Tuesday, 15 August 2017

TRUE FAITH

'As far back as I can remember, I had the habit of thanking God for everything I received, and asking him for everything I wanted. If I lost a book, or any of my playthings, I prayed that I might find it. I prayed walking along the streets, in school and out of school, whether playing or studying. I did this not in obedience to any prescribed rule. It seemed natural. I thought of God as an everywhere-present Being, full of kindness and love, who would be offended if children talked to him.' 
Charles Hodge in Dale Ralph Davis, Slogging Along in the Paths of Righteousness: Psalms 13-24, p. 62. 

Sunday, 13 August 2017

OUR PROBLEMS WITH THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY

'...there was one thing he could not bring himself to believe in, and that was the resurrection of the body. Of the soul yes, of course, for he was certain he had a soul, but all that flesh of his, the fat enveloping his soul, no, that would not rise again and why should it?, Pereira asked himself. All the blubber he carted around with him day in day out, and the sweat, and the struggle of climbing the stairs, why should all that rise again? No, Pereira didn't fancy it at all, in another life, for all eternity, so he had no wish to believe in the resurrection of the body.' 
Antonio Tabucchi, Pereira Maintains, p.2. 

Sunday, 6 August 2017

BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE

'...the church has created a culture that simultaneously pressures singles to get married and makes it very difficult for them to do so.' 
Gina Dalfonzo, One by One:Welcoming the Singles in Your Church, p.85. 

Saturday, 5 August 2017

WHAT CONTEMPT REVEALS

'Contempt is one of four behaviors that, statistically, can predict divorce in married couple. People who speak with contempt for one another will probably not remain united for long.' 
Sebastian Jurgen, Tribe, p.126. 

WHY YOU SHOULDN'T PULL A SPIDER'S LEGS OFF

'My friend Ellis was once asked by a troubled young boy whether there was any compelling reason for him not to pull the legs off a spider. Ellis said there was.
"Well spiders don't feel any pain," the boy retorted.
"It's not the spider I'm worried about," Ellis said.' 
Sebastian Jurgen, Tribe, p.112. 

WHAT/WHO WOULD YOU DIE FOR?

'The beauty and the tragedy of the modern world is that it eliminates many situations that require people to demonstrate a commitment to the collective good. Protected by police and fire departments and relived of most of the challenges of survival, an urban man might go through his entire life without having to come to the aid of someone in danger - or even give up his dinner. Likewise, a woman in a society that has codified its moral behavior into a set of laws and penalties might never have to make a choice that puts her very life at risk. What would you risk dying for - and for whom - is perhaps the most profound question a person can ask themselves. The vast majority of people in modern society are able to pass their whole lives without ever having to answer that question, which is both an enormous blessing and significant loss. It is a loss because having to face that questions has, for tens of millenia, been one of the ways that we have defined ourselves as people. And it is a blessing because life has gotten far less difficult and traumatic that it was for most people even a century ago.' 
Sebastian Jurgen, Tribe, p.59. 

WEALTH & DEPRESSION

'According to a global survey by the World Health Organization, people in wealthy countries suffer depression as much as eight times the rate they do in poor countries, and people in countries with income disparities - like the United Sates - run a much higher lifelong risk of developing severe mood disorders. A 2006 study comparing depression rates in Nigeria to depression rates in North America found that across the board, women in rural areas were less likely to get depressed than their urban counterparts. And urban North American women - the most affluent demographic in the study - were the most likely to experience depression.' 
Sebastian Jurgen, Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, p.20. 

Saturday, 29 July 2017

THE DANGER OF BUSYNESS

'I am afraid that you will despair of an end to the many demands made upon you and become calloused....It would be much wiser to remove yourself from these demands even for a while than to allow yourself to be distracted by them and led, little by little, where you certainly do not want to go. Where? To a hard heart. Do not go on to ask what that is; if you have not been terrified by it, it is yours already.' 
Bernard of Clairvaux in Peter Scazzero, The Emotionally Healthy Leader, p.188. 

THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE IS YOURSELF

'...the first and most difficult task we face as leaders is to lead ourselves. Why? Because it requires confronting part of who we are that we prefer to neglect, forget or deny.' 
Peter Scazzero, The Emotionally Healthy Leader, p.51. 

CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP

'Leading a church, an organisation, or a ministry that transforms the world requires more than the latest leadership strategies and techniques. Lasting change in churches and organizations requires men and women committed to leading from a deep and transformed inner life. We leads more out of who we are than out of what we do, strategic or otherwise. If we fail to recognize that who we are on the inside informs every aspect of our leadership, we will do damage to ourselves and to those we lead.' 
Peter Scazzero, The Emotionally Healthy Leader, p.48. 

FAITH NEEDS A STORY

'It was in church that I learnt how perilously faith depends upon story, for without narrative there is only theological assertion, which is, in effect, inert cargo. Story is the beast of burden, the bearer of imaginative energy.' 
Tim Winton, The Boy Behind the Curtain, p.106. 

WHAT CHURCH PROMOTES

'Church-going was my introduction to conscious living. Nowhere else was I exposed to the kind of self-examination and reflective discipline that the faith of my childhood required. I'd be surprised if anyone at my boyhood church had even a page of Tolstoy, but it seemed to me now that the question that ate at him so late in his life was the central issue for us, too. What then must we do?'
Tim Winton, The Boy Behind the Questions, p.100. 

BREAKING BAD NEWS

'At fourteen, alongside my father, I'd had to help break the news to a close mate that his father had been killed. The feeling is hideous. It's like killing someone. They go down like a water buffalo by an axe, and some part of you believes it's your fault.' 
Tim Winton, The Boy Behind the Curtain, p.46. 

THE IMPORTANCE OF PARENTS

'At some level every kid knows that his parents' wellbeing is paramount to his own safety, even his sense of self.' 
Tim Winton, The Boy Behind the Curtain, p.43. 

THE EMOTIONAL LITERACY OF CHILDREN

'How quick children are to absorb the unexpressed anxieties of their parents; how fluent they become in the unconscious art of compensation, and how instinctive is their assumption of responsibility.' 
Tim Winton, The Boy Behind the Curtain: Notes from an Australian Life, p.40. 

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

DEEPER SPIRITUALITY

'If we accept Paul's view of "spiritual", as that which pertains to the Spirit of God, then such a view includes our bodies, since God's Spirit gives life to them. This challenges us to think again about what we count as "spirituality." It certainly suggests that we should include physical well-being under the heading of spirituality. Taking time to care for our bodies is a spiritual discipline and needs to be placed alongside prayer and worship in our thoughts about spirituality: sleep, exercise, pampering in a spa, having a well-cooked meal with friends are all part of spirituality and we should take care to ensure we do them regularly. They are not an indulgence, they are life giving.
It might also mean that we learn to listen to our bodies in order to discover the state of our spiritual well-being. Extreme exhaustion or regular illness may have nothing to do with our spiritual well-being but they might do. Taking the time to listen to our bodies, to feel how they really are in more than a merely cursory way might tell us something important about our life with God in the Spirit.' 
Paula Gooder, Body, p.129.

GOD'S SPIRIT IS NOT AN OPTIONAL EXTRA

'...we cannot see the Spirit as an additional extra to our life that we engage with if we feel like it; the Spirit is vital to the very breath of the Church and the gifts of the Spirit are the means by which the body breathes full life-giving breaths. More importantly, without the gifts of the Spirit, the Church pants for breath and struggles to function as it should. The body of Christ, just like each one of our bodies, needs the Spirit to live.'
Paula Gooder, Body, p.128. 

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

CHRISTIAN IDENTITY IS A CORPORATE IDENTITY

'One of the reasons why Christianity struggles to find a natural home in the modern Western world is because Christianity is underpinned by an understanding of corporate identity, in which who you really are can only be understood together rather than apart. The Western world has departed so far from this understanding of identity that this crucial piece of theology appears irrelevant and arcane. The challenge is that it may appear to be irrelevant but it is not. There remains much for us to understand about ourselves and our communities in the view that we are bound together in Christ, but it is something we must become better at expressing, both in word and deed. True lived community in which our identity is embedded in Christ-like love is the most valuable gift we can offer a world fractured by suspicion and loneliness, but it only works if we believe it and live it ourselves.' 
Paula Gooder, Body, p.109. 

THE MUSIC OF 1 CORINTHIANS

'...much of 1 Corinthians is a fugue on the body. In music a fugue is a composition in which a theme is introduced, imitated, in different ways and with different instruments, before being recapitulated one or more times. In other words it plays with a theme, developing it, leaving it silent for a while and then bringing it back in a recognizable but slightly different form.' 
Paula Gooder, Body, p.107. 

Monday, 17 July 2017

LIVING IN THE LIGHT OF THE FUTURE

'The call to Christian living is a call to fix our eyes on the horizon of the new creation, a horizon marked by peace, justice, harmony, and true life, and "live up" to that horizon, wrestling to live now as we will all live then.' 
Paula Gooder, Body, p.82. 

OUR DEPENDENCE ON GOD'S SPIRIT

'It is not our ability to think or speak that enables us to engage with God. It is God's Spirit poured into us and entwining with our own spirit that does that.' 
Paula Gooder, Body, p.81. 

Sunday, 16 July 2017

PAUL'S THEOLOGY OF THE BODY

'...in Paul, bodies are to be found in both the old age and the age to come, in the old creation and in the new creation. There is, then, simply no room in Paul's theology for bodies to be automatically and universally evil. Bodies per se are not evil, imprisoning or corrupting, there are the gift of God to be cherished and nurtured.' 
Paula Gooder, Body, p.46. 

THE NEED TO TALK ABOUT DEATH

'The problem we often face is that we wait until somebody has died to talk about life after death. The one time in our lives when we simply cannot engage in any meaningful creative theological conversation is when we are in the grip of a raw and disorientating grief. Unless discussion about the fundamentals of what we believe happens after death becomes a common conversation among us, we will never be able to become a community that can talk meaningfully, confidently and compassionately about death, grief and loss.' 
Paula Gooder, Body, p.44. 

SOUL-MAKING

'Soul-making implies a deliberate intention on our part to pay attention to who we are called to be and to seek regular refreshment so that we can grow more and more into the people God yearns for us to be. There is and should be an emphasis on the regularity of this refreshment. Just as we cannot give up breathing, so we should not give up deliberate and intentional soul-making.
This soul-making is something that includes our bodies - that active seeking out of refreshment that animates us and brings new life only makes sense if it includes our bodies as well as "inner" beings. Intentional soul-making involves paying attention to those events, activities, and relationships that animate us and seeking to engage in something that brings life to as many aspects of our being as possible, as regularly as possible. Then we will begin to see that we are not "just" keeping body and soul together but living out of a richly animated, integrated existence that brings life and refreshment.' 
Paula Gooder, Body: Biblical spirituality for the whole person, p.42. 

Thursday, 6 July 2017

THE TRINITY

'The revelation of the Trinity was incidental to, and the inevitable effect of, the accomplishment of redemption.' 
BB Warfield in Fred Sanders, The Trinue God, p.240. 

THE OLD TESTAMENT

'...a chamber richly furnished but dimly lit...' 
BB Warfield in Fred Sanders, The Triune God, p.214. 

Thursday, 29 June 2017

NATIONALISM

'Is it not the the first duty of nationalism to find for every problem a culprit rather than a solution?' 
Amin Maalouf, On Identity, p.67. 

ISLAM

'...I don't subscribe to the opinion, so widely held in the West, that conveniently sees the Muslim religion as the source of all the evils afflicting Muslim societies. Nor, as I have already had occasion to note, do I think a religion can be entirely disassociated from the fate of its followers. But it does seem to me that the influence of religion on people is often exaggerated, while the influence of people on religion is neglected.' 
Amin Maalouf, On Identity, p.51.

THE DANGER OF IDENTITY POLITICS

'The fact is, it's difficult to say where legitimate affirmation of identity ends and encroachment on the rights of others begins. Did I not say that the word identity was a "false friend"? It starts by reflecting a perfectly permissible aspiration, then before we know where we are it has become an instrument of war. The transition from one meaning to the other is imperceptible, almost natural and sometimes we all juts go along with it. We are denouncing injustice, we are defending the rights of a suffering people - then the next day we find ourselves accomplices in a massacre.' 
Amin Maalouf, On Identity, p.28. 

WHEN AN IDENTITY IS PERSECUTED

'People often see themselves in terms of whichever one of their allegiances is most under attack. And sometimes, when a person doesn't have the strength to defend that allegiance, he hides it. Then it remains buried deep in the dark, awaiting its revenge. But whether he accepts or conceals it, proclaims it discreetly or flaunts it, it is with that allegiance that the person concerned identifies. And then, whether it relates to colour, religion, language or class, it invades the person's whole identity. Other people who share the same allegiance sympathise; they all together join forces, encourage one another, challenge "the other side". For them, "asserting their identity" increasingly becomes an act of courage, of liberation. 
In the midst of any community that has been wounded agitators naturally arise. Whether they are hot-heads or cool schemers, their intransigent speeches act as balm to their audience's wounds. They say one shouldn't beg others respect: respect is due and must be forced from those who would withhold it. They promise victory or vengeance, they inflame men's minds, sometimes they use extreme methods that some of their brothers may merely have dreamed of in secret. The scene is now set and war can begin. Whatever happens "the others" will have deserved it. "We" can remember quite clearly "all they have made us suffer" since time immemorial: all the crimes, all the extortion, all the humiliations and fears, complete with names and dates and statistics.' 
Amin Maalouf, On Identity, p.22.

IDENTITY

'My identity is what prevents me from being identical to anybody else.'
Amin Maalouf, On Identity, p.10.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

BECOMING THE RIGHT PERSON

'We place too much emphasis on finding the right person and not nearly enough upon the cultivation of qualities which allow us to deserve love and which enable us to give love - even when things are difficult.' 
John Armstrong, Conditions of Love, p.158. 

HOW TRUE LOVE MATURES

'The experience of love has to begin outside of maturity; it's just that, if a relationship is to last, if love is to survive and develop over an extended period, we need to bring to the relationship a set of qualities quite different from those which took us into it in the first place. The Byronic hero might be madly exciting to have an affair with, would be a nightmare as a husband. Imagine Hamlet as a father. Imagine Cathy discussing mortgage repayments with Heathcliff. This is the internal tragedy of love. If love is successful, if our love is returned and develops into a relationship, the person we are must turn out to be other than the person we imagined them to be. Love craves closeness, and closeness always brings us face to face with something other than we expected. The person who looked so confident and full of life when we knew at first turns out, eventually, to have an array of hidden anxieties and fears.' 
John Armstrong, Conditions of Love, p.153. 

Saturday, 24 June 2017

INFATUATION

'If infatuation is based on fantasy, the cure is a generous serving of banality.'
John Armstrong, Conditions of Love, p.81. 

Friday, 23 June 2017

WE NEED OTHERS

'...there is a special lack of self-sufficiency which seems to be part of the structure of the human mind. Because in a sense we are too close to ourselves, we have no difficulty in obtaining a perspective upon what we do and how we think. We need the interpretive attention of another to help us see ourselves in a more balanced way.' 
John Armstrong, Conditions of Love, p.58. 

FRIENDSHIP

'Sometimes when we meet another person we have an instinctive sense that we're going to get on well with them, that the possibilities of friendship are open. This is not only because we find that we can rub along comfortably with them, work amicably with them, find them interesting (although obviously these aspects are important); in that initial moment it's often the feeling that there is something about their mode of being, about the texture of their inner life, which seems unfamiliar. There are convivial friendships based on congruence of interest or taste. And there are, more rarely, friendships based on congruence of spirit. "You seem to know," the feeling goes, "what it is like to look out at the world from behind my eyes, and not because I have told you.'" 
John Armstrong, Conditions of Love, p.52. 

LONELINESS

'To be lonely is to feel a distressing gulf between the character of one's own inner life and what seems to be the experience of others. Thus the paradigm of loneliness comes not in the absence of others but in the presence of other people to whom one's own way of thinking and feeling seems alien. It is with people who haven't a clue what you are on about, as you tentatively reveal your won pleasures, hopes or fears, that the burden of being alone is felt. The need to be loved is, amongst other things, the need to reverse this situation: the need to find someone who can say (often enough), "I know how you feel, not just because you are telling me about it but because that's how I feel too."'
John Armstrong, Conditions of Love, p.51. 

MARRIAGE

'The problem is not in finding the person but in finding the resources and capacities in oneself to care for another person - to love them. Searching for the right "object" diverts attention from finding the right attitude.' 
John Armstrong, Conditions of Love: The Philosophy of Love, p.35. 

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

DROWNING MODALISMS

'...concentrating on the event of Christ's baptism highlights the historical activity of the fellowship among the three persons. Many modalisms have drowned in the Jordan because it is very difficult to explain what a merely unipersonal God would be doing as a man, a voice, and a dove.' 
Fred Sanders, The Triune God, p.196. 

Monday, 19 June 2017

RENEWING SOCIETY

'Above all, any existential revolution should provide hope of a moral reconstitution of society, which means a radical renewal of the relationship of human beings to what I call the "human order," which no political order can replace. A new experience of being, a renewed rootedness in the universe, a newly grasped sense of higher responsibility, a newfound inner relationship to other people and to the human community - these factors clearly indicate the direction in which we must go.' 
Vaclav Havel, 'The Power of the Powerless' in Open Letters, p.209. 

REAL SOLUTIONS MUST BE OPEN TO ALL

'If Western young people so often discover that retreat to an Indian monastery fails them as an individual or group solution, then this is obviously and only because, it lacks that element of universality, since not everyone can retire to an ashram. Christianity is an example of an opposite way out: it is a point of departure for me here and now - but only because anyone, anywhere, at any time, may avail themselves of it.' 
Vaclav Havel, 'The Power of the Powerless' in Open Letters, p.196. 

THE DANGERS OF IDEOLOGY

'Ideology is a specious way or relating to the world. It offers human beings the illusion of an identity, of dignity, and of morality while making it easier for them to part with them. As the repository of something suprapersonal and objective, it enables people to deceive their conscience and conceal their true position and their inglorious modus vivendi, both from the world and from themselves. It is a very pragmatic but, at the same time, an apparently dignified way of legitimizing what is above, below, and on either side. It is directed toward people and toward God. It is veil behind which human beings can hide their own fallen existence, their trivialization, and their adaptation to the status quo. It is an excuse that everyone can use, from the greengrocer, who conceals his fear of losing his job behind an alleged interest in the unification of the workers of the world, to the highest functionary, whose interest in staying in power can be cloaked in phrases about service top the working class. The primary excusatory function of ideology, therefore, is to provide people, both as victims and pillars of the post-totalitarian system, with the illusion that the system is in harmony with the human order and the order of the universe.' 
Vaclav Havel, 'The Power of the Powerless' in Open Letters, p.133. 

Thursday, 15 June 2017

LEARNING OUR LIMITS THROUGH THE INCARNATION

'We can only rest in our limitedness when we see that Jesus limited himself by leaving the culture of the Trinity and entering the culture of man for our sake. His act of incarnation and redemption settles our need for significance on this side of eternity. Healthy leaders accept their limits because when we look to Jesus, we see the ultimate limitation - God becoming flesh and blood to bring us spiritual rescue. And as we rest in this truth, we can let the unlimited One and his limitless grace give us courage to be the limited leader that we are and in the end, flourish for the good of our churches and the gospel.' 
Brad Andrews in David Murray, Reset, p.190. 

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

EXPLAINING DIFFICULT THINGS

'Anyone who has ever tried to present a rather abstract scientific subject in a popular manner knows the great difficulties of such an attempt. Either he succeeds in being intelligible by concealing the core of the problem and by offering the to the reader only superficial aspects or vague allusions, thus deceiving the reader by arousing in him the deceptive illusion of comprehension; or else he gives an expert account of the problem, but in such a fashion that the untrained reader is unable to follow the exposition and becomes discouraged from reading any further.'
Albert Einstein in Fred Sanders, The Triune God, p.182. 

THE TRINITY IN SIX STATEMENTS

'...summarizing the doctrine in six statements:
  1. In Scripture there are three who are recognized as God.
  2. These three are so described in Scripture that we are compelled to conceive of them as distinct persons.
  3. This tripersonality of divine nature is not merely economic and temporal, but it immanent and eternal.
  4. This tripersonality is not tritheism, for while there are three persons, there is but one essence.
  5. The three persons - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - are equal. 
  6. Inscrutable and yet not contradictory, this doctrine furnishes the key to all other doctrines.'
Augustus Hopkins Strong in Fred Sanders, The Triune God, p.173. 

PREACHING CHRIST IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

'If ye strive with violence to draw and apply those texts to Christ which apparently pertain not to him, we shall gain nothing but this, to make all the places that are spoken of him suspected; and so discredit the strength of other testimonies.' 
Isidore of Pelusium in Fred Sanders, The Triune God, p.166. 

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

LIVING OUT UNION WITH CHRIST

'I believe in the name of the Son of God.
Therefore I am in him, having redemption through his blood and life by his Spirit,
And he is in me, and all fullness is in him.
To him I belong, by purchase, conquest, and self-surrender;
To me he belongs, for all my hourly need.
There is no cloud between my Lord and me.
There is no difficulty outward or inwards that he is not ready to meet in me today.
The Lord is my keeper. Amen.'
Handley CG Moule in David Murray, Reset, p.113. 

Monday, 12 June 2017

BE IDLE TO WORK HARD

'To do great work a man must be very idle as well as very industrious.' 
Samuel Butler in David Murray, Reset: Living a Grace-filled Life in a Burnout Culture, p.103. 

A CHRISTIAN'S STATUS WITH GOD

'O remember what my substance is,
the work of Thy hands,
the likeness of Thy countenance,
the reward of Thy blood,
a name from Thy name,
a sheep of Thy pasture,
a son of Thy covenant.'
Lancelot Andrewes, Private Devotion, p.68. 

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

THE POWER OF THE INTERNET

'One thing is clear: if, knowing what we know today about the brain's plasticity, you were to set out to invent a medium that would rewire our mental circuits as quickly and thoroughly as possible, you would probably end up designing something that looks and works a lot like the internet.' 
Nicholas Carr in Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option, p.225. 

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

THE BIBLE'S STORY

'The Bible is the story of how God the Father sends the Son and the Holy Spirit to save humanity by being God's own power and presence in person.' 
Fred Sanders, The Triune God, p.105. 

THE BIBLE AS A RIVER

'Holy Scripture, then, is like an immense river: the farther it flows, the greater it grows by the addition of many waters.'
Bonaventure in Fred Sanders, The Triune God, p.103. 

TRINITARIAN FOUNDATIONS

'...the first step toward the doctrine of the Trinity is to read the entire Bible as a whole...' 
Fred Sanders, The Triune God, p.101.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

THE TRINITY

'It is important to note that there is no moment when Jesus Christ expressly reveals this doctrine. It was overheard, rather than heard. It was simply that in the gradual process of intercourse with Him, His disciples came to recognize Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as included in their deepening and enlarging thought of God.' 
Charles Gore in Fred Sanders, The Triune God, p.73. 

Monday, 29 May 2017

HERBERT'S BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION

'The parson's method in handling of a text consists in two parts: first, a plain and evident declaration of the meaning of the texts; and secondly, some choice observations drawn out of the whole text as it lies entire and unbroken in the Scripture itself.' 
George Herbert, The Country Pastor, p.206. 

TARGETED PREACHING

'When he preacheth he procures attention by all possible art, both by earnestness of speech (it being natural to men to think that where is much earnestness there is something that is worth hearing), and by a diligent and busy cast of his eyes upon his auditors,, with letting them know that he observes who marks and who not; and with particularizing of his speech - now to the younger sort, then to the elder; now to the poor, and now to the rich. This is for you, and This is for you; for particulars ever touch and awake more than generals.' 
George Herbert, The Country Pastor, p.204. 

THE NEED FOR ILLUSTRATIONS

'The Country Parson is full of all knowledge. They say that it is an ill mason that refuseth any stone; and that there is no knowledge, but in a skillful hand serves either positively as it is, or else to illustrate some other knowledge. He condescends even to the knowledge of tilling and pasturage, and makes great use of them in teaching, because people by what they understand are best led to what they understand not.'
George Herbert, The Country Pastor (in The Complete English Works), p.200. 

Sunday, 28 May 2017

POST-MODERNISM

'The hub of postmodern life strategy is not identity building but avoidance of fixation.'
Zygmunt Bauman in Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option, p.66. 

Saturday, 27 May 2017

PRAYER AS THE THE BULWARK OF FAITH

'The 1960s media theorist Marshall McLuhan, a practicing Christian, once said that everyone he knew who had lost his faith began by ceasing to pray. If we are to live rightly ordered Christian lives, then prayer must be the basis of everything we do.' 
Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option, p.60. 

A VISION FOR A CHRISTIAN FUTURE?

'Could it be that the best way to fight the flood is to stop...stop fighting. the flood? That is, to quit piling up sandbags and to build an ark in which to shelter until the water recedes and we can put our feet on dry land again? Rather than wasting energy and resources fighting unwinnable political battles, we should instead work on building communities, institutions, and networks of resistance than can outwit, outlast and eventually overcome the occupation.' 
Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, p.12. 

Friday, 26 May 2017

THE TRUE POET

'The man who has had the time to think enough,
The central man, the human globe, responsive
As a mirror with a voice, the man of glass,
Who in a million diamonds sums us up.'
Wallace Steven in John Drury, Muisc at Midnight, p.328. 

UNDERSTANDING POETRY

'...the only real way to understand poetry is to know the life and beliefs of the poet.'
Elizabeth Bishop in John Drury, Music at Midnight:  The Life and Poetry of George Herbert, p.322.

A SOUL-BOOK

'Now and again in a lifetime a friend introduces you to a writer and you discover a soul-book, a work that engraves itself on your heart: one you read over and over, falling in love with it more deeply each time.' 
Roger Deakin, Wildwood, p.268. 

THE BEAUTY OF A BLUEBELL

'I do not think I have ever seen anything more beautiful than the bluebell I have been looking at. I know the beauty of our Lord by it.' 
Gerard Manley Hopkins in Roger Deakin, Wildwood, p.39.

GETTING TO KNOW THE NEIGHBOURS

'There is no more intimate way of getting to know your neighbours than teaching their children.' 
Roger Deakin, Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees, p.4.

MODERN TECHNOLOGY

'I know this sounds like a conspiracy theory, but it's not really a theory, it's more of a hunch: a conspiracy feeling. We are surrendering the freedom to be human in exchange for the freedom to live in confected dreams: dreams in which nature is dead. except for the pretty bits, and bad things never happen and nobody dies, and there is nothing to life but entertainment and everything we see we can control, because we have created it.' 
Paul Kingsnorth, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist, p.248. 

THE CHOICES AROUND IMMIGRATION

'The people of any nation will always want the right to control their own borders and decide on the direction of their culture, and England is no exception. But that majority has its own questions to answer, too. In a nation whose population is ageing, and whose people consistently demand more and cheaper stuff, who is going to do the heavy lifting? If you want a chap nanny and your cut-price supermarket vegetables picked in all weathers for the minimum wage, then someone has to do it. There is no doubt that large-scale immigration changes the shape, texture and potentially the identity of a nation, bit so do out-of-town retail parks, coffee chains, theme pubs, second homes, gentrified cities and privatised streets. If you don't want the population movement, you don't get the easy consumer lifestyle it facilitates. Which will you choose?' 
Paul Kingsnorth, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist, p.206. 

WHEN ACCUSED OF BEING A "CRANK"

'A crank is a very elegant device. It's small, it's strong, it's lightweight, energy efficient, and it makes revolutions.' 
EF Schumacher in Paul Kingsnorth, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist, p.126. 

HOME

'"Do you think it could be a general rule," Berry asked Synder towards the end of 1979, "that the only place one is urgently needed is at home?" I think it could be. I think it is.'
Wendell Berry in Paul Kingsnorth, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist, p.106. 

HOW TO MAKE AN IMPACT

'...I thought for years that the best way to put a spanner in the consumer dystopia that is unfolding is to ground yourself in a place and learn to do things with your hands - actually learn to do them, not just write about learning to do them. Grow your own carrots, learn to use an axe and a scythe, know where the sun falls and what the trees do and what is growing in the laneways. Get to know your neighbors, put down roots and stay even when you don't want to stay. Be famous, as Gary Snyder so wonderfully suggested, for fifteen miles.' 
Paul Kingsnorth, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist, p.105.

BRINGING ABOUT CHANGE

'Once you start thinking you are responsible for, or can influence, everything, you are lost. When you take responsibility for a specific something, on the other hand, it's possible you might get somewhere.'
Paul Kingsnorth, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist, p.101. 

POETRY

'A function of poetry is to give words to intuitions that, if expressed in prose, would fall apart under their own flimsiness; to see what is coming and try and express it and not have it understood until everybody else can also see it, at which point they will claim that they saw it all along.'
Paul Kingsnorth, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist, p.84. 

ENVIRONMENTALISM TODAY

'The weird and unintentional pincer movement of the failed left, with its class analysis of waterfalls and fresh air, and the managerial, carbon-uber-alles brigade has infiltrated, ironed out and reworked environmentalism for its own ends. Now it is not about the ridiculous beauty of coral, the mist over the fields at dawn. It is not about ecocentrism. It is not about reforging a connection between over-civilised people and the world outside their windows. It is not about living close to the land or valuing work for the sake of the world. It is not about attacking the self-absorbed conceits of the bubble that our civilsation has become. 
Today's environmentalism is about people. It is a consolation prize for a gaggle of washed-up Trots and at the same time, with an amusing irony, it is an adjunct to hyper-capitalism; the catalytic converter on the silver SUV of the global economy. It is an engineering challenge; a problem-solving device for people to whom the sight of a wild Pennine hilltop brings not feelings of transcendence but thoughts about the wasted potential for renewable energy. It is about saving civilisation from the results of its own actions; a desperate attempt to prevent Gaia from hiccuping and wiping out our coffee shops and broadband connections. It is our last hope.'  
Paul Kingsnorth, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist, p.78.

IDEALISTIC BIAS

'The kind of people who are disgusted by an idealised past can often barely contain their enthusiasm for an idealised future.' 
Paul Kingsnorth, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist, p.39.

SUICIDE

'Suicide is everywhere in this culture, under every stone and once you come to be part of that great, unspeakable clan of people that have been touched by it, you see this. Three years ago, my wife and I had a baby daughter. Before she was born I never noticed babies except when they annoyed me in cafes. Now I see babies everywhere. The streets are full of toddlers; they cascade from the doorways and overflow the drains. Experience changes you. Nothing else changes you.'
Paul Kingsnorth, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist, p.16.

SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL

'Wherever something is wrong, something is too big.'
Leopald Kohr in Paul Kingsnorth, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist, p.10. 

WHEN A FATHER CRIES

'It was the first time I saw my father cry. A childhood milestone, when another's tears are more unbearable than one's own.'
Philip Roth, The Plot Against America, p.113.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

THE TRINITY & THE BIBLE

;...the Trinity is in the Bible because the Bible is in the Trinity.'
Fred Sanders, The Triune God, p.44. 

THE TRINITY & REVELATION

'Knowledge of the Trinity is inside knowledge given by insiders.'
Fred Sanders, The Triune God, p.38. 

THEOLOGY

'Theology is not itself if it is not also praise.'
Fred Sanders, The Triune God, p.28. 

Sunday, 30 April 2017

A SURE SIGN OF INSANITY

'"I have noticed again and again since I have been in the Church that lay interest in ecclesiastical matters is often a prelude to insanity."' 
Evelyn Waugh, Decline and Fall, p.72. 

ENGLISH PUBLIC SCHOOLS

'"There's a blessed equity in the English social system," said Grimes, "that ensures the public-school man against starvation. One goes through four or five years of hell at an age when life is bound to be hell, anyway, and after that the social system never lets you down.'"  
Evelyn Waugh, Decline and Fall, p.28. 

Saturday, 15 April 2017

THE PATTERNS OF LOVE

'Arnold, after yawning twice, got up and went into the house. Stretched out on the bed in his room, with the Venetian blinds closed, he began to compare the life of the Talbots with his own well-ordered but childless and animalless life in town. Everywhere they go, he thought, they leave tracks behind them, like people walking in the snow. Paths crisscrossing, lines that are perpetually meeting: the mother's loving pursuit of the youngest, the man's love for his daughter, the dog's love for the man, the two boys;' preoccupation with each other. Wheels and diagrams, Arnold said to himself. The patterns of love.' 
William Maxwell, 'The Patterns of Love' in Over by the River  and Other Stories, p.81. 

TIME

'Here's how time works. When you're young, your mind is running really fast, like a camera over-cranked to produce a slow-motion film, so the days and weeks and summers seem incredibly long. When you grow old, the mind slows down, doesn't clock so much sensory stimuli, so the days and years flash by. The same of things happens in a day. Morning time seems longer because your mind is whirring. Evening times goes by faster, because you've slowed down - unless you're being stimulated by lively company at dinner.'
Roger Deakin, Notes from Walnut Tree Farm, p.259.

Friday, 14 April 2017

DON'T FORGET THE MYSTERY

'Every aspect of God's reality and work, without exception, is mystery. The eternal Trinity; God's sovereignty in creation, providence, and grace; the incarnation, exaltation, present reign and approaching return of Jesus Christ; the inspiring of the Holy Scriptures; and the ministry of the Spirit in the Christian and the Church - each of these (to look no further) is a reality beyond our full fathoming, just as the cross is. And theories about any of these things which used human analogies to dispel the dimension of mystery would deserve our distrust, just as rationalistic theories about the cross do.' 
JI Packer, 'What Did the Cross Achieve?' in Celebrating the Saving Work of God, p.89. 

THE IMPORTANCE OF HISTORY IN THEOLOGY

'Every theological question has behind it a history of study, and narrow eccentricity in handling it is unavoidable unless the history is taken into account.' 
JI Packer, 'What did the Cross Achieve' in Celebrating the Saving Work of God, p.85. 

THE SAFETY NET OF GOD'S LOVE

'Perhaps the best definition of revelation is the uncovering of the truth that it is safe to love. The walls of our anxiety, our anguish, our narrowness are broken down and a wide endless horizon is shown. "We have to love, because he loved us first." It is safe to embrace in vulnerability because we both find ourselves in loving hands. It is safe to be available because someone old us that we stand on solid ground. It is safe to surrender because we will not fall into a dark pit but enter a welcoming home. It is safe to be weak because we are surrounded by a creative strength.' 
Henri JM Nouwen, Intimacy, p.36. 

SEXUAL LOVE IS FOR LIFE

'When the physical encounter of men and women in the intimate act of intercourse is not an expression of their total availability to each other, the creative fellowship of the weak is not yet reached. Every sexual relationship with built-in reservations, with mental restrictions or time limits, is still part of the taking structure. It means "I want you now, but not tomorrow. I want something from you, but I don't want you." Love is limitless. Only when mean and women give themselves to each other in total surrender, that is, with their whole person for their whole life, can the encounter bear full fruits.' 
Henri JM Nouwen, Intimacy, p.32. 

GOD AS FATHER

'Is the idea of God an infantile prolongation of our ideal father image, or is our receptivity to the child-father idea the result of our more profound and primary relationship with God? Indeed the basic criticism of Freud proposed by the German psychiatrist Binswanger is a reversal: God is not the prolongation of the child's relationship with his dad, but the child's feeling for his dad is a concretizing of an idea born of his more fundamental relation to his Creator. In others words, we couldn't love our father if God had not loved us first.'
Henri JM Nouwen, Intimacy, p.11. 

Sunday, 9 April 2017

FAIREST LORD JESUS

Fairest Lord Jesus, Lord of all creation
Jesus, of God and Man
You will I cherish, you will I honour
You are my soul’s delight and crown

Fair are the meadows, fair are the woods
Robed in the blooms of spring
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer
He makes the saddest heart to sing

Fair are the flowers, fair are the children
Beautiful in all their youth
Yet is their beauty, fading and fleeting
Lord Jesus yours will never fade

Fair is the moonlight, fairer still the sunshine
Fair is the starry sky
My Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines clearer
Than all the heavenly host on high

All fairest beauty, heavenly and earthly
Jesus, in you is found
None can be nearer, fairer or dearer
Than you my Saviour to me bound

http://www.garagehymnal.com/albums/unity/fairest-lord-jesus/

EATING FOOD IS SELF-REPAIR

'...food marks the first and basic level at which societies engage in self-repair, and it is just where churches have most frequently expressed their ministries: soup kitchens, basement meals, celebrations, and, of course, peculiar liturgical actions.' 
Ephraim Radner, A Time to Keep, p.212. 

WORK

'Work is actually the container God gives us, as creatures, for our learning of wisdom: surviving; providing; loving; receiving; learning; listening. Toil, it turns out, is a gift of a profound kind.' 
Ephraim Radner, A Time to Keep, p.211. 

Thursday, 6 April 2017

THE POWER OF PLACE

'All of us, I believe, carry about in our heads places and landscapes we shall never forget because we experienced such intensity of life there: places where, like the child that "feels its life in every limb" in Wordsworth's poem 'We are Seven,' our eyes have opened wider, and all our senses have somehow heightened. By way of returning the compliment, we accord these places that have given us such joy a special place in our memories and imaginations. They live on in us, wherever we may be, however far way from them.' 
Roger Deakin, Notes from Walnut Tree Farm, p.242. 

Saturday, 1 April 2017

LOVE

'Why, Florence wondered, were people so impatient? Didn't they realize that love was slow, shy, baffled half the time by pride?' 
Victor Lodato, Edgar & Lucy, p.82. 

GRANDPARENTAL LOVE

'oh, if she could have a tall glass of this child every morning, she would live forever. Sometimes she worried that her love for Edgar was too strong, a covetous earthly love, a love against God, a love to reclaim lost things. But what love wasn't like that? What love wasn't a reward to counter an old wrong? Anyway, it wasn't something she could control. How she felt about the boy was how she felt. Love was love, and it was always a monster.' 
Victor Lodato, Edgar & Lucy, p.18. 

FRIENDSHIP & SINGLENESS

'True friendship is a treasure, often most deeply discovered by single persons, cherished, burnished, garnished, but then offered to others.' 
Ephraim Radner, A Time to Keep, p.185. 

FRIENDSHIP & FARMING

'Friendships are cultivated with all the care and dangerous fragility of any sustenance agriculture. There is the careful time of discerning and planting - and here wisdom and experience can bring only success - and not a little luck. There is the giving over of oneself in loyalty, the breaking up by betrayal, the hard and welcome corrections and growth, the difficult learning and respecting of limits as in all things, and longstanding reaping and replenishing. Friendship is a life's work.' 
Ephraim Radner, A Time to Keep. p.185. 

THE BEST FRIENDS ARE DIFFERENT

'...in all friendships of depth there is always the realization of the glorious victory of difference over likeness...'
Ephraim Radner, A Time to Keep, p.184. 

Friday, 31 March 2017

ENGLISH WEATHER

'Why would anyone want to go to live abroad when they can live in several countries at once just by being in England? Yesterday was hot, clammy and humid, with sunshine and dramatic cloud. I might have been in Singapore, fighting for breath. This morning, it is another country, soft and damp after rain, cool and breezy. Last night we were in monsoon India, and, according to the weather forecast, we shall be in the sunny South of France this weekend.' 
Roger Deakin, Notes from Walnut Tree Farm, p.190. 

WHY WRITE?

'Why write? A writer needs a strong passion to change things, not just to reflect or report them as they are.' 
Roger Deakin, Notes from Walnut Tree Farm, p.120. 

THE ANT & THE CHRISTIAN

'Cut off from it's tribe, it has lost all sense of itself. It is really a part of a body in search of the rest of the body, like the tail of a lizard left twitching upon amputation. An ant colony is really a single organism that is differentiated into various functions, chiefly feeding and breeding, so if one tiny component gets lost like this, if feels some imperative, some compulsion, to rejoin the rest of the the ant-body.' 
Roger Deakin, Notes from Walnut Tree Farm,  p.103. 

LIVING ALONE

'I need someone to fold the sheet; someone to take the other end of the sheet and walk towards me and fold once, then step back, fold and walk toward me again. We all need someone to fold the sheet. Someone to hitch on the coat at the neck. Someone to put on the kettle. Someone to dry up while I wash.' 
Roger Deakin, Notes from Walnut Tree Farm, p.86. 

FRIENDS

'I want all my friends to come up like weeds, and I want to be a weed myself, spontaneous and unstoppable. I don't want the kind of friends one has to cultivate.' 
Roger Deakin, Notes from Walnut Tree Farm, p.63. 

Sunday, 26 March 2017

BOOKS & TREES

'Books are like seeds: they come to life when you read them and grow spines and leaves. I need trees around me as I need books around me, so building bookshelves is something like planting trees.'
Roger Deakin, Notes from Walnut Tree Farm, p.24. 

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

WE EXIST TO RELATE

'What makes a creature a specific creature is the ordering of a life with other lives, never its individual being alone. A child not only is a child but is a child for the adult who cares for her; a young man not only is a young man in himself but is one for the sake of the older man who teaches him; an old woman not only is an old woman but is so in respect to the young she embraces and guides. The textures of generation, genealogy, and probation that marks human creatureliness is itself given as a comprehensive set of relationships who shape can be determined only across time. The point is not that human creaturehood is species driven, with each individual serving the survival of the race. Rather, creaturehood is constellation driven: it is all about the all about the landscape and its multiple objects as they exist together, encounter, engage, and crumble within the divinely figured order.' 
Ephraim Radner, A Time to Keep, p.154. 

REMEMBER YOU MUST DIE

'...part of our Christian vocation is proclaim the reality of death itself. Nothing could be more revelatory on contemporary forgetfulness - or faithfulness - than the disappearance of this proclamation from Christian teachers and preachers as a central part of the gospel they announce. The tradition of memento mori - "remember that you must die" - was not merely a medieval invention. It stands as a central scriptural focus (e.g. , Ps 39:6; Luke 12:20). For to proclaim death, at least in its central aspect of our existence, is to return always to the form of our being as creatures. To announce our creaturehood is to proclaim God.' 
Ephraim Radner, A Time to Keep, p.152. 

THE REVELATIONS OF OLD AGE

'If you want to know what a person is like "deep down," observe them in their still-functioning old age, where they finally express everything they have held back for so long, often in terms of bitterness and resentment. Or sometimes it may be even the display of generosity and joy. One of the truths emphasized by the "ages of life" tradition is that each stage is related to another. How we have navigated and been formed by one stage orders the next. And, conversely, our older selves will shape our younger brethren as well as illumine our own pasts. In a sense, then, old age - senectus - is the time when we are shown for we are, in terms of our responsible selves, as we prepare to stand before God. The old teach the young; but they teach the young only in a way that exposes their own form. The old are thereby judged.'
Ephraim Radner, A Time to Keep, p.150. 

Monday, 20 March 2017

DEFINING SEXUALITY

'To define sexuality biblically, therefore, necessarily involves the notion and reality of creaturely "passing on," of passing on life, of passing on truth, of passing on worship, and relationship - of "tradition" in its fullest sense. Sexuality implies tradition as well as something that binds persons,. times, cultures and realities together rather than pulls them apart.'
Ephraim Radner, A Time to Keep, p.118. 

Saturday, 18 March 2017

REAL LEADERS

'...a real leader is somebody who can help us overcome the limitations of our individual laziness and selfishness and weakness and fear and get us to do better, harder things than we can get ourselves to do on our own.' 
David Foster Wallace, 'Up, Simba' in Consider the Lobster: Any Other Essays, p.225. 

Monday, 13 March 2017

HAPPINESS VS. JOY

'Happiness comes when things are going our way, which makes it only a forerunner to the unhappiness that inevitably follows when things stop going our way, as in the end they will stop for all of us. Joy, on the other hand, does not come because something is happening or not happening but every once in a while rises up out of simply being alive, of being part of the terror as well as the fathomless riches of the world that God has made.'  
Frederick Buechner, Longing for Home, p.128. 

OUR DESIRES LEAD US HOME

'Sometimes, I suspect, the search for home is related also to the longing of the flesh, to the way in which, both when you are young and for long afterward, the sight of beauty can you set you longing with a keenness and poignance and passion, with a kind of breathless awe even, which suggest that beneath the longing to possess and be possessed by the beauty of another sexually - to know in the biblical idiom - there lies the longing to know and be known by another fully and humanly, and that beneath that there lies a longing, closer to the heart of the matter still, which is the longing to be at last where you fully belong. "If ever beauty I did see, / Which I desir'd and got, 'twas but a dream of thee," John Donne wrote to his mistress ("The Good Morrow"), and when I think of all the beautiful ones whom I have seen for maybe no more than a passing moment and have helplessly, overwhelmingly desired, I wonder if an the innermost heart of my desiring there wasn't, of all things, homesickness.'  
Frederick Buechner, Longing for Home, p.23. 

HOME

'What the word home brings to mind before anything else, I believe, is  a place, and, and in its fullest sense not just the place where you happen to be living at the time, but a very special place with very special attributes which make it clearly distinguishable from all other places. The word home summons up a place - more specifically a house within that place - which you have a rich and complex feelings about, a place where you feel, or did feel once, uniquely at home, which is to say a place where you feel that all is somehow ultimately well even if things aren't going all that well at any given moment.' 
Frederick Buechner, Longing for Home: Recollections and Reflections, p.7. 

Sunday, 12 March 2017

LOVE = THE SUFFERING OF DIFFERENCE FOR LIFE

'The orientation of the Law to the creative purpose of life itself, then, with all its differences and distinctions, is precisely wast keeps the sexual character of male and female difference so stable in scriptural discussion: food is for life - the life even of the poor and the hungry; sex is also for life, the life of children. In both cases, this life comes into being through the suffering of difference for the sake of new life - that is, through love itself. Such suffering of difference for life is at the root of all refracted images of love within the world of space and time. This includes, even, God's love in creating anything at all and in "sending his Son: "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son" (John 3:16).'
Ephraim Radner, A Time to Keep, p.94. 

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

STUDYING SEXUALITY

'...the fact of original sin tells us that we do not really have any clear standpoint of experiential purity from which to figure the topic of sexuality out. Thus, a Christian would rarely deny innate drives and would readily admit that sexual reality is not simply something we make up. But its "constructed" character, whose forms follows the intricacies of our sinful thinking and feeling, is such that we cannot really tell what is constructed and what is not. Instead, we encounter our sexualities as an enormous knotted set of feelings, hopes, physical urges, pleasures and fears all mixed up and messed up. We can only try to make sense of these elements in what will be many different ways. But why we have this material and where it all comes from is very difficult to figure out.
The Christian, therefore, studies all of this, not to "see" the truth of sexuality clearly in the present, but, as it were, to identify threads that can be followed back - back historically, back psychologically, back to the depth of their meaning. And these must then lead us to the deepest recesses of human life and purpose before God. Studying sex, in other words, leads us to the same place that studying our deaths leads us - this primary reality of who we are coram Deo, before God, from God's hands, from God's loving if often unknown purposes, and in a world that, apart from God, is utter confusion and Babel.' 
Ephraim Radner, A Time to Keep, p.44. 

HOW DEATH TRANSFORMS LIFE

'Life without death, death apprehended and death experienced as the pressing boundary of our subjective beings, then, is, is inhuman and leads to inhumanity. The judgement may sound like a paradox, but, in this case, it is not. The inhumanity of deathless humanity is the simple working out, in culture and psychology and finally in politics of a profound distortion. The great challenge and scandal of contemporary Western culture grows out of such a distortion. Euthanasia and embraced sterility (in, e.g., same-sex partnerships), for instance, are today lifted up as "humane" developments in our societies, as opposed, say, to the normal cultural disintegration of war. Yet all three phenomena are actually death-embracing in parallel ways.' 
Ephraim Radner, A Time to Keep: Theology, Mortality, and the Shape of Human Life, p.42. 

THE INTIMACY OF SEX

'Here's the amazing thing about sex: you get a whole person to yourself, for the first time since you were a baby. Someone who is looking at you - just you - and thinking about you, and wanting you, and you haven't even had to lie at the bottom of the stairs and pretend you're dead to get them to do it.' 
Caitlin Moran, How To Build A Girl, p.224. 

Monday, 6 March 2017

ONLY ONE SPOUSE, ONLY ONE GOD

'The more we understand about marriage, the more we understand about our relationship with God. More than any other human relationship marriage reflects the divine-human relationship. There are only two relationships that are mutually exclusive to humans. We may have only one spouse and only one God. Accordingly, these are the only relationships where jealousy can be a positive emotion.' 
Tremper Longman III, Song of Songs, p.70. 

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

RITUAL

'The purpose of any ritual is to deepen one's commitment, to move a person deeper into a certain view of the world. Addictive rituals also have this purpose, pushing a person deeper into the the addictive process.'  
Craig Nakken, The Addictive Personality, p.44. 

THE NEED TO BE OUT OF CONTROL

'Addicts chase control - they believe they will find peace and happiness through total or perfect control. However, it's human to be imperfect and powerless, and chasing the illusion of control is really running away from the reality of being human. Addicts seek perfection instead of humanity.' 
Craig Nakken, The Addictive Personality, p.33. 

INTIMACY IS A SLOW BURNER

'Intimacy is something that is slowly built over time.'
Craig Nakken, The Addictive Personality, p.17. 

INTENSITY VS. INTIMACY

'Emotionally, addicts get intensity and intimacy mixed up.'
Craig Nakken, The Addictive Personality, p.15. 

ADDICTION & INTIMACY

'Addiction is an emotional relationship with an object or event, through which addicts try to meet their needs for intimacy.' 
Craig Nakken, The Addictive Personality: Understanding the Addictive Process and Compulsive Behavior, p.8. 

THE NEED FOR PERFECTION

'One of the fundamental truths of Christianity is that progress towards a lesser imperfection is not produced by the desire for lesser imperfection. Only the desire for perfection has the virtue of being able to destroy in the soul some part of the evil the defiles it.' 
Simone Weil, The Need for Roots, p.208. 

Monday, 27 February 2017

A BROAD EDUCATION

'The soul of a child, as it reaches out towards understanding, has need of the treasure accumulated by the human species throughout the centuries. We do injury to a child if we bring it up in narrow Christianity which prevents it from ever becoming capable of perceiving that there are treasures of the purest gold to be found in non-Christian civilizations. Lay education does an even greater injury to children. It covers up these treasures, and those of Christianity as well.' 
Simone Weill, The Need for Roots, p.87. 

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

WHY SONG OF SONGS?

'What is the Song's contribution within the whole of Scripture? The answer this time is very simple...the Song, after its way through theological allegory, provides the chief biblical resource for a believing understanding of human sexuality, of the lived meaning of "Male and female he created them."' 
Robert W Jenson, Song of Songs, p.14. 

A LACK OF ROOTS

'Whoever is uprooted himself uproots others. Whoever is rooted himself doesn't uproot others.' 
Simone Weil,. The Need for Roots, p.45. 

THE NEED FOR ROOTS

'To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul. A human being has roots by virtue of his real, active and natural participation in the life of a community which preserves in living shape certain particular treasures of the past and certain particular expectations of the future. This participation is a natural one, in the sense that it is automatically brought about by conditions of birth, profession and social surroundings. Every human being needs to have multiple roots. It is necessary for him to draw wellnigh the whole of his moral, intellectual and spiritual life by way of the environment of which he forms a natural part.' 
Simone Weil, The Need for Roots, p.41. 

THE NEED TO BE NEEDED

'Initiative and responsibility, to feel one is useful and even indispensable, are vital needs of the human soul.' 
Simone Weil, The Need for Roots, p.14. 

WHY WE LOVE BEAUTY

'...we love the beauty of the world, because we sense behind it the presence of something akin to that wisdom we should like to possess to slake our thirst for good.' 
Simone Weil, The Need for Roots, p.10. 

HUMAN RIGHTS & OBLIGATIONS

'It makes nonsense to say that men have, on the one hand, rights, and on the other hand, obligations. Such words only express differences in point of view. The actual relationship between the two is between object and subject. A man, considered in isolation, only has duties, amongst which are certain duties towards himself. Other men, seen from his point of view, only have rights. He, in his turn, has rights, when seen from the point of view of other men, who recognize that they have obligations toward him. A man left alone in the universe would have no rights whatever, but he would have obligations.' 
Simone Weil, The Need for Roots: Prelude to a Declaration of Duties Towards Mankind, p.3. 

Monday, 20 February 2017

CHRISTIANS WHO BULLY

'...just as the insecure child becomes the playground bully, so the insecure Christian causes problems in the church, because he or she always has something to prove, is always seeking affirmation. By contrast, the Christian who grasps security in grace will build others up.' 
Christopher Ash, Teaching Romans (Volume 1), p.215. 

AUTHENTICATING FAITH

'Until we suffer, we are untested. Only suffering can stamp us with the hallmark of authentic faith...' 
Christopher Ash, Teaching Romans (Volume 1), p.197. 

CREATION & RECREATION

'The first home foreshadows the final home, and the final home hallows and fulfills what was most precious in the first.' 
Fredrick Buechner in John Inge, A Christian Theology of Place, p.140. 

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF PLACE

'We have given up the understanding - dropped it out of our language and so out of our thought - that we and our country create one another; that our land passes in and out of our bodies just as our bodies pass in and out of our land; that as we and our land are part of one another, so all who are living as neighbors here, human and plant and animal, are part of one another, and so cannot possibly flourish alone; that, therefore, our culture and our place are images of each other and inseparable from each other and so neither can be better that the other.' 
Wendell Berry in John Inge, A Christian Theology of Place, p.134. 

A NEW ROUTE TO WHOLENESS?

'...we are so accustomed to seeking personal wholeness through various forms of self-development, counselling, or therapy that it would occur to very few people to think of citizenship as a path to greater individual wholeness.' 
Daniel Kemmis in John Inge, A Christian Theology of Place, p.132. 

DEFINING COMMUNITY

'...common experience and common effort on common ground to which one willingly belongs.' 
Wendell Berry in John Inge, A Christian Theology of Place, p.131. 

Sunday, 12 February 2017

DEFINING PLACE

'Place is a space which has historical meanings, where some things have happened which are now remembered and which provide continuity and identity across generations. Place is space in which important words have been spoken, which vows have been been exchanged, promises have been made, and demands have been issued. Place is indeed a protest against the unpromising pursuit of space. It is a declaration that our humanness cannot be found in escape, detachment, absence of commitment, and undefined freedom.' 
Walter Brueggemann in John Inge, A Christian Theology of Place,  p.36. 

Friday, 10 February 2017

OUR ARCHITECTURE SPEAKS

'The skyscrapers, airports, freeways and other stereotypical components of modern landscapes - are they not the sacred symbols of a civilization that has deified reach and derided home?' 
Anne Buttimer in John Inge, A Christian Theology of Place, p.17. 

PLACE MATTERS

'Whatever is true for space and time is true for place. We are immersed in it and could not do without it. To be at all - to exist in any way - is to be somewhere, and to be somewhere is to be in some kind of place. Place is as requisite as the air we breathe, the ground on which we stand, the bodies we have. We are surrounded by places. We walk over them and through them. We live in places, relate to others in them, die in them. Nothing we do is unplaced. How could it be otherwise? How could we fail to recognise this primal fact?' 
Edward S Casey in John Inge, A Christian Theology of Place, p.14. 

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

ANGRY LOVE

'Just as death achieves heights of fury in the work of destruction, so love achieves heights of fury in the work of salvation.' 
Augustine of Hippo in Robert W Jenson, Song of Songs, p.93. 

JEALOUS JESUS

'...the Lord will mot share us with other Lords, of whom notoriously there are many. Christ, we may say, is Jealousy incarnate.' 
Robert W Jenson, Song of Songs, p.93. 

WE ARE CREATURES

'We are creatures; and therefore dependence is the very mode of our being, and our glory is precisely that gift of dependence we call faith.' 
Robert W Jenson, Song of Songs, p.87. 

OUR PASSIONATE GOD

'...God is indeed impassible in the sense that external events cannot alter his personal identity or character. He is faithful, which is the chief point the Fathers intended by calling him "impassible."
Nevertheless it remains true that a hangover of the original pagan intention has controlled too much of what may be called our theological sensibility, and some points also of our more sophisticated theology...
No part of Scripture makes sense if our reading is controlled by by the dogma that to be God is simply to be without passion, and the theological allegory solicited by the Song least of all. Indeed, in our present poem the Lord does not merely respond to his people's passion for him, but has in himself an antecedent spring of longing for her; he is in himself passionate. He not only loves, but climbs the palm tree to grasp love, longing for what he will find. How should we correct our inherited interpretation of deity to accommodate the biblical God's passion for us is a matter much controverted in contemporary theology. Preachers and teachers of the Song must at least be aware how drastically the Song contradicts our usual theological prejudices.' 
Robert W Jenson, Song of Songs, p.77. 

GOD'S BODILY LOVE FOR US

'...it is vital to say...how very bodily that love is which the Song proposes as analogy for love between God and his people. Much of the West's tradition, in this stemming from Hellenism rather than from Scripture, has supposed that our loves for another would be "purified" or "ennobled" or otherwise improved by disembodiment. The Song does not agree. 
We will have to say again and again as we move through the Song: it is precisely our embracing sexually differentiated bodies whose union is sanctified by its likeness to God's own love. The heart is indeed the set of love, but it those hands and their placement - and the lips, and the paired organs of pleasure and procreation, and the tongues and...- which are the heart's actuality, at least for the Song.' 
Robert W Jenson, Song of Songs, p.33. 

LASTING SELF-ESTEEM

'....people cannot have enduring self-esteem unless they genuinely believe in their centrality in the world.' 
Yi-Fu Tuan, 'Place/ Space, Ethnicity/ Cosmos' in Why Place Matters, p.113. 

HUMANKIND

'Not so long ago, he was ranked just a notch below the angels. Now, he is considered no higher than the apes.' 
Yi-Fu Tuan, 'Place/Space, Ethnicity/Cosmos: How To Be More Fully Human' in Why Place Matters, p.110. 

Sunday, 5 February 2017

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF WEDDING ANNIVERSARIES

'A couple celebrating their wedding anniversary actually offer a stronger picture of God's love than a couple getting married. The essence of faithfulness is that it holds steady in the face of alternatives. Faithfulness is nurtured, tested and, in the end, strengthened by temptations. The wife and husband who remain faithful to each other - for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health - not only bear testimony to the kind of love God has for us, but they put it on display.' 
Glynn Harrison, A Better Story, p.152. 

GRASPING GOD'S LOVE

'If we want to understand God's love for us, we are invited to look into the most intimate and private corners of our felt sexuality and cross-refer.' 
Glynn Harrison, A Better Story, p.146. 

WHY WE ARE RELATIONAL CREATURES

'The desire for relationships, for intimacy and affection, is fundamental to the purpose and meaning of our lives as creatures made in the image of God. We love like this because the One is whose image we are made loves like this. We are longing creatures because we long for him.' 
Glynn Harrison, A Better Story, p.139. 

THE POINT OF SEXUAL DESIRE

'...sexual desire is our inbuilt homing instinct for the Divine, a kind of navigation aid showing us the way home. You could think of it as a form of body language: our bodies talk to us about a greater reality of fulfillment and eternal blessing, and urge us to go there.' 
Glynn Harrison, A Better Story, p.137. 

PART IDENTITIES VS. TRUE IDENTITY

'...Christians repudiate the entire infrastructure of self-construction as too emaciated and deficient to bear the weight of being human. Characteristics such as gender, race, nationality and sexuality are important, but we reject the modern practice of elevating these part identities into whole identities. Nothing less than the whole glory of the restored image of God in humankind will do. That is our identity. That is who we are.' 
Glynn Harrison, A Better Story, p.130. 

INSATIABLE IDOLS

'...idols always ask for more and more, but give less and less, until in the end they have everything and you have nothing...' 
Glynn Harrison, A Better Story, p.12. 

WE NEED A SETTLED SENSE OF SELF

'The ability to act effectively and confidently, to give love and receive it...requires a sense of self-worth and significance. But if the self is constantly in flux, a shifting sand of doubt and reinvention, how can such a delicate thing sustain a sense of its own worth and value?'  
Glynn Harrison, A Better Story, p.118. 

PLAUSIBILITY STRUCTURES

'Because of the strength of the plausibility structures supporting the majority views in a society, if you have ideas different from everybody else, it is generally a good plan to be part of a support network...Kindred spirits are crucial to keeping minority ideas alive. And so cognitive minority groups, if they want to survive as a minority, must start to act like a minority. They need to make active efforts to nourish their beliefs and patterns of life in ways that make them plausible to their members. They need intellectual leaders, attractive role models and the opportunity for members to rehearse and consolidate their ideas in the conversational fabric of their group, juts like the majority outside.' 
Glynn Harrison, A Better Story, p.72.  

EVERY HUMAN HEART

'...the heart is the wanting, loving, seeking epicentre of the person...'
Glynn Harrison, A Better Story, p.57. 

WHY PEOPLE CHANGE

'What the heart  loves, the will chooses and the mind justifies.'
Thomas Cranmer in Glynn Harrison, A Better Story, p.57. 

Saturday, 4 February 2017

CULTURAL CHANGE

'Many of the key players in the sexual revolution understood the need...for cultural embodiment. They showed they were willing to swim against the flow. They braved the stigma of difference, marched the streets, formed pressure groups and conjured up the determination to show the world what love could like. And if there's to be a Christian sexual revolution capable of turning the the tide, it will need to do the same.'  
Glynn Harrison, A Better Story: God, Sex & Human Flourishing, p.48.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE

'A marriage which does not constantly crucify its own selfishness and self-sufficiency, which does not "die to itself" that it may point beyond itself, is not a Christian marriage. The real sin of marriage today is not adultery or lack of "adjustment" or "mental cruelty." It is the idolization of the family itself, the refusal to understand marriage as directed towards the Kingdom of God.' 
Alexander Schmemann in James KA Smith, You Are What You Love, p.116. 

WHAT BAPTISM TEACHES US ABOUT FAMILIES

'Our promises in baptism - as parents and congregation - signal that what counts as "family" is not just the closed, nuclear unit that is so often idolized as "the family." Thus, if Christian congregations are truly going to live out of and into the significance of baptism, they will need to become communities in which the bloodlines of kin are trumped by the blood of Christ - where "natural" families don't fold into themselves in self-regard.' 
James KA Smith, You Are What You Love, p.116. 

OUR HEARTS

'Our hearts are like stringed instruments that are plucked by story, poetry, metaphor, images.' 
James KA Smith, You Are What You Love, p.91. 

VIRTUES

'...a virtue is a disposition that inclines us to achieve the good for which we are made.' 
James KA Smith, You Are What You Love, p.89. 

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

ROOTS

'To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul.' 
Simone Weil in Christine Rosen, 'The New Meaning of Mobility' in Why Place Matters, p.183. 

THE IMPORTANCE OF PLACE

'In a frenetically mobile and ever more porous and inexorably globalizing world, we stand powerfully in need of such stable and coherent places in our lives - to ground us and orient us, and mark off a finite arena, rich with memory, for our activity as parents and children, as friends and neighbors, and as free and productive citizens.'  
Wilfred M McClay 'Why Place Matters' in Wilfred M McLay & Ted V McAllister, Why Place Matters: Geography, Identity and Civic Life in Modern America, p.3. 

Friday, 27 January 2017

THE POWER OF HABIT

'...there is no formation without repetition. Virtue formation takes practice, and there is no practice that isn't repetitive. We willingly embrace repetition as a good in all kinds of other sectors of our life - to hone our golf swing, our piano prowess, and our mathematical abilities, for example. If the sovereign Lord has created us as creatures of habit, why should we think repetition is inimical to our spiritual growth.'  
James KA Smith, You Are What You Love, p.80. 

CORPORATE WORSHIP

'Instead of the bottom up emphasis on worship as our expression of devotion and praise, historic Christian worship is rooted in the conviction that God is the primary actor or agent in the worship encounter. Worship works from the top down, you might say. In worship we don't just come to show God our devotion and give him our praise; we are called to worship because in this encounter God (ree)makes us and molds us top-down. Worship is the arena in which God recalibrates our hearts, reforms our desires, and rehabituates our loves. Worship isn't just something we do; it is where God does something to us. Worship is the heart of discipleship because it is the gymnasium in which God retrains our hearts.' 
James KA Smith, You Are What You Love, p.76. 

CONTEXTUALISATION GONE WRONG

'...when we distill the gospel message and embed it in the form of the mall, while we might think we are finding a fresh way for people to encounter Christ, in fact the very form of the practice is already loaded with a way of constructing the world. The liturgy of the mall is a heart-level education in consumerism that construes everything as a commodity available to make me happy. When I encounter "Jesus" in such a liturgy, rather than encountering the living Lord of history, I am implicitly being taught that Jesus is one more commodity available to make me happy. And while I might eagerly want to add him to my shelf of stuff, we shouldn't confuse this appropriation with discipleship.'
James KA Smith, You Are What You Love, p.76. 

HYPOCRISY DEFINED

'I was reading Wendell Berry in the food court at CostCo.' 
James KA Smith, You Are What You Love, p.60. 

THE CHALLENGE OF LONG-TERM PASTORAL CARE

'Churches are often very good at clarifying where we need surgery, but are much more impatient in coping with the long-term nursing.' 
Elaine Storkey, The Search for Intimacy, p.237. 

BEING THERE FOR PEOPLE

'Being available for those who need us is often the hardest and most neglected aspect of Christian living today, and yet without such availability the church will never be able to demonstrate the reality of Christ's love to the world.' 
Elaine Storkey, The Search for Intimacy, p.234. 

PARENTING

'The greatest gift a parent can give a child is to love the other parent. It is that love which puts down the foundation for most other areas of intimacy.' 
Elaine Storkey, The Search for Intimacy, p.230. 

ESSENTIAL ANGER

'Anger is a crucial human emotion. It can be that which eradicates oppression, fuels social change, or rails against hypocrisy. Anger at the ill-treatment of others has led to the repeal of slavery, and the outlawing of exploitative child labour. There is much anger in the Psalms where the writers cry against injustice and shout about the way evil-doers seem to prosper. There is anger in the Gospels when Jesus sees that the place where God is to be worshipped has been turned into a "den of thieves". In its right place anger is essential.' 
Elaine Storkey, The Search for Intimacy, p.218. 

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

SEX IS NOT SEXUALITY

'...only one aspect of sexuality is expressed in sexual intercourse. We also express it in warmth and touch, in closeness and care for the other persons who are dear to us. If in our lives there is no sexual union with another, perhaps because we have accepted celibacy, or gone through bereavement, illness or divorce, we are no less fully human and fully sexual. Deeply satisfying human intimacy, whether in marriage or outside, is in the end not dependent on copulation but on a faithful sharing of our hearts and lives with those whom we love, and a longing for their well-being and peace.' 
Elaine Storkey, The Search for Intimacy, p.207. 

THE THREAT OF CHASTITY

'Those who are chaste by conviction are in fact a threat to all who market sex as something which we must bow before. For they are often living testimonies to the fact that human intimacy is not dependent on sexual intercourse for its meaning and power. They also know the truth that we are much more in control of the way we relate to others than our culture is prepared to acknowledge. And in this they have the witness of history.' 
Elaine Storkey, The Search for Intimacy, p.206. 

CHASTITY IS THE ROUTE TO INTIMACY

'For the truth about intimacy is one which is learned through chastity and not promiscuity.' 
Elaine Storkey, The Search for Intimacy, p.204. 

THE BODILY INCARNATION

'One of the central Christian doctrines, the incarnation, is itself an endorsement of our sexual humanity. For Jesus had a body, Jesus was a body. Jesus touched the bodies of others, the disease-ridden and deformed as well as the beautiful. He was kissed, stroked, and anointed in return, even by a woman of doubtful sexual reputation. Jesus' body needed food, drink, sleep, comfort and exercise, and when he washed or swam he was probably naked. Nothing could be more convincing of ultimate honor of human sinews, skin and bone than the reality of Emmanuel, God bodily with us.' 
Elaine Storkey, The Search for Intimacy, p.192.