Curtis Dahlgren
TORAH, TORAH, TORAH: From days of thunder to days of wonder!
By Curtis Dahlgren
September 30, 2018

"She will lie as fast as a dogge wil licke a dishe." – John Heywood (1546)

"An egg is not so full of meat as she is full of lies." – John Stuar Miill, attrib. (1565)

"[They] wil lie, sir, with such volubility that you would think truth were a fool." – Shakespeare (1602)

SHAKESPEARE WHO? That is so five centuries ago! Collecting proverbs is a lost art. It's hard to Tweet a proverb if it has more than 240 characters. Chaucer drives Spell Check crazy, too. Auto Correct says there is no such word as "volubility." Truth is in the eye of the beholder. Solomon's "Books of Wisdom" have been lost in cyberspace. Relegated to the Spam bin of history. Beyond the "consume-by" date. Old! As for mainstream news, don't get me started. Television is called a "medium" because anything that's "well done" on it is RARE (no pun intended). Don't start with me, CNN!

"The famous maxim of Mein Kampf that any lie will be believed if it is big enough [and repeated often enough]." – Herman Raushning (1939)

As folks, quoth Richard, prone to lying,

Say things at first because they're pleasing . .

Til their own dreams at length deceive 'em,

And, oft repeating, they believe 'em.

Matthew Prior (1718)

Walter Cronkite died in 2009. His "That's the way it is" has gone extinct. "This is who we are" is MSNBC's motto now (which doesn't say much about them). Or should it be "whom we are"? Anyway, I've been meaning to credit the source of most of my recent quotations: "The Home Book of Proverbs, Maxims and Familiar Phrases," by Burton Egbert Stevenson (MacMillan, 1948). Nearly 3,000 pages, fine print, double columned. The topic "LIFE" alone covers 24 pages, "lies and lying" six and one-half. The two topics often overlap. Publilus Cyrus said that "an honest death is preferable to a dishonest life" (43 AD).

My head hurts just trying to imagine all the work that went into that volume – before Google and the Internet – and I got it for a measly ten bucks at a used book sale. It was stamped "withdrawn" by the local library. Out of date, in other words. Old Egbert must be tossing and turning in his grave. But seriously, just when Western Civ's greatest lines got categorized, 1948, Western Civ began to fall out of favor with our Best and Brightest ("there are now more Communists on the faculty of Harvard than in all of Eastern Europe," Bill Buckley,said). I haven't even read "God and Man at Yale" yet, but it's on my bucket list. But anyway, here's an example from Stevenson's gem collection:

"Twenty years a boy, twenty years a youth, twenty years a young man, twenty years an old man; these four periods correspond to the four seasons." – Pythagoras (525 BC)

I like that one because age 60 was still considered "young" and an 80 year life span must have been common, half a millennium before Christ (and before MRIs and miracle drugs). The average life expectancy in the U.S. is actually starting to go backwards, due to addictions, over-doses, and other nihilistic joy-rides. Anyway, here are some of the Rages of the Sages of the Ages:

"To a free-born man, the name of liar cleaves as a deadly brand." – Sophocles (409 BC)

"Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord." – Old Testament (350 BC?)

"When they speak the truth they are not believed." – Aristotle, on the reward of liars (340 BC)

"It's a liar you're trying your lies on." – Plautus, 194 BC (it doesn't work)

"Whosoever has once become known as guilty of some shameful deceit, forfeits belief even if he speaks the truth." – Phaedrus, 25 BC (paraphrasing Aesop)

"There is nothing so pathetic as a forgetful liar." – F.M. Knowles (1906)

P.S. Let's not forget that other old verity, "A lie goes half way around the world before Truth gets his hip-boots on." That was before the Information Superhighway; now the lie goes into outer space and back before the victim of a smear even hears about the lie. There is a question as to whether there are more lies in Washington DC, in California, or in the Olde Media and dead tree newspapers. It may be a wash, but as Charles Manson used to say:

"Being crazy used to mean something. Now everybody's crazy."

And as someone said, "A cracked bell can never sound well."

One thing for sure is that humans have been coping with human nature for thousands of years, and the Sages of the Ages are pretty much in agreement about lying. They're against it. I'm posting this column with a smidgeon of trepidation because I may have done some inappropriate things 70 years ago. There's a Chinese proverb that says:

"He who saves another's life adds ten years to his own."

What's so hard to understand? Do me a favor and pass this along to the rest of the people you care about. The life you save may be mine.

PPS: Confession: the above is an adaptation of my March 12, 2018 column. It could be a classic someday, thanks to the soap opera played out in Washington last week (which was one of the Lord's Holy Weeks). I recommend Joseph Farah's new book, "The Gospel in Every Book of the Old Testament" (WorldNetDaily). Monday October first was a High Holy Day this year** – the day the Lord stood up and spoke in the Temple, ladies and gentlemen. He just wouldn't "shut up"!

Thus my futuristic title: "TORAH, TORAH, TORAH: From Days of Thunder to Days of Wonder!" (a movie to be made someday after the Golden Rule becomes the RULE rather than the exception in the world)!

** BTW- speaking of thunder, it's also the "anniversary" of the Las Vegas massacre. What was that all about?

© Curtis Dahlgren


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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)


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