Tag Archives: Sam Keen

“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful…  All that I know now is partial and incomplete…  Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love…–Paul 1 Cor. 13.

“Where no hope is left, is left no fear.”  –John Milton, Paradise Regained, 3:206.

“Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torments of Man.”  –Friedrich Nietzsche

“It is hope that maintains most of mankind.”  –Sophocles

“There can be no hope without fear, and no fear without hope.”  –Spinoza

“Hope is the only God common to all men; those who have nothing more, possess hope still.”  –Thales

from Sam Keen, Apology for Wonder (1969): “There is no hope that we can eradicate evil and tragedy–only that we can find ways of keeping the spirit alive.”

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.  I do not see the road ahead of me.  I cannot know for certain where it will end…  But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.  And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.  I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire….”— Prayer by Thomas Merton

“…mental illness results directly from hopelessness and lack of a sense of the possible.  Wishing, willing, and hoping are essential to sanity.”  –Sam Keen

“Agnosticism and hope are not incompatible.”  — Sam Keen

“The only hope you have is to hope for the best, but don’t you get your hopes up nor hope against hope.”


“We become human only on leaving Eden, mature only in realizing that childhood is over.  We come home to the fullness of our humanity only in owning and taking responsibility for present awareness as well as for the full measure of our memories and dreams.  Graceful existence integrates present, past, and future.”  –Sam Keen, To a Dancing God [1970]

Sam Keen (born 1931) is an American author, professor, and philosopher best known for his exploration of questions regarding love, life, religion, and being a man in contemporary society.  He also co-produced Faces of the Enemy, an award-winning PBS documentary; was the subject of a Bill Moyers’ television special in the early 1990s; and for 20 years served as a contributing editor at Psychology Today magazine.  [He completed his undergraduate studies at Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, and later completed graduate degrees at Harvard University and Princeton University.–Wikipedia]

“The story is the basic tool for the formation of identity.

“A large part of our self-concept consists of the narrative by means of which we remember and relate our past experiences.

“Human life is rendered ultimately meaningful by being incorporated into a story.

“Telling stories is functionally equivalent to belief in God.  **

“Once the individual recovers his or her history, she or he finds it is the story of every man.

“The more I know of myself, the more I recognize that nothing human is foreign to me.  In the depth of each person’s biography lies the story of all man.”

Actually, telling our story strengthens our ego:  “The very process leads the teller to become aware that he or she is a person with a unique history of triumph and tragedy, with as yet unfulfilled hopes and projects.” 

**“In exploring the significance of the metaphor of the story, I will suggest that telling stories is functionally equivalent to belief in God, and, therefore, ‘the death of God’ is best understood as modern man’s inability to believe that human life is rendered ultimately meaningful by being incorporated into a story.”  —To a Dancing God


By: James F. O’Neil

Memoirs are special stories: narratives with significance for the teller.  Sometimes memoirs are written by old people, sometimes not.  For a memoir could be in the form of a lecture, like that by a professor with pancreatic cancer: Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture, a moving memoir about life and living and love and family.  Good stuff for storytelling

I want to share stories–about life and living and love and family.

Somewhere, somehow, I had a chance to write a story, “Once upon a time…”  I cannot OnceUponATime-Final-960x960remember that story, but I have others to write and many that I have already written–probably enough to last a lifetime, however long that might be.

I have a difficult time trying to organize.  I become frazzled and frustrated, not knowing how to begin or where to begin.  Yet I know enough to begin at that “once-upon-a-time” time.

For now, though, I begin with this:

“A large part of our self-concept consists of the narrative by means of which we remember and relate our past experiences,” wrote Sam Keen in To a Dancing God.

And this:


This is an Indian proverb from a wonderful “stories-told” book, The Right Words at the Right Time by Marlo Thomas and Friends

And this also:

“What is the self?  It is the sum of everything we remember.”  I found this gem somewhere, from the author Milan Kundera.

Remembering is special.  It sometimes keeps me going.  But telling about the remembered?  The more I tell, the more I am.  And this is pleasing to me.  And how I do like those “once-upon-a-time” times.

© James F. O’Neil  2013

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