Tuesday, 30 August 2016

A TEST FOR THE LOCAL CHURCH

'The question which has to be put to every local congregation is the question whether it is a credible sign of God's reign in justice and mercy over the whole of life, whether it cares for its neighbours in a way which reflects and springs out of God's care for them, whether its common life is recognizable as a foretaste of the blessing which God intends for the whole human family.' 
Lesslie Newbigin in Craig G Bartholomew, Where Mortals Dwell, p.129. 

Monday, 29 August 2016

JESUS OWNS EVERYTHING

'The whole earth...belongs to Jesus. It belongs to him by right of creation, by right of redemption and by right of future inheritance - as Paul affirms in the magnificent cosmic declaration of Colossians 1:15-20. So wherever we go in his name, we are walking on his property. There is not an inch of the planet that does not belong to Christ. Mission then is the authorised activity carried out by tenants on the instructions of the owner of the property.' 
Christopher JH Wright in Craig G Bartholomew, Where Mortals Dwell, p.115. 

Sunday, 28 August 2016

THE IMPORTANCE OF RITUAL

'To have any hope of resisting the worst elements of Western consumer culture, we Christians will need an arsenal of rituals to keep us alert to the story of the world that really matters.' 
Craig G Bartholomew, Where Mortals Dwell: A Christian View of Place for Today, p.75. 

Friday, 26 August 2016

MOTHERHOOD

'She stands back and surveys me and says only this.
Frankie.
But there is a birth, a childhood, a whole life buried in the word.'
Tim Lott, White City Blue, p.272.

FRIENDSHIP

'We don't compliment each other, the four of us. We never show that we're impressed or overjoyed on each other's behalf. Don't ask me why. It was the rules. There are always rules.'
Tim Lott, White City Blue, p.191.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

MASCULINITY

'The qualities we deem to be masculine can absolutely be admired, but in our pursuit of these we all too often erase their true meaning and end up chasing idealised, superficial versions. But there are are no shortcuts, and you cannot simply act masculine - it's a complex state that requires far more balance and nuance than we often accept. Strength, courage, assertiveness can all be wonderful characteristics but only in the right hands, and there is much more to masculinity than what we see on the surface. If you're trying to achieve an idealised state of masculinity then you've already failed at your goal; true masculinity is something you must earn by using your gender in a way that benefits everyone.' 
Jack Urwin, Man Up, p.231. 

SEX

'...we mostly have sex because it might feel good for a short time. Obviously this is great , but it does beg the question of why sex is spoken about these days as if it were the be-all and end-all of humanity. If it was that good, why did we bother inventing civilization instead of just spending the last 10,000 years having an orgy in a cave?' 
Jack Urwin, Man Up, p.204. 

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

THE DAMAGE CAUSED BY HOMOPHOBIA

'Homophobia ruins the lives of gay people. It's often deadly, in fact, motivating both murder and suicide. I'm making a note of this now in the hope that what I say next doesn't come off as trivialising the LGBT victims of homophobia. or suggesting we should make this issue all about straight people. But homophobia is one of the earliest forces that conditions, and very often damages straight people too, particularly males. Boys, especially when they're in peer-driven environments like schools, fear others will think they're gay. They're taught to push out any remotely "effeminate" mannerisms or activities, to conceal their emotions, and ditch anything, or anyone, that may raise questions about their sexuality. They learn to treat women as mere objects that exist for their own pleasure, and are discouraged from forming platonic bonds with them (after all, the by whose friends are predominantly girls cannot be straight), and by doing so at such a crucial age, they fail to grasp the appropriate way to treat women and shut themselves off from the only people left in this environment who are likely to give a damn about their emotional problems and help them talk things through. They're forced to sacrifice hobbies they're genuinely interested in, choose subjects at school that aren't seen as girly - hell, pursue careers they don't really like because of a system that makes us decide the path our futures take before we're even old enough to drink. All to not look gay.' 
Jack Urwin, Man Up: Surviving Modern Masculinity, p.168. 

Saturday, 20 August 2016

FALLING IN LOVE VS. STANDING IN LOVE

'Standing in love is different. Unlike falling in love, which is premised on the fact that the lovers are still more or less strangers, to stand in love is to love a person because they are as well known to you as you are to yourself. Falling in love becomes standing in love, if it does, when the thrill of the unknown becomes the delight of knowing another and being known by them. It is the love of friendship and whilst it will no doubt not be perfect, it is focused on the other person. 
Just how unlike standing in love is compared with falling in love can be gleaned by thinking about the difference between being with individuals who are falling in love and with individuals who are standing in love. The first couple - the new lovers - are typically discomforting to be with. They are so in love with each other that they have little concern for anyone else. It's the lovey-dovey syndrome. It is annoying to have to share an evening with them or sit opposite them on the train. They are so absorbed in each other that they do not notice the rest of the world. You are left out. You feel alone when with them. 
Being with people who are standing in love is entirely different. It is a joy. The nicest people to know are those who are in love with each other and who make you feel part of their love. Standing in love bids you welcome too. Such lovers have learnt the art of love with each other and it results in generating a care and concern for others.' 
Mark Vernon, The Meaning of Friendship, p.247.

HUMAN LIFE IS RELATIONAL

'There is no being human on a desert island, anymore than there are such things are solitary ants. The good life is the attempt to live for others in life.' 
Mark Vernon, The Meaning of Friendship, p.243.

HUMANKIND

'Every man alone is sincere. At the entrance of a second person, hypocrisy begins. We parry and fend the approach of our fellowman by compliments, by gossip, by amusements, by affairs. We cover up our thought from him under a hundred folds.' 
Friedrich Nietzsche in Mark Vernon, The Meaning of Friendship, p.233.

Friday, 19 August 2016

MODERN SOCIETY & FRIENDSHIP

'...in practice we appear to be more in love with work, romance, mobility and ourselves than we are with the love called friendship, for all that many would confess otherwise. The structure of modern life, and the choices that people make in it, demonstrate as much.'
Mark Vernon, The Meaning of Friendship, p.219.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

LOVING STRANGERS

'...the best preparation for loving the world at large, and loving it duly and wisely, is to cultivate an intimate friendship and affection towards those who are immediately about us.' 
John Henry Newman in Mark Vernon, The Meaning of Friendship, p.146. 

CHRISTIANITY & CULTURE

'In denying the holiness of the body, and of the so-called physical reality of the world - and in denying support to the good economy, the good work, by which alone the Creation can receive due honor - modern Christianity generally has cut itself off from both nature and culture. It has no serious or competent interest in biology or ecology. And it is equally uninterested in the arts by which humankind connects itself to nature. It manifests no awareness of the specifically Christian cultural lineages that connect us with the past.There is, for example, a splendid heritage of Christian poetry in English that most church members live and die without reading or hearing or hearing about. Most sermons are preached without any awareness of all that the making of sermons is an art that has at times been magnificent. Most modern churches look like they were built by robots without reference to the heritage of church architecture or respect for the place; they embody no awareness that work can be worship. Most religious music now attests to the general assumption that religion is no more than a vaguely pious (and vaguely romantic) emotion.'
Wendell Berry, 'Christianity and the Survival of Creation' in Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community, p.109. 

WORK

'The significance - and ultimately the quality - of the work we do is determined by our understanding of the story in which we are taking part.' 
Wendell Berry, 'Christianity and the Survival of Creation' in Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community, p.109. 

THE BLASPHEMY OF IGNORING THE PHYSICAL

'The dominant religious view, for a long time, has been that the body is a kind of scrip issued by the Great Company Store in the Sky, which can be cashed in to redeem the soul but is otherwise worthless. And the predictable result has been a human creature able to appreciate or tolerate only the "spiritual" (or mental) part of Creation and full of semiconscious hatred of the "physical" or "natural" part, which is ready and willing to destroy for "salvation," for profit, for "victory," or for fun. This madness constitutes the norm of modern humanity and of modern Christianity. 
But to despise the body or mistreat it for the sake of the "soul" is not just to burn one's house for the insurance, nor is it just self-hatred of the most deep and dangerous sort. It is yet another blasphemy. It is to make nothing - and worse than nothing - of the great Something in which we live and move and have our being.'
Wendell Berry, 'Christianity and the Survival of Creation' in Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community, p.107. 

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

THE VALUE OF WORK

'Good human work honors God's work. Good work uses no thing without respect, both for what it is in itself and for its origin. It uses neither tool nor material that it does not respect and that it does not love. It honors nature as a great mystery and power, as as an indispensable teacher, and as the inescapable judge of the work of human hands. It does not dissociate life and work, or pleasure and work, or love and work, or usefulness and beauty. To work without pleasure or affection, to make a product that is not both useful and beautiful, is to dishonor God, nature, the thing that is made, and whomever it is made for. This is blasphemy: to make shoddy work of the work of God. But such a blasphemy is not possible when the entire Creation is understood as holy and the works of God are understood as embodying and thus revealing His Spirit.'
Wendell Berry, 'Christianity and the Survival of Creation' in Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community, p.104. 

MIRACLES

'Whoever really has considered the lilies of the fields and the birds of the air and pondered the improbability of their existence will hardly balk at the turning of water into wine which was, after all, a very small miracle. We forget the greater miracle and still continuing miracle by which water with soil and sunlight is turned into grapes.' 
Wendell Berry, 'Christianity and the Survival of Creation' in Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community, p.103. 

FRIENDSHIP

'Quarrels between friends occur more than anything else when there is a difference between what they think the basis of the friendship is and what it actually is...' 
Aristotle in Mark Vernon, The Meaning of Friendship, p.101. 

Sunday, 14 August 2016

WHEN FRIENDSHIP GOES WRONG

'Friendship is two knives. They will sharpen each other when rubbed together, but often one of them will slip and slice off a thumb.'
Patrick White in Mark Vernon, The Meaning of Friendship, p.74.

FRIENDSHIP

'Perhaps friendship should assert itself more strongly in our romance obsessed world. Perhaps friends should refuse the otherwise overwhelming pressures of the quixotic and declare the joys of their own kind of passion, though that would be a hard thing to do in a culture besotted with the power of erotic possessiveness. The thought provides us with a conclusion. For contra the myth, there is a love that does not desire to possess. It is called friendship. It loves the other, and wants them both to be free. Once friendship has come to be the determining force in a relationship, individuals are able to find themselves and nurture a passion for life, not merely lose themselves lose themselves in starry-eyed love.' 
Mark Vernon, The Meaning of Friendship, p.72. 

MARRIAGE & FRIENDSHIP

'In today's world, there is a myth of romantic love based upon the idea that two lovers become one flesh, a totalisation of life in the other, supremely enacted in sexual ecstasy which is symbolic of that union. The myth or ideal tends to exclude others, not because lovers do not want friends, but because it tells them that their friends are incidental - pleasant but non-essential adornments to the lover's life together. Although few people in real life believe the myth in its entirety, it is difficult to ignore entirely too,' 
Mark Vernon, The Meaning of Friendship, p.71.

HAPPINESS

'A great part, perhaps the greatest part, of human happiness and misery arises from the view of our past conduct, and from the degree of approbation or disapprobation which we feel from the consideration of it.'
Adam Smith in Mark Vernon, The Meaning of Friendship, p.36.

HUMANKIND

'Man naturally desires, not only to be loved, but to be lovely.'
Adam Smith in Mark Vernon, The Meaning of Friendship, p.35. 

MARRIAGE

'"How does it feel to be married?" he called.
She did not answer; it seemed as though she had not heard. How does it feel? she was thinking. It feels like waking up on your twenty-first birthday and realizing that there's no change, that you don't feel an ounce older. That's how it feels. So why ask me? You know how it feels, it's written all over you.' 
Tim Winton, Scission, p.89.

Friday, 12 August 2016

GOD'S TOUCH

'As they turned off the bitumen road into their own run of gravel to the yellow-lit house down in the valley, Albie ended the silence with a question. He was startled by his own toneless delivery.
"Why did that man hit his son for getting hurt?"
His father sighed. He sounded relieved that the silence was finished. "I don't know, boy."
"Would you do that to me?"
The truck slewed and stopped.
"Lord, no. God A'mighty, no!"
"He was going home," Albie said.
His father's mouth moved. He reached out and put his knuckles to Albie's cheek, left them there for a long time, as though still waiting for words to come. "Sorry about the salmon," he said at last, "I should've known better."
The truck moved forward again. Albie felt those knuckles on his cheek still and knew, full to bursting, that that was how God would touch someone. He neither moved nor spoke, and the truck trundled on.'
Tim Winton, Scission, p.13.

PRAYER

'"Come on, Dad. Come on, Dad. Come on, Dad." He often prayed to his father in his absence. God, he decided, was just like his Dad, only bigger. It was easier to pray to him and hope God got the message on relay.'
Tim Winton, Scission, p.9.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

GODLINESS

'A good and devout man firstly sets in order in his mind whatever tasks he has in hand, and never allows them to lead him into occasions for sin, but humbly subjects them to the dictates of sound judgment. Who has a fiercer struggle than he who strives to conquer himself? Yet this must be our chief concern - to conquer self, and by daily growing stronger than self, to advance in holiness.'
Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, p.31.

Monday, 8 August 2016

HUMILITY

'If it seems to you that you know a great deal and have wide experience in many fields, yet remember that there are matters of which you are ignorant. So do not become conceited, but confess your ignorance. Why do you wish to esteem yourself above others, when there are many who are wise and more perfect in the Law of God? If you desire to know or learn anything, then take delight in being unknown and unregarded.
A true understanding and humble estimate of oneself is the highest and most valuable of all lessons. To take no account of oneself, but always to think well and highly of others is the highest wisdom and perfection. Should you see another person openly doing evil, or carrying out a wicked purpose, do not on that account consider yourself better than him, for you cannot tell how long you will remain in a state of grace. We are all frail; consider none more frail than yourself.'
Thomas A Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, p.29. 

TOURISTS

'What was to our horror on entering the enclosure to see two tourists with staves and shoulder belts all complete postured among the ruins in an attitude of admiration, one of them of course discoursing learnedly to his gaping companion and pointing out objects of interest with his stick. If there is nothing more hateful than another it is being told what to admire and having objects pointed out with a stick. Of all noxious animals too the most noxious is a tourist. And of all tourists the most vulgar, illbred, offensive and loathsome is the British tourist.'
Francis Kilvert, Kilvert's Diary 1870-1879, p.26

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

PLACES

'Places have layers, undercoats. The longer you're in a place, the deeper and thicker they run.'
Oliver Balch, Under the Tump: Sketches of Rural Life on the Welsh Borders,  p.298.