Sunday, 31 March 2013


'Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that–pierced–died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mâché,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.'

Saturday, 30 March 2013


'The Christian life is about living to the glory of God. It is not a driven, frenetic, sweated, interminable quest for saving souls. It is doing for his glory what God has given us to do. As with the Olympic runner in the film Chariots of Fire, it is giving God pleasure in what we do well. Souls are saved by saved souls who live out their salvation by thinking and living differently, with a martyr's resolve, in a world marked by falsehood, baseness, injustice, impurity, ugliness and mediocrity.'
Richard John Neuhaus, Death on a Friday Afternoon, p.180.


'When Jesus calls us, he calls us to come and die. We will die anyway. The question is whether we die senselessly or as companions and coworkers of the crucified and risen Lord.'
Richard John Neuhaus, Death on a Friday Afternoon, p.160.

Friday, 29 March 2013


'...the only definition of the self to be trusted is the self that is on the far side of being crucified.'
Richard John Neuhaus, Death on a Friday Afternoon, p.130.


'The passion narrative is not simply a playing out of a script that begins with the cathechism statement that "Jesus died for our sins." His dying is not just a necessary preliminary to the good news of the resurrection. The cross is not just what happened to him - it is who he is. "We preach Christ crucified," Paul declares. The God whom we worship is a crucified God.'
Richard John Neuhaus, Death on a Friday Afternoon, p.117.


'If what Christians say about Good Friday is true, then it is, quite simply, the truth about everything.'
Richard John Neuhaus, Death on a Friday Afternoon, p.xi.

Thursday, 28 March 2013


'Mary is the model of discipleship in her total availability to the will of God. She had no business of her own. She was always on call. To the angel's announcement, she says, "Let it be as you say." She was dependent on others, on Joseph, for example and now on John. By saying yes to the angel and agreeing to be the mother of the Messiah, she had created a situation beyond her control. Who was to pick up the pieces? God provideds by sending an angel to say, "Jospeh, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife." Now at the cross she is once again alone in the world. God provides. "Son, behold your mother. And from that hour John took her to his own home." In her total availability to God, Mary is totally dependent upon God's providing. True availability to God overcomes the fear of being dependent on others, for God provides. It is our determination to be independent by being in control that makes us unavailable to God.'
Richard John Neuhaus, Death on a Friday Afternoon, p.90.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013


'Guilt means that our past - that which can never be made good - always constitutes one element in our present situation.'
Emil Brunner in JI Packer, 'What Did the Cross Achieve?', p.109.


'The passion to pack God into a conceptual box of our own making is always strong, but must be resisted. If we bear in mind that all the knowledge we can have of the atonment is of a mystery about which we can only think and speak by means of models, and which remain a mystery when all is said and done, it will keep us fromn rationalistic pitfals and thus help our progres considerably.'
JI Packer, 'What Did the Cross Achieve?' in Celebrating the Saving Work of God, p.94.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013


'Hope is the form that faith takes in relation to the future.'
Richard John Neuhaus, Death on a Friday Afternoon, p.63.


'Jesus Christ is the answer to which every human life is the question.'
John Paul II in Richard John Neuhaus, Death on a Friday Afternoon, p.56.


'Look at him who is ever looking at you. With whatever faith you have, however feeble and flickering and mixed with doubt, look at him. Look at hime whatever faith you have and know that your worry about your lack of faith is itself a sign of faith. Do not look at your faith. Look at him. Keep looking, and faith will take care of itself.'
Richard John Neuhaus, Death on a Friday Afternoon, p.41.  


'For paradise we long. For perfection we were made. We don't know what it would look like or feel like, but we must settle for nothing less. This longing is the source of the hunger and dissatisafction that mark our lives; it drives our ambition. What we long for is touched in our exaltations; in our devastations it is known by its absence. This longing makes our loves and friendships possible, and so very unsatisfactory. The hunger is for nothing less than paradise, nothing less than perfect communion with the Absolute - with the Good, the True, the Beautiful - communion with the perfectly One in whom all the fragmnets of our scattered existence come together at last and forever. We must not stifle this longing. It is a holy dissatisfaction. Such dissatisfaction is not a sickness to be healed, but the seed of a promise to be fulfilled.'
Richard John Neuhaus, Death on a Friday Afternoon, p.40.


'Jesus does not reject any who turn to him. At times we turn to him with little faith, at times with a mix of faith and doubt when we are more sure of the doubt than of the faith. Jesus is not fastidious about the quality of faith. He takes what he can get, so to speak, and gives immeasurably more than he receives. He takes our faith more seriously than we do and makes of it more than we ever could. His reposnse to our faith is greater than our faith.'
Richard John Neuhaus, Death on a Friday Afternoon, p.38.

Monday, 25 March 2013


'The philosophical problem of theodicy is that of trying to square God's ways with our sense of justice. This assumes that we know what justice is, but the entire story the Bible tells begins with the error of that presumption. It is the original error of wanting to name good and evil. Right from the start Adam tried to put God in the dock, making God responsible for the fall because, after all, God gave him the woman who tempted him to sin. From the beginning we see the argument building up to humanity's cry, "God is guilty!" - building up to the derelict nailed to the cross.'
Richard John Neuhaus, Death on a Friday Afternoon, p.30.


'The perfect self-surrender of the cross is, from eternity and to eternity, at the heart of what it means to say that God is love.'
Richard John Neuhaus, Death on a Friday Afternoon, p.29.


'I may think it modesty when I draw back from declaring myself chief of sinners, but I think it more likely a failure of imagination. For what sinner should I speak if not for myself? Of all the billions of people who have lived and of all the thousands who I have known, whom should I say is the chief of sinners? Surely I am authorized, surely I am competent to speak only for myself? When in the presence of God the subject of sin is raised, how can I help but say that chiefly it is I? Not to confess that I am chiefly the one is not to confess at all.'
Richard John Neuhaus, Death on a Friday Afternoon, p.8.


'This page of Genesis is rewritten every day in the living out of the human story. Each of us has been there when we, godlike, decided that we would determine what is good and what is evil - at least for our own lives. Perhaps we shied away from the godlike pretension of making a universal rule that applies to all. Modestly - or so we said - we limited ourselves to deciding "what is good for me" and "what is wrong for me." "I can speak only for myself," we say. We would not think of "imposing" our judgment upon others. Under the cover of modesty, we deny the truth about the good and evil that does not require our permission to be true. Thus we would evade the truth of good and evil that brings us to judgment. The truth is that we do not judge the truth, the truth judges us.'  
Richard John Neuhaus, Death on a Friday Afternoon, p.13.


'Only he can bring us home who comes from home, who comes from God. Coming from the very heart of God, he is God. And so we say that God became man. It is the longest journey, long beyond our capability to imagine. God became man. We say it trembling. we say it puzzling. but more often we say it rotely, counting on routine to buffer what we cannot bear. What can we do with the burden of such a truth? This is the awful truth that we made necessary the baby crying in the cradle to become the derelict crying from the cross. The awful truth - as in awe-filled, filled with awe.'
Richard John Neuhaus, Death on a Friday Afternoon, p.8.


'...the only simplicity to be trusted is the simplicity to be found on the far side of complexity.'
Alfred North Whitehead in Richard John Neuhaus, Death on a Friday Afternoon: Meditations on The Last Words of Jesus From the Cross, p.5.

Thursday, 21 March 2013


'A child kicks his legs rythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"...Perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes ever daisy separately, but that he has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repitition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore.'
GK Chesterton in Tim Chester, You Can Change, p.97.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013


'As a church historian I am automatically rather cautious about the assumption that these are literally the last days. There is no depressed era in Christian history which has not felt itself to be on the verge of Christ's return. And depressed eras have a way of turning into Christian resurgences that regain lost ground and move beyond it to embrace a larger area with purer expressions of the gospel.'
Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life, p.423.  

Monday, 18 March 2013


'Every institution is the lengthened shadow of one man.'
Ralph Waldo Emerson in Alan Jacobs, Original Sin, p.194.

Saturday, 16 March 2013


'So far, so good.'
Roger McGough in The Oxford Book of Children's Poetry, p.18.


'When I was a young man one of my mother's friends said to me, "I have never become reconciled to her death." I thought, how strange. It doesn't seem so now. One doesn't want to become reconciled.'
William Maxwell, What there is to Say we have Said, p.402. 


'There is also the matter of living alone. If you live with somebody you are saved (often by petty irritation) from having to confront despair.'
William Maxwell, What there is to Say we have Said, p.394.


'A family tragedy, past or present, is a magnetic field of everlasting, imploring questions.'
Eudora Welty, What there is to Say we have Said, p.361.

Thursday, 14 March 2013


'After all that has so plausibly been written concerning "the innate idea of God"; after all that has been said of its being common to all men, in all ages and nations; it does not appear that man has naturally any more idea of God than any of the beasts of the field; he has no knowledge of God at all; no fear of God at all; neither is God in all his thoughts. Whatever change may afterwards be wrought (whether by the grace of God or by his own reflection, or by education), he is, by nature, a mere Atheist.'
John Wesley in Alan Jacobs, Original Sin, p.146.


' physic may justly be called the art of restoring health, so education should be considered in no other light than as the art of recovering to man his rational perfection.'
William Law in Alan Jacobs, Original Sin, p.144.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013


'Some men shew a love to others as to their outward man, they are liberal of their worldly substance, and often give to the poor; but have no love to, or concern for the souls of men. Others pretend a great love to men's souls, that are not compassionate and charitable towards their bodies. The making of a great show of love, pity, and distress for souls, costs 'em nothing; but in order to shew mercy to men's bodies, they must part with money out of their pockets. But a true Christian love to our brethren, extends both to their souls and bodies.'
Jonathan Edwards in Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life,, p.266.


'When we are green, still half-created, we believe that our dreams are rights, that the world is disposed to act in our best interests, and that failing and dying are for quitters. We live on the innocent and monstrous assurance that we alone, of all the people ever born, have a special arragement whereby we will be allowed to stay green forever.'
Tobias Wolff, This Boy's Life, p.241.


'Knowing that everything comes to an end is a gift of experience, a consolation gift for knowing that we ourselves are coming to an end. Before we get it we live in a continuous present, and imagine the future as more of that present. Happiness is endless happiness, innocent of its own sure passing. Pain is endless pain.'
Tobias Wolff, This Boy's Life, p.194.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013


'...the insistence on moral rigor can be deadening to culture, can make it like a barren soil soaked in chemical poisons, unless the moral sensibility of the church is very finely tuned. The church must discriminate only against real evil. Otherwise, it can exert a sterilizing force similar to the straits which Communist states have sometimes imposed on their artists.'
Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life, p.345.


'The institutional residues of Christendom often appear to be empty fossils left by previous life, shells that were once inhabited by growing organisms but are now inert and useless. But this is a mistaken image. The best analog is perhaps a southwestern desert landscape. All around us are arroyos, the empty gullies dug by floods from the spring rains, and the great river of institutional Christianity into which they lead is now an extensive mud flat with a thin ribbon of living water wandering through the center, almost hiddden from view. But it requires only a spring for the gullies to fill again and the river to flow full to its banks, to make all things alive and even old things new.'
Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life, p.336.


'Unfortunately most Evangelical ministers only come in contact with non-Evangelical thinking conditions of reactive encounter. Much of their assessment of the gifts of non-Evangelicals comes out of situations in which each party is so acutely aware of the peculiarities of the other's enculturation that its own response is polarized and exagerated. If one addresses a congregation of bulls while wearing a red suit, one is likely to conclude that dialog is useless. Leaders who manage to project an image which has been purified from enculturation, who are courteous, charitable and free from intellectual self-righteousness, are likely to see a different side of the opposition. Ultimately both sides must come to recognize that they are dealing, not always with raging wolves, but often only with confused and angry sheep.'
Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life, p.326.  


'...the participants in dialog must accept their responsibility to love, respect and empathize with one another, and not draw back from this as if it were a dangerous heresy. All parties must be ready, at least provisionally, to learn something from Christ through one another and to recognize something of Christ in one another. Evangelicals must admit that many of the values present in the original evangelical movement are still preserved in non-Evangelical sectors of the church, sometimes more fully expressed there than among themselves. We must realize that our opponents are not always rejecting orthodoxy but only our handling of it. We must seek to help others to reach truth rather than passing sentence on those with imperfectly sanctified minds. We must grow to understand the historical forces which have distorted the faith of others and learn enough of the semantic and cultural roadblocks in their minds that we can speak in a tongue which will reach them. All must remember that there is plenty of historical evidence for the worst stereotypes the parties have of one another - and then forget the stereotypes and deal with the present reality.'
Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life, p.323.


'...the separatist and the inclusivist should respect one another, keeping in mind that great buildings are sometimes raised on rejected cornerstones.
Both of these ecclesiological postures require constant attention and criticism, of course. They are makeshift correctives for the opposing errors of schism and indiscipline which afflict the church in its imperfect historical existence. Each is slightly off balance, and needs repeated tuning so that it can avoid collapsing into parochial sectarianism or indiscriminate spiritual chaos.
The separatist needs to be reminded to maintain realistic contact with inclusivist denominations and federations and seek federal (and where possible, organic) union with other Evangelical bodies. The fact that separatists often neglect these unitive procedures and even indulge in further separations is presumptive evidence that the original separation from the parent body was not fully principled but motivated by parochialism, hypercritical perfectionism or the source which Paul indicates as the root cause of schism, an exagerrated view of one's tradition, party or personal leadership which puts any one or all of these ahead of the unity of the body of Christ.
The inclusivist needs to be warned to exercise discipline where this is necessary for the health of the church and be advised to strive for sharp doctrinal clarity in the midst of twilight surroundings. Some inclusivists have remained in their denominations mainly because they have always been a little fuzzy in their doctrinal awareness. They can easily fall into a posture of downplaying doctrines altogether as a divisive factor and sustituting experience.'
Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life, p.312.   

Tuesday, 5 March 2013


'Dividing the church in the interest of renewing it is no more feasible than severing the parts of a body to improve its health. Even if the severed parts survive, they suffer loss, and they will never function properly until they are reunited in fellowship. Leaders who secede from imperfect denominations and denominations which eject imperfect leadership simply lose the values of the group they reject while they insure the unrestrained growth of its defects in a body of future converts.'
Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life, p.306.

Monday, 4 March 2013


'Is it not as clear as day that man's condition is dual? The point is that if man had never been corrupted, he would, in his innocence, confidently enjoy both truth and felicity, and, if man had never been anything but corrupt, he would have no idea either of truth or bliss. But unhappy as we are...we have an idea of happiness but cannot attain it.'  
Blaise Pascal in Alan Jacobs, Original Sin, p.117.


'Real true faith is man's weakness leaning on God's strength.'
DL Moody in Sally Lloyd-Jones, Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing, p.221.


'When you were little, did someone big ever carry you? Did you rest your head on his shoulder, lean your whole weight on him?
Faith is leaning your whole weight on God. Resting your head on his shoulder.
Faith means resting - relying - not on who we are, or what we can do, or how we feel, or what we know.
Faith is resting in who God is and what he has done.
And he has done EVERYTHING.
"And so we know and rely on the love God has for us." (1 John 4:16).'
Sally Lloyd-Jones, Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing, p.77.


'Fearlessness in those without power is maddening to those who have it.'
Tobias Wolff, This Boy's Life, p.21.

Saturday, 2 March 2013


'The techniques of opening conversation are universal. I knew long ago and rediscovered that the best way to attract attention, help, and conversation is to be lost. A man who seeing his mother starving to death on a path kicks her in the stomach to clear the way, will cheerfully devote several hours of his time giving wrong directions to a total stranger who claims to be lost.'
John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley, p.9.


'...a journey is like a marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.'
John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America, p.4.