Just sit and be still, Jesus will talk, in that soft voice of love.

God Bless & Happy Lent

 

Paul Sposite

p.s. the photo was taken this past weekend at the retreat house. It snowed overnight and we woke to 12 inches of fresh snow.

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Christmas music


Well it has been sometime between blogs, lots in the news about the “peaceful” occupy wall street group. Lots about the republican candidates, including the surge of Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich and the Obama jobs bill that seems unable to pass (thank God). But the news I want to talk about is a local Detroit think.
Friday started a tradition that I one love, the tradition of wall to wall Christmas music, yep, 27/7 Christmas music. I love it…. But I, for one, love to listen to Christmas music all year-long, so to me it’s a Go send, to others, well not so much.
But I ask, what is wrong with starting the Christmas cheer a little sooner? Why not enjoy the festive songs for 2 solid months? Why not think about the birth of our savior a little sooner.
Now for some Christmas is just a day to give and receive gifts, it has no meaning it has no spiritual side, just shopping and giving, and. For far to many, it’s all about getting…
But for me Christmas represents all that is good in this old world, all that is possible and all that is needed. So for me the music, the feeling and the session can never come to soon.
A I sit here writing this posting, I am listening to 105.1fm playing Christmas music, and I am in heaven….
I was thinking the other day what I would do if I ever won the lottery, if I ever had money to spare of if I ever lost my job. What would I want to do, more than anything in the world… And two options came to me, both involving being self-employed…
1. Start up my faith formation program up again, STATIC Youth. Market and sell, what I consider to be the best faith program for teens ever created for the Catholic faith.
2. Open up a Christmas/holiday shop, create a destination for families…
I not sure what one calls to me more… My love of all things Christmas has always been a big part of me, from my youth till now.
It’s a funny story how I became such a Christmas music lover, but in some ways it has to do with my parents punishing me for bad grades.
When I was young, and would bring home a report card with anything under a C, I was always grounded from the TV. Well that seemed to happen each and every report card, each and every year. Well with no Tv, that left a lot of time to listen to my mom and dads records. And the only records they had, that I enjoyed, we’re Christmas records. The classics, Bring, Frank, Perry and all the rest. So from the first report card marking until Christmas I would lay on the floor listening to the Christmas records, ever so softly, not to bother the rest of my family.
So, my love of Christmas music before thanksgiving was now part of my life. And a part that I would not trade for the world. With the advent of Internet Christmas radio stations, I was able to listen to Christmas music anytime I wished, and found myself listening to Christmas music in June, July and all year-long. When ever I need a pick me up, I turn on the Christmas music, and my mood changes and life becomes, once again, happy and gay (using the original meaning of gay).
So, for me, this time of year, the political news become second to me, the talk radio is off and the Christmas music is on…. I will admit, that at times it looks a little silly listening to Let it snow, when it’s in the 50’s, but such is life.

God bless
Paul

The dangers of the 4th of July on your children


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Harvard University did a study on the effects of children attending a 4th of July celebrations. Yep, you read it right, the effects of the 4th of July celebrations on children. The results, simply put, children who attend some sort for 4th of July celebration will more than likely turn out to be…. Republicans…

Fourth of July celebrations have a significant impact upon people’s political preferences;
• Attending one Fourth of July before age 18 increases the likelihood of identifying as a Republican by at least 2 percent and voting for the Republican candidate by 4 percent. It also increases voter turnout by 0.9 percent and boosts political campaign contributions by 3 percent. 
(The press release)

So for me, I say if that is the case, than every child should attend a BBQ or parade on the 4th of July.  Maybe our nation will than have a chance to survive.

But the better questions is why does 4th of July celebrations turn kids in to Republicans, and not Democrats?  My simple answer, Republicans love America, Democrats despise her, so they wont show up at a 4th of July celebration anyway.

 

A Brief History of Fourth of July

(Taken from the research paper)

On July 3, 1776, John Adams, the second president of the United States wrote “[Fourth of July]
ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance…It ought to be solemnized with pomp and
parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this
continent to the other, from this time forward, forevermore” (Adams, 1776, p. 3).9 In the years that followed, Fourth of July was the only national holiday, marking the date of the nation’s existence and serving as a display of national unity. The latter function of Independence Day was particularly important in helping the scattered citizens of 13 states view themselves as part of a single nation (Waldstreicher, 1995; Travers, 1997; Heintze, 2007). Celebrations in the early republic included militia drills, processions, readings of the Declaration, dinners, and fireworks. 10 Present-day festivities took form in the late 19th and early 20th century, being part of the Progressive Movement’s effort to revive civic ceremonies on Fourth of July. Appelbaum (1989) describes how the tastes of the progressive reformers ran towards “patriotic pageants, patriotic music, parades with patriotic floats, marching units patriotically costumed in period dress, and tableaux vivants depicting patriotic scenes in American history” (Appelbaum, 1989, p. 141). Through campaigns such as “Safe and Sane July Fourth”, the reformers sought to convince local civic officials to make the public holiday resemble a playground festival, in which children performed dramatic skits and dances (Smilor, 1980; Glassberg, 1987). In documenting Fourth of July celebrations in Minnesota in the early and mid 20th century, Nemanic (2007) writes “Independence Day programs featured events for the entire family, with particular emphasis placed on children…festivities would begin with a noisy wakeup ritual followed by a patriotic parade. Afterwards, a formal ceremony might be held that included orations and readings from the Declaration of Independence. The afternoon offered an array of contests, concerts, and sporting events. In the evening,…a torch light parade might be held…Fireworks ended most celebrations” (Nemanic, 2007, p. 121).
Celebrations in the first half of the 20th century were political events. Local politicians were
involved in planning for the occasion, as well as providing financial support to the Fourth of July
festivities. They also participated actively in the parades and presented orations during the formal ceremonies. Many used the holiday to campaign or to gain visibility between campaigns by giving political speeches. In the cities, civic groups and political parties organized separate events to further their particular cause (Appelbaum, 1989; Nemanic, 2007).
Fourth of July in the 1950’s and the 1960’s included beauty contests, auto races, regattas, dog
shows, and parachute-jumping contests, as well as traditional parades and orations (Appelbaum, 1989). The holiday became increasingly commercialized as businesses took over the Fourth of July program sponsorship from town volunteer committees and the political parties (Nemanic, 2007). Also, the backyard barbecue was institutionalized during this period, making Fourth of July a more private tradition among friends as opposed to a community festival. As a consequence of the holiday’s changed character, the event became depoliticized. While Fourth of July celebrations in the last 40 years have kept much of the private features introduced in the 1950’s and 1960’s, some of the patriotic practices from the beginning of the 20th century were reintroduced. Contemporary festivities can be full-day affairs, with parades and speeches in the morning followed by afternoon barbecues, tailgating, and evening fireworks (Heintze, 2007).

9John Adams’ letter to his wife, Abigail, actually spoke of July 2, the date the resolution of independence was approved, but from the outset, Americans celebrated independence on Fourth of July, the date shown on the Declaration of Independence (Appelbaum, 1989).
10Historic accounts further document how newspapers played a vital role in spreading common Fourth of July practices across the country (Waldstreicher, 1995; Newman, 1999).

I pray that everyone has a blessed, fun and safe 4th of July celebration, and God Bless America!

 

God Bless

Paul

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I Cut the Cable and Dished the Dish


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It has been about 2 years now that I have not had cable or dish TV. I cut the cable and dished the dish to save money. I thought it would be hard to get use to, but I was wrong, we never really missed it. The hard part was finding the right components to make up for the missing TV stations.

Over the past 2 years or so I have been trying out different combinations of  digital converter boxes, antennas and laptops to augment my viewing selection. And now I do believe I have found the almost perfect solution.

I use the Leaf antenna, its paper thin and I have gotten the best reception yet, and it was cheep.  I now have 2 antennas at home, 2 very costly and the Leaf… The other 2 are in the basement collecting dust! With the Leaf I receive all my local stations and there digital sister stations. So I think I am currently at like 12 stations. Not bad for free…

The digital converter box was also an issue, the first one I purchased worked, sort of, it seemed to lag behind the remote click by like 3 or 4 seconds. And it would “digitize” the image often, causing the picture to go crazy. I purchased a new converter box and all is good.

I have connected an older laptop to the TV, so now I can stream internet TV via my laptop. It works out fine, sure sometimes you get that buffering thing going on, but over all I have access to thousands of stations.

I have also connected my Wii system to the net and have download a program called PlayOn TV, this program allows me to download different stations, such as MLB or Netflix’s and if you have accounts with them, you can stream them to your TV via Wii. It also has links to many websites that stream video, such as syfi and FOX news. They are not live feeds, but links to there online videos. The best part is, other people can write scripts to add to the PlayOn system. So I have access to hundreds of TV stations now, more than I would with Dish or Cable. I also have a program called My Wii Center, it also streams TV stations. The My Wii Center is not as robust and PlayOn, yet. But they tell me it will be. But My Wii Center offers the ability to watch also on your PC, and more stations appear on the PC than on the Wii. I have also downloaded other programs for the Wii, that allows me to play music, FineTune.

No I must say the PlayOn does charge a yearly fee, it is a small fee and My Wii center is free. But the price of PlayOn is worth it, it’s a lot cheaper than cable or dish.

Life is not perfect, I do have issues from time to time with my little set up, but I am willing to deal with them and not have a $150 cable/inter net bill. I did have to upgrade my internet speed and get a new wireless router to help with the performance, but the increase in internet fee is still cheaper than cable and internet. So over all I am saving money, and I never have to worry about cable going out or price increases. The internet I would have to have anyway for my computer and phone, yes I have no Land Line, I use MagicJack, once again saving me money.

I will keep searching the net to find new and exciting programs to download on my Wii or laptop to add to my TV experience, so if you know of any, let me know.

God Bless

Paul

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Reflections


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Merry Christmas everyone! And a Happy New Year! May God Bless you and keep you in his loving arms! As the New Year approaches I thought I would take sometime to reflect upon the Old Year. Over the past year my life has changed, my household has changed and well, just about everything has changed. Some for the better others not, but change is, overall, a good thing. So lets take a look back shall we….

 

The above was going to be my opening line for todays posting, but I have decided not to write that, for many reasons, one being I am not good with details and dates and such, so sometimes I am not sure when an event took place, was it January of 2010 or December of 2009… Also I decided that any major event was already posted here, so if you want to know what went on in 2010, just look at the old posts… So now what….

I still like the title Reflections, so I will keep it, but now I have to write something to fit the title… an interesting writing exercise, I have done it before, and I have always enjoyed the outcome. I like to see what comes to mind and how I can twist it to fit the title…. So lets see what may come…

 

Over the holiday session I love to watch holiday movies. In-fact I have a rule in my house, From Thanksgiving until Christmas, the only movies I watch are Christmas movies, so needles to say I have lots and lots of them, some better than others, but they all get one viewing during the session, some get many viewings, such as “White Christmas” or “Holiday Inn”  and the classic “It’s a wonderful life”.

But this session I think I found a new Christmas classic, “Beyond Tomorrow”. Beyond Tomorrow is a 220px-Beyond_Tomorrow_posterdelightful movie that will inspire and entertain you, and like many Christmas movies, it can be enjoyed all year long.  I would recommend it to anyone who loves old movies, movies with a simplicity and style to them. My love of Christmas movies has netted me many hours of pure enjoyment, much like my love of Christmas music, as any reader of this blog knows.

My love of old movies is nothing new, I have also posted about them… My collection of old movies keeps growing, and this Christmas I have added over 60 new movies to my collection. I must say I love the fact that you can get more than one movie on a DVD, and I love the fact that with the older movies they are doing more and more of that.

A lot of the older movies are in the Public Domain, meaning there is no copywrite on them, so companies can freely use them and distribute them. This allows many companies to create DVD sets with hundreds of old movies on them. I have several of those sets. Sure some of the movies are not worth the time but over all it makes for an enjoyable watching experience.

Now before you start to think that all I do is watch old movies, I also got a few books to read this Christmas… And truth be told, I truly do not watch a lot of TV or movies. But I will admit that I have been known to sit from the time I wake at 7am or so until the time I go to bed at 10 or so to do nothing but watch old movies. And I will also admit I have done the same with books (more often than not it is with books). But I do live my movie days, just sitting and watching old movies…

As part of my New Years resolution I am am going to attempt to blog more about current Catholic/Political and Social issues, to add more links to facts and background data. Normally I don’t offer much of that, I am not one who likes to research, and when I do, I am not one who makes good notes. So the end result are articles that contain facts, but very often no link to the fact. The reader just has to take my word for it. If I am to do this, I will not be able to post daily, not that I have been, but I would have to post maybe weekly or something like that. But that is my resolution this year, to offer more facts and to back up the facts with links. I have done it in the past, it just takes some time. So look for it in 2011… Not sure what my first article will be, but I will try to post it with in the first few days of 2011… Until than….

Happy New Year and God Bless

Paul

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