Things You Should Read: Your Refined Heavenly Home

“Your Refined Heavenly Home” was an article that was suggested to me by my mother several years ago that I utterly devoured.  Douglas Callister’s perspective on refinement and self mastery is wonderful.  This article supports very much the ideas found in Hugh Nibley’s article “The Goods of First and Second Intent” that we suggested earlier.  Although this speech was directed to a Latter-Day Saint (Mormon) audience, this article gives a good perspective particularly on the way we use language to present ourselves.  As an English teacher and writer, I definitely approve.  What do you think of Callister’s ideas?



Essay You Should Read: The Fringe Benefits of Failure

By J.K Rowling

Link to full text here

We’ve found J.K. Rowling to be among the most inspiring and thought-provoking individuals.  Here she is delivering the commencement speech at Harvard.  She presents strong ideas on what failure means as well as brilliant insight into why imagination is useful and what your responsibility is to use your imagination well.  I’m guessing that her thoughts on imagination will surprise you.

J.K. Rowling Speaks at Harvard Commencement from Harvard Magazine on Vimeo.

Poem You Should Read: Psalm of Life

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)



TELL me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream ! —
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real !   Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal ;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way ;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle !
Be a hero in the strife !

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant !
Let the dead Past bury its dead !
Act,— act in the living Present !
Heart within, and God o’erhead !

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time ;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate ;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.


We used this poem one year as the inspiration for our class motto.  Our motto was “The soul is dead that slumbers.”  This motto became a symbol to us that no matter where we are or what we are doing we should have our soul awake so that we can do, learn, experience, serve and become what we should in every moment.  I often find myself asking myself — “Is my soul awake?”

Essay You Should Read: Goods of First and Second Intent

Goods of First and Second Intent — link to article here

By Hugh Niblely

This is a classic speech was given to a group of teachers in 1987.  It outlines one of Aristotle’s main philosophies about priorities and what is worth working towards in life.  The main point is that there are only 2 types of good things to pursue in life: 1) Goods of First Intent which are the eternally important things, things that enrich the soul, bring beauty or meaning to life. 2) Goods of Second Intent are those things which have no value themselves, but help us move towards the Goods of First Intent.  These are the basic things of life that need to be taken care of — food, clothing, shelter, grooming, money, transportation, etc.  They are necessary, but alone they do not make life meaningful.

The implied application is that education and life should be about finding the Goods of First Intent in your life and ensuring that The Goods of Second Intent serve those.

The article is long (reading the first half is probably good) and sometimes hard to understand a little, but wrestle with it — it’s worth it.