Sunday, 5 April 2020


'At the heart of the madness of the gospel is an almost unbelievable mystery that speaks to a deep human hunger only intensified by a generation of broken homes: to be seen and known and loved by a father. Maybe navigating the tragedy and heartbreak of this fallen world is realizing this hunger might not be met by the ones we expect or hope will come looking for us, but then meeting a Father who adopts you, who chooses you, who sees you a long way off and comes running and says "I've been waiting for you."' 
James KA Smith, On the Road with Saint Augustine, p.201. 

Saturday, 4 April 2020


'...opposites often instinctively understand each other...'
William Maxwell, 'My Father's Friends' in Billy Dyer and Other Stories, p.80. 


'Obviously I have not got through a long life without praising people - their houses, their gardens, their wives, their children, their political opinions, quite often their writing. But though I have liked a lot of people and loved a few, I have never been much good as telling them so, or telling them why. The more my admiration goes out to a man or woman personally, and not to some performance or accomplishment, the harder it is for me to express. The closer I come to fundamental values and beliefs, the closer I come to reticence. It is a more naked act for me to tell someone I am impressed by his principles and his integrity than to say I like his book or his necktie.' 
Wallace Stegner, 'A Letter to Wendell Berry' in Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs, p.207. 


'We hear a great deal of lamentation these days about writers having all taken themselves to the colleges and universities where they live decorously instead of going out and getting firsthand information about life. The fact is that anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days. If you can't make something out of a little experience, you probably won't be able to make it out of a lot. The writer's business is to contemplate experience, not to be merged in it.' 
Flannery O'Connor, 'The Nature and Aim of Fiction' in Mystery and Manners, p.84. 


'It's always wrong of course to say that you can't do this or that in fiction. You can do anything you can get away with, but nobody has ever got away with much.' 
Flannery O'Connor, 'The Nature and Aim of Fiction' in Mystery and Manners, p.76. 


'Now the word symbol scares a good many people off, just as the word art does. They seem to feel that a symbol is some mysterious thing put in arbitrarily by the writer to frighten the common reader - sort of a literary Masonic grip that is only for the initiated. They seem to think that it is a way of saying something that you aren't actually saying, and so if they can be got to read a reputedly symbolic work at all, they approach it as if it were a problem in algebra. Find x. And when they do find or think they find this abstraction, x, then they go off with an elaborate sense of satisfaction and the notion that they have "understood" the story. Many students confuse the process of understanding a thing with understanding it.' 
Flannery O'Connor, 'The Nature and Aim of Fiction' in Mystery and Manners, p.71. 


'A lady who writes, and whom I admire very much, wrote me that she had learned from Flaubert that it takes at least three activated sensuous strokes to make on object real; and she believes that this is connected with us having five senses. If you're deprived of any of them, you're in a bad way, but if you're deprived of more than two at once, you almost aren't present.' 
Flannery O Connor, 'The Nature and Aim of Fiction' in Mystery & Manners, p.69. 


'To be without a story is to live without any type of script that might help us know who we are and what we're about. We flail and meander. We frantically try on roles and identities to see if they fit. To be character-ized by a story is to have a name, a backstory, a project - all of which serve as rails to run on, something stable and given that we count on. We can be known because there's someone to know.' 
James KA Smith, On the Road with Saint Augustine, p.163. 

Saturday, 28 March 2020


'Nowhere was my sense of belonging as complete or unambiguous as it was in my childhood home, but if I saw that sense of belonging as something exclusive to the ironstone house, then I would never really leave, never grow up, never look for my place in the world. Somehow I had to turn my nostalgia inside-out, so that my love for the house, for the sense of belonging I experienced there, instilled not a constant desire to go back but a desire to find that sense of belonging, that security and happiness, in some other place, with some other person, or in some other mode of being. The yearning had to be forward-looking. You had to be homesick for somewhere you had not yet seen, nostalgic for things that had not yet happened.' 
William Fiennes, The Snow Geese, p.203. 


'...only a few months before I had copied the last verse of the psalm into a notebook: 'But thy loving-kindness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.' It had occurred to me how often the the authors of scripture depict God as a house or shelter in which one might dwell, as if faith were itself a home, affording all the protection, comfort, stediness and sense of belonging that home implies - as if the need for God were homesickness in paraphrase.' 
William Fiennes, The Snow Geese, p.104.