'Whether in a story from a Jericho ditch, or in a letter from a Birmingham jail, we must be reminded that we serve a God of both justice and justification, and we must not pit the two against each other.'
'When the church honors and cares for the vulnerable among us, we are not showing charity. We are simply recognizing the way the world really works, at least in the long run. The child with Downs syndrome on the fifth row from the back in your church, he's not a "ministry project." He's a future king of the universe. The immigrant woman who scrubs toilets every day on hands and knees, and can barely speak enough English to sing along with your praise choruses, she's not a problem to be solved. She's a future queen of the cosmos, a joint-heir with Christ.
The most important cultural witness the church has it not to raiser up Christian filmmakers and novelists and artists and business leaders and politicians, although we ought to work to disciple those in all sorts of callings, and encourage them. The most important cultural task we have is to crucify our incipient Darwinism, in which the leaders on the inside of the kingdom colony are the same as they would be on the outside, even if there were no God in the universe. The first step to cultural influence is not to contextualize the present, but to contextualize to the future, and the future is awfully strange, even to us.'
'...we Christians sometimes forget the paradoxical grace of God in giving us a legacy of both cathedrals and catacombs. The catacombs, of course, are the legacy of a tiny, persecuted band of believers, meeting in their underground graveyards, to escape the all-seeing eye of imperial Rome. The cathedrals represent a very different turn, a church that not only grew in size but, in fact, outgrew and outlasted the Empire itself. The catacombs represent simplicity and earthiness; the cathedrals transcendence and wonder. We need them both.'
'The best advice...for resisting lust is not to get an Internet filter (although you should do that too!), but to have good friends. If we have genuine friendships in which we learn to give and receive love in a healthy and satisfying way, we will be less inclined to wander off looking for sham substitutes and quick fixes.'
'Now, though, as an almost forty-eight-year-old, he saw people's relationships as reflections of their keenest yet most inarticulable desires, their hopes and insecurities taking shape physically, in the form of another person. Now he looked at couples - in restaurants, on the street, at parties - and wondered: Why are you together? What did you identify as essential to you? What's missing in you that you want someone else to provide? He now viewed a successful relationship as one in which both people had recognized the best of what the other person had to offer and had chosen to value it as well.'
'Most people are easy: their unhappiness are our unhappinesses, their sorrows are understandable, their bouts of self-loathing are fast-moving and negotiable. But his were not. We didn't know how to help him because we lacked the imagination needed to diagnose the problems.'
'We all say we want our kids to be happy, only happy, and healthy, but we don't want that. We want them to be like we are, or better than we are. We as humans are very unimaginative in that sense. We aren't equipped for the possibility that they might be worse. But I guess that would be asking too much. It must be an evolutionary stopgap - if we were all so specifically, vividly aware of what might go horribly wrong, we would none of us have children at all.'
'Children are a kind of kind of cartography, and all one has to do is obey the map they present to you on the day they are born.
But he and his friends have no children, and in their absence, the world sprawls before them, almost stifling in its possibilities. Without them, one's status as an adult is never secure; a childless adult creates adulthood for himself, and as exhilarating as it often is, it is also a state of perpetual insecurity, or perpetual doubt.'
'Some of them ask him with pity, and some ask him with suspicion: the first group feel sorry for him, because they think that singlehood is his decision, a defiant violation of a fundamental law of adulthood.
Either way, being single is forty is different from being single at thirty, and with every year it becomes less understandable, less enviable, and more pathetic, more inappropriate.'
'Lately, he had been wondering if codependence was such a bad thing. He took pleasure in all his friendships, and it didn't hurt anyone, so who cared if it was codependent or not? And, anyway, how was a friendship any more codependent than a relationship? Why was it admirable when you were twenty-seven but creepy when you were thirty-seven? Why wasn't friendship as good as a relationship? Why wasn't it even better? It was two people who remained together, day after day, bound not by sex or physical attraction or money or children or property, but only by shared agreement to keep going, the mutual dedication to a union that could never be codified. Friendship was witnessing another's slow drip of miseries, and long bouts of boredom, and occasional triumphs. It was feeling honored by the privilege of getting to be present for another person's most dismal moments, and knowing that you could be dismal around him in return.' Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life, p.225.
'...that process - getting to know someone - was always so much more challenging than he remembered. He always forgot; he was always made to remember. He wished, as he often did, that the entire sequence - the divulging of intimacies, the exploring of pasts - could be sped past, and that he could simply be teleported to the next stage, where the relationship was something soft and pliable and comfortable, where both parties' limits were understood and respected.'
'...in our age we are more prone than ever to expect too much of love as a feeling, and too little of love as an ongoing choice or commitment. In our worship services and marriages, we expect emotional highs will carry us through life's difficult times, when we would better expect engagement in daily disciplines to sustain us in our commitments.'
'...the test of a book, from this perspective, lies in its power to map or transform a life. The question we would ultimately ask of any work of art is this: Can you live it? If you cannot, it may still command considerable interest. The work may charm, it may divert. It may teach us something about the large world; it may convey or refine a remote point. But if it cannot help some of us to imagine a life, or unfold one already latent in us, then it is not a major work.'
'As is the case with the most skilled physicians, who not only heal present ills but also confront future ones with shrewd expertise and forestall them with prescriptions and salutary potions, so also these true physicians of souls destroy, with a spiritual conference as with some heavenly medicine, maladies of the heart just as they are about to emerge, not allowing them to grow in the minds of young men but disclosing to them both the causes of the passions that threaten them and the means of acquiring health.'
John Cassian in Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung, Glittering Vices: A New Look at the Seven Deadly Sins and their Remedies, p.40.
'The standard for the kind of interpretation I have in mind is actually rather straightforward. When a teacher admires an author enough to teach his work, then it stands to reason that the teacher's initial objective ought to be framing a reading that the author would approve. The teacher, to begin with, represents the author. He analyses the text sympathetically, he treats the words with care and caution and with due respect. He works hard with the students to develop a vision of what the world is and how to live that rises from the author's work and that, ultimately, the author, were he present in the room, would endorse.'
'The reason to read Blake and Dickinson and Freud and Dickens is not to become more cultivated or more articulate or to be someone who, at a cocktail party, is never embarrassed (or who can embarrassing others). The best reason to read them is to see if they know you better than you know yourself. You may find your own suppressed and rejected thoughts flowing back to you with an "alienated majesty." Reading the great writers, you may have the experience Longinus associated with the sublime: You feel that you have actually created the text yourself. For somehow your predecessors are more yourself than you are.'
'A romantic, says Nietzsche, is someone who always wants to be elsewhere. If that's so, then the children of the Internet are romantics, for they perpetually wish to be someplace else and the laptop reliably takes them there. The e-mailer, the instant messanger, the Web browser are all dispersing their energies and interests outward, away from the present, the here and now. The Internet user is constantly connecting with people and institutions far away, creating surrogate communities that displace the potential community at hand.'
'Internet-linked computers are desiring-machines - machines for the stimulation of desire. But so is a TV; so in a certain sense is a movie screen. What makes the Internet singular is its power to expand desire, expand possibility beyond the confines of prior media.'
Mark Edmundson, Why Teach? In Defense of a Real Education, p.31.
'You know how you just have to touch your child, sometimes? How you drink him in with your eyes and you could stare at him for hours and you marvel at how dear and impossibly perfect he is?' Anne Tyler, A Spool of Blue Thread, p.117.