Jewish World Review Sept. 29, 2004 / 14 Tishrei 5765
The Angel's Dictionary
With apologies to Ambrose Bierce, author of "The Devil's Dictionary":
Art is where religion goes when it is locked out of the soul.
Beauty, or the conventional idea of it, is what every new aesthetic movement revolts against.
Caricatures of ourselves is what we become as we age.
Celebrity, an American category that replaced hero some time ago.
Charity is what everyone needs, but no one likes accepting.
Courage is the virtue without which all the others mean nothing.
Computers are machines that can perform almost any mental process except thought.
Death is the thing that waits.
England is the world's best argument against revolution.
Envy is what demagogues use in place of an economic policy.
Excuses are what are offered when apologies are called for.
Fidelity is difficult for those who cannot love, easy for those who can.
Ghosts are presences found everywhere by those who sense the past, nowhere by those who live only in the present.
Happiness is best achieved through the pursuit of other aims.
Hating others allows them to dominate our thoughts.
History is the most contemporary of arts.
I is a word columnists should avoid.
Inflated currency is the natural consequence of inflated ideas.
Jealousy is the most pointless of human emotions, the surest attribute of the divine.
Knowledge is no substitute for love. And vice versa.
Love gives without asking.
Money is the kindest of servants, the cruelest of masters.
Music is the necessity often confused with a luxury.
Normalcy is the most abnormal of political conditions.
Nationalism is the most becoming reaction of an oppressed people, the most unbecoming when they become the oppressors.
Oleaginous is a political style that went out with Everett Dirksen and came back in with Robert Byrd.
Order is a prerequisite for progress, not its end.
Osso bucco is delicious but only if prepared well, and it never is.
Patriotism, like music, is purest when wordless.
Philistinism is a concept unknown to philistines.
Power is what corrupts, but not as much as powerlessness.
Prudence is the most under-rated of the virtues.
Quirky describes anyone whose quirks do not match ours.
Race is a social construct sold as a scientific classification.
Revolution is the most futile method of change.
Religion is a common substitute for faith.
Remorse is the most wasted of emotions, repentance the most useful.
Sincerity is the most faked of emotions.
Sinecures are what all denounce and many want.
Simplicity is the most complicated of attainments.
Science is art in the making.
Solitude can be heaven or hell, depending on the company.
Synonyms are words that do not have the same meaning if you're aware of their connotations.
Taste is the last, hardest accomplishment.
Translations may be the most inventive form of literature, a genre in which much is lost, much is gained, and everything is altered.
Travel broadens the mind or narrows it, depending on the traveler.
Trust is what government squanders.
Ultra-conservative is a term popular among those who cannot conceive of ultra-liberals.
Vision is the ability to see beyond the visible. Where there is none, word has it, the people perish.
War concentrates the senses and dulls the conscience.
Wisdom is not the sum of knowledge but of judgment.
Worry is an attenuated form of atheism.
X<.B> is unknown only to those who will not reason.
Youth is wasted on the old - and if you doubt it, take a hard look at those who dress younger than their years.
Zealots are those who (a) disagree with us strongly or (b) agree with us too strongly. See also: Over-zealous.
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