Wednesday, October 5, 2016


Recently, I found a yellow, wrinkled piece of notebook paper. The three folds of the paper were pulling apart at the seams and barely held together. It looks very old. And so it is, because I wrote excerpts of verses from Epictetus on it about forty-five years ago. I recorded the verses from a tiny book with gold binding I found several years before. I was so impressed with what the verses revealed of a man who wrote them many centuries ago. It was really my first encounter with a philosopher with whom I could relate, Epictetus.

The Epictetus readings became helpful in my second semester english class at Del Mar College.  My instructor creatively taught his classes in a manner in which  Freshman students could relate. One of his favorite characters in literature was  Sir Thomas More, a 16th century chancellor and advisor  to King Henry VIII.  He assigned the play, A Man of All Seasons, written by Robert Bolt and was a featured film in 1966. It was one of our readings for the class. The play is based on the true story of More who wouldn't give into the demands of King Henry VIII.  I used one of the verses from my little book, Epictetus, as a reference when I wrote my essay about  the story. My literature instructor was quite impressed with my knowledge of this stoic philosophy by Epictetus.

More was a man with high academic skills as well as high moral ideals.  In 1534 More refused the oath which pledged him to approve  the king's marriage to Anne Boleyn after divorcing his wife. Because of More's convictions against the King's unlawful actions that defied church law and custom he was imprisoned in the tower and later beheaded. His head was exhibited on London Bridge. More sacrificed an accomplished life and lost his head all because he failed to acknowledge the king's divorce and remarriage. In my essay I quoted Epictetus, "Consider man at what price you sell your freedom of choice-if for no other reason that you not sell it for a trifle". Epictetus was a Greek slave hundreds of years before and apparently dwelt on such matters often. I professed that in addition to More's faithfulness to the pope and the church he could likely have been a student of Epictetus's
philosophy of Stoicism. And he may have viewed his role as one not worthy of retaining, just for a lie. Or the acceptance of the king's marital position too trifle to forfeit his principles and values.

My English teacher was philosophical in his advice.  During the semester he suggested that as we read, we might find it enlightening to write down significant quotes from the literature. And reflect upon them from time to time. That is how I came to collect and record some of Epictetus's verses. I carried them around in my wallet and read them at times of boredom or at places I had spare time to wait. Eventually, as I changed wallets and purses the wrinkled paper was lost in a file or drawer, but definitely saved for my reflections. In my next post I will tell you about the other Epictetus verses I like to reflect upon and some I find relevant today.

Today, I think it is quite interesting that reading back to the time of King Henry VIII's reign in England,  he was purportedly responsible for the beheading of thousands of people, including two wives. Not to mention he is the one credited with founding The Church Of England that evolved as a result of the separation from Rome. During my Family research I also found that one of my favorite lines in my genealogy, the Edwards, my ancestor, Richard Edwards is linked as an illegitimate son of King Henry VIII's. One must be careful of whom he/she criticizes in history.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Deja vu Sighting At An Historical Church in the Country

                       A Deja vu Sighting At An Historical Church in the Country

We had an interesting drive through the country today. We had an unplanned visit to a couple of painted churches in central Texas, built in the nineteenth century. One was at High Hill, outside of Schulenburg, Texas. The church from the outside "does not clue you in on what is in the inside". It has hand painted art all over the walls and ceiling, hence, to which all the painted churches in Fayette county are referred. The alter, cabinets, and wood work are beautifully carved and constructed at the St. Mary's Church at High Hill.

The churches were created by 19th century immigrants from Austria and Germany. But the art is said to have been painted by itinerant artists later around the turn of the century, who advertised in the San Antonio paper.  The other beautifully painted church, St. Mary of the Assumption, we visited is at Praha, outside of Flatonia,_Texas)

 It was Deja vu when I spotted a rock grotto,, the grounds, outside the Praha church.  St. Mary of  the Assumption's rock grotto that's on the left of the church in front, is a replica of one I sketched out on my canvass, to paint next. The grotto, I'm going to paint is to be next to the sketch of the oldest church in U.S.,San Miguel. It's in Taos, New Mexico, The grotto outside the painted church is positioned in the same place, as the one in my sketch. I was just trying to fill in some space(an artist privilege) on my canvass. It was spooky because I had never seen it or planned it that way. I use the image of San Miguel church to fit my Hispanic southwest themes. The Taos church will serve as a background to other images in my painting. I am most attracted to the Spanish Colonial history and its art.

 Now, I'm beginning to think I better paint another picture of the church at Praha to have an authentic image of the Grotto and what I saw today. I don't want to get into trouble with any ghosts who may have been hanging around the Grottos that I saw today.  And I'm looking forward to visiting the other painted churches in Fayette County on other day trips.

Yes, it was a beautiful day.