Reviewed by Steve Leshin for Readers’ Favorite
Classical Considerations by Steven McFadden brings focus to the ancient Greek philosophers and culture that have influenced our modern society in the arts, mathematics, politics, and philosophy. This is accomplished by introducing the reader to the lectures of Harvard professor John H. Finley, Jr., a popular classicist who taught a generation of men at Harvard how to live through his courses, none more popular than Humanities 103 – the Great Age of Athens.
McFadden picks a good sample of Finley’s lectures beginning with a short discourse on Diogenes, the ancient Greek who wandered the streets of Athens carrying a lighted lamp in daylight. When asked why, most people assumed it was to look for an “honest man”. It was really to look for a “human being.” What this means is explained by the late professor in clear and engaging language.
Classical Considerations gives a good sampling of Professor Finley’s lectures and the reader will learn as well as appreciate his knowledge and how the study of ancient Greece is very relevant in our world of the present day. Steven McFadden gives his personal insight and how he formed a friendship with John H. Finley, Jr. after he retired in the 1970s.
I, for one, hope to look at Finley’s study of the Odyssey by Homer. I recommend this book to anyone with an appreciation of Professor Finley and to those who seek knowledge of how to be a human being through the Greek classics.
Part 4 of the Odyssey of the 8th Fire Memes – Days 120-160 slide show is now live and freely available on my Youtube channel. The memes at this link tell a shorthand version of the longer true, epic saga available at 8thFire.net.
In invite you to undertake this adventure, to check out the tale, and through the tale to vicariously journey from the Eastern Door at the Atlantic toward the Western Gate at the Pacific, meeting and learning from insightful elders. As the tale of true adventure unfolds, the elders freely share a wealth of wisdom teachings. I recommend viewing the slide shows on a large screen.
To give a sense of how the story is told by memes over the 230 days of travel, I’ve posted three of the memes below as a sample: Days 63, 145 and 159. If you click on the images you’ll go directly to my Youtube channel. There you can access Parts I, II, III, and IV. I’ll post the concluding Parts V and VI as they are completed in the months ahead.
To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the epic Sunbow 5 long walk from the Eastern Door at the Atlantic Ocean, to the Western Gate at the Pacific, I’m creating memes that suggest some of the teachings that were found along the side of the trail.
To make the memes more coherent, since they are part of an overall pattern, I created a 6-minute Youtube slide show, sequencing the memes and hinting at some of the experiences and teachings of the first 40 days.
A quarter of a century ago—June 23, 1995— a band of long walkers gathered at First Encounter Beach on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. They came on behalf of all the people, plants, and animals of the Earth. From this place of sand and sea at America’s Eastern Door, this intercultural band of pilgrims took the first steps on the epic Sunbow 5 Walk for the Earth. In many respects and in a global context, everyone is still walking.
The small, ecumenical band of sunbow pilgrims journeyed from the Atlantic to the Pacific over a span of eight intensive months. They walked under the Algonquin teachings of the Seven Fires, the inspiration of a White Buffalo, and the global skysign of the Whirling Rainbow (Sunbow).
The walkers paid respectful attention to the Sunbow. When this natural phenomenon occurs, a full 360-degree rainbow circle appears in a wide ring around the Sun. The colorful, whirling vortex is said to signify critical understandings.
For the walk, the number 5 was added to Sunbow to signify five colors of human beings: Red, White, Black, Yellow, and Brown. The sunbow pilgrims were walking from the Eastern Door on the Atlantic toward the Western Gate at the Pacific to help unite all peoples and all nations in honesty, caring, sharing, and respect.
Their epic spiritual adventure involved untold U.S. and world history, pressing environmental and social issues, a convoluted web of personal relationships, and a wealth of spiritual insight with direct relevance for our era.
Now as world culture continues on a larger, more challenging journey from an old time to a new time, our long walk together under the whirling rainbow may serve to illumine some of the steps…
The full blog post is at Mother Earth News
Harken – pay heed to the wisdom ways of agroecology and to our native roots. That’s my advice as climate and geopolitical whirlwinds intensify. Those wisdom ways mark the path to a sane and healthy future for us all.
Last year the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) published a kick-in-the-gut report about the surging wave of extinction upon our local life-support system, Planet Earth.
Their report—based on the work of 450 researchers from around the world and 15,000 scientific and government reports—warned of immediate, grave danger. “The overwhelming evidence…from a wide range of different fields of knowledge, presents an ominous picture.”
The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating rapidly. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”
…The late Algonquin elder Grandfather William Commanda was among the many native elders offering explicit, and enduring guidance on how to reckon with this…
The rest of this blog post is available via this link at Mother Earth News.
Classical Considerations: Musings prompted by the late Harvard Master John H. Finley, Jr. is available as a Soul*Sparks book available via this link on amazon.com
All peoples all nations are on the journey that I’ve come to call the Odyssey of the 8th Fire. It takes courage, endurance, determination, and more to complete the pilgrimage.
Areté is a Greek term that describes moral virtue. It’s used to denote excellence in any field of endeavor, the fulfillment of a person’s potential. So it was for the late John H. Finely, Jr. So it is in Classical Considerations, one of the slender volumes in my Soul*Sparks series of small treasures.
Life’s foundational questions come elegantly to the fore in Classical Considerations, a nonfiction mini biography of Finley. For 51 years he was the celebrated and erudite Eliot Professor of the Classics at Harvard.
Luminous and compellingly relevant, his story leads readers directly into engagement with the fundamental wisdom questions of a worthwhile life.
Classical Considerations offers a compact but lyrical array of intellectual sparks to kindle a warming and illuminating fire in every reader’s soul.