'According to Freud, the full and uninhibited satisfaction of all instinctual desires would create mental health and happiness. But the obvious clinical facts demonstrate that men - and women - who devote their lives to unrestricted sexual satisfaction do not attain happiness, and very often suffer from severe neurotic conflicts or symptoms. The complete satisfaction of all instinctual needs is not only not a basis for happiness, it does not even guarantee sanity. Yet Freud's idea could only have become popular in the period after the First World War because of the changes which had occurred in the spirit of capitalism, from the emphasis on saving to that on spending, from self-frustration as a means for economic success to consumption as the basis for an ever-widening market, and as the main satisfaction for the anxious, automatised individual. Not to postpone the satisfaction of any desire became the main tendency in the sphere of sex as well as in that of all material consumption.'
'Man - of all ages and cultures - is confronted with the solution of one and the same question: the question of how to overcome separateness, how to achieve union, how to transcend one's own individual life and find at-onement.'
'Holiness...is the necessary effect and means of the gospel. In other words, holiness is not only the result of conversion, it's also the embodied argument in support of the gospel's veracity. We're saved to be holy, and we become holy so others will be saved.'
Elliot Clark, Evangelism as Exiles: Life on mission as strangers in our own land, p.115.
'She had more children than any of her friends, and been loved and respected, fawned over and feared. She'd taught thousands of young people to read and think, and they had gone on to change the world and would continue to long after she was dust.'
'Vulnerability and time turn people who have relationship into a people who have a friendship. That's what friendship is: vulnerability across time. The practice of conversation is the basis of friendship because it's in the conversation that we become exposed to each other.'
'The question "Is there anything you aren't telling me?" gets at the heart of friendship, because friendship is being known by someone else and loved anyway. Friendships in which we're vulnerable make or break lives. Within them we thrive, and without them an essential part of us - if not all of us - dies.'
'...the reasons why you have not got contentment in the things of the world is not because you have not got enough of them - that is not the reason - but the reason is, because they are not things proportionate to that immortal soul of yours that is capable of God himself.'
Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, p.91.
'I suspect that a fuller exploration of the sexual metaphors of the Bible will have more to teach us about a theology and ethics of sexual desire than will the flat citation of isolated texts; and I hope other theologians will find this worth following up more fully than I can do here.'
Rowan Williams, 'The Body's Grace' in Theology and Sexuality (Ed.: Rogers), p.320.
'It has often been said, especially by feminist writers, that the making of my body into a distant and dangerous object that can be either subdued or placated with quick gratification is the root of sexual oppression. If my body isn't me, then the desiring perception of my body is bound up with an area of danger and foreignness, and I act toward whatever involves me in desiring and being desired with fear and hostility.'
Rowan Williams, 'The Body's Grace' in Theology and Sexuality (Ed.: Rogers), p.315.
'...an absolute declaration that every sexual partnership must conform to the pattern of commitment or else have the nature of sin and nothing else is unreal and silly. People do discover - as does Sarah Layton - a grace in encounters fraught with transitoriness and without much "promising" (in any sense): it may be just this that prompts them to want the fuller, longer exploration of the body's grace that faithfulness offers. Recognizing this - which is no more recognizing the facts of a lot of people's histories, heterosexual or homosexual, in our society - ought to be something we can do without generating anxieties about weakening or compromising the focal significance of commitment and promise in our Christian understanding and "moral imagining" of what sexual bonding can be.'
Rowan Williams, 'The Body's Grace' in Theology and Sexuality: Classic and Contemporary Readings (Edited by Eugene F Rogers Jr.),p.315.
'Sin is often thought of as being motivated by the temptation for pleasure. But perhaps the real power of sin lies in the avoidance of pain and suffering. It is better to suffer unfulfilled needs and desires than to sin. Is this not what self-denial means?'
Karen H Jobes, 1 Peter: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, p.5.
'...when you look into the book of God and find any promise there, you may make it your own; just as an heir who rides over a lot of fields and meadows says. This meadow is my inheritance, and this corn field is my inheritance, and the he sees a fine house, and says, This fine house is my inheritance. He looks at them with a different eye from a stranger who rides over those fields. A carnal heart reads the promises, and reads them merely as stories, not that he has any great interest in them. But every time a godly man reads the Scriptures (remember this when you are reading the Scripture) and there meets a promise, he ought to lay his hand upon it and say, This is part of my inheritance, it is mine, and I am to live upon it.'
Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, p.83.
'There is no condition that a godly man or woman can be in, but there is some promise or other in the Scripture to help him in that condition. And that is the way of his contentment, to go to the promises, and get from the promise, that which may supply.'
Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, p.69.
'Every bit of bread you eat, if you are a godly man or woman, Jesus Christ has bought it for you. You go to the market and buy your meat and drink with your money, but know that before you buy it, or pay money, Christ has bought it at the hand of God the Father with his blood. You have it at the hands of men for money, but Christ has bought it at the hand of his Father by his blood. Certainly it is a great deal better and sweeter now, though it is but a little.'
Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, p.59.
'...I know nothing more effective for quieting a Christian soul and getting contentment than this, setting your heart to work in the duties of the immediate circumstances that you are in, and taking heed of your thoughts about other conditions as a mere temptation.'
Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, p.52.
'You do not find one godly man who came out of affliction worse than he went into it; though for a while he was shaken, yet at last he was better for the affliction. But a great many godly men, you find, have been worse for their prosperity.'
Jeremiah Burroughs, A Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, p.50.
'...contentment, the mingling of joy and sorrow, of gracious joy and gracious sorrow together. Grace teaches us how to moderate and to order an affliction so that there shall be a sense of it, and yet for all that contentment under it.'
Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, p.41.
'...moments of silence, silence imposing itself on us, are so very important not only for our humanity in general because we habitually live in a world where the "right thing"to do with critical moments is to stop them being critical. The right thing to do with a wild animal is to tame it, so to speak, and the right thing to do with any "wild" experience is to work out what I can do with it, what I can make of it, and, in short, domesticate it.'...
A growing humanity, a maturing humanity, is one that's prepared for silence, because it's prepared at important moments to say "I can't domesticate, I can't get on top of this."'
'To be unconditionally dependent on another human subject is to be in deep danger of repressive, dehumanizing patterns of relation. To depend on God in the context I have outlined is precisely to be delivered from this. God is not another ego greedy to control.'
'Increasingly, one of the marks of a fully and uncompromisingly secular environment is the notion of undifferentiated time. There are, for mature late capitalism, no such tings as weekends. The problem with this kind of secularism is not so much a denial of the existence of God as the denial of the possibility of leisure - of time that is not spent serving the market. That is to say, for a particular mindset, acquisitive and purpose-driven, the passage of time is precisely the slipping away of a scarce, valuable commodity, every moment of which has to be made to yield its maximum possible result, so you can't afford to stop. This kind of secular understanding of the passage of time is perhaps one of those areas where there is most open collision between the fundamentally religious and the fundamentally anti-religious mindset - and I think that's one of the untold stories of our time.'
'I think difficulty is good for us, and I say that not just as an excuse for writing some of the books I've written, which I'm told are not always easy reading. I say it because difficulty is one of those things that, rather obviously, obliges us to take time. The more time we take, the more our discovery is likely to turn into habit and into inhabiting. The less time we take over something, the easier we find something to resolve, map and digest, the less value, the less significance it will have. It's a rather old chestnut: Platonic philosophers and early Christian theologians were saying millennia back that the more easily you thought you'd got to know something, the less you'd care about it. Difficulty imposes discipline: it imposes the willingness to believe tat there is more to work on. And by reminding us that getting to where we are has taken time, it can also be one of the things that reminds us that our current cultural perspective, temporal or geographical, is not the obvious one. Taking time, the awareness of the "more" that we have not yet absorbed, may be one of the things (may be, but doesn't need to be) making us that little bit more patient with the criticism, the challenge, the alternative view, of another world, another culture, another person. It may be one of those things that builds solidarity rather than division, something, in other words, that extends the cooperation that properly belongs to knowledge.'
'Empathy. that is,the imaginative identification with a perspective that is not my own, is not just an optional extra in our human identity and our human repertoire, it's something without which we cannot know ourselves. Without identification with the other, I don't know myself.'
'...when I look around, my neighbour is also always somebody who is already in relation with God before they're in relation with me. That means that there's a very serious limit on my freedom to make of my neighbour what I choose, because, to put it very bluntly, they don't belong to me, and their relation to me is not all that is true of them, or even the most important thing that is true of them.'
Rowan Williams, Being Human: Bodies, minds, persons, p.37.
'The notion that we can have joy without happiness has perverted the meaning of both words and helped spawn a culture of Christian curmudgeons. Feeling morally superior, they may affirm that they have the joy of Jesus deep in their hearts, but apparently it's so deep it never makes the way to their faces.'
'The most dangerous thing you can do is take any one impulse of your own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs. There is not one of them which will not make us devils if we set it up as an absolute guide.'
'Modern notions of selfhood amplify our individual responsibilities and opportunities in this regard. In former times, when prevalent mental frameworks sealed the individual within an envelope of community, mapping the world was more of a shared effort. Today, imagining ourselves to be autonomous, we shoulder the burden of psychic self-construction in relative isolation. It must have been far less taxing to assume one's place in the choir than it is to improvise these solos.'
Peter Korn, Why We Make Things & Why It Matters, p.61.
'...constructing an identity is not a self-contained project. One's sense of self is a fluctuating assemblage of beliefs and feelings strongly influenced by external circumstances, especially the beliefs of other people.'
Peter Korn, Why We Make Things & Why It Matters, p.67.
'Reading text is a linear progression where one idea follows another like the news crawl at the bottom of a television screen. On the positive side, this gives a writer significant control of the step-by-step process through which a reader accesses ideas. On the downside, only one thought can be presented at a time.The remainder of the author's composition is either receding into the netherworld of memory or invisibly waiting in the wings for its moment on stage. In contrast, a craft object, is a collage in which many pieces and levels of information are read in relationship to each other in the present...A craftsman cannot control a respondent's path through this information as tightly as as an author, but the craftsman has the advantage of making complex structures of information simultaneously apparent. His picture is worth the proverbial thousand words.'
Peter Korn, Why We Make Things & Why It Matters, p.64.
'We are socially embraided to such an extent that the architecture of our thoughts is a communal construction. Anything I create becomes a doorway through which others can access my ideas and concerns, if they care to.'
Peter Korn, Why We Make Things & Why It Matters, p.63.
'The satisfactions of manifesting oneself concretely in the world through manual competence have been known to make a man quiet and easy. They seem to relieve him of the felt need to offer chattering interpretations of himself to vindicate his worth. He can simply point: the building stands, the car now runs, the lights are on. Boasting is what a boy does, who has no real effect on the world. But craftmanship must reckon with the infallible judgment of reality, where one's failure or shortcomings cannot be interpreted away.'
Matthew Crawford in Peter Korn, Why We Make Things & Why It Matters, p.56.
'Through personal experience, acquaintance with hundreds of other craftspeople, and interaction with thousands of students, I have witnesses the pleasure and empowerment that skilled craftwork offers. There is a deep centredness in trusting one's hands, mind, and imagination to work as a single, well-tuned instrument, a centredness that touches upon the very essence of fulfillment. What better way to inhabit one's innate human capabilities productively and powerfully, like an engine firing smoothly on all pistons.'
Peter Korn, Why We Make Things & Why It Matters, p.53.
'...my experience has been that the effort to bring something new and meaningful into the world - whether in the arts, the kitchen, or the marketplace - is exactly what generates the sense of meaning and fulfillment for which so many of us yearn so deeply.'
Peter Korn, Why We Make Things & Why It Matters: The Education of a Craftsman, p.13.
'Language is only language; we need, rather, to hear the cries of those who don't feel happy in their skins, to dare to find out the source of their misery. We, as a society, need to be brave enough to hear the truth: 'It's you we don't like, the society which nurtured us, or forgot to nurture us. You haven't made a good home for us here. We hate our stupid gender scripts you foisted on us, we don't feel beautiful, we don't feel successful, and we don't feel we matter.'
And aren't they right? Isn't it time to do away with the male tribe and the female tribe and become people again? Hasn't the time come to unravel our uber-sexualisation? To put the spotlight on what joins us, and not what divides us?'
'Real love is the very opposite of idealisation. Rather, it has to do with knowledge, a deep, real, sensitive knowledge of the other people in your life and the care you give them. Love is a kind of knowing.
The real lover is neither Rossetti or Picasso. The real lover is the man who broke down on Women's Hour this morning. He spent three years looking after his dying wife, tending her each day, doing her teeth, washing her hair, putting a new necklace around her neck each morning, something she had done for herself before she got dementia.
'Why don't you put her in a home and get a life?' his friends would ask him.
'Nowadays, there are few greater character defects than being judgmental. But in relinquishing judgement, we also relinquish ideals. The ideal of fidelity, the ideal of a family life, with a mother and a father; the ideals of honour, self-control and reverence. The old establishment, the clergy, schools, family and community life were by no means perfect and squeaky clean, but they offered a backdrop that was safe in this tricky business of being human. Sometimes, perhaps, it's better, easier, not to have too much choice. There's a word in German, angst, which perfectly describes the mental anxiety we experience when too many options are presented to us. This hyper-individualism is not good for us, this obsessive introspection isn't making us happy. Sometimes our young don't even know they are boys or girls, men or women, and nobody bothers to point out to them that bodies are just bodies, they can't be blamed. It's only societies which make mistakes.'
'When I told a friend that I was going to write this book - a close friend who has known me for twenty years - she said to me, 'Olivia, I have never seen you so angry Where has your anger come from?' I told her that I had been abused, not by another without my permission, neither by Jimmy Saville, nor a film producer, nor a priest. Rather, I have been abused by the dominant ideology of the day: that sex is important and profound and you are obliged to join in.'
'The real business of being human, I would like to argue, has little to with sex. Sex is rightly listed alongside the pleasures of eating and drinking. The same pleasure centre of the brain is lit up. But it's not intimate. Intimacy is about a spiritual, not a physical closeness.
Real intimacy is singularly unerotic. When my mother died, when my husband's parents died, when we listened to each other and held each other - that was intimate. Being with someone who is grieving and being allowed in, being trusted to that extent - that is true intimacy, in a way that showing off our new negligee is not.'
'To the question, 'is gender binary?' the answer is, biologically, yes. The minute percentage of intersex conditions are errors in the generic code. But psychosocially, the answer is an emphatic no. We all share stereotypically male and female qualities, that's a fact. It might just turn out that we are all transgender, if that means a mismatch between social script and biological body. It's just that some of us take gender more seriously than others, and decide to do something about it.'
'...we caused transgenderism, we as a society set up the circumstances which made it inevitable. We gave the genders these absurd roles, because our appetite for sex demanded super-male men and super-female women. But human beings don't fit snugly into the binary categories we have set up for them. Our genders have been artificially exaggerated, and the contrary reactions - both transgenderism and the refusal to acknowledge as more than a social construct - are both the consequence of that. Yet the truth of the matter is surely this: we have significantly more in common with a person who shares our background in interests and outlook, than with a person who happens to share the same XX/XY chromosome. Men and women really aren't that different from each other.'
Chr. Alas, poor Death, where is thy glory?
Where is thy famous force, thy ancient sting?
Dea. Alas, poor mortal, void of story, Go spell and read how I have killed thy King.
Chr. Poor Death! and who was hurt thereby?
Thy curse being laid on Him makes thee accurst.
Dea. Let losers talk, yet thou shalt die; These arms shall crush thee.
Chr. Spare not, do thy worst.
I shall be one day better than before;
Thou so much worse, that thou shalt be no more.
George Herbert, The Complete English Works, p.165.
'Human beings seem to have a perpetual tendency to have somebody else talk to God for them. We are content to have the message secondhand. One of Israel's fatal mistakes was their insistence upon having a human king rather than resting in the theocratic rule of God over them. We can detect a note of sadness in the word of the Lord, 'They have rejected me from being king over them!' (1 San.8:7). The history of religion is the story of almost desperate scramble to have a king, a mediator, a priest, a pastor, a go-between. In this way we do not need to go to God ourselves. Such an approach saves us from the need to change, for to be in the presence of God is to change. We do not need to observe Western culture very closely to realise that it is captivated by the religion of the mediator.'
Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline; The Path to Spiritual Growth, p.28.
'Considering the multitude of things that happen in any one person's life, it seems fairly unlikely that those little boys remembered the incident for very long. It was an introduction to what was to come. And cruelty could never again take them totally by surprise. But I have remembered it. I have remembered it because it was the moment I learned that I was not to be trusted.'
William Maxwell, 'With Reference to an Incident at a Bridge' in Billie Dyer and Other Stories, p.68.
'At the heart of the madness of the gospel is an almost unbelievable mystery that speaks to a deep human hunger only intensified by a generation of broken homes: to be seen and known and loved by a father. Maybe navigating the tragedy and heartbreak of this fallen world is realizing this hunger might not be met by the ones we expect or hope will come looking for us, but then meeting a Father who adopts you, who chooses you, who sees you a long way off and comes running and says "I've been waiting for you."'
James KA Smith, On the Road with Saint Augustine, p.201.
'Obviously I have not got through a long life without praising people - their houses, their gardens, their wives, their children, their political opinions, quite often their writing. But though I have liked a lot of people and loved a few, I have never been much good as telling them so, or telling them why. The more my admiration goes out to a man or woman personally, and not to some performance or accomplishment, the harder it is for me to express. The closer I come to fundamental values and beliefs, the closer I come to reticence. It is a more naked act for me to tell someone I am impressed by his principles and his integrity than to say I like his book or his necktie.'
Wallace Stegner, 'A Letter to Wendell Berry' in Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs, p.207.
'We hear a great deal of lamentation these days about writers having all taken themselves to the colleges and universities where they live decorously instead of going out and getting firsthand information about life. The fact is that anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days. If you can't make something out of a little experience, you probably won't be able to make it out of a lot. The writer's business is to contemplate experience, not to be merged in it.'
Flannery O'Connor, 'The Nature and Aim of Fiction' in Mystery and Manners, p.84.
'Now the word symbol scares a good many people off, just as the word art does. They seem to feel that a symbol is some mysterious thing put in arbitrarily by the writer to frighten the common reader - sort of a literary Masonic grip that is only for the initiated. They seem to think that it is a way of saying something that you aren't actually saying, and so if they can be got to read a reputedly symbolic work at all, they approach it as if it were a problem in algebra. Find x. And when they do find or think they find this abstraction, x, then they go off with an elaborate sense of satisfaction and the notion that they have "understood" the story. Many students confuse the process of understanding a thing with understanding it.'
Flannery O'Connor, 'The Nature and Aim of Fiction' in Mystery and Manners, p.71.
'A lady who writes, and whom I admire very much, wrote me that she had learned from Flaubert that it takes at least three activated sensuous strokes to make on object real; and she believes that this is connected with us having five senses. If you're deprived of any of them, you're in a bad way, but if you're deprived of more than two at once, you almost aren't present.'
Flannery O Connor, 'The Nature and Aim of Fiction' in Mystery & Manners, p.69.
'To be without a story is to live without any type of script that might help us know who we are and what we're about. We flail and meander. We frantically try on roles and identities to see if they fit. To be character-ized by a story is to have a name, a backstory, a project - all of which serve as rails to run on, something stable and given that we count on. We can be known because there's someone to know.'
James KA Smith, On the Road with Saint Augustine, p.163.
'Nowhere was my sense of belonging as complete or unambiguous as it was in my childhood home, but if I saw that sense of belonging as something exclusive to the ironstone house, then I would never really leave, never grow up, never look for my place in the world. Somehow I had to turn my nostalgia inside-out, so that my love for the house, for the sense of belonging I experienced there, instilled not a constant desire to go back but a desire to find that sense of belonging, that security and happiness, in some other place, with some other person, or in some other mode of being. The yearning had to be forward-looking. You had to be homesick for somewhere you had not yet seen, nostalgic for things that had not yet happened.'
'...only a few months before I had copied the last verse of the psalm into a notebook: 'But thy loving-kindness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.' It had occurred to me how often the the authors of scripture depict God as a house or shelter in which one might dwell, as if faith were itself a home, affording all the protection, comfort, stediness and sense of belonging that home implies - as if the need for God were homesickness in paraphrase.'
'...the problem with idolatry is that it is an exercise in futility, a penchant that ends in profound dissatisfaction and unhappiness. Idolatry, we might say doesn't "work" - which is why it creates restless hearts. In idolatry we are enjoying what we're supposed to be using. We are treating as ultimate what is only penultimate; we are heaping infinite, immortal expectations on created things that will pass away; we are settling on some aspect of the creation rather than being referred through to its Creator.'
James KA Smith, On the Road with Saint Augustine, p.82.
'The secret of life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of every day for the rest of your life. And the most important thing is, it must be something you cannot possibly do.'
Henry Moore in David Brooks, The Second Mountain, p.295.
'Protracted loneliness causes you to shut down socially, and to be more suspicious of any social contact. You become hyper vigilant. You start to be more likely to take offense where none was intended, and to be afraid of strangers. You start to be afraid of the very thing you need the most.'
Johann Hari in David Brooks, The Second Mountain, p.269.
'Guard Thou my soul,
strengthen my body,
elevate my senses,
direct my course,
order my habits,
shape my character,
bless my actions,
fulfill my prayers,
inspire holy thoughts,
pardon the past,
correct the present,
prevent the future.' Lancelot Andrewes, Private Devotions - Seventh Day: Intercessions (Edited by Alexander Whyte), p.25.
'The only way to thrive in marriage is to become a better person - more patient, wise, compassionate, persevering, communicative, and humble. When we make a commitment, we put ourselves into a pickle we have to be selfless to get out of.'
'...to be married is to volunteer for the most thorough surveillance program known to humankind. The person who is married is watched, more or less all the time. Worse, the awareness that you are being watched compels you to watch yourself. This new self-consciousness introduces you to yourself, to all the stupid things you do, from leaving the cupboards open, to the way you are silent and grumpy in the morning, to the way you avoid any difficult conversation or play passive aggressive when you are feeling hurt, as if life were some elaborate game of victimhood in which if you make your spouse feel guilty for hurting you you will get a slice of cherry cake at the end.'
'...the irony: my freedom of choice brings me to the point where I need someone else to give me a will that is actually free. And not merely free to choose - since that's what got me here in the first place - be free to choose the good. If freedom is going to be more than mere freedom from, if freedom is the power of freedom for, then I have to trade autonomy for a different kind of dependence. Coming to end of myself is the realization that I'm dependent on someone other than myself if I'm going to be truly free.'
James KA Smith, On the Road with Saint Augustine, p.66.
'It is a terrible and terrifying thing to know what you want to be and then realize you're the only one standing in your way - to want with every fiber of your soul to be someone different, to escape the "you" you've made of yourself, only to fall back into the self you hate, over and over again and over again. After the thrill of independence and experiments in self-actualization, drinking your so called "potential for Being" to the dregs, when the exhaustion starts to set in and then eventually morphs into a kind of self-disgust, you can reach a point where you know you want a different life but are enchained to the one you've made.'
James KA Smith, On the Road with Saint Augustine, p.64.
'The people who are exposed only to your public ministry persona, your books or Internet blogs, and your voice when it is in a conference or on a dvd are functionally incapable of giving you an accurate view of yourself. You must take their congratulatory words as well meant but lacking accuracy and therefore spiritual helpfulness.'
'Let the young soul survey its own life with a view to the following question: 'What have you truly loved thus far? What has ever uplifted your soul, what has dominated and delighted it at the same time?' Assemble these revered objects in a row before you and perhaps they will reveal a law by their nature and their order: the fundamental law of your very self.'
Friedrich Nietzsche in David Brooks, The Second Mountain, p.98.
'The ultimate heart's desire - the love behind all other loves - is the desire to lose yourself in something or someone. Think about it: Almost every movie you've ever seen is about somebody experiencing this intense sense of merging with something, giving themselves away to something - a mission, a cause, a family, a nation, or a beloved.'
'We all grew up in one moral ecology or another. We all create microcultures around us by the way we live our lives and the vibes we send out to those around us, One of the greatest legacies a person can leave is a moral ecology - a system of belief and behavior that lives on after they die.'
'Have you ever noticed that people who are self-focused and narcissistic are usually really unhappy, if not depressed? Sadly, I know this from experience. But have you also noticed that people who are generally others-focused and more selfless are usually very happy? That's not a coincidence. It's the way of Jesus in action. When we're down, one of the best things we can do is serve somebody else. It's the backdoor to joy. And it's always unlocked.'
'...contrary to the popular saying, haven is not our home. Earth is. Not earth as it is now, but Earth as it will be in the future. Our hope isn't for another place, but another time. Yes, as followers of Jesus, we go to heaven when we die, but we don't stay there. If Jesus is a "ticket to heaven," as the preacher says, then he's a round-trip ticket, not a one-way. Because at the resurrection, we come back.'
'I have to admit that sometimes nature seems more beautiful than is strictly necessary. Outside the window of my home office there is a hackberry tree, visited frequently by a convocation of politic birds: blue jays, yellow-throated vireos, and, loveliest of all, on occasional red cardinal. Although I understand pretty well how bright coloured feathers evolved out of competition for mates, it is almost irresistible to imagine that all this beauty was somehow laid on for our benefit. But the God of birds and trees would have to be also the God of birth-defects and cancer.'
Steven Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory: The Search for the Fundamental Laws of Nature, p.200.
'We usually ask little kids, What do you want to be when you grow up? I wonder if we're setting them up for failure with that question. Maybe a better question is, Who are you? What do you think God made you to do when you grow up?'
John Mark Comer, Garden City: Work, Rest and the Art of Being Human, p.73.
'The beauty of the natural world is, at best, the echo of a voice, not the voice itself. And if we try to pin it down - literally, in the case of a butterfly-collector - we find that the key thing itself, the elusive beauty which keeps us always looking further, is precisely what you lose when the pin goes in. Beauty is here, but it is not here. It is this - this bird, this song, this sunset - but it is not this.'
'In the flattened world of our disenchanted age, self-expression and the unfettered satisfaction of desires are the highest goods. The chief sins are a failure to be true to oneself (i.e., hypocrisy) and a failure to be tolerant (i.e., judgmentalism). Christians exhibit both sins in spades.'
'In reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.'
CS Lewis in Paul M Gould, Cultural Apologetics, p.112.
'...the best explanation for why we make architecture and jokes, sculptures and gardens, stories and mythical creatures is because we bear the image of God who is the master creator, comedian, and storyteller.'
'The path of return to God lies through creation itself...Cultural apologetics involves cultivating spiritual perception, recognizing that creation itself offers glimpses of the divine. Even more, creation ushers us into God's presence as we learn to see God in and through all that he lovingly has made.'
Paul M Gould, Cultural Apologetics: Renewing the Christian Voice, Conscience, and Imagination in a Disenchanted World, p.83.
'"I know that God has forgiven me, but I do not feel it inside." Why? The problem usually lies in the fact that, in spite of God's certain forgiveness these individuals have not forgiven themselves. The sin they have committed has been so great an offence to their self-image, their self-love has been so deeply hurt, that they are incapable of forgiving themselves. This especially occurs in cases where the sin is sexual immorality. If there has been a genuine confession, but the person still feels guilty, we are probably facing a psychological problem. The inability to forgive oneself is an issue more related to our self-image than our faith; the obstacle is not in our relationship with God but in the relationship with ourselves.'
'...the necessary requisite for us to be able to approach others adequately is a healthy concept of personal identity. The development of intimacy in relationships will depend upon the security that one has in oneself. The more unsure a person is, the more relational conflicts the person will have. The poorer the person's self-image, the greater the difficulty in becoming close to others. Deep down, people who have relational problems with others have not learned to relate well to themselves. They are in conflict with others because of the conflict with themselves.
The result of all of this will be problems in having an intimate relationship with God. They will find it difficult to trust in God because it is difficult for them to trust in themselves.'
'It is difficult for us to understand it, and it even surprises us, but God does want to be with us. The Lord is delighted when his children seek him. God is self-sufficient, he has need of nothing; nonetheless, he takes great pleasure in our relationship with him, in our prayers.'
'Prayer enables us to rebuild the very foundations of our existence, and gives back to a person the true purpose of their life: relationship with God. It provides an authentic self-fulfillment because it restores free and constant dialogue, that intimate fellowship with our Creator. Prayer is the vehicle that allows us to meet our deepest need, our thirst for God.'
Pablo Martinez, Praying with the Grain: How Your Personality Affects The Way You Pray, p.96.
'...all of the successful, happy gay couples I know, the ones who show an enviable depth of emotional commitment have one thing in common, and that is that they look for, and find, sex outside their loving relationship. This is a fact of gay life. I do not think that this vitiates the quality of their commitment in any way whatsoever. It merely suggests what is obvious about gay men - and therefore, of men in general, since gay culture is nothing if not a laboratory in which to see what masculinity does without the restraints imposed by women: that sex for men is, finally, separable from affect.'
'What is it like when two men have sex? In a way, it is like the experience of Tiresias; this is the real reason why gay men are uncanny, why the idea of gay men is disruptive and uncomfortable. All straight man who have engaged in the physical act of love know what it is like to penetrate a partner during intercourse, to be inside the other, all women who have had intercourse know what it is like to be penetrated, to have the other inside oneself. But the gay man, in the very moment that he is either penetrating his partner or being penetrated by him, know exactly what his partner is feeling and experiencing even as he himself has his own experience of exactly the opposite, the complementary act. Sex between men dissolves otherness into sameness, men into de, in a perfect suspension: there is nothing the partner doesn't know about the other. If the emotional aim of intercourse is a total knowing of the other, gay sex may be, in its way, perfect, because in it a total knowledge of the other's experience is, finally, possible. But since the object of that knowledge is already wholly know to each of the parties, the act is also, in a way, redundant. Perhaps it is for this reason that so many of us keep seeking repetition, as if depth were impossible.'
Daniel Mendelsohn, The Elusive Embrace: Desire and the Riddle of Identity, p.73.
'...if I were trapped in that cage again nothing would keep me from my goal, however fearful its prospects, however hopeless the odds, I would search the earth for surgeons, I would bribe barbers or abortionists, I would take a knife and do it myself, without fear, without qualms, without a second thought.'
'...I do not for a moment regret the act of change. I could see no other way, and it has made me happy. In this I am one of the lucky few. There are people of many kinds who have set out on the same path, and by and large they are among the unhappiest people on the face of the earth.'
'Living Christianly is not complicated, though it is profound (and exceedingly difficult). The simplicity flows from the fact that everything commanded comes down to loving God and neighbor, while everything forbidden can be traced back to the worship of false gods, which places some other god before the Lord.'
James M Hamilton Jr. Work and our Labor in the Lord, p.74.
'I love all beauteous things,
I seek and adore them;
God hath no better praise,
And man in his hasty days
Is honoured for them.' Robert Bridges, from 'I love all beauteous things' in A Choice of Bridges's Verse, p.55.
'Victimhood rather than stoicism or heroism has become something eagerly publicized, even sought after, in our culture. To be a victim is in some way to have won, or at least to have got a head start in the great oppression race of life. At the root of this curious development is one of the most important and mistaken judgments of the social justice movements: that oppressed people (or people who can claim to be oppressed) are in some way better than others, that there is some decency, purity, or goodness which comes from being part of such a group. In fact, suffering in and of itself does not make someone a better person. A gay, female, black or trans person may be as dishonest, deceitful and rude as anyone else.'
'...the end point of trans advocates is irreversible and life-altering. People expressing concern or urging caution in regard to transsexualism may not be "denying the existence of trans people" or claiming that they should be treated as second-class citizens, let alone (the most catastrophizing claim of all) causing trans people to commit suicide. They may simply be urging caution about something which has not remotely been worked out yet - and which is irreversible.'
'Every age before this one has performed or permitted acts that to us are morally stupefying. So unless we have any reason to think we are any more reasonable, morally better or wiser than at any time in the past, it is reasonable to assume there will be some things we are presently doing - possibly while flushed with moral virtue - that our descendant will whistle through through their teeth at, and say "What the hell were they thinking?" It is worth wondering what the blind spots of our age might be. What might we be doing that will be regarded by succeeding generations in the same way we now look down on the slave trade or using Victorian children as chimney sweeps.'
'...is our age able to forgive? Since everybody errs in the course of their life there must be - in any healthy person or society - some capacity to be forgiven. Part of forgiveness is the ability to forget. And yet the internet will never forget. Everything can always be summoned up afresh by new people.'