Sunday, 31 December 2017


In, yet again, no particular order (other than the rough order I read them in):

  • Glynn Harrison, A Better Story: God, Sex & Human Flourishing
  • Roger Deakin, Notes from Walnut Tree Farm 
  • Peter Hedges, What's Eating Gilbert Grape?
  • Thomas Savage, The Power of the Dog 
  • Tim Winton, The Boy Behind the Curtain
  • Peter Scazzero, The Emotionally Healthy Leader
  • Barbara Pym, Crampton Hodnet
  • Tish Harrison Warren, Liturgy of the Ordinary
  • Andy Angel, Intimate Jesus: The Sexuality of God Incarnate
  • Alan Jacobs, How to Think: A Guide for the Perplexed

Saturday, 23 December 2017


'...the Bible's view of doubt is wonderfully nuanced. In many circles, skepticism and doubt are considered an absolute, unmitigated good. On the other hand, in a lot of conservative and traditional religious circles, any and all questioning or doubting is thought to be bad. If you are in a church youth group and you have questions about the Bible, the youth leader may mark at you, "You shouldn't doubt! You have to have faith." 
What you have in the Bible is neither view. There is a kind of doubt that is the sign of a closed mind, and there is a kind of doubt that is the sign of an open mind. Some doubt seeks answers, and some doubt is a defense against the possibility of answers. There are people like Mary who are open to the truth and are willing to relinquish sovereignty over their lives if they can be shown that the truth is other than they thought. And there are those like Zechariah who use doubts as a way of staying in control of their lives and keeping their minds closed. What kind of doubt do you have?'
Timothy Keller. Hidden Christmas, p.83.  


'It's been said that to survive all we need is food, clothing, shelter, and a healthy feeling of superiority over our fellow mortals. Alas, probably true.' 
Mark Edmundson, Why Write? p.31. 


'We are still not entirely aware of what writing, good writing, can do for individuals and for the collective. We have at our hands' reach a skill that is also a spiritual discipline. Writing is a meditation; writing is as close as some of us can come to prayer; writing is a way of being, righteously, in the world. And this is something that everyone ought to know.' 
Mark Edmundson, Why Write? p.xix. 


'How do I know what I think until I see what I say...'
EM Forster in Mark Edmundson, Why Write? A Master Class on the Art of Writing and Why it Matters, p.xvii. 


'To think independently of other human beings is impossible, and if were possible it would be undesirable. Thinking is necessarily, thoroughly, and wonderfully social. Everything you think is a response to what someone else has thought and said. And when people commend someone for "thinking for herself" they usually mean "ceasing to sound like people I dislike and starting to sound like more like people I approve of." 
This is a point worth dwelling on. How often do we say "she really thinks for herself" when someone rejects view that we hold? No: when someone departs from what we believe to be the True Path our tendency is to look for bad influences. She's fallen under the spell of so-and-so. She's been reading too much X or listening to too much Y or watching too much Z. Similarly, people in my line of work always say that we want to promote "critical thinking" - but really we want our students to think critically only about what they've learned at home and in church, not about what they learn from us.
Alan Jacobs, How to Think, p.37. 


'Human beings are not built to be indifferent to the waves and pulses of their social world. For most of us the question is whether we have even the slightest reluctance to drift along with the flow. The person who genuinely wants to think will have to develop strategies for recognizing the subtlest of social pressures, confronting the pull on the ingroup and disgust for the outgroup. The person who wants to think will have to practice patience and master fear.'  
Alan Jacobs, How to Think, p.23. 


'Relatively few people want to think. Thinking troubles us; thinking tires us. Thinking can force us out of familiar, comforting habits; thinking can complicate our lives; thinking can set us at odds, or at least complicate our relationships, with those we admire or love or follow. Who needs thinking?' 
Alan Jacobs, How to Think: A Guide for the Perplexed, p.17. 

Monday, 4 December 2017


'It it is Man's power to treat himself as a mere "natural object" and his own judgement of value as raw material for scientific manipulation to alter at will. The objection to his doing so does not lie in the fact that his point of view (like one's first day in a dissecting room) is painful and shocking till we grow used to it. The pain and the shock are at most a warning and a symptom. The real objection is that if man chooses to treat himself as a raw material, raw material he will be: not raw material to be manipulated, as he fondly imagined, by himself, but by mere appetite, that is, mere Nature, in the person of his de-humanized Conditioners.' 
CS Lewis, The Abolition of Man, p.72. 


'A great many of those who "debunk" traditional or (they say) "sentimental" values have in the background values of their own which they believe to be immune from the debunking process.' 
CS Lewis, The Abolition of Man, p.29. 


'I certainly believe we all suffer damage, one way or another. How could we not, except in a world of perfect parents, siblings, neighbours, companions? And then there is the question, on which so much depends, of how we react to the damage: whether we admit it or repress it, and how this affects our dealings with others. Some admit the damage, and try to mitigate it; some spend their lives trying to help others who are damaged; and then there are those whose main concern is to avoid further damage to themselves, at whatever cost. And those are the ones who are ruthless, and the ones to be careful of.'
Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending, p.44. 


'Yes, of course we were pretentious - what else is youth for?'
Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending, p.10.