Sunday, 29 April 2012


'To call Jesus the greatest Figure in History or the finest Moral Teacher the world has ever seen commits no one to anything. But once to allow the startled mind to accept as fact that this man is really focused-God may commit anyone to anything!'
JB Philips, Your God Is Too Small, p.82.


'True beauty always seems to bear with it a note of gentle sadness, sometimes very poignant, and it may well puzzle us whay this should be so. If the beautiful is so desirable and so welcome it should surely bring unqualified joy. There is rarely accompanying sadness in other earthly joys. In the enjoyment of a hearty meal, in the successful solving of a difficult problem, or in the fulfilment of creative activity, there is joy, but no melancholy. It is possible that beauty is a hint of the real and true and permananent: so that we feel with conscious process of thought: "This is what life should be, or what life is in reality."And therefore to compare that with our ordinary everyday experience with all its imperfection and ugliness gives rise to the poignant pain? Or is it, as some hold, fancifully perhaps, a kind of nostalgia - what Wordsworth would call an "imitation of immortality". Is it the eternal spirit in a man remembering here in his house of clay the shining joys of his real Home?'
JB Philips, Your God Is Too Small, p.68.

Thursday, 26 April 2012


'It is impossible for people who have persuaded themselves that God has failed, to worship or serve Him in any way but a grudging and perfunctory spirit. What has usually happened to such people is that they have set up in their minds what they think God ought or ought not to do, and when He apparentely fails to toe their particular line they feel a sense of greviance. Yet it is surely more sensible, as well as more fitting, for us human beings to find out, as far as we can, the ways in which God works. We have to discover as far as we can the limits He has set Himself for the purpose of this Great Experiement that we call Life - and then do our best to align ourselves with the principles and co-operate with the purposes that we have certainly had no say in deciding, but which nevertheless in our highest moments we know are good. God will inevitably appear to disappoint the man who is attempting to use Him as a convenience, a prop, or a comfort, for his own plans. God has never been known to disappoint the man who is sincerely wanting to co-opertae with His own purposes.'
JB Philips, Your God Is Too Small, p.48.


'We hear, or read, of someone who was "a real saint: he never saw any harm in anyone and never spoke a word against anyone all his life". If this really is Christian saintliness then Jesus Christ was no saint. It is true that He taught men not to sit in judgement upon one another, but He never suggested that they should turn a blind eye to evil or pretend that other people were faultless. He Himself indulged no roseate visions of human nature: He "knew what was in man", as St. John tersely outs it. Nor can we imagine Him either using or advocating the invariable use of "loving" words. To speak the truth was obviously to Him more important than to make His hearers comfortable...'
JB Philips, Your God Is Too Small, p.27.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012


'Those who perceive only the love of God avert their eyes from the uncongenial doctrine of the wrath of God. But in eliminating the wrath or disgrace of God they have also eliminated the grace of God. Where there is no fear there can be no rescue. Where there is no condemnation there can be no acquittal. Love must be based on justice, else it degenerates into mere affection.'
FC Synge in RVG Tasker, 'The Biblical Doctrine of the Wrath of God', p.36. Available at::


'The love of God demands as its correlative the wrath of God, just because God does care and because He is man's true God, and He has called man to fellowship with Himself, and man's rejection of that fellowship is his ruin and perdition. Because the New Testament emphasizes the love of God it also emphasizes His wrath, and the evangelists repeatedly show our Lord as righteously angry.'
AG Herbert in RVG Tasker, 'The Biblical Doctrine of the Wrath of God', p.28.  Available at:


'If we confine our attention entirely to the slang of the day - that is to say, if we devote ourselves exclusively to modern literature - we get to think the world is progressing when actually it is only repeating itself...[I]t is only when one reads what men wrote long ago that one realises how absolutely modern the best of old things are.'
Rudyard Kipling in Alan Jacobs, The Pleasure of Reading in an Age of Distraction, p.46.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012


'...he shall tell you, if you will listen to him, and not grieve him, nothing but stories of my love. So it is there, "He shall glorify me", namely to you; for I am in myself already glorified in heaven. All his speech in your hearts will be to advance me, and to greaten my worth and love to you, and it will be his delight to do it. And he can come from heaven in an instant when he will, and bring you fresh tidings of my mind, and tell you the thoughts I last had of you, even at that very last minute when I am thinking of them, what they are at the very time wherein he tells you them.'
Thomas Goodwin, The Heart of Christ, p.19.


'...the greatest token and pledge of Christ's love that ever was...'
Thomas Goodwin, The Heart of Christ, p.18.

Monday, 23 April 2012


'...when Christ's thoughts were full of his glory, and when he took in consideration of it unto the utmost, even then, and upon that occasion, and in the midst of those thoughts, he washed his disciples' feet. And what was Christ's meaning in this, but that, whereas when he should be in heaven, he could not make such outward visible demonstartions of his heart, by doing such mean services for them; therefore by doing this in the midst of such thoughts of his glory, he would show what he could be content (as it were) to do for them, when he should be in full possession of it? So great is his love unto them.'
Thomas Goodwin, The Heart of Christ, p.9.

Saturday, 21 April 2012


'Every comely man, every bank clerk and delivery boy, was aimed at my life like a loaded pistol.'
John Cheever, Journals, p.219.


'I know the nature of man to be divided, paradoxical, wayward, and perverse, and yet I seem unable to live peaceably with the fact when it is applied to me. My wish to be a simple, natural, and responsive creature seems to be incurable.'
John Cheever, Journals, p.217.


'R., the stand-in, is a well-constructed young man with a vast expanse of tanned, hairless skin, and I feel for him, or think I feel for him, some sad or illicit stirring, but the moment I talk with him - as soon as I feel his place in the world, the quality of his mind, as soon as I can imagine his wife, or his parents, or the room where he sleeps - these unsavory matters vanish. It is ignorance, our ignorance of one another, that creates this terrifying erotic chaos. Information, a crumb of infiormation, seems to light the world.'
John Cheever, Journals, p.214.


'He sat on the edge of his bed, already exhausted before the journey had even begun. What he would have liked, what he dreamed of, was some elixir, some magical, brightly colored pill that would put the spring back into his step, the gleam in his eye, the joy of life in his heart. He took quantities of pills, but they had made no difference in the way he felt. It seemed that he had been tired for years. "Before you go, dear," his wife called from downstairs, "would you see if you can do something about the kitchen drain?" This reasonable request reminded him of the variety of his responsibilities. He had taken them all on willingly, but his willingness had not produced, as he somehow had thought it might, corresponding stores of energy. Three children in college, the interest and amortization on a twenty-five-thousand-dollar mortgage, an insecure position in business, a loving and impractical wife, a balky heating plant, a leaky roof, a car that needed repairs, a lawn choked with quack grass, a driveway with weeds, and three dying elms on the front lawn seemed, along with the stopped drain, to excite his discouragement. He had taken care of himself for most of his life. He had supported his old parents and indigent relations, raised his family, greased the sump pump, balanced the checkbook, filed the income tax, assuming that an increase in responsibility would develop an increase in confidence, but what he seemed to have developed instead was some spiritual or emotional curvature, like a hod carrier's back. Sitting on the edge of his bed, he realized that what he wanted was someone who would take care of him.'
John Cheever, Journals, p.178.


'"...the priest who descends from the pulpit of Truth, with a mouth like a hen's vent, a little hot but pleased with himself, he's not been preaching: at best he's been purring like a tabby-cat....And mind you many a fellow who waves his arms and sweats like a furniture-remover isn't necessarily any more awakened than the rest. On the contrary. I simply mean that when the Lord has drawn from me some word for the good of souls, I know, because of the pain of it."'
Georges Bernanos, The Diary Of A Country Priest, p.49.


'...that very sense of powerlessness is the main-spring of a child's joy. He just leaves it all to his mother, you see. Present, past, future - his whole life is caught up in one look, and that look is a smile.'
Georges Bernanos, The Diary of A Country Priest, p.19.


'My experience is that those who struggle with homosexuality are quite aware of and sensitive to hypocrisy in the church. They know when they are being asked to do something that others are not. If you agree that sexual minorities could benefit from following a curriculum of Christlikeness, then follow that curriculum in your own life. It is always better to lead by example, which will give you credibility to speak to the benefits of following such a curriculum. Put differently, if you believe in stewarding your sexuality, then lead by example, living out the principles you promote.'
Mark A Yarhouse, Homosexulaity and the Christian, p.186.


'First, to map out the boundaries within which all discussion must go on, I take it for certain that the physical satisfaction of homosexual desires is sin. This leaves the homo. no worse off that any normal person who is, for whatever reason, prevented from marrying. Second our speculations on the cause of the abnormality are not what matters and we must be content with ignorance. The disciples were not told why (in terms of efficient cause) the man was born blind (Jn.IX 1-3): only the final cause, that the works of God shd. be made manifest in him.
This suggests that in homosexuality, as in every other tribulation, those works can be made manifest: i.e. that every disability conceals a vocation, if only we find it. wh. would "turn the necessity to glorious gain." Of course, the first step must be to accept any privations wh., if so disbaled, we can't lawfully get. The homo. has to accept sexual abstience just as the poor man has to forgo otherwise lawful pleasures becuase he wd. be unjust to his wife and childrenn if he took them. That is merely a negative condition.
What shd. the positive life of the homo. be? I wish I had a letter wh. a pious male homo., now dead, once wrote to me - but of course it was the sort of letter one takes care to destroy. He believed that his necessity could  be turned to spiritual gian: that there were certain kinds of sympathy and understanding, a certain social role which mere men and mere women cd. not give. But is is all horribly vague - too long ago. Perhaps any homo. who humbly accepts his cross and puts himself under Divine guidance will, however, be shown the way. I am sure that any attempt to evade it (e.g., by mock- or quasi-marriage with a member of one's own sex even if this does not led to any carnal act) is the wrong way.'
 CS Lewis in Walter Hooper (Ed)., The Collected Letters of CS Lewis Vol III, p.471.


'Santification is not simply a matter of denying yourself pleasure or enjoyment. That is not an accurate way to frame this from a Christian perspective. It involves seeing things in relation to their ultimate purpose and value in the light of the kingdom and economy of God.'
Mark A Yarhouse, Homosexuality and the Christian, p.166.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012


'Of all horrible religions the most horrible is the worship of the god within. Anyone who knows anybody knows how it would work;...that Jones shall worship the god within turns out ultimately to mean that Jones shall worship Jones. Let Jones worship the sun or moon, anything rather than the Inner-Light; let Jones worship cats or crocodiles, if he can find any in his street, but not the god within.'
GK Chesterton in C FitzSimmons Allison, The Cruelty of Heresy, p.167.  


'"Being chosen" is, at the outset, the humblest doctrine in Scripture, yet the "idol factory" of the human heart most readily elevates such a gift to the highest pedestal of superiority.'
C FitzSimmons Allison, The Cruelty of Heresy, p.161.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012


'If we as a church continue to believe that deep spiritual maturity can only come about with a change in orientation, then we will be waiting forever for those people who are trying to change but can't. Either that or we will place great pressure on them to say that they have experienced dramatic change even when they have not.
What the church can help people with - regardless of whether orientation changes - is identity. We can recognize that a gay script is compelling to those who struggle with same-sex attraction, especially when they see few options emerging from their community of faith. Therefore we can help develop alternative scripts that are anchored in biblical truth and centred in the person and work of Christ. We can also look at our own lives and whether we are really prepared to live in a way that makes Christ our primary identity, whether we experience same-sex attraction or not.'
Mark A Yarhouse, Homosexuality and the Christian: A Guide for Parents, Pastors, and Friends, p.54.

Monday, 16 April 2012


'Picture a small boy frustrated with a jigsaw puzzle because he is certain that the pieces do not fit the picture on the box. We are like this when we doubt. Each doubt makes us feel that this time we have found a real problem with God. But shake the pieces up a little, rearrange the one or two that we have put in the wrong place and everything changes. It is not the fault of the puzzle or the picture but the boy.
It is the same with our doubts. What we begin by calling God's problem ends up being seen as our problem that God solves.'
Os Guiness, God in the Dark, p.215.


'There is some pleasure in being on board a ship battered by storms when one is certain of not perishing. The persecutions buffeting the Church are like this.'
Blaise Pascal in Os Guiness, God in the Dark, p.209.


'Our trust in God will be perfect when life and death, glory and shame, adversity and prosperity, will be the same to us.'
Martin Luther in Os Guiness, God in the Dark, p.209.


'Faith's task is to join hands with the past and future to hold down God's will in the present. The present moment is the disputed territory for faith, a no-man's land between past and future, ground either to be seized by obedience or lost to disobedience. Visionary faith stakes out its possession of land and does so with energy and enthusiasm that comes from its knowledge of what the reclaimed land will one day be.'
Os Guiness, God in the Dark, p.201.

Sunday, 15 April 2012


'It is a painful thing to be misjudged. But it's no more than God puts up with every hour of the day. But he is patient. So long as He knows he's in the right, He lets folk think what they like  - 'til He has time to make them know better. Lord, make my heart clean within me, and then I'll care little of any judgment but yours!'
George Macdonald in Os Guiness, God in the Dark, p.195.


'We are tossed on a tide that puts us to the proof, and if we could not sob our troubles in your ear, what hope should we have left to us?'
Augustine of Hippo in Os Guiness, God in the Dark, p.195.


'God has not created man to be a stock or stone but has given him five senses and a heart of flesh, so that he loves his friends, is angry with his enemies, and commiserates with his dear friends in adversity.'
Martin Luther in Os Guiness, God in the Dark, p.195.


'Faith does not know why, but it knows why it trust God who knows why. We do not trust God because he guides us; we trust God and then are guided, which means that we can trust God even when we do not seem to be guided. Faith may be in the dark about guidance, but it is never in the dark about God. What God is doing may be a mystery, but who God is is not.'
Os Guiness, God in the Dark, p.176.


'In time of war in an occupied country, a member of the resistance meets one night a Stranger who deeply impresses him. They spend that night together in conversation. The Stranger tells the partisan that he himself is on the side of the resistance - indeed that he is in command of it, and urges the partisan to have faith in him no matter what happens. The partisan is utterly convinced at that meeting of the Stranger's sincerity and undertakes to trust him.
They never meet in conditions of intimacy again. But sometimes the Stranger is seen helping members of the resistance, and the partisan is grateful and says to his friends "He is on our side." Sometimes he is seen in the uniform of the police handing over patriots to the occupying power. One these occasions his friends murmur against him: but the partisan still says, "He is on our side." He still believes that, in spite of appearances, the Stranger did not deceive him. Sometimes he asks the Stranger for help and receives it. He is then thankful. Sometimes he ask and does not receive it. Then he says "The Stranger knows best."'
Basil Mitchell in Os Guiness, God in the Dark, p.171.

Friday, 13 April 2012


'...bereavement is a universal and integral part of our experience of love. It follows marriage as normally marriage follows courtship or as autumn follows summer. It's not a truncation of the process but one of its phases; not the interruption of the dance, but the next figure.'
CS Lewis, A Grief Observed, p.43.


'The terrible thing is that a perfectly good God is in this matter hardly less formidable than a Cosmic Sadist. The more we belive that God hurts only to heal, the less we can believe that there is any use begging for tenderness. A cruel man might be bribed - might grow tired of his vikle sport - might have a temporary fit of mercy, as alcoholics have fits of sobriety. But suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting. If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless. But is it credible that such extremities of torture should be necessary for us? Well, take your choice. The tortures occur. If they are unnecessary, then there is no God or a bad one. If there is a good God, then these tortures are necessary. But no even moderately good Being could possibly inflict or permit them if they weren't.'
CS Lewis, A Grief Observed, p.38.


'Bridge-players tell me there must be some money on the game "or else people won't take it seriously". Apparentely it's like that. Your bid - for God or no God, for a good God or the Cosmic Sadist, for eternal life or nonentity - will not be serious if nothing much is staked on it. And you will never discover how how serious it was until the stakes are arsised incredibly hard; until you find that you are playing not for counters or for sixpence but for every penny you have in the world. Nothing less will shake a man - or any rate a man like me - out of his merely verbal thinking and his merely notional beliefs. He has to be knocked silly before he comes to his senses. Only torture will bring out the truth. Only under torture does he discover it himself.'
CS Lewis, A Grief Observed, p.33.


'Eve got into trouble when she walked in the garden alone. I have my worst temptations when I am by myself.'
Martin Luther in Os Guiness, God in the Dark, p.130.


'...unless you teach your moods "where they get off," you can never be a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion.'
CS Lewis in Os Guiness, God in the Dark, p.126.

Thursday, 12 April 2012


'Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not "So there's no God after all," but "So this is what God's really like. Deceive yourself no longer."'
CS Lewis, A Grief Observed, p.8.


'Without any disrespect it must be said that Christianity is pre-eminently the gamblers' religion. In no other religion are the stakes so high and the choice so momentous.'
Alan Watts in Os Guiness, God in the Dark, p.105.


'The Christian faith is not true because it works, it works because it is true.'
Os Guiness, God in the Dark, p.77.


'...the accuracy of our pictures of God is not tested by our othodoxy or our testimonies but by the truths we count on in real life. It is demonstrated when the heat is on, the chips are down, and reality seems to be breathing down our necks. What we presuppose at such moments is our real picture of God, and this may be very different from what we profess to believe about God.'
Os Guiness, God in the Dark, p.61.


'...the ministry of remembering should be a bright thread running through all our Christian living - individually, corporately, publicly, privately; in the quiet moment of intimate prayer as well as in the open statements of public thanksgiving; for single people, for couples, for families, for churches, for communities, and for nations.'
Os Guiness, God in the Dark, p.53.


'...a hallelujah from head to foot...'
Augustine of Hippo in Os Guiness, God in the Dark, p.48.  


'...rebellion against God does not begin with the clenched fist of atheism but with the self-satisfied heart of the one for whom "thank you" is redundant.'
Os Guiness, God in the Dark, p.44.


'If the object of our faith were as elusive as the Loch Ness monster or as inconsequential as whether to have a third cup of tea, then doubt makes little difference. But since the object of Christain faith is God, to believe or disbelieve is everything - at some points literally a matter of life and death. Thus the market value of doubt for the Christian is extremely high. Find out how seriously a believer takes his or her doubts and you have the index of how seriously he or she takes faith. For the Christian, doubt is not the same as unbelief, but neither is it divorced from it. Continued doubt loosens the believer's hold on the resources and privileges of faith and can be the prelude to the disasters of unbelief. So doubt is never treated as trivial.'
Os Guiness, God in the Dark, p.29.  


'Doubt is a state of mind in suspension between faith and unbelief so that it is neither of them wholly and it is each of them only partly. This distinction is absolutely vital because it uncovers and deals with the first major misconception of doubt - the idea that we should be ashamed of doubting because doubting is a betrayal of faith and a surrender to unbelief. No misunderstanding causes more anxiety and brings such bondage to sensitive people in doubt.'
Os Guiness, God in the Dark, p.26.


'...when trust and dependence turn into doubt, it is as if the sun is eclipsed, the compass needle wavers without a north, and the very earth that was so solid moves as in an earthquake.'
Os Guiness, God in the Dark: The Assurance of Fairth Beyond a Shadow of Doubt, p.12.

Sunday, 8 April 2012


'Have you ever thought about the fact that you do not notice your body until there is something wrong with it? When we are walking around, we are not usually thinking how fantastic our toes are feeling. Or how brilliantly our elbows are working today. We would only think like that if there had previously been something wrong with them. That is because the parts of our body only draw attention to themselves if there is something wrong with them. 
The ego often hurts. That [is] because it has something incredibly wrong with it. It is always drawing attention to itself to itself - it does so every single day. It is always making us think about how we look and how we are treated. People sometimes say their feelings are hurt. But our feelings  can't be hurt! It is the ego that hurts - my sense of self, my identity. Our feelings are fine! It is my ego that hurts. 
Walking around does not hurt my toes unless there is already something wrong with them. My ego would not hurt unless there was something terribly wrong with it. Think about it. It is very hard to get through a whole day without feeling snubbed or ignored or feeling stupid or getting down on ourselves. That is because there is something wrong with my ego. There is something wrong with my identity. There is something wrong with my sense of myself. It is never happy. It is always drawing attention to itself.'
Timothy Keller, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness: The Path to True Christian Joy, p.16.


'God's mind is eternal, and God's ways are so infinitely above us that we must always start by being prepared not to understand immediately anything He does.'
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Faith on Trial, p.18.


'There is something wrong with a Christianity which rejects the Old Testament, or even with a Christianity which imagines that we are essentially different from the Old Testament saints. If any of you are tempted to feel like that, I would invite you to read the Book of Psalms, and then to ask yourself whether you can honestly say from your experience some of the things the Psalmists said. Can you say, "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up"? Can you say, "As the hart pantenth after the waterbrooks, so pantenth my soul after thee, O God?" Read the Psalms and the statements made in them, and I think you will agree that these men were children of God with a great and rich spiritual experience.'
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Faith on Trial: Studies in Psalm 73, p.12.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012


'...there is only one thing that has power completely, and that is love. Because when a man loves, he seeks no power, and therefore he has power.'
Alan Paton, Cry, The Beloved Country, p.37.


'Kumalo said humbly, Maybe you will pray for me.
- I shall do so gladly. My brother, I have of course my work to do, but so long as you are here, my hands are yours.
- You are kind.
Something in the humble voice must have touched Msimangu, for he said, I am not kind. I am a selfish and sinful man, but God put his hands on me, that is all.'
Alan Paton, Cry, The Beloved Country, p.24.

Sunday, 1 April 2012


'The great narrative, to which we as Christians are called to be faithful, begins at the beginning of all things and ends at the end of all things, and within the arc of it civilizations blossom and flourish, wither and perish. This would seem a great extravagance, all the beautiful children of earth lying down in a  final darkness. But no, there is that wondrous love to assure us that the world is more precious than we can possibly imagine. There is the human intimacy of the story - the astonishing, profoundly ordinary birth, the weariness of intineracy, the beloved friends who disappoint bitterly and are still beloved, the humiliations of death - Jesus could know as well as anyone who has passed through life on this earth what it means to yearn for balm and healing. He could know what it means to hear a tender voice speaking of an ultimate home where sorrow ends and error is forgotten. Most wonderfully, he could be the voice that says to the weary of the world, "I will give you rest," and "In my Father's house there are many mansions." It is a story written down in various forms by writers whose purpose was first of all to render the sense of a man of surpassing holiness, whose passage through  the world was understood, only after his death, to have revealed the way of God toward humankind. How remarkable. This is too great a narrative to be reduced to serving any parochial interest or to be overwritten by any lesser human tale. Reverence should forbid in particular its being subordinated to tribalism, resentment, or fear.'
Marilynne Robinson, 'Wondrous Love' in When I Was a Child I Read Books, p.140.


'In my Bible, Jesus does not say, "I was hungry and you fed me, though not in such a way as to interfere with free-market principles.'"
Marilynne Robinson, 'Wondrous Love' in When I Was a Child I Read Books, p.139.


'It resembles nothing so much as the disturbing lack of faith in Christianity that puts the darkest interpretation on social change, religious diversity, foreign influence, the implications of science, and so much else besides. If Christianity expresses the nature and will of God, and if Christ will be with us until the end of the age, why all this fear?'
Marilynne Robinson, 'Wondrous love' in When I Was a Child I Read Books, p.138.


'Christmas and Easter are so full of church pageant and family custom that it is entirely possible to forget how the stories told on these two days did indeed rupture history and leave the world changed, implausible as that may seem. At the same time, they have created a profound continuity. If we sometimes feel adrift from human kind, as if our technology-mediated life on this planet has deprived us of the brilliance of the night sky, the smell and companionship of mules and horses, the plain food and physical peril and weariness that made our great-grandparents' lives so much more like the life of Jesus than any we can imagine, then we can remind ourselves that these stories have stirred billions of souls over thousands of years, just as they stir our souls, and our children's. What gives them their power? They tell us that there is a great love that has intervened in history, making itself known in terms that are startingly, and inexhaustibly, palpable to us as human beings. They are tales of love, lovingly enacted once, and afterward cherished and retold - by the grace of God certainl;y, because they are, after all, the narrative of an obscure life in a minor province. Caesar Augustus was also said to be divine, and there aren't many songs about him.'
Marilynne Robinson, 'Wondrous Love' in When I Was a Child I Read Books, p.127.


'...the narratives of the Bible are essentially inexhaustible. The Bible is terse, the Gospels are brief, and the result is that every moment and detail merits pondering and can always appear in a richer light. The Bible is about human beings, human families - in comparison with other ancient literature the realism of the Bible is utterly remarkable - so we can bring our own feelings to bear in the reading of it. In fact, we cannot do otherwise, if we know the old, old story well enough to give it a life in our thoughts.'
Marilynne Robinson, 'Wondrous Love' in When I Was a Child I Read Books, p.126.


'We are culturally predisposed to sheltering criticism from criticism; we have enshrined the iconoclast. If our feelings register some minor shock, or if we suppose the public might be somewhat irked, or even if we think we can discern some earnest hope on behalf of the writer to irk or offend ourselves or our neighbors, then a book is praised as a creditable effort and excused from the kind of attention that might raise questions about its actual novelty or merit.' 
Marilynne Robinson, 'The Fate of Ideas: Moses' in When I Was a Child I Read Books, p.95.


'I am vehemently grateful that, by whatever means, I learned to assume that loneliness should be in part pleasure, sensitizing and clarifying, and that it is even a truer bond among people than any kind of proximity. It may be mere historical conditioning, but when I see a man or a woman alone, he or she looks mysterious to me, which is only to say that for a moment I see another human being clearly.'
Marilynne Robinson, 'When I was a Child I Read Books' in When I Was a Child I Read Books, p.89.


'...wisdom, which is almost always another name for humility...'
Marilynne Robinson, 'Imagination and Community' in When I Was a Child I Read Books, p.27.


'...I belong to the community of the written word in several ways. First, books have taught be most of what I know, and they have trained my attention and my imagination. Second, they gave me a sense of the possible, which is the great service - and too often, when it is ungenerous, the great disservice - a community performs for its members. Third, they embodied richness and refinement of language and the artful use of language in the service of the imagination. Fourth, they gave me and still give me courage.'
Marilynne Robinson, 'Imagination and Community' in When I Was a Child I Read Books, p.23.


'Two questions I can't really answerr about fiction are (1) where it comes from, and (2) why we need it. But that we do create it and also crave it is beyond dispute. There is a tendency, considered highly rational, to reason from a narrow set of interests, save survival and procreation, which are supposed to govern our lives, and to treat everything that does not fit this model as anomlous clutter, extraneous to what we are and probably best done without. But all we really know about what we are is what we do. There is a tendency to fit a tight and awkward carapace of definition over humankind, and try to trim the living creature to fit the dead shell. The advice I give to my students is the same advice I give myself - forget definition, forget assumption, watch. We inhabit, we are part of, a reality for which explanation is much too poor and small. No physicist would dispute this, though he or she might be less ready than I am to have recourse to the old language and call reality miraculous.'
Marilynne Robinson, 'Fredom of Thought' in When I Was a Child I Read Books, p.7.


'He was a man in a briar patch. So long as he kept still he was comfortable., but every time he moved he found thorns. Or put it the other way around. Busy, he could forget where he was. The minute he paused, he was reminded.'
Wallace Stegner, Crossing to Safety, p.289.


'You can plan all you want to. You can lie in your morning bed and fill whole notebooks with schemes and intentions. But within a single afternoon, within hours or minutes, everything you plan and everything you have fought to make yourself can be undone as a slug is undone when salt is poured on him. And right up to the moment when you find yourself dissolving into foam you can still believe you are doing fine.'
Wallace Stegner, Crossing to Safety, p.191.


'Friendship is the most selfish thing there is.'
Wallace Stegner, Crossing to Safety, p.140.


'...if you have to make notes on how a thing has struck you, it probably hasn't struck you.' 
Wallace Stegner, Crossing to Safety, p.104.


'I believe that most people have some degree of talent for something - forms, colors, words, sounds. Talent lies around in us like kindling waiting for a match, but some people, just as gifted as others, are less lucky. Fate never drops a match on them. The times are wrong, or their health is poor, or their energy low, or their obligations too many. Something.' 
Wallace Stegner, Crossing to Safety, p.50.


'There is nothing like a doorbell to precipitate the potential into kinetic. When you stand outside a door and push the button something has to happen. Someone must respond; whatever is inside must be revealed. Questions will be answered, uncertainties and mysteries dispelled. A situation will be started on its way through unknown complications to an unpredictable conclusion. The answer to your summons may be a rush of tearful welcome, a suspicious eye at the crack of the door, a shot through the hardwood, anything.'
Wallace Stegner, Crossing to Safety, p.32.