Thursday, 28 July 2016


'For a start there are friends you don't like. I've got plenty of those. Then there are friends you do like, but never both to see. Then there are the ones you really like a lot, but can't stand their partners. There are those you just have out of habit and can't shake off. Then there's the ones you're friends with not because you like them, but because they're good-looking or popular and it's kind of cool to be their friends. Trophy friends... Then there are sports friends. There are friends of convenience - they're usually work friends. There are pity friends who you stay with because you feel sorry for them. There are acquaintances who are on probation as friends.' 
Tim Lott in Mark Vernon, The Meaning of Friendship, p.6.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016


'Each of our friendships - some more, some less - contributes an element of individuality to our character. Each one leads us in a particular direction that no other can duplicate.' 
Alexander Nehamas, On Friendship, p.221. 


'To know something intimately is to know it in detail, to understand what "makes it tick"; it is to know, to some extent, what makes it the particular person or thing it is, and to be aware of the subtle ways in which it differs from others that are still very much like it...' 
Alexander Nehamas, On Friendship, p.215. 


'Life is a habit. You do something, then you do it again, then again, and before you know it, that's what you are, and that's who you are, and you can't imagine being anything or anyone else.' 
Tim Lott in Alexander Nehamas, On Friendship, p.214. 


'Friendship has its own mortars and pestles, its own alembics and retorts: it comes closer to transmuting the self than any alchemist came to transmuting his metals. Like alchemy, friendship often delivers nothing but dross; unlike it, however, it sometimes arrives at gold.' 
Alexander Nehamas, On Friendship, p.211. 

Tuesday, 26 July 2016


'Character is like style: that some artists have a distinct style doesn't mean that we predict what the works they produce in the future will be like. Once they are produced, however, we will recognize that they were made by the same hand and perhaps delight in seeing how a particular style is manifested in a distinct and, for that reason, engaging work. Just so, one of the great pleasures of friendship is recognizing our friends' character in all sorts of new situations and actions that, although we could never have predicted them, make perfect sense once they have been performed.' 
Alexander Nehamas, On Friendship, p.151. 

Monday, 25 July 2016


'Friendship, like very kind of love, requires more than an appreciation of what we already know our friends to be. It also makes, as I said, a commitment to the future. Saying "You are my friend" or, more generally, "I love you," it is not only an expression of how I feel at the present moment. It is also, and crucially, a promise that my feelings will last longer than this present moment and an expression of my sense that our place in each other's life will in some way make life for both of us better than it would be otherwise. Our friendship reflects not only what we already found attractive about each other (think how little we may know about each other some people when we make such a commitment) but also on the sense that other things about us, things we don't know yet - even things that may come into existence only because of our friendship - will seem attractive to us as we come to know each other better: "Love is not an end but a process through which one person attempts to know another."' 
Alexander Nehamas, On Friendship, p.134. 


'Just as we can't fully explain what is beautiful, so we can't fully explain why we are friends with someone in a way that will make the grounds of our attraction obvious to another - and even to ourselves. Our efforts always leave something out. And it is what is always left out that we try to gesture toward when we say that it is not something about our friends that we love but our friends themselves. But the self that we love is always just one one step behind whatever we can actually articulate. And so we are faced with a choice between saying something that seems informative but is never enough of an explanation ("loyal, practical, unworldly and so on") and saying something else that seems like an explanation but is completely uninformative ("the individual, in the uniqueness and integrity of his or her individuality").'
Alexander Nehamas, On Friendship, p.131.  

Wednesday, 20 July 2016


'I am sure that I have run more swiftly with a lame leg than I ever did with a sound one. I am certain that I have seen more in the dark than I ever saw in the light, - more stars, most certainly, - more things in heaven if fewer things on earth. The anvil, the fire, and the hammer, are the making of us; we do not get fashioned much by anything else. That heavy hammer falling on us helps to shape us; therefore let affliction and trial and trouble come.' 
Charles Spurgeon in Zack Eswine, Spurgeon's Sorrows, p.139. 

Monday, 18 July 2016


'...courage is not a mode of behavior but the capacity to know when the brave thing to do is stand your ground and when it is to retreat, when to persist in an effort and when to give up, when it is worth risking your life and when it is not. Courage, like every other virtue, is not a form of behavior but a structure of the soul.' 
Alexander Nehamas, on Friendship, p.79.


'Every person starts out as a child dependent on those providing us care, and we remain interdependent with others in thoroughly fundamental ways throughout our lives. That we can think and act as if we were independent depends on a network of social relations making it possible for us to do so.' 
Virginia Held in Alexander Nehamas, On Friendship, p.53. 

Friday, 15 July 2016


'A great sorrow, and one that I am only beginning to understand: we don't get to choose our own hearts. We can't make ourselves want what's good for us or what's good for other people. We don't get to choose the people we are. 
Because - isn't it drilled into us constantly from childhood on, an unquestioned platitude in the culture -? From William Blake to Lady Gaga, from Rousseau to Rumi to Tosca to Mister Rogers, it's a curiously uniform message, accepted from high to low: when in doubt, what to do? How do we know what's right for us? Every shrink, every career counselor, every Disney princess knows the answer: "Be yourself." "Follow your heart." 
Only here's what I really, really want someone to explain to me. What if one happens to be possessed of a heart that can't be trusted -? What if the heart, for its own unfathomable reasons, leads one willfully and in a cloud of unspeakable radiance away from health, domesticity, civic responsibility and strong social connections and all the blandly-held common virtues and instead straight towards a beautiful flare of ruin, self-immolation, disaster?' 
Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch, p.852. 


'And isn't the whole point of things - beautiful things - that they connect you to some larger beauty? Those first images that crack your heart wide open and you spend the rest of your life chasing, or trying to recapture, in one way or another?' 
Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch, p.849. 

Wednesday, 13 July 2016


'The afflicted do not so much look for comfort to Christ as he will come a second to Christ as he came the first time, a weary man and full of woes.' 
Charles Spurgeon in Zack Eswine, Spurgeon's Sorrows, p.85. 


'How can we entrust our sorrows to the larger story of God?'
Zack Eswine, Spurgeon's Sorrows, p.82. 


'When our noses are rubbed red by tissue and our hair falls out, have you noticed that we can still sometimes muster ourselves to welcome the child's drawing or the well-wisher's handwritten note? We can't take the philosopher's treatise or the theologian's lectures. The friend who motors on with sentences, too impatient with silences, must also wait to visit us on a later day. Sick inside, we simply cannot stomach a full meal. But a bit of cracker can help. A fragment of ice, a few syllables of a word timely chosen in friendship, can go a long way, sometimes, can't they?' 
Zack Eswine, Spurgeon's Sorrows, p.23. 

Wednesday, 6 July 2016


'When you see men faint, do not blame them. Perhaps, by their faintness, they have proved of what stuff they are made. They have done as much as flesh and blood can do, and therefore they are faint.' 
Charles Spurgeon in Zack Eswine, Spurgeon's Sorrows, p.48. 


'We do not profess that the religion of Christ will so thoroughly change a man as to take away from him all his natural tendencies; it will give the despairing something that will alleviate that despondency, but as long as that is caused by a low state of body, or diseased mind, we do not profess that the religion of Christ will totally remove it. No, rather, we do see every day that amongst the best of God's servants, there are those who are always doubting, always looking to the dark side of every providence, who look at the threatening more than the promise, who are ready to write bitter things against themselves...' 
Charles Spurgeon in Zack Eswine, Spurgeon's Sorrows: Realistic Hope for those who Suffer from Depression, p.38. 

Monday, 4 July 2016


'...we need to turn Freud on his head. Instead of thinking of "God" language as really being about sex (Freud's reductive ploy), we need to understand sex as really about God, and about the deep desire that we feel for God - the precious clue that is woven into our existence about the final and ultimate union that we seek.' 
Sarah Coakley, The New Asceticism, p.96.