Tag Archives: philosophy/religion

Bartolome de Las Casas

“Bartolome de Las Casas: (1474-1566) Spanish-born Dominican missionary and historian. Las Casas came to Santo Domingo in 1502 and was the first priest ordained in the New World (1510). In 1514, Las Casas suddenly became aware of the injustice with which the Indians were being treated in America, and subsequently devoted himself entirely to promoting their welfare, usually with the support of the crown, but against the bitter opposition of the Spanish settlers. Brevisma relacion de la destruccion de las Indias (1522), his vivid, but probably exaggerated, account of the Indian sufferings, was instrumental in fostering the long-lived ‘black legend’ which denigrated the colonial policies of Spain in America. His major work, Historia general de las Indias (1875), is an important source for the early period of colonization in Latin America.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

Mateo Aleman

“Mateo Aleman: (1547-1614?) Spanish novelist. Descended from Jews who had been forcibly converted to Roman Catholicism, he expressed many aspects of the experiences and feelings of the new Christians in 16th-century Spain. His most important literary work is Guzman de Alfarache (1599, 1604), one of the earliest picaresque novels, which brought fame throughout Europe, but little profit.”

Excerpted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.


“Zemi: A divinity worshipped by the Arawaks of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, and Jamaica. Zemis are human or animal in form, and are found on a variety of objects of stone, wood, and shell. Ceremonial centers, ball-courts and caves are associated with the cult, which may have reached the island from Mesoamerica.”

Excerpted from: Bray, Warwick, and David Trump. The Penguin Dictionary of Archaeology. New York: Penguin, 1984.

Book of Answers: Baruch Spinoza

“What was Spinoza’s nationality? Philosopher Baruch (or Benedict) Spinoza (1632-1677) was born in Amsterdam of Portuguese Jewish parents.”

Excerpted from: Corey, Melinda, and George Ochoa. Literature: The New York Public Library Book of Answers. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993.

Pablo Picasso on Art and Truth

“We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.”

Pablo Picasso, The Arts, May 1923

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

H.L. Mencken on Morality

“Morality is the theory that every human act must be either right or wrong, and that 99 percent of them are wrong.”

H.L. Mencken

Excerpted from: Winokur, Jon, ed. The Big Curmudgeon. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 2007.

Cultural Literacy: Conspicuous Consumption

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on the concept of conspicuous consumption–an idea which requires attention, I submit, in our benighted age. This is a simple, half-page worksheet with a two-sentence reading and two comprehension questions.

Which includes a reference to Thorstein Veblen, the progenitor of the idea of conspicuous consumption, as well as conspicuous leisure. Veblen is, I think, an important figure in the history of American thought. I’ve posted several quotes from him on this blog, which you can find simply by searching his name in the search bar above.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Common Errors in English Usage: God, god (n)

Here, once again informed by Paul Brians’ book Common Errors in English Usage, is a worksheet on knowing when to capitalize the noun god and when not to. This is a full-page worksheet with a short, informative reading and ten modified cloze exercises.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.


“Summerhill: A private English boarding school founded in 1921 by A.S. Neill to implement his belief in the value of eliminating all compulsion from children’s lives. The school was initially opened under a different name in Germany in 1921; in 1923, the school moved to a house called Summerhill in Lyme Regis in the south of England, where it enrolled five pupils. Enrollment was never more than a few dozen students, but the school gained an international reputation because of its radical belief in children’s freedom and Neill’s widely read publications. His book Summerhill was a bestseller in the United States in the 1960s and became required reading in hundreds of universities. Neill was a spokesman for the most permissive wing of the progressive education movement, proposing that children should be free to decide how to live, what to learn, and whether they wanted to learn. Neill believed that ‘the function of the child is to live his own life—not the life that his anxious parents think he should live, nor a life according to the purpose of the educator who thinks he knows best.’”

Excerpted from: Ravitch, Diane. EdSpeak: A Glossary of Education Terms, Phrases, Buzzwords, and Jargon. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2007.


Here is a reading on anarchism along with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet.

This is a relatively short reading, but nonetheless a good general introduction to anarchist philosophy. It also effectively introduces some key figures in the history of anarchism, and allows that this was a political movement that often used violence as a means to achieve its ends. Because many of the teenagers I have served over the years have been what I guess I would call “natural anarchists,” certain students in my classes have taken a relatively high interest in this material.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.