Friday, 25 July 2014


'...the evolution of the contemporary world has involved the intersection of two broad tendencies. There has been a humanising of the divine. To give an example: one could argue that the universal declaration of the rights of man is no more than (and again Nietzche saw this clearly) a "secularised" Christianity, in other words a restatement of the content of the Christian religion without belief in God being a requisite. And there is no doubt that we are living through a reversal of divinisation, or a making sacred of the human, in the sense I have just defined: it is only on behalf of another human being that we are prepared, in the case of necessity, to undertake risks, and certainly not to defend the abstract entities of the past.' 
Luc Ferry, A Brief History of Thought, p.244. 

Thursday, 24 July 2014


'...Sin itself receives a measure-for-measure punishment from God: although it sought precisely to suppress God's revelation, it is - against its own will - press-ganged into service as an agent of that revelation.' 
Simon J Gathercole, 'Sin in God's Economy: Agencies in Romans 1 and 7' in Divine and Human Agency in Paul and his Cultural Environment (Edited by John MG Barclay & Simon J Gathercole), p. 172. 


'Looking at the larger canvas of God's action...we can see that for Paul, God is intimately involved in the history of human sin. In both Romans 1 and 7, he shapes human disobedience so that it serves a purpose in his economy - specifically the purpose of revelation. In Romans 1, the massa perditionis of a humanity under the meta-sin or rejection of the divine glory is all set within the framework of the revelation of his wrath. God's judgement issues forth in the actions of that humanity, so that those actions function to reveal more fully the nature of that meta-sin of the human suppression  and exchange of God's glory. In Romans 7, this divine moulding takes a particular form within Israel. God gives the Law so that as Sin surges with all its energy, it is shown up in all its horror.'  
Simon J Gathercole, 'Sin in God's Economy: Agencies in Romans 1 and 7' in Divine and Human Agency in Paul and his Cultural Environment (Edited by John MG Barclay & Simon J Gathercole), p. 171. 


'...there is a relation between idolatry and homosexual practice which is much more clearly at work in this particular argument. The key correspondence lies in the fact that both involve turning away from the "other" to the "same". Although the nature (understood as that which is determined by God) argument is certainly valid, it does not explain as much, perhaps, as the in se model. The greater scope of this latter model is apparent from the fact that Paul uses it in connection with both the meta-sin of idolatry (worshipping "creation, rather than the creator") and in the particular instantation of homosexual practice... In 1.25, creation worships creation, rather than creator, that is to say, it turns away from God, and worships itself. This leads, correspondingly, to a similar structure of sexual relationships: men give up sexual activity with women for passion "for each other" (1.27). To put it another way:

Humanity should be orientated toward God but turns in on itself (Rom. 1.25).
Woman should be oriented toward man, but turns in on itself (Rom. 1.26).
Man should be oriented toward woman, but turns in on itself (Rom. 1.27). 

The meta-sin of creation turning in on itself toward self-worship, then, leads to sexual relationships which mirror this same turn in se.' 
Simon J Gathercole, 'Sin in God's Economy: Agencies in Romans 1 and 7' in Divine and Human Agency in Paul and his Cultural Environment (Edited by John MG Barclay & Simon J Gathercole), p. 164. 


'...contrary to the philosophy of the Enlightenment, which aimed at emancipation and human happiness, technology is well and truly a process without purpose, devoid of any objectives: ultimately, nobody knows any longer the directions in which the world is moving, because it is automatically governed by competition and in no sense directed by the conscious will of men united by a project, at the heart of society...' 
Luc Ferry, A Brief History of Thought, p.215. 

Wednesday, 23 July 2014


'Although atheists would have us believe otherwise, the Christian religion is not entirely given over to waging war against the body, the flesh, the senses. If that were so, how would Christianity have accepted that the divine principle be incarnated in the person of Christ, that the Logos take on the physical aspect of a simple mortal?' 
Luc Ferry, A Brief History of Thought, p.89. 


'There is...a double humility in religion, which opposes it to Greek philosophy from the outset, and which corresponds to the two aspects of the theoria , that of the divinit (theion) and that of contemplative seeing (orao). On the one hand there is the humility, "objective" if you like, of a divine Logos which finds itself "reduced" in the person of Jesus to the status of a lowly mortal (too lowly, for the Greeks). On the other hand, there is the subjective humility of our being enjoined by believers to "let go" of our own thinking faculty, to forsake reason for trust, so as to make a place for faith.'   
Luc Ferry, A Brief History of Thought, p.66. 


' resting its case upon a definition of the human person and an unprecedented idea of love, Christianity was to have an incalculable effect upon the history of ideas. To give one example, it is quite clear that, in this Christian re-evaluation of the human person, of the individual as such, the philosophy of human rights to which we subscribe today would have never established itself.'  
Luc Ferry, A Brief History of Thought, p.60. 


'...what does it matter - for us, today - that the Logos (for the Stoics a "logical" ordering of the world) came to mean Christ as far as Christians were concerned? I might reply that today there exist more than a thousand million Christians - and that for this reason alone, to understand what drives them, their motives, the content and meaning of their faith, is not absurd for anyone with a modicum of interest in their fellow men. But this answer would be inadequate. For what is at stake in this seemingly abstract debate as to where the divine principle resides - whether in the structure of the universe or in the personality of one exceptional man - is no less that the transition from an anonymous and blind doctrine of salvation to one that promises not only that we shall be saved by one person, Christ, but that we shall be saved as individuals in our own right: for what we are, and as we are.' 
Luc Ferry, A Brief History of Thought, p.59. 


'...death means everything that is unrepeatable. Death is, in the midst of life, that which will not return; that which belongs irreversibly to time past, which we have no hope of ever recovering. It can mean childhood holidays with friends, the divorce of parents, or houses and schools we have to leave, or a thousand other examples: even if it does not always mean the disappearance of a loved one, everything that comes under the heads of "Nevermore" belongs in death's ledger.'  
Luc Ferry, A Brief History of Thought: a A Philosophical Guide to Living, p.5. 

Tuesday, 22 July 2014


‘That was the trouble, he thought ruefully, about trying to take refuge in simplicity. The lovers of the simple were too inevitably complex.’
Wallace Stegner, Second Growth, p.208. 


‘We measure time by its deaths, yes, and by its births. For time is also told by life. As some depart, others come. The hand opened in farewell remains open in welcome. I, who once had grandparents and parents, now have children and grandchildren. Like a flowing river that is yet always present, time that is always going is always coming. And that time is told by death and birth is held and redeemed by love, which is always present. Time, then, is told by love’s losses, and by the coming of love, and by love continuing in gratitude for what is lost. It is folded and enfolded forever and ever, the love by which the dead are alive and the unborn welcomed into the womb. The great question for the old and dying, I think, is not if they have loved and been loved enough, but if they have been grateful enough for love received and given, however much. No one who has gratitude is the onliest one. Let us pray to be grateful to the last.’
Wendell Berry, Andy Catlett, p.119. 


‘Increasingly over the last maybe forty years, the thought has come to me that the old world in which our people lived by the work of their hands, close to the weather and earth, plants and animals, was the true world; and that the new world of cheap energy and even cheaper money, honored greed, and dreams of liberation from every restraint, is mostly theater. This new world seems a jumble of scenery and props never quite believable, an economy of fantasies and moods, in which it is hard to remember either the timely world of nature or the eternal world of the prophets and poets. And, I fear, I believe I know, that the doom of the older world I knew as a boy will finally afflict the new one that replaced it. 
The world I knew as a boy was flawed, surely, but it was substantial and authentic. The households of my grandparents seemed to breathe forth a sense of the real cost and worth of things. Whatever came, came by somebody’s work.’
Wendell Berry, Andy Catlett, p.93.


‘…I have learned to understand the old structure of racism as a malevolent convention, the malevolence of which it is hard to locate in the conscious intentions of most people. It was a circumstance that was mostly taken for granted. It was inexcusable, and yet we had the formidable excuse of being used to it. It was an injustice both accommodated and varyingly obscured not only by daily custom, but also by the exigencies and preoccupations of everyday life. We left the issue alone, not exactly by ignoring it, but by observing an elaborate etiquette that permitted us to ignore it. White people who wished to think well of themselves did not use the language of racial insult in front of black people. But the problem for us white people, as we finally had to understand, was that we could not be selectively complicit. To be complicit at all, even thoughtlessly by custom, was to be complicit in the whole extent and reach of the injustice. It is hard for a customary indifference to unstick itself from the abominations to which it tacitly consents. But we were used to it. What is hardest to get used to maybe, once you are aware, is the range of things humans are able to get used to. I was more used to this once than I am now.’
Wendell Berry, Andy Catlett, p.76. 


‘…a boy’s mind is different from an old man’s by precisely a lifetime.’
Wendell Berry, Andy Catlett: Early Travels, p.71. 


'I have often thought that the death of a parent is the one misfortune for which there is no compensation. Even when circumstances don't compound it. Even when others who love the child move quickly and smoothly to guard it and care for it. There is not any wisdom to be gained from the death of a parent. There are no memories of the parent that are not rendered painful by the death, no event surrounding the death that is redeemed by a single happy thought.'  
Jane Smiley, A Thousand Acres, p.292. 

Thursday, 3 July 2014


'The married should be advised, then, that they not worry themselves so much about what they must endure from their spouse but consider what their spouse must endure on account of them.'
Gregory the Great, The Book of Pastoral Rule, p.171. 


'For those who are bound in marriage should be advised that as they mutually consider what is good for their partner, they should be careful that when they please their spouse, they do not displease their Maker.' 
Gregory the Great, The Book of Pastoral Rule, p.169. 

Wednesday, 2 July 2014


'Since it is often the case that when a sermon is delivered in accordance with a high standard, the soul of the speaker is inflated by the hidden joys of self-display, therefore it is necessary that great care be taken so that he might feel the sting of fearful conscience. Otherwise, the one who is able to return others to health will ignore himself and develop the swelling of pride. Let him not abandon himself by helping others or stumble as he enables others to rise. Unfortunately, there are some for whom the greatness of their virtue has become the occasion for their perdition because they were foolishly secure in the confidence of their strength and then died unexpectedly  through negligence. For when virtue resists the vices, the soul is gratified. But in doing so, the mind of the one who does these good things ignores fear and circumspection and instead, rests secure in self-confidence.' 
Gregory the Great, Book of Pastoral Rule, p.209. 


'...every preacher should be "heard" more by his deeds than by his words. Moreover, the footprint of his good living should be that path that others follow rather than the sound of his voice showing them where to go.'
Gregory the Great, Book of the Pastoral Rule, p.206.


'...the human soul in this world is like a ship sailing against the current of a river - it is never able to stay in one place, because it will slide back to the lowest area, unless it struggles mightily.' 
Gregory the Great, Book of Pastoral Rule, p.197.