Thursday, 24 November 2016


'The light and comfort which some of them enjoy, gives a new relish to their common blessings, and causes all things about 'em to appear as it were beautiful, sweet and pleasant to them: all things abroad, the sun, moons and stars, the clouds and sky, the heavens and earth, appear as it were with a cast of divine glory and sweetness upon them.' 
Jonathan Edwards in Belden C Lane, Ravished by Beauty, p.186. 


'As an heir of John Locke, Edwards put a twist on the way that people in the eighteenth century ordinarily spoke of knowing God in comparison to how they knew the world around them. Most were accustomed to distinguishing between their knowledge of the physical world (by sensation) and their knowledge of an ethereal, non-sensory God (by faith and reason). Edwards argued, however, that God in the mystery of God's own being is far more "sensuous" - more full of infinite delights, more prone to endless expansion of relationships, more astonishingly beautiful - than anything that you can imagine in this stunningly sensuous world around us. In effect, he said, if you think this world is sensuous and beautiful you haven't seen anything yet!All this is but a dim, quasi-sensual reflection of God's still greater glory, overflowing spontaneously from the mystery of God's inner-Trinitarian life. That's when all desire and all connectedness find their birth.' 
Belden C Lane, Ravished by Beauty, p.179. 


'...when we are delighted with flowery meadows and gentles breezes of wind, we may consider that we only see the emanations of the sweet benevolence of Jesus Christ; when we behold the fragrant rose and lily, we see his love and purity. So the green trees and fields, and singing of birds, are emanations of his infinite joy and benignity; the easiness and naturalness of trees and vines shadows of his infinite beauty and loveliness; the crystal rivers and murmuring streams have the footsteps of his sweet grace and bounty.' 
Jonathan Edwards in Belden C Lane, Ravished by Beauty, p.177. 

Tuesday, 22 November 2016


' is a sin to make ugly what God has created for the purpose of reflecting and sharing God's beauty.' 
Belden C Lane, Ravished by Beauty, p.172. 

Sunday, 20 November 2016


'Shall Mortall, and Immortall marry? nay,
Man Marry God? God be a Match for Mud?
The King of Glory Wed a Worm? mere Clay?
This is the Case. The Wonder too in Bliss.
Thy Maker is thy husband. Hearst thou this?'
Edward Taylor in Belden C Lane, Ravished by Beauty, p.110. 

Saturday, 19 November 2016


'Sound Bible exposition is an imperative must in the church of the living God. Without it no church can be New Testament church in any strict meaning of that term. But exposition may be carried on in such a way as to leave the hearers devoid of any true spiritual nourishment whatever. For it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself, and unless and until the hearers find God in personal experience they are not the better for having heard the truth. The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, and that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and centre of their hearts.' 
AW Tozer, The Pursuit of God, p.13. 


'We shall never be capable of clearly knowing till we are capable of fully enjoying...' 
Richard Baxter in Belden C Lane, Ravished by Beauty, p.105. 


'Every creature is a line leading to God.' 
Benjamin Whichcote in Belden C Lane, Ravished by Beauty, p.104. 


'I said to all those things which stand about the gate to my senses: "Tell me about my God...tell me something about him." And they cried out in a loud voice: "He made us." My question was in my contemplation of them, and their answer was in their beauty.' 
Augustine of Hippo in Belden C Lane, Ravished by Beauty, p.101. 


'Clear up thine eye, and fix it on him as upon the fairest of men, the perfection of spiritual beautie...., accordingly fasten on him, not thine eye only, but thy mightiest love, and hottest affection. Look on him so, that thou maist lust after him; for here it is a sin, not to look that thou maist lust, and not to lust having looked.' 
Bernard of Clairvaux in Belden C Lane, Ravished by Beauty, p.100. 


'God is a delicious good. That which is the chief good must ravish the soul with pleasure: there must be in it rapturous delight and quintessence of joy.' 
Thomas Watson in Belden C Lane, Ravished by Beauty, p.99. 


'When we taste things that are delicately sweet, let us say to ourselves, O how sweet is that God from whom all these creatures have received their sweetness.' 
Lewis Bayly in Belden C Lane, Ravished by Beauty, p.98. 

Tuesday, 15 November 2016


'...the Psalmists insists that if the only prayer we have to offer is one of bitter anguish, we pray it nonetheless. The poet knows that in the release of anger, intimacy is realized. God longs for whatever lies in the depths of the soul.' 
Belden C Lane, Ravished by Beauty, p.95. 


'The Word of God is not distinguished from the word of the prophet. God does not wish to be heard but by the voice of his ministers. Christ acts by them in such a manner that he wishes their mouth to be reckoned as his mouth, and their lips as his lips.' 
John Calvin in Belden C Lane, Ravished by Beauty, p.80. 

Monday, 14 November 2016


'At the heart of the performance - near the end of the second act, perhaps - there is something easily misunderstood, if not missed altogether. What is set up to be the the grandest display of God's glory in the whole production turns out to be the enigmatic entrance of a clown, a fool who dies on a cross. This scene provokes nervous laughter from some, a degree of pity from others, but for most of the audience a strange sense that the play has somehow gotten off track and lost its direction. Yet this is the point of dramatic reversal on which everything else hinges. In this moment, all mask are removed, all costumes taken off and God's desire is revealed at last as naked and unbounded love.' 
Belden C Lane, Ravished by Beauty, p.73. 


'God of his nature is inclines to allure us to himself by gentle and loving means, as a father goes about to win his children, by laughing with them and giving them all they desire. If a father could always laugh with his children and fulfill all their desires, all his delight would surely be in them. Such a one does God show himself to be towards us.' 
John Calvin in Belden C Lane, Ravished by Beauty,. p.71. 


'We see, indeed, the world with our eyes, we tread the earth with our feet, we touch the innumerable kinds of God's works with our hands, we inhale a sweet and pleasant fragrance from herbs and flowers, we enjoy boundless benefits; but in those very things of which we attain some knowledge, there dwells such an immensity of divine power, goodness, and wisdom, as absorbs all our senses.' 
John Calvin in Belden C Lance, Ravished by Beauty, p.69. 


'For in this world God blesses us in such a way as to give us a mere foretaste of his kindness, and by that taste to entice us to desire heavenly blessings with which we may be satisfied.' 
John Calvin in Belden C Lane, Ravished by Beauty, p.69.  


'We are cold when it comes to rejoicing in God! Hence, we need to exercise ourselves in it and employ all our senses in it - our feet, our hands, our arms and all the rest - that they all might serve in the worship of God and so magnify him.' 
John Calvin in Beldon C Lane, Ravished by Beauty, p.69 


'The whole world is a theater for the display of the divine goodness, wisdom, justice and power; but the church is the orchestra, as it were - the most conspicuous part of it.' 
John Calvin in Belden C Lane, Ravished by Beauty, p.67. 

Thursday, 10 November 2016


'The chief means for attaining wisdom...are the holy scriptures, and prayer. The one is the fountain of living water, the other the bucket with which we are to draw.' 
John Newton in Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller, My Rock, My Refuge, p.314. 


'....willingly to cast from the mind wrath, hatred, desire for revenge, and willingly to banish to oblivion the remembrance of injustice.' 
John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (Ed; John T McNeill), p.912. 


'...there is nothing in which we can benefit our brethren more than in commending them to the providential care of the best of fathers; for if he is kind and favorable, nothing at all else can be desired. Indeed, we owe this very thing to our Father. Just as one who truly and deeply loves any father of a family at the same time embraces his whole household with love and good will, so it becomes us in like measure to show his people, to his family, and lastly, to his inheritance, the same zeal and affection we have toward this heavenly Father.' 
John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (Ed: John T McNeill), p.901. 

Monday, 7 November 2016


'The Puritans (as Reformed believers) had to set clear boundaries about sexual behavior because of their passionate spirituality. They also had to caution themselves against the danger of pantheism because of the earthly spirituality they espoused - warning themselves against confusing the world's lesser beauty with God's unique glory. Reformed Christians who seem prudish and proper are thus revealed to be a people of incredibly passionate desire. Calvinist believers who seem so focused on divine transcendence turn out to be closet nature mystics who exult in God's beauty everywhere in creation. This is the double irony of Reformed spirituality. Curiously the tradition has come to be known more for its cautions against pantheism and passion than for its original emphases on nature and desire themselves.' 
Belden C Lane, Ravished by Beauty, p.26. 


'We have been placed here, as in a spacious theater, to behold the works of God, and there is no work of God so small as we ought to pass by it it lightly, but all ought to be carefully and diligently observed.' 
John Calvin in Belden C Lane, Ravished by Beauty, p.21. 


'Every experience of beauty involves the joyous agony of a desire unattained.' 
Belden C Lane, Ravished by Beauty, p.6. 


'The satisfied never make good teachers. It isn't the mastery of truth, but a relentless longing for it that qualifies those who become trusted guides for others. Mark it down as a rule: the desert alone possesses the secret knowledge of water.' 
Belden C Lane, Ravished by Beauty: The Surprising Legacy of Reformed Spirituality, p.1. 

Sunday, 6 November 2016


'Contemporary people tend to examine the Bible, looking for things they can't accept, but Christians should reverse that, allowing the Bible to examine us looking for things God can't accept.' 
Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller, My Rock, My Refuge, p.307. 

Saturday, 5 November 2016


'Every library is autobiographical...our books will bear witness for or against us, our books reflect who we are and what we have been...What makes a library a reflection of its owner is not merely the choice of titles themselves, but the mesh of associations implied in the choice.' 
Alberto Manguel in Penelope Lively, Ammonites and Leaping Fish, p.184. 


'What we have read makes us what we are - quite as much as what we have experienced and where we have been and who we have known. To read is to experience.' 
Penelope Lively, Ammonites and Leaping Fish, p.161. 


'What memory has in common with art is the knack for selection, the taste for detail...Memory contains precisely details, not the whole picture; highlights, if you will, not the entire show.' 
Joseph Brodsky in Penelope Lively, Ammonites and Leaping Fish, p.127. 


'The body may decline, may seem a dismal reflection of what went before, but the mind has a healthy continuity, and some kind of inbuilt fidelity to itself, a coherence over time. We learn, and experience; attitudes and opinions may change, but most people, it seems to me, retain an essential persona, a cast of mind, a trademark footprint. It is not so much that we simply get more like ourselves, as has been said, but that the self in question may expand, mutate, over time, but retains always that signature identity.' 
Penelope Lively, Ammonites and Leaping Fish, p.42. 


'Reading in old age is doing for me what it has always done - it frees me from the closet of my own mind. Reading fiction, I see through the prism of another person's understanding; reading everything else, I am travelling - I am travelling in the way that I still can: new sights, new experiences. I am reminded sometimes of the intensity of childhood reading, that absolute absorption when the very ability to read was a heady new gain, the gateway to a different place, to a parallel universe you hadn't known was there. The one entirely benign mind-altering drug. Except of course for those who ban or burn books, in which benign doesn't come into it, but the power of books is all the more acknowledged.
So I have my drug, perfectly legal and I don't need a prescription.' 
Penelope Lively, Ammonites and Leaping Fish, p.36. 


'...memory - the vapour trail without which which we are undone...' 
Penelope Lively, Ammonites & Leaping Fish, p.5. 


'A lifetime is embedded; it does not float free, it is tethered - to certain decades, to places, to people. It has a context; each departure leaves a person-shaped void - the absence within a family, the presence lost within a house, in a community, in society itself. We go, but hang on for a while in other people's heads - something we said, something we did; we leave a ghostly imprint on our backdrop. A very few people go one further and are distilled into a blue plaque on a building.' 
Penelope Lively, Ammonites & Leaping Fish: A Life in Time, p.3. 


'Cavanaugh, lifting his wineglass, talked to it. "Life," he said. Then said, "Life is thirst." Nobody was listening. He drank his thirst.'
Leonard Michaels, The Men's Club, p.84. 


'Moving on, as a concept, is for stupid people, because
any sensible person knows grief is a long-term
project. I refuse to rush. The pain that is thrust upon
us let no man slow or speed or fix.' 
Max Porter, Grief is the Thing with Feathers, p.99. 


'They offer me a space on the sofa next to them
and the pain of them being so naturally kind is like
appendicitis. I need to double over and hold myself
because they are so kind and keep regenerating and
recharging their kindness without any input from me.'
Max Porter, Grief is the Thing with Feathers, p.46.  


'She told us that men were rarely truly
kind, but they were often funny, which
is better. "You would do well to prepare
yourselves for disappointment" she said,
"in your dealings with men. Women are on
the whole much stronger, usually cleverer"
she said, "but less funny which is a shame..."
Max Porter, Grief is the Thing with Feathers, p.33. 


'Holiday and school became the same.'
Max Porter, Grief is the Thing with Feathers, p.14. 


'....every crayon, tractor, coat, welly, covered in a film of grief...'
Max Porter, Grief is the Thing with Feathers, p.9. 

Wednesday, 2 November 2016


'He is our mouth, through which we speak to the Father; he is our eye, through which we see the Father; he is our right hand, through which we offer ourselves to the Father. Unless he intercedes, there is no intercourse with God either for us or for all saints.' 
Ambrose in John Calvin, Institues of the Christina Religion 2 (Edited by John T McNeill) p.879.