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. 

Monday, 23 January 2017

THE STATE OF A MARRIAGE

'How could I possibly explain my marriage? Anyone watching a ship from land is no judge of its seaworthiness, for the vital part is always underwater. It can't be seen.'
Andrew Sean Greer, The Story of a Marriage, p.

THE POWER OF PAIN

'I do not know what joins the parts of an atom, but it seems what binds one human being to another is pain.'
Andrew Sean Greer, The Story of a Marriage, p.85.

Friday, 20 January 2017

ACCEPTANCE WITHIN MARRIAGE

'Disappointment within marriage has one very clear answer: acceptance. The issue of acceptance is the core spiritual issue that lies at the heart of every marriage. For we are all failures. We are all disappointments. No one person can be all that the other dreamed of. And so we often have to let go of what our ideal of a husband or wife should be like, and give ourselves in love to the one we actually have.'
Elaine Storkey, The Search for Intimacy, p.182. 

Monday, 16 January 2017

UNHELPFUL GENDER STEREOTYPES

'Being aware of the juxtaposition of power and vulnerability in the lives of the men closet to me, the stereotypes of masculinity that I have read in so many books have always left me unimpressed. In my experience as in the experience of so many others, it has simply not been true that it is always men who are strong, logical and self-sufficient; or that women are weaker, more emotional and in greater need of protection. Indeed as I have gone through life I have met many men who are very emotionally dependent on others whilst many women I know are temperamentally strong as well as analytically competent. I have listened as publically adequate men have privately crumbled without affirmation and constant support, yet have encountered women who battle alone against considerable odds.'  
Elaine Storkey, The Search for Intimacy, p.118. 

Sunday, 15 January 2017

FORGIVENESS

'Forgiving heals your memory as you change your memory's vision. When you release the wrongdoer from the wrong, you cut a malignant tumour out of you inner life. You set a prisoner free, but you discover the real prisoner was yourself.' 
Lewis Smedes in Elaine Storkey, The Search for Intimacy, p.89. 

THE PLAYFULNESS OF INTIMACY

'Intimacy thrives on playfulness.'
Elaine Storkey, The Search for Intimacy, p.85. 

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

INTIMACY

'Intimacy grows best between people who have found space in their lives to get to know themselves. It flourishes most effectively when people are able to enjoy connectedness with others, and also given space to develop their own sense of separateness.' 
Elaine Storkey, The Search for Intimacy, p.79. 

MALE HEADSHIP GONE WRONG

'I have listened to many women married to men who have absorbed all the ideas of headship and authority, but who have never been given any help or advice on how to express and develop their feelings, or to allow other people to get close. Consequently, some women find that though these men may make authoritative pronouncements, and perform well publicly, at home they are effectively emotional cripples. This often has to be masked by assertion, or distance. In some cases the closer the woman becomes and the more aware of his weakness the greater the retreat from the husband. So the relationship deteriorates and the man is unable to seek help. For he is a man, and called not to be weak but authoritative, and for him it is a sign of weakness to admit there are deep emotional problems in his life.'
Elaine Storkey, The Search for Intimacy, p.74. 

FULL INTIMACY

'...we cannot experience the fullness of intimacy until we understand that it goes deeper than anything we might find in the greatest human encounter, until we realize that its origins lie far beyond ourselves, or our universe, to the very creator. And when we come face to face with the reality of this truth, we can accept the gift for what it is; the reminder to our hearts of who we are, and whose image we bear.' 
Elaine Storkey, The Search for Intimacy, p.70.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

INTIMACY WITH MYSELF

'Intimacy with myself involves me in being critically self-aware; ready to assess influences from the past, ready to understand where I need to change. It uncovers from me those areas of weakness or bitterness in my life; it helps me to learn to love myself, and accept myself, whilst rejecting what in me is harmful or destructive. True intimacy with the self means experiencing the reality of repentance, forgiveness, healing and joy. Intimacy comes when I grow in love and learn to give myself to others.' 
Elaine Storkey, The Search for Intimacy, p.7. 

OUR FEAR OF INTIMACY

'...intimacy is both desired and threatening. We both want our deepest privacy to be invaded, but we also fear it. We want to be able to be able to open up our very selves to the love and scrutiny of another, yet we dread the rawness of being exposed. There is somehow deep in the human psyche that tension between bonding and detachment, closeness and distance. Very often, just at the very point where intimacy seems realizable there is a fear of being engulfed, a claustrophobia, a panic and a bid for retreat. To accept that this tension is there, and to live creatively with it are probably marks of maturity. But for many the fear of intimacy itself can take over. The unwillingness to be completely open to another lies deeply in our personhood. How can we ever really trust each other to disclose our hearts and show all the weakness there?' 
Elaine Storkey, The Search for Intimacy, p.2. 

Saturday, 7 January 2017

GOD SPEAKS TODAY

'I believe that much of our religious unbelief is due to a wrong conception of and a wrong feeling for the Scripture of truth. A silent God suddenly began to speak in a book and when that book was finished lapsed back into silence again for ever. Now we read the book as the record of what God said when He was for a brief time in a speaking mood. With notions like that in our heads how can we believe? The facts are that God is not silent, has never been silent. It is the nature of God to speak. The second person of the Holy Trinity is called the Word. The Bible is the inevitable outcome of God's continuous speech. It is the infallible declaration of His minds for us put into our own familiar words.' 
AW Tozer, The Pursuit of God, p.76.  

MEMORY

'When I write a note my memory stores the thought.'
John le Carre, The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life, p.209. 

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

OUR HOLY & LOVING GOD DEMANDS CHRISTMAS

'A God who was only holy would not have come down to us in Jesus Christ. He would have simply demanded that we pull ourselves together, that we be moral and holy enough to merit a relationship with him. A deity that was an "all-accepting God of love" would not have needed to come to Earth either. This God of the modern imagination would just have overlooked sin and evil and embraced us. Neither the God of moralism nor the God of relativism would have bothered with Christmas.
The biblical God, however, is infinitely holy, so our sin could not be shrugged off. It had to be dealt with. He is also infinitely loving. He knows we could never climb up to him, so he has come down to us.'
Timothy Keller, Hidden Christmas, p.47.

HUMANKIND

'Man is not an animal
Is intelligent flesh
Although sometimes ill.'
Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Despair, p.i