Thursday, 31 December 2015


In, as ever, no particular order (other than the rough order I read them in):
  • Annie Dillard, The Maytrees
  • Harriet Arnow, The Dollmaker
  • Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
  • Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion
  • Kent Haruf, Benediction 
  • J Budziszewski, On the Meaning of Sex 
  • David Brooks, The Road to Character
  • Helen Macdonald, H is for Hawk 
  • Wendell Berry, A Distant Land  
  • Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

Sunday, 27 December 2015


'I'm not really dying today. No person ever died that had a family.'
Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine, p.242.


'"And besides, I like to cry. After I cry it's like it's morning again and I'm starting the day over."
"I heard everything now."
"You just won't admit you like crying too. You cry just so long and everything's fine. And there's your happy ending. And you're ready to go back out and walk around with folks again. And it's the start of gosh-knows-what-all! Any time now, Mr Forrester will think it over and see it's just the only way and have a good cry and then look around and see it's morning again, even though it's five in the afternoon."
"That don't sound like no happy ending to me."
"A good night's sleep, of a ten-minute bawl, or a pint of chocolate ice cream, or all three together, is good medicine, Doug. You listen to Tom Spaulding, M.D."'
Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine, p.206.

Saturday, 26 December 2015


'"No matter how hard you try to be what you once were, you can only be what you are here and now. Time hypnotizes. When you're nine, you think you've always been nine years old and always will be. When you're thirty, it seems you've always been balanced there on that bright rim of middle life. And then when you turn seventy, you are always and forever seventy. You're in the present, you're trapped in a young now or an old now, but there is no other now to be seen.'"
Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine, p.98.


'"The first thing you learn in life is you're a fool. The last thing you learn in life is that you're the same fool."'
Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine, p.81.


' long can you look a sunset? Who wants a sunset to last? Who wants air smelling good always? So after a while, who would notice? After that let's have something else.'
Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine, p.78.


'Should a Happiness Machine, he wondered, be something you can carry in your pocket?
Or, he went on, should it be something that carries you in its pocket?'
Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine, p.68.

Friday, 25 December 2015


'This book, like most of my books and stories, was a surprise. I began to learn the nature of such surprises, thank God, when I was fairly young as a writer. Before that, like every beginner, I thought you could beat, pummel, and thrash an idea into existence. Under such treatment, of course, any decent idea folds up its paws, turns its back, fixes its eyes on eternity, and dies.'
Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine, p.vii.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015


'..."good disagreement" must allow for situations where "agreeing to disagree" cannot be justified. Broadly speaking, most Christians accept that there are issues of doctrine (e.g. the uniqueness of Christ and redemption only through him ) and ethics (e.g. the rejection of injustice and sexual immorality) which are more important than issues of ecclesiastical order (e.g. ordination and infant baptism) because they reach to the heart of the good news about salvation. Applying the language of "good disagreement" in an identical way to all disputed questions, as if they are equivalent, leads to confusion and fails to distinguish their relative importance. On some issues, it may require discipline, differentiation, or even some form of separation among professing Christians - in which case its "goodness" will be evident by the continuing witness to God's grace and truth in how we walk apart: in humility and sorrow, with blessing not cursing, with gentleness not venom.' 
Andrew Atherstone & Andrew Goddard, Good Disagreement? p.18.


'Unity obtained in this worldly fashion, by throwing overboard all disputed points, and ordering the clergy to practise a kind of doctrinal teetotalism, is simply worthless and absurd...Better a thousand times for Churchmen to disagree and be alive, than to exhibit a dumb show of unity and be dead...'
JC Ryle in 'Andrew Atherstone & Andrew Goddard, Good Disagreement? p.9.


'We need to make a distinction between the tolerant mind and the tolerant spirit. A Christian should always be tolerant in spirit - loving, understanding, forgiving and being patient with others, making allowances for them, and giving them the benefit of the doubt, for true love "always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres" [1 Corinthians 13:7]. But how can we be tolerant in mind of what God has clearly revealed to be wrong?'
John Stott in 'Andrew Atherstone & Andrew Goddard, Good Disagreement? Grace and Truth in a Divided Church, p.9.


'...will be universally and always felt during our present state. It insinuates into, and mixes with all our thoughts, and all our actions. It is inseparable from us, as the shadow from our bodies when the sun shines upon us. The holiness of a sinner does not consist in a deliverance from it, but in being sensible of it. striving against it, and being humbled under it and taking occasion from thence to admire our Savior, and rejoice in him as our complete righteousness and sanctification.'
John Newton in Tony Reinke, Newton on the Christian Life, p.122. 


'We seem more attached to a few drops of his grace in our fellow creatures, than to the fullness of grace that is in himself. I think nothing gives me a more striking sense of my depravity than my perseverance and folly in this respect: yet he bears with me, and does me good continually.' 
John Newton in Tony Reinke, Newton on the Christian Life, p.114. 


'My heart is like a country but half-subdued, where all things are in an unsettled state, and mutinies and insurrections are daily happening. I hope I hate the rebels that disturb the King's peace. I am glad when I can point them out, lay hold of them, and bring them to him for justice. But they have many lurking-holes, and sometimes they come disguised like friends, so that I do not know them, till they works discover them.' 
John Newton in Tony Reinke, Newton on the Christian Life, p.110. 


'My heart is like a highway, like a city without walls or gates: nothing so false, so frivolous, so absurd, so impossible, or so horrid, but it can obtain access, and that at any time, or in any place; neither the study, the pulpit, not the Lord's table, exempt me from their intrusion.' 
John Newton in Tony Reinke, Newton on the Christian Life, p.109.

Friday, 11 December 2015


'In one sense, of course, the answer to the question: "Who chose the Gospels?" is, everybody who has know something of that indemonstrable power and majesty and, like Aristides, Justin, Irenaeus, Clement, and countless others, has chosen to live by their telling of the story of Jesus. But second century Christian leaders would have said that neither individuals nor churches had the authority to "choose" which of the many Gospels they liked, but to receive the ones given by God and handed down by Christ through his apostles. 
Christianity, of course, is not the only religion to claim Scriptures which its practitioners receive as revelation from God. But when encountering claims to divine revelation, such as Christians once made and even continue to make concerning their Gospels, one faces that paradoxical necessity of choosing books which one has no authority to choose. And I think I hazard no risk in suggesting this can only be done by heeding the call once heeded by St Augustine: tolle lege, take up and read.' 
CE Hill, Who  chose the Gospels? p.246. 


'Moreover, I would wish that all, making a resolution similar to my own, did not keep themselves away from the words of the Saviour. For they possess a terrible power in themselves, and are sufficient to inspire those who turn aside from the path of rectitude with awe; while the sweetest rest is afforded those who make a diligent practice of them. If, then, you have any concern for yourself, and if you are eagerly looking for salvation, and if you believe in God, you may -since you are not indifferent to the matter - become acquainted with the Christ of God, and after being initiated, live a happy life.' 
Justin Martyr in CE Hill, Who chose the Gospels? p.240. 


'...we have no evidence that the church ever sat down collectively or as individual churches and composed criteria for judging which Gospel (or other literature) it thought best suited its needs. On the contrary, the key realization which best explains our inability to find an ultimate "chooser", which best explains why the church didn't take the easy way out with some kind of singular Gospel and why it never cobbled together a set of criteria to all the Gospel candidates, is that the church essentially did not believe it had a choice in the matter! The question "why did you choose these Gospels?" would not have made sense to many Christians in the second century, for the question assumes that the church, or someone in it, had the authority to make the choice. To many, it would be like the question, "why did you choose your parents?"' 
CE Hill, Who Chose the Gospels? Probing the Great Gospel Conspiracy, p.231. 

Tuesday, 8 December 2015


'A man really ought to say "The resurrection happened two thousand years ago" in the same spirit in which he says, "I saw a crocus yesterday." Because we know what is coming behind the crocus. The spring comes slowly down this way; but the great thing is that the corner has been turned.' 
CS Lewis, 'The Grand Miracle' in CS Lewis Essay Collection: Faith, Christianity and the Church, p.9. 


'....the Christian story is precisely the story of one grand miracle, the Christian assertion being that what is beyond all space and time, what is uncreated, eternal, came into nature, into human nature, descended into His own universe, and rose again, bringing nature up with Him. It is precisely one great miracle.' 
CS Lewis, 'The Grand Miracle' in CS Lewis Essay Collection: Faith, Christianity and the Church, p.3. 

Thursday, 3 December 2015


'Let us remember that the very power of singing was given to human nature chiefly for this purpose, that our warmest affections of soul might break out into natural or divine melody, and that the tongue of the worshipper might express his own heart.' 
Isaac Watts in Bob Kauflin, True Worshippers: Seeking what matters to God, p.109.