'...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.'
'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.'
'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.'
'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.'
'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.'
'...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.'
'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.'"
'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."'
'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.
'...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.'
'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.
'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.
'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.
'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.'
'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.
'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.
'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.
'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.
'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.