Monday, 24 March 2014


'...sin is not only personal and individual (a violation of a relationship); it also becomes inscribed into the cultural institutions of our human making (a refusal of our commission to be God's vice-regents). Culture-making - unfolding the latent possibilities that have been folded into creation - is a vocation given to us as image bearers of God. Just as the Fall means not that we stop desiring but rather that our desire becomes disordered, so too sin does not mean that we stop being culture makers; rather, it means that we do this poorly, sinfully, unjustly.'
James KA Smith, Desiring the Kingdom, p.178.  


The Weaver

My life is just a weaving
Between my Lord and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaves so skillfully.

Sometimes He weaveth sorrow
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ‘til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And explain the reasons why-

The dark threads are as needful,
In The Weaver’s skillful hands
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.

BM Franklin

Sunday, 23 March 2014


'Christian discipleship is the shape of what it means to be a renewed human being and constitutes a restoration of the gift and call of being human that was given and announced in the Garden of Eden.'
James KA Smith, Desiring the Kingdom, p.174. 

Tuesday, 18 March 2014


Human Frailty

Weak and irresolute is man;
The purpose of today,
Woven with pains into his plan,
Tomorrow rends away.

The bow well bent and smart the spring,
Vice seems already slain,
But passion rudely snaps the string,
And it revives again.

Some foe to his upright intent
Finds out his weaker part,
Virtue engages his assent,
But pleasure wins his heart.

'Tis here the folly of the wise
Through all his art we view,
And while his tongue the charge denies,
His conscience owns it true.

Bound on a voyage of awful length
And dangers little known,
A stranger to superior strength,
Man vainly trust his own.

But oars alone can ne'er prevail
To reach the distant coast,
The breath of heav'n must swell the sail,
Or all the toil is lost.

William Cowper, Cowper: Verse and Letters,(Edited by Brian Spiller), p.58. 


'The glory of God is a human being fully alive.'
Irenaeus in James KA Smith, Desiring the Kingdom, p.169. 


'His death was not simply the messy bit that enables our sins to be forgiven but can then be forgotten. The cross is the surest, truest, and deepest window on the very heart and character of the living and loving God...And when therefore we speak...of shaping our world, we do not - we dare not - simply treat the cross as the thing that saves us us "personally" but which can be left behind when we get on with the job. The task of shaping our world is best understood as the redemptive task of bringing the achievement of the cross to bear on the world, and in that task the methods, as well as the message, must be cross-shaped through and through.' 
Tom Wright in James KA Smith, Desiring the Kingdom, p.164. 

Friday, 14 March 2014


'It seems to me that the moment the Holy Spirit blows through may be far less spectacular, and require far less from us than dreadful self-preparation and self-abandonment… I was a Narnia-loving child. And one of the things I found hardest was [Lewis’] insistence on a kind of frantic willingness to dissolve yourself, to rush towards Aslan and have your head bitten off if necessary. Sometimes I think that is an artefact of the fears and protections of the person speaking. Take John Donne, another extremely egotistical Christian, who said he wouldn’t be chaste unless God "ravished" him. Well, maybe what God wanted to do was to take John Donne out to the movies and kind of gently inch His hand along the back of the seat. The fact that Donne imagined having his clothes ripped off on a picnic blanket - that’s his problem, not some kind of operating requirement of the Holy Spirit.'
Francis Spufford at:

Tuesday, 11 March 2014


'He who, not in any sense for himself or to himself, is surrendered to an entire ardour cannot be said to be far away from the Kingdom which will manifest Itself as Its chosen time; the sooner if, as has been insisted throughout, this ardour is directed  and controlled by the doctrines of the Christian religion.' 
Charles Williams in James KA Smith, Desiring the Kingdom, p.123. 

Saturday, 8 March 2014


'Immortal Heat, O let Thy greater flame
      Attract the lesser to it; let those fires
      Which shall consume the world first make it tame,
And kindle in our hearts such true desires.
As may consume our lusts, and make Thee way:
      Then shall our hearts pant Thee, then shall our brain
      All her invention on Thine altar lay,
And there in hymns send back Thy fire again.
Our eyes shall see Thee, which before saw dust,
      Dust blown by wit, till that they both were blind:
      Thou shalt recover all Thy goods in kind,
Who wert disseized by usurping lust:
All knees shall bow to Thee; all wits shall rise,
And praise Him Who did make and mend our eyes.'
George Herbert, 'Love II' in A Year with George Herbert, p.50. 

Wednesday, 5 March 2014


'It is to our shame and disgrace today that so many Christians - I will be more specific: so many of the soundest and most orthodox Christian - go though this world in the spirit of the priest and the Levite in our Lord's parable, seeing human needs all around them, but (after a pious wish, and perhaps a prayer, that God might meet those needs) averting their eyes, and passing by on the other side. That is not the Christmas spirit. Nor is it the spirit of those Christians - alas, they are many - whose ambition in life seems limited to building a nice middle-class Christian home, and making nice middle-class Christian friends, and bringing up their children in nice middle-class Christian ways, and who leave the sub-middle-class sections of the community, Christian and non-Christian to get on by themselves. 
The Christmas spirit does not shine out in the Christian snob. For the Christmas spirit is the spirit of those who, like their Master, live their whole lives on the principle of making themselves poor - spending and being spent - to enrich their fellow humans, giving time, trouble, care and concern, to do good to others - and not just their own friends - in whatever way there seems need.' 
JI Packer, Knowing God, p.70. 


'It is from misbelief, or at least inadequate belief , about the incarnation that difficulties at other points in the gospel story usually spring. But once the incarnation is grasped as a reality, these other difficulties dissolve.' 
JI Packer, Knowing God, p.58. 


'...the supreme mystery with which the gospel confronts us does not the Good Friday message of atonement, nor in the Easter message of the resurrection, but in the Christmas message of incarnation.' 
JI Packer, Knowing God, p.58. 

Tuesday, 4 March 2014


'All habits and practices are ultimately trying to make us into a certain kind of person. So one of the most important questions we need to ask is: Just what kind of person is this habit or practice trying to produce, and to what end is such a practice aimed?' 
James KA Smith, Desiring the Kingdom, p.83. 

Monday, 3 March 2014


'...I think we should first recognize and admit that the marketing industry - which promises an erotically charged transcendence through media that connects to our heart and imagination - is operating with a better, more creational, more incarnational, more holistic anthropology than much of the (evangelical) church. In other words, I think we must admit that the marketing industry is able to capture, form, and direct our desires precisely because it has rightly discerned that we are embodied, desiring creatures whose being-in-the-world is governed by the imagination. Marketers have figured out the way to our heart because they "get it": they rightly understand that, at root, we are erotic creatures - creatures who are orientated primarily by love and passion and desire. In sum, I think Victoria is in on Augustine's secret. But meanwhile the church has been duped by modernity and has bought into a kind of Cartesian model of the human person, wrongly presuming that the heady realm of ideas and beliefs is the core of our being. These are certainly part of being human, but I think they come second to embodied desire. And because of this, the church has been trying to counter the consumer formation of the heart by focusing on the head and missing the target: it's as if the church is pouring water on our head to put out the fire in our heart.'
James KA Smith, Desiring the Kingdom, p.76. 

Sunday, 2 March 2014


' orientation toward a particular vision of the good life becomes embedded in our dispositions or "adoptive unconscious" by being pictured in concrete, alluring ways that attract us in a non cognitive level ... By "pictures" of the good life I mean aesthetic articulations of human flourishing as found in images, stories, and films (as well as advertisements, commercials, and sitcoms). Such pictures appeal to our adoptive unconscious because they traffic in the stuff of embodiment and affectivity. Stories seep into us - and stay there and haunt us - more than a report on the facts. A film like Crash gets hold of our hearts and minds and moves us in ways that textbooks on racism never could. This is because it is a medium that traffics in a wavelength, as it were, that is closer to the core of our being. Such compelling visions, over time, seep into and shape our desire and thus fuel dispositions toward them.' 
James KA Smith, Desiring the Kingdom, p.58.