'Some of us seem to imagine that because we understand much, we should be able to understand everything, and that science will continue pulling up the blinds, exposing to the light more and more of the dark room that is our ignorance. But this is a faith one need not be embarrassed to decline. Despite all our knowledge about ourselves and the universe we inhabit, much more is unknown than is known; our ignorance drowns our knowledge...The world is large, and our minds are small, so the latter cannot always contain the former. We cannot but expect there to be mysteries - permanent mysteries - on every side.'
'I am sure, although I can offer no proof, that those who spend hours every day in front of a TV pray less than they otherwise might, not because they have less faith, not because their morals have been corrupted, nor because their time is consumed by the tube. Rather, their attention spans, like their imaginations, have been made lazy. If prayer is sustained concentration upon the seemingly unexciting, how well can it be practiced by those habituated more and more to just the opposite? Surely the great sin of the modern world is indolence.'
'I want this book read to me on my deathbed. Despite my modernity and my cynical nature, despite my dissection of it and my quarrels with it, the Bible remains profitable for teaching, for correction, and for training in righteousness. It comforts, It inspires. It commands,. When I push its pages apart, I lay my finger on God's heart. I hate to see people not reading it.'
'We fail to catch scriptural allusions not because most of the Bible is Heraclitus, who wrote obscurely so that only the highbrows would read him. The problem is, rather, us. Let me draw an analogy. Much of the power of Martin Luther King Jr.'s widely appreciated rhetoric came from his expectation that his hearer's would perceive the implicit. When he gave his famous "I have a Dream" speech, he expected his audience to hear his first words, "Five score years ago," an echo of the first words of the Gettysburg Address. It was a way of saying, "My cause is the completion of what Lincoln began." When King spoke of "this sweltering summer of the Negro's discontent," he was alluding to the opening lines of Shakespeare's Richard III - "now is the winter of our discontent/Made glorious summer by this sun of York" - and thereby telling the whites in his audience, "You cannot ignore me. I know your European tradition as well as you do." When he said "We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream," surely he believed that his hearers would know this was from the Bible (Amos 5:24). King was asserting, "God is on my side."'
'Seeing our imaginations have great power over hearts, and can mightily affect us with their representations, it would be great use to you if, at the beginning of your devotions, you were to imagine to yourself some representation as might heat and warm your heart in a temper suitable to those prayers that you are then about to offer unto God.'
William Law in Dale C Allison Jr., The Luminous Dusk, p.68.
'One mid-afternoon, when I was twenty-four years old, I walked by my apartment window, which framed a garden in the cemetery next door. I noticed that the scene, which I had looked at often enough to pay no attention, was somehow magically transfigured. Everything was self-shining as my eyes saw not the surface of things but through them. The trees and tulips were colored jewels, the air a clear crystal, the boulders (in the words of Ezekiel) stones of fire. The whole multi-colored bliss was a sea of glass, each object a stained-glass window. A preternatural brilliance, a slowly breathing radiance, intense yet painless, the essence of beauty, suffused everything; and a thought arose in my mind: the expulsion from Eden was only a dimming of vision; we are even yet in paradise.'
'...we can wrongly interpret unintended effects as once-conscious aims - as though Luther, when he nailed his ninety-five theses to the door of Wittenberg castle, envisioned Protestantism. It is like the man who unwittingly cracks a joke and then takes credit for it, misleading others into thinking him clever. We repeatedly credit famous names with too much power, as if some of them actually intended the consequences of their deeds and so truly held the reins of history. But none did; and those presumptuous enough to think themselves exceptions have only been like the hard-hearted Pharaoh of the Exodus, who decisions were not his own ("God hardened Pharaoh's heart").'.
Dale C Allison Jr., The Luminous Dusk: Finding God in the Deep, Still Places, p.30
'Sometimes very young children can look at the old, and a look passes between them, conspiratorial, sly and knowing. It's because neither are humans to the middling ones, those in their prime, as they say, like beef.'
'...when we say that God will "justify" rather than merely "acquit," the action has a reconstituting force - hence the insufficiency of the courtroom metaphor "to acquit," God's righteousness is the same thing as his justice, and his justice is powerfully at work justifying, which does not mean excusing, passing over, or even "forgiving and forgetting," but actively making right that which is wrong.'
'The challenge for pastors and preachers is to show that, given the nature of God, it can be said without qualification that the wrath of God is always exercised in the service of God's good purposes. It is the unconditional love of God manifested against anything that would frustrate or destroy the designs of his love.'
'Half of the harm that is done in this world
Is due to people who want to feel important.
They don't mean to do harm - but the harm does not interest them.
Or they do not see it, or they justify it
Because they are absorbed in the endless struggle
To think well of themselves.' TS Eliot in Fleming Rutledge, The Crucifixion, p.306.