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.