" It is the same with man as with the tree ... The more he seeketh to rise into the height and light, the more vigorously do his roots struggle earthward, downward, into the dark and deep—into the evil. "
Friedrich Nietzsche

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Mercurius becomes Pope John II

Though Catholics today are accustomed to the pope taking a new name once elected, Mercurius was the first to do so. As his birth name honored the pagan god Mercury, he chose to become John II upon elevation to the papacy. Though he died just two years later, he served at a time when sacred artifacts were regularly being sold and simony—the purchase or sale of church offices or preferment—was rampant in the selection of church officials. What other scandals did John face in his brief tenure?

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The Diamond Sutra

The Diamond Sutra is a Buddhist wisdom text. Written in the form of a dialogue between the Buddha Gautama and a questioning disciple, it emphasizes the fleeting nature of the material world and posits that enlightenment cannot be achieved through rational thought. A wood block-printed copy of the sutra held at the British Library is the earliest known printed text with a date—868 CE—predating the Gutenberg Bible by about 587 years. The copy, in scroll form, is roughly how many feet long?

Born on a day like today

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Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander

Alexander came from a family of academic achievers—her father and uncle both graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, studying law and medicine respectively. Alexander also earned a degree from the school—becoming one of the first African-American women with a PhD in the US—and moved on to Penn's law school, where she was the first African-American woman graduate. She also served as the first national president of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority. In which subject was Alexander's PhD?

Last updated on Thursday, 2nd January 2014

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