Thursday, 30 April 2009


'...what it means is this, among other things: that for whatever reason God chose to make man as he is - limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death - He had the honesty and the courage to take His own medicine. Whatever game He is playing with His creation, He has kept His own rules and played fair. He can exact nothing from man that He has not exacted from Himself. He has Himself gone through the whole of human experience, from the trivial irritations of family life and the cramping restrictions of hard work and the lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair, and death. When He was a man, He played the man.'
Dorothy L Sayers, 'The Greatest Drama Ever Told' in Creed or Chaos? p.2.


'Official Christianity, of late years, has been having what is known as "a bad press". We are constantly assured that the churches are empty because preachers insist too much on doctrine - "dull dogma", as people call it. The fact is the precise opposite. It is the neglect of dogma that makes for dullness. The Christian faith is the most exciting drama that ever staggered the imagination of man - and the dogma is the drama.'
Dorothy L Sayers, 'The Greatest Drama Ever Staged' in Creed or Chaos? p.1.

Thursday, 23 April 2009


'Conversation is an improvisation controlled by the goal of speaking the truth in love.'
David Powlison, Speaking the Truth in Love, p. 128.


'Jesus counsels. He does depth counseling, pursuing fundamental rearrangements of your modus operandi. How? He loves you. He knows you, inside and out. He enters into whatever you face and whoever you are, "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathise with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin." (Heb.4:15). He carries on honest, wise conversations (and gives wise sermons). He deals with the deepest issues. What do you live for? Where do you try and find identity? How do you interpret what happens to you? How do you treat other people? What do you do with Jesus himself? What goes on with your anger, anxiety, indifference, and passion? Where do you turn when life is hard? What do you want? Fear? Trust? Love? How does changing what you live for and changing how you live go hand in hand?
When you are counseled this way, you learn to counsel this way.'
David Powlinson, Speaking Truth in Love: Counsel in community, p.106.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009


'It is dangerous to explain too clearly to man how like he is to the animals without pointing out his greatness. It is also dangerous to make too much of his greatness without his vileness. It is still more dangerous to leave him in ignorance of both, but it is most valuable to represent both to him.
Man must not be allowed to believe that he is equal either to animals or to angels, nor to be unaware of either, but he must know both.'
Blaise Pascal, Pensees, p.31.


'We never keep to the present. We recall the past; we anticipate the future as if we found it too slow in coming and were trying to hurry it up, or we recall the past as if to stay its too rapid flight. We are so unwise that we wander about in times that do not belong to us, and do not think of the only one that does; so vain that we dream of times that are not and blindly flee the only one that is. The fact is that the present usually hurts. We thrust it out of sight because it distresses us, and if we find it enjoyable, we are sorry to see it slip away. We try to give it the support of the future, and think how we are going to arrange things over which we have no control for a time we can never be sure of reaching.
Let each of us examine his thoughts; he will find them wholly concerned with the past or the future. We almost never think of the present, and if we do think of it, it is only to see what light it throws on our plans for the future. The present is never our end. The past and the present are our means, the future alone our end. Thus we never actually live, but hope to live, and since we are always planning how to be happy, it is inevitable that we should never be so.'
Blaise Pascal, Pensees, p.13.


'Only the person who is disillusioned with his own goodness can truly receive God's grace. And only the church that is disillusioned with its own goodness can ever become a culture of grace. Disillusionment precedes the experience of grace.'
Stuart Stogner, 'Everyday Life of a Pastor: Reasons to Persevere' in The Journal of Biblical Counseling 24: 3 (2006), p.48.

Saturday, 18 April 2009


'Wisdom consists partly in not pretending any more, in discarding artiface.'
Julian Barnes, Nothing to be Frightened of, p.198.


'We live broadly according to the tenets of a religion we no longer believe in. We live as if we are creatures of pure free will when philosophers and evolutionary biologists tell us this is largely a fiction. We live as if the memory were a well-built and efficiently staffed left luggage office. We live as if the soul - or spirit, or individuality, or personality - were an identiofiable and locatable entity rather than a story the brain tells itself. We live as if nature and nurture were equal parents when the evidence suggests that nature has both the whip hand and the whip.'
Julian Barnes, Nothing to be Frightened of, p.119.


'The paradox is that individualism - the triumph of free-thinking artists and scientists - has led to a state of self-awareness in which we can now view ourselves as units of genetic obedience.'
Julian Barnes, Nothing to be Frightened of, p.93.


'Religion tends to authoritarianism as capitalism tends to monopoly.'
Julian Barnes, Nothing to be Frightened of, p.82.


'The fury of the resurrected atheist: that would be something worth seeing.'
Julian Barnes, Nothing to be Frighthened of, p.64.


'Just as there seems little point in religion which is merely a weekly social event (apart, of course, from the normal pleasures of a weekly social event), as supposed to one that tells you exactly how to live, which colours and stains everything, which is serious, so I would want my afterlife, if one's on offer, to be an improvement - preferably a substantial one - on its terrestrial predecessor. I can just about imagine slopping around half-unawares in some gooey molecular remix, but I can't see that this has any advantage over complete extinction.'
Julian Barnes, Nothing to be Frightened of, p.63.


'A common response in surveys of religious attitudes is to say something like, "I don't go to church, but I have my own personal idea of God." This kind of statement makes me in turn react like a philosopher. Soppy, I cry. You may have your own personal idea of God, but does God have His own personal idea of you? Because that's what matters. Whether He's an old man with a white beard sitting in the sky, a life force, or a disinterested prime mover, or a clockmaker, or a woman, or a nebulous moral force, or Nothing At All, what counts is what He, She, It or Nothing thinks of you rather than you of them. The notion of redefining the deity into something that works for you is grotesque. It also doesn't matter whether God is just or benevolent or even observant - of which there seems startlingly little proof - only that He exists.'
Julian Barnes, Nothing to be Frightened of, p.45.


'I don't believe in God, but I miss Him. That's what I say when the question is put. I asked my brother, who has taught philosophy at Oxford, Geneva and the Sorbonne, what he thought of such a statement, without revealing that it was my own. He replied with a single word: "Soppy"'
Julian Barnes, Nothing to be Frightened of , p.1.


'Staring out through the windshield, off into the horizon, Abby began to think that all the beauty and ugliness and turbulence one found scattered through nature, one could also find in people themselves, all collected there, all together in a single place. No matter what terror or loveliness the earth could produce - winds, seas - a person could produce the same, lived with the same, lived with all that mixed-up nature swirling inside, every bit. There was nothing as complex in the world - no flower or stone - as a single hello from a human being.'
Lorrie Moore, 'Which Is More Than I Can Say About Some People' in Birds of America, p.35.

Monday, 13 April 2009


'But Time and Tide and Buttered Eggs wait for no man...'
John Masefield, The Box of Delights, p.16.

Thursday, 9 April 2009


'In representing God's interest and action on behalf of humanity, the Bible describes and proclaims the story of God and its personal connection with the stories of the people of this world. The Bible makes for community by bringing pastoral attentiveness to bear on matters of family, home, society, and church. Far from dividing the world between winners and losers in a standardized market, the Bible offers limitless space for personal improvement and cultural variety. The Bible is not just about willfully putting a book between religion and us, but rather it is our assurance that we can know God as one who speaks and woos us personally, not as one who writes and threatens us anonymously.'
Lamin Sanneh, Whose Religion is Christianity? The Gospel beyond the West, p.116.


'Traditionally the hallowed language of religion is designed to mystify, to intimidate, to incriminate, to overwhelm, and to induce a mood of guilt and moral peril. A recognized trait of religions is encouraging a superstitious tendency in their followers to like best what they understand least. That made sincerity in the religious life an elusive commodity.
In his plain use of religious discourse, however, Jesus departed radically from that tradition.'
Lamin Sanneh, Whose Religion is Christianity? The Gospel beyond the West, p.100.


' one region of Christian impact declines, another region rises to take its place, like a relay race in which fresh energy is drawn from the reserve to sustain the momentum.'
Lamin Sanneh, Whose Religion is Christianity? The Gospel beyond the West, p.83.


'...the West should get over its Christendom guilt complex about Christianity as colonialism by accepting that Christianity has survived its European political habits and is thriving today in its post-Western phase among non-Western populations, sometimes because of, and often in spite of, Western missionaries. The religious strife and conflict that accompanied the political domestication of Christianity in Europe have not been repeated with the rise of world Christianity, and Europeans should therefore should be assured that strife and conflict, and their accompanying territorial upheaval, need not follow Christian expansion.'
Lamin Sanneh, Whose Religion is Christianity? The Gospel beyond the West, p.74.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009


'Christian hope and suspicion are interdependent. Without informed mistrust, hope is sure to be naive. Hope is solid when it has passed through the many preemptive suspicions of Christian awareness.'
Dick Keyes, Seeing through Cynicism: A Reconsideration of the Power of Suspicion, p.226.


'When molehills are turned to mountains, inevitably mountains are reduced to molehills - forgetting humility, truth, justice and love.'
Dick Keyes, Seeing through Cynicism: A Reconsideration of the Power of Suspicion, p.207.


'Is this not in large measure what it means to belong to a family: to burden each other - and find, almost miraculously, that others are willing, even happy, to carry such burdens? Families would not have the significance they have for us if they did not, in fact, give us claim upon each other. At least in this sphere of life we do not come together as autonomous individuals freely contracting with each other. We simply find ourselves thrown together and asked to share the burdens of life while learning to care for each other...'
Gilbert Meilaender in Dick Keyes, Seeing through Cynicism: A Reconsideration of the Power of Suspicion, p.198.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009


'People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centred;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway.'
Anonymous in Dick Keyes, Seeing through Cynicism: A Reconsideration of the Power of Suspicion, p.177.


'Humility is not a peculiar habit of self-effacement, rather like an inaudible voice, it is selfless respect for reality and one of the most difficult and central of virtues.'
Iris Murdoch in Dick Keyes, Seeing through Cynicism: A Reconsideration of the Power of Suspicion, p.172.


'Here is the ultimate sting for the cynic. God sees through, unmasks and scorns the cynic's cynicism. This is the greatest irony of all - and so something that is rarely imagined - that the transcendent God laughs at cynicism, not with the laughter of glee but of pity and sadness at its grandoise pretensions. When he who knows everything is not cynical, and we who know so little claim cynical insight, we appear ridiculous in his eyes.'
Dick Keyes, Seeing through Cynicism: A Reconsideration of the Power of Suspicion, p.163.


'Truth prevails!'
Jan Hus quoted in Richard Burton, Prague, p.13.


'...I'm convinced that my existence - like everything that has ever happened - has ruffled the surface of Being, and that after my little ripple, however marginal, insignificant, and ephemeral it may have been, Being is and always will be different from what it was before. All my life I have simply believed that what is once done can never be undone and that, in fact, everything remains forever. In short, Being has a memory. And thus even my insignificance - as a bourgeois child, a labatory assistant, a soldier, a stagehand, a playwright, a dissident, a prisoner, a president, a pensioner, a public phenomenon, and a hermit, an alleged hero but secretly a bundle of nerves - will remain here forever, or rather not here, but somewhere. But not however elsewhere. Somewhere here.'
Vaclav Havel, To the Castle and Back, p.330.


'You ask about my political credo. I am an opponent of every obsession, because I consider obsessions the most dangerous of social phenomena.'
Vaclav Havel, To the Castle and Back, p.326.


'Again and again I realized how important it is to have a very ordinary thing: good taste. It's good taste above all that determines how long one should speak, how much one should reveal, how deeply one should probe; when to make a joke and when to speak seriously; when one should speak indirectly and when one should speak fully what one has in mind; how to make sure the conversation does not languish and that your partner is comfortable.'
Vaclav Havel, To the Castle and Back, p.323.