Wednesday, 22 November 2017

JESUS

'...approachable holiness...'
Andy Angel, Intimate Jesus, p.101. 

THE INTIMATE FRIENDSHIP OFFERED BY JESUS

'By promoting emotional and spiritual intimacy amongst men, John may find himself in conflict with modern stereotypes. The physical intimacy he depicts between himself and Jesus may also be something some contemporary men  might find awkward. This is probably the most counter-cultural aspect of John's exploration of Jesus and ancient sexuality. Within our highly sexualised cultures, enjoying and expressing that kind of soul kinship and intimate friendship comes across to many as repressed homosexuality. But for John, it seems, too many men experience repressed friendship. So he runs the risk of misunderstanding, and depicts his close friendship with Jesus unashamedly because he wants to encourage others to experience and share the intimate and life-giving love of God.' 
Andy Angel, Intimate Jesus, p.100. 

THE PASTORAL POWER OF JESUS' SEXUALITY

'Right at the start of his Gospel, John describes Jesus as the Word made "flesh". In its immediate context, that word suggests sexual desire. In the story at the well, Jesus' best friends clearly think him as capable of sexual desire as the next man. It is quite telling that in this same story John offers one of his strongest images of Jesus' human limitations, depicting him as simply too tired to continue into town to get food and instead sitting down by the well. John deliberately brings out Jesus' experience of sexual desire in the frailty that is common to all of us. Those of us for whom questions about faith, sex and sexuality arise from our experience can heave a sigh of relief: the God whose commands we struggle with, and to whom we pray in and about our difficulties, understands sexual desire from experience. He is not only "gentle and humble in heart" as he disciples us, but he has more than a rough idea of what we are going through.' 
Andy Angel, Intimate Jesus: The Sexuality of God Incarnate, p. 98. 

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

WHY THE CHURCH NEEDS HUMILITY

'Every human society or community is by nature both introspective and unstable. It is introspective, because it is always more comfortable to be a club to which only "people like us" belong. And it is unstable because I in my pride will always want to be narrowing the definition of people "people like us" so that it becomes "people like me." Human pride leads to human strife which divides a society from within; and human pride leads to dividing walls of hostility which cut us off from the world outside. The gospel therefore needs to counteract both internal instability and external defensiveness. And it does both in exactly the same way, by humbling human pride.' 
Christopher Ash, Teaching Romans (Volume 1), p.35. 

Monday, 6 November 2017

WE ARE RELATIONAL IMAGES

'God is in relationship, and so too is the man created by him. This is his divine likeness.' 
Karl Barth in Todd Wilson, Mere Sexuality, p.70. 

Sunday, 5 November 2017

SEXED BODIES MATTER

'If we want to be fully human, we have to embrace our sexed bodies. But we don't have to engage in sexual activity to be fully human. The life of the Son of God makes that perfectly clear.' 
Todd Wilson, Mere Sexuality, p.50. 

SEXUAL DIFFERENTIATION MATTERS

'Sexual differentiation is not simply a feature of creation that God blesses and declares to be good; it is an essential part of our creaturely existence and one that the Son himself willingly embraced.' 
Todd Wilson, Mere Sexuality: Rediscovering the Christian Vision of Sexuality, p.46. 

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

SELF-ESTEEM

'When in comes to the gaining of genuine confidence and genuine self-respect, even the supposed default humans needs a surprising amount of encouragement. What they need, life everyone else, is a) one thing to be good at, and b) one person to notice.
With me that starts at school.
It starts with Mrs Slater.' 
Robert Webb, How Not to be a Boy, p.113. 

THE IMPORTANCE OF LOVE & READING

'And when it comes to colossal strokes of good fortune...it starts here - it starts with having a family who loves you and someone who inspires you to read. Not because reading makes you smart, but because to involve yourself in a story is to imagine what it's like to be someone else.' 
Robert Webb, How Not to be a Boy, p.67. 

A MOTIVATION TO THANKFULNESS

'Only he who gives thanks for little things receives the big things.'
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, p.17.

CHRISTIANITY MEANS COMMUNITY

'Christianity means community through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ.'
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, p.10. 

BODILY PRESENCE MATTERS

'The believer feels no shame, as though he were still living too much in the flesh, when he yearns for the physical presence of other Christians. Man was created a body, the Son of God appeared on earth in the body, he was raised in the body, in the sacrament receives the Lord Jesus in the body, and the resurrection of the dead will bring about the perfected fellowship of God's spiritual-physical creatures. The believer therefore lauds the Creator, the Redeemer, God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for the bodily presence of a brother.' 
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, p.9. 

Sunday, 29 October 2017

WHY HAVE WE BEEN CREATED IN GOD'S IMAGE?

'If you are very great and you fill the earth with seven billion images of yourself, what is your aim? Your aim is to be well known and admired for your greatness.' 
John Piper, Reading the Bible Supernaturally, p.47. 

AN UNDER-APPRECIATED EFFECT OF THE FALL

'One of the greatest tragedies of the fall is that we get tired of familiar glories.' 
Clyde Kilby in John Piper, Reading the Bible Supernaturally, p.42. 

Saturday, 28 October 2017

MIRACLES

'...a miracle was simply a break in the continuity of an order itself more miraculous.' 
Bruce Marshall, The Fair Bride, p.119. 

EPISCOPAL PLATITUDES

'The Bishop had the clerical gift of pronouncing platitudes so fervently that they sounded original.' 
Bruce Marshall, The Fair Bride, p.24. 

THE BEST PLACE TO MEDITATE

'Coasts provide the ultimate sites for meditation.'
Ronald Blythe, The Time by the Sea, p.239. 

BEAUTY

'The plainness of her face was itself so total that it had become beautiful.' 
Ronald Blythe (on Imogen Holst), The Time By the Sea, p.109.  

CONTENTMENT

'...one of those people who claim little because they know they have enough.' 
Ronald Blythe (on Fidelity Cranbrook), The Time by the Sea: Aldeburgh 1955-58, p.71. 

Thursday, 19 October 2017

INTERNAL CONFLICT

'They cease not fighting, east and west,
On the marches of my breast.

Here the truceless armies yet
Trample, rolled in blood and sweat,
They kill and kill and never die;
And I think each one is I.'

AE Housman in Carl Trueman, Luther on the Christian Life, p.130. 

MARTIN LUTHER ON SUFFERING

'The good God permits such small evils to befall us merely in order to arouse us snorers from our deep sleep and to make us recognize, on the other hand, the incomparable and innumerable benefits we still have. He wants us to consider what would happen if He were to withdraw His goodness from us completely. We also are to look at our misfortunes in no other way than that with them God gives us light by which we may see and understand His goodness and kindness in countless other ways. Then we conclude that such small misfortunes are barely a drop of water on a big fire or a spark in the ocean.' 
Martin Luther in Carl Trueman, Luther on the Christian Life, p.124. 

THE DANGERS OF CHURCH PURITY

'...once the Machenites found themselves in a "true Presbyterian church" they were unable to moderate their martial impulses. Being in a church without liberals to fight, they turned on one another.' 
John Frame, 'Machen's Warrior Children' in Alister E McGrath & Evangelical Theology: A Dynamic Engagement, p.143. 

Monday, 16 October 2017

SEX & BEAUTY

'Sex is held hostage by beauty and its ransom terms are engraved in girls' minds early and deeply with instruments more beautiful than those which advertisers or pornographers know how to use: literature, poetry, painting and film.' 
Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth, p.158. 

A SENSE OF BEAUTY

'Male or female we all need to feel beautiful to be open to sexual communication: "beautiful" in the sense of welcome, desired, and treasured. Deprived of that, one objectifies oneself or the other for self-protection.' 
Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth, p.148. 

Thursday, 12 October 2017

SEX & CONSUMERISM

'Consumer culture is best supported by markets made up of sexual clones, men who want objects and women who want to be objects, and the object desired ever-changing, disposable, and dictated by the market. The beautiful object of consumer pornography has a built-in obsolescence, to ensure that as few men as possible will form a bond with one woman for years or for a lifetime, and to ensure that woman's dissatisfaction with themselves will grow rather than diminish over time. Emotionally unstable relationships, high divorce rates, and a large population cast out into the sexual marketplace are good for business in a consumer economy. Beauty pornography is intent on making modern sex brutal and boring and only as deep as a mirror's mercury, anti-erotic for both men and women.' 
Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth, p.144. 

Thursday, 5 October 2017

ADMITTING DEFEAT

'If you do not believe in Satan, how can you fight him?'
Michael Green, I Believe in Satan's Downfall, p.248. 

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

GOD'S LOVE CONTRASTED WITH HUMAN LOVE

'The love of God does not find but creates, that which is pleasing to it. The love of man comes into being through that which is pleasing to it.' 
Martin Luther in Carl Trueman, Luther on the Christian Life, p.66. 

GETTING A DENOMINATION TO LISTEN

'It criticizing indulgences, Luther also did what is always guaranteed to precipitate a reaction: he hit the church where it hurts most, in her revenue department.' 
Carl Trueman, Luther on the Christian Life: Cross and Freedom, p.39. 

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

IDOLATRY

'...idolatry is essentially the pursuit of the counterfeit.'
Michael Green, I Believe in Satan's Downfall, p.125. 

Monday, 2 October 2017

PAVLOV & PORNOGRAPHY

'...pornography works in the most basic of ways on the brain: It is Pavlovian. An orgasm is one of the biggest reinforcers imaginable. If you associate orgasm with your wife, a kiss, a scent, a body, that is what, over time, will turn you on; if you open your focus to an endless stream of ever-more-transgressive images of cybersex slaves, that is what it will take to turn you on. The ubiquity of sexual images does not free eros but dilutes it.' 
Naomi Wolf, 'The Porn Myth' in New York Magazine (20th October, 2003) via: http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/trends/n_9437/index1.html 

THE EFFECTS OF PORNOGRAPHY

'The young women who talk to me on campuses about the effect of pornography on their intimate lives speak of feeling that they can never measure up, that they can never ask for what they want; and that if they do not offer what porn offers, they cannot expect to hold a guy. The young men talk about what it is like to grow up learning about sex from porn, and how it is not helpful to them in trying to figure out how to be with a real woman. Mostly, when I ask about loneliness, a deep, sad silence descends on audiences of young men and young women alike. They know they are lonely together, even when conjoined, and that this imagery is a big part of that loneliness. What they don’t know is how to get out, how to find each other again erotically, face-to-face.'
Naomi Wolf, 'The Porn Myth' in New York Magazine (20th October, 2003) via: http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/trends/n_9437/index1.html 

Friday, 29 September 2017

THE CROSS

'There is no tribunal so magnificent, no throne so stately, no show of triumph so distinguished, no chariot so elevated as is the gibbet on which Christ has subdued death and the devil and trodden them under his feet.' 
John Calvin in Michael Green, I Believe in Satan's Downfall, p.94. 

Thursday, 28 September 2017

THE STRANGE ILLNESS OF PRIDE

'Pride is a strange illness - it makes everyone sick but the one who has it.'
John Wesley White in Michael Green, I Believe in Satan's Downfall, p.68. 

JESUS & TEMPTATION

'It is true that temptation given into is harder to combat next time, but temptation resisted does not necessarily mean that things become easier next time: it may simply mean that we become exposed to a stronger degree of temptation than before. That is how, I think, we should assess the true magnitude of Jesus' achievement. I used to think that because he never sinned, it must somehow have been easier for him. I now appreciate that whereas I never get the full blast of temptation - I fall before it gets that far - he did face that without yielding and he did so time after time. The rope that stands the test of repeated jolts is stronger than one which parts under the strain.'
Michael Green, I Believe in Satan's Downfall, p.62. 

SPIRITUAL WARFARE

'One of the principles of warfare is to study the enemy. Thousands of millions of pounds are spent annually by world governments in studying potential enemies. And yet Christians give very little thought to the nature and characteristics of the actual Enemy they face.' 
Michael Green, I Believe in Satan's Downfall, p.48. 

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

CHRISTIAN COMPLACENCY ABOUT THE DEVIL

'Doubt about the existence of a malign focus of evil is to be found, by and large, only in Christian lands. It is only where the victory of Christ is so well known, only where the defeat of the devil is so celebrated, that doubts are expressed. If he exists, it must please him mightily to have his existence denied by the only people who know his inherent weakness, and are aware of the act of Christ on Calvary that spelt his doom. Were he better known he would be more hated, more resisted, more defeated in the lives of Christians. So it suits him admirably for them to slumber in the bland assurance that he does not exist.' 
Michael Green, I Believe in Satan's Downfall, p.17. 

Monday, 25 September 2017

THE LIMITATIONS OF LANGUAGE WHEN SPEAKING OF GOD

'We have got so beyond those things for which language was initially contrived, that, unless we use extreme caution, we cannot speak, unless we speak exceeding unintelligibly, without literally contradicting ourselves - Coroll. No wonder therefore, that the high and abstract mysteries of the Deity, the prime and most abstract of all beings, imply so many seeming contradictions.' 
Jonathan Edwards in Marilynne Robinson, The Givenness of Things, p.89. 

Sunday, 24 September 2017

INTIMACY

'...an intimacy confident of absolute possession...'
Garth Greenwell, What Belongs to You, p.34. 

THE HOLINESS THAT COMES THROUGH WORK

'Christian holiness is not a free-floating goodness removed from the world, a few feet above the ground. It is specific and, in some sense, tailored to who we particularly are. We grow in holiness in the honing of our specific vocation. We can't be holy in the abstract. Instead we become a holy blacksmith or a holy mother or a holy physician or a holy systems analyst. We seek God in and through our particular vocation and place in life.
Each kind of work is therefore its own kind of craft that must be developed over time, both for our own sanctification and for the good of the community. As we seek to do our work well and hone our craft, we are developed and honed in our work. Our task is not to somehow inject God into our work but to join God i the work he is already doing in and through our vocational lives. Therefore, holiness itself is something like a craft - not an abstract state to which we ascend but an earthly wisdom and love that is part and parcel of how we spend our day.' 
Tish Harrison Warren, Liturgy of the Ordinary, p. 94. 

IF JUST ONE PERSON CAME BACK FROM THE DEAD

'I have a very strong sense that we are only on this planet for a short length of time. Religious people might think it goes on after death. My feeling is that if that is the case, it would be nice if just one person came back and let us know it was all fine, all confirmed. Of all the billions who have died, if just one of them could come through the clouds and say, you know, "It's me, Jeanine, it's brilliant, there's a really good spa," that would be great.' 
Eddie Izzard in The Week (23 September 2017), p.10. 

Thursday, 21 September 2017

EVANGELICALISM & CONSUMERISM

'The evangelical quest for a particular emotional experience in worship and the capitalistic quest for anonymous, cheap canned goods have something in common. Both are mostly concerned with what I can get for myself as as an individual consumer. 
But the economy of the Eucharist call me to a life of self-emptying worship.' 
Tish Harrison Warren, Life of the Ordinary, p.72. 

SAYING GRACE

'...to say grace before a meal is among the highest and most honest expressions of our humanity....Here, around the table and before witnesses, we testify to the experience of life as a precious gift to be received and given again. We acknowledge that we do not and cannot live alone but are beneficiaries of the kindness and mysteries of grace upon grace.' 
Norman Wirzba in Tish Harrison Warner, Liturgy of the Ordinary, p.65. 

REPENTANCE

'Repentance is not usually a moment wrought in high drama. It is the steady drumbeat of a life in Christ and, therefore, a day in Christ.'
Tish Harrison Warren, Liturgy of the Ordinary, p.57.  

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

OUR SACRED BODIES

'Sexual sin is a scandal in the Scriptures not because the apostles were blushing prigs - they were, in reality, a rather salty bunch - or because the body is dirty or evil, but because our skin and muscles and feet and hands are more sacred than any communion chalice or baptismal font. Ignoring Scripture's teaching about the proper use of the body and using our bodies for our own false worship is a misuse of the sacred akin to suing consecrated bread and wine in a Wiccan goddess ceremony.' 
Tish Harrison Warren, Liturgy of the Ordinary, p.45. 

THE ORDINARY LIFE

'The kind of spiritual life and disciplines needed to sustain the Christian life are quiet, repetitive and ordinary. I often want to skip the boring, daily stuff to get to the thrill of an edgy faith. But it's in the dailiness of the Christian faith - the making of the bed, the doing of the dishes, the praying for our enemies, the reading of the Bible, the quiet, the smell - that God's transformation takes root and grows.' 
Tish Harrison Warren, Liturgy of the Ordinary, p.36. 

WHEN SPIRITUALLY FLAT

'...when we gaze at the richness of the gospel and find them dull and uninteresting, it's actually we who have been hollowed out. We have lost our capacity to see wonders where true wonders lie. We must be formed as people who are capable of appreciating goodness, truth and beauty.' 
Tish Harrison Warren, Liturgy of the Ordinary, p.34. 

CHRISTIAN LIVING

'...Push as hard as the age that pushes against you.'
Flannery O'Connor in Tish Harrison, Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life, p.29. 

Friday, 15 September 2017

JESUS: THE DEFINITIVE MAN

'It is not uncommon for those who are respectful of Christianity and eager to rescue some part of it from the assaults of rational skepticism to say Jesus was a great man, and no more than a man. A teacher, a martyr to intolerance, from whom we might learn compassion. He is defined in terms of an equivalence, his mystery anchored to what is assumed to be a known value. But what is man? What does it mean to say, as the Gospel writers say and insist, that Jesus was indeed a human being? What we are remains a very open question. Perhaps some part of divine purpose in the Incarnation of this Son of Man was and is to help us to a true definition.' 
Marilynne Robinson, The Givenness of Things, p.257. 

WOULD THE ANIMALS HAVE US?

'The fact, or at least the degree, of human exceptionalism is often disputed. In some quarters it is considered modest and seemly for us to take our place among the animals, conceptually speaking - to acknowledge finally the bonds of kinship evolution implies. Yet, in view of history with regard to the animals, not to mention our history with one another, it seems fair to wonder if the beasts, given a voice in the matter, would not feel a bit insulted by our intrusion.' 
Marilynne Robinson, The Givenness of Things, p.256. 

THE INCARNATION

'The Incarnation is, by itself, the great fact that gives every act and saying of Jesus the character of revelation.' 
Marilynne Robinson, The Givenness of Things, p.249.  

Thursday, 14 September 2017

THE PERILS OF A BOOKSHOP

'Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore!'
Henry Ward Beecher in Anne Fadiman, Ex Libris,  p.150. 

WELCOMING BOOKS HOME

'What man who really loves his books...delegates to any other human being, as long there is breath in his body, the office of inducting them into their homes?' 
WE Gladstone in Anne Fadiman, Ex Libris, p.145. 

READING IS CAUGHT NOT TAUGHT?

'There must be writers whose parents owned no books, and who were taken under the wing of a neighbor or teacher or librarian, but I have never met one. My daughter is seven, and some of the other second-grade parents complain that their children don't read for pleasure. When I visit their homes, the children's rooms are crammed with expensive books, but the parents' rooms are empty. Those children do not see their parents reading as I did every day of my childhood. By contrast, when I walk into an apartment with books of the shelves, books on the bedside tables, boos on the floor, and books on the toilet tank, then I know what I would see if I opened the door that says PRIVATE - GROWNUPS KEEP OUT: a child sprawled on the bed, reading.' 
Anne Fadiman, Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, p.126. 

Monday, 11 September 2017

UNBELIEF DEFINED

'...unbelief is not a lack of faith or trust. It is the refusal to believe God. It leads inevitably to a turning away from God in a deliberate act of rejection.' 
William L Lane, Hebrews 1-8, p.86. 

Friday, 8 September 2017

THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND

'Yes, this was the Church of England, his flock, thought Mr. Latimer, a collection of old women, widows and spinsters, and one young man not quite right in the head.'
Barbara Pym, Crampton Hodnet, p.86.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

THE SEXUALISATION OF INTIMACY

'....the concept of intimacy has been, like so many other social goods, cannibalized by sexuality.' 
Nate Collins, All But Invisible, p.157. 

WORRYING TOO MUCH ABOUT SEXUAL PURITY?

'The distrust that evangelical culture expresses toward deep friendship with those to whom we might experience attraction is a sign that it tends to regard sexual purity as the summum honum, or the highest good. This "purity culture" operates at a perpetual DEFCON 1 level, and regards any potential threats to sexual purity as existential danger. It exacerbates the problem of the sexualization of personhood by reducing the relational value of others to the extent that they might be a potential threat to sexual purity. The other side of the coin is also true; purity culture diminishes human personhood to the extent that it conditions people to view themselves as intrinsically sexual beings who are always on the verge of impurity.' 
Nate Collins, All But Invisible: Exploring Identity Questions at the Intersection of Faith, Gender & Sexuality, p.152.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

FOLLOWING JESUS

'...a crucified saviour who willingly embraces weakness in the incarnation and on the cross can only be properly passed on by servants who willingly accept weakness and vulnerability.'  
Julian Hardyman, The Joy of Service, p.41. 

AN HONEST MINISTER

'I still frequently sit down for that pre-service prayer time and feel that if everyone knew how empty and conflicted I am inside, they'd march me off to the creche so I could start all over again. I come back from a summer holiday and genuinely wonder how on earth I will find the energy that different bits of my job scream for if they are to be done even half-effectively. And I still find myself seeing folk with different problems and thinking I just don't know what or even how to share their pain.' 
Julian Hardyman, The Joy of Service, p.34. 

CROSS-SHAPED MINISTRY

'For me to want the benefits of the cross without its demands is not just rude, it's impossible. Not an option. Ministry without a cross is not ministry.' 
Julian Hardyman, The Joy of Service, p.29.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

A SOCIETY BASED ON SELF-INDULGENCE

'...industrial civilization is only possible when there's no self-denial. Self-indulgence up to the very limits imposed by hygiene and economics. Otherwise the wheels stop turning.'
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, p.209. 

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

LESSONS FROM THE DODO

'"Free as a bird", we say, and envy the winged creatures fore their power on unrestricted movement in all the three dimensions. But, alas, we forget the dodo. Any bird that has learned how to grub up a good living without being compelled to use its wings will soon renounce the privilege of flight and remain forever grounded. Something analogous is true of human beings. If the bread is supplied regularly and copiously three times a day, many of them will be perfectly content to live by bread alone - or at least by bread and circuses alone.' 
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited, p.152. 

THE POWER BEHIND CONSUMERISM

'Find some common desire, some widespread unconscious fear or anxiety; think about some way to relate this wish or fear to the product you have to sell; then build a bridge of verbal or pictorial symbols over which your customer can pass from fact to compensatory dream, and from the dream to the illusion that your product, when purchased, will make the dream come true. "We no longer buy oranges, we buy vitality,. We do not just buy a car, we buy prestige." And so with all the rest.'
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited, p.67. 

Monday, 28 August 2017

LOVE

'...logic is not love's pageboy...'
Elizabeth Smart, By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept, p.108.

PARENTAL EXPECTATIONS

'Parents' imaginations build frameworks out of their hopes and regrets into which children seldom grow, but instead, contrary as trees, lean sideways out of the architecture, blown by a fatal wind their parents never envisaged.'
Elizabeth Smart, By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept, p.53.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

SINGLENESS & SEXUALITY

'...celibacy is not a renunciation of sexuality but a pressurized form of it, a reduction of eroticism to that eros between God and his people that is the enabling archetype of all eroticism.' 
Robert W Jenson, 'Male and Female He Created Them' in Braaten & Seitz (Ed.), I am the Lord Your God,  p.186. 

WHY MARITAL FAITHFULNESS MATTERS

'If erotic love is an analogue of God and his people, then the way we shape it must in some part shape our relation to God. Just as our faulty righteousness can nonetheless be an anticipation of our eschatological sharing in the righteousness of God, so our failed erotic faithfulness can, despite its frailty, be an anticipation of our eschatological sharing in God's absolutely faithful love for his people in the Son. The deepest reason why God is concerned with monogamy and faithfulness is that our arrangements here must shape the form and intensity of our relation to him...' 
Robert W Jenson, 'Male and Female He Created Them' in Braaten & Seitz (Ed.), I am the Lord Your God,  p.184. 

WE HAVE BEEN CREATED AS COMMUNAL BEINGS

'Our creation as two kinds of bodies, paired to each other by the paired shape and function of blatant bodily phenomena, is the way God keeps our reality as communal beings from being mere mandate or ideal, and makes it to be a fact about the actual things we are.'  
Robert W Jenson, 'Male and Female He Created Them' in Braaten & Seitz (Ed.), I am the Lord Your God: Christian Reflections on the Ten Commandments,  p.180. 

Thursday, 24 August 2017

BREAKING HABITS

'Habits respond to cues that trigger them. Over time habits ossify and become encrusted in behaviour riffs because, in one way or another, they reward us. In order to break habits, we need to recognise those cues and avoid them, or force ourselves to respond to them differently, to experiment with new rewards.' 
Giovanni Frazzetto, Together, Closer, p.173. 

THE PROBLEM WITH DESIRE

'Our desire is always in excess of the object's capacity to satisfy it.' 
Sigmund Freud in Giovanni Frazzetto, Together, Closer, p.124. 

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

INTIMACY DEFINED

'Intimacy means to enact, rehearse and polish modes of connection.' 
Giovanni Frazzetto, Together, Closer, p.31. 

THE DECEITFULNESS OF LONELINESS

'Loneliness obfuscates. It becomes a deceiving filter through which we see ourselves, others, and the world. It makes us more vulnerable to rejection, and it heightens our general level of vigilance and insecurity in social situations.' 
Giovanni Frazzetto, Together, Closer, p.13. 

DEFINING INTIMACY

'Intimacy eludes singular definitions. From casual sex to life-long bonds, from marriage to betrayal, from friendships to unconditional love, or when we witness birth or death, intimacy reclothes itself constantly.' 
Giovanni Frazzetto, Together, Closer: Stories of Intimacy in Friendship, Love and Family, p.vii. 

Monday, 21 August 2017

THE DANGER OF NOSTALGIA

'If we allow ourselves to luxuriate in nostalgia, the myth of a beautiful, long-gone past will solidify, and it will weigh us down. Much as we must fight the idea that we would be happier somewhere else, in another marriage, in a bigger house, we must fight the idea that we were once at home but we never will be again.' 
Jo Swinney, Home, p.225. 

Sunday, 20 August 2017

MARRIAGE

'...home must be more than marriage. If we expect our need for belonging, stability, safety, comfort, continuity, acceptance - all those things that together make a person feel at home - to be met in just one relationship, we will make ourselves more vulnerable to homelessness than anyone ought to be.' 
Jo Swinney, Home: The Quest to Belong, p.141. 

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

TRUE FAITH

'As far back as I can remember, I had the habit of thanking God for everything I received, and asking him for everything I wanted. If I lost a book, or any of my playthings, I prayed that I might find it. I prayed walking along the streets, in school and out of school, whether playing or studying. I did this not in obedience to any prescribed rule. It seemed natural. I thought of God as an everywhere-present Being, full of kindness and love, who would not be offended if children talked to him.' 
Charles Hodge in Dale Ralph Davis, Slogging Along in the Paths of Righteousness: Psalms 13-24, p. 62. 

Sunday, 13 August 2017

OUR PROBLEMS WITH THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY

'...there was one thing he could not bring himself to believe in, and that was the resurrection of the body. Of the soul yes, of course, for he was certain he had a soul, but all that flesh of his, the fat enveloping his soul, no, that would not rise again and why should it?, Pereira asked himself. All the blubber he carted around with him day in day out, and the sweat, and the struggle of climbing the stairs, why should all that rise again? No, Pereira didn't fancy it at all, in another life, for all eternity, so he had no wish to believe in the resurrection of the body.' 
Antonio Tabucchi, Pereira Maintains, p.2. 

Sunday, 6 August 2017

BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE

'...the church has created a culture that simultaneously pressures singles to get married and makes it very difficult for them to do so.' 
Gina Dalfonzo, One by One:Welcoming the Singles in Your Church, p.85. 

Saturday, 5 August 2017

WHAT CONTEMPT REVEALS

'Contempt is one of four behaviors that, statistically, can predict divorce in married couple. People who speak with contempt for one another will probably not remain united for long.' 
Sebastian Jurgen, Tribe, p.126. 

WHY YOU SHOULDN'T PULL A SPIDER'S LEGS OFF

'My friend Ellis was once asked by a troubled young boy whether there was any compelling reason for him not to pull the legs off a spider. Ellis said there was.
"Well spiders don't feel any pain," the boy retorted.
"It's not the spider I'm worried about," Ellis said.' 
Sebastian Jurgen, Tribe, p.112. 

WHAT/WHO WOULD YOU DIE FOR?

'The beauty and the tragedy of the modern world is that it eliminates many situations that require people to demonstrate a commitment to the collective good. Protected by police and fire departments and relived of most of the challenges of survival, an urban man might go through his entire life without having to come to the aid of someone in danger - or even give up his dinner. Likewise, a woman in a society that has codified its moral behavior into a set of laws and penalties might never have to make a choice that puts her very life at risk. What would you risk dying for - and for whom - is perhaps the most profound question a person can ask themselves. The vast majority of people in modern society are able to pass their whole lives without ever having to answer that question, which is both an enormous blessing and significant loss. It is a loss because having to face that questions has, for tens of millenia, been one of the ways that we have defined ourselves as people. And it is a blessing because life has gotten far less difficult and traumatic that it was for most people even a century ago.' 
Sebastian Jurgen, Tribe, p.59. 

WEALTH & DEPRESSION

'According to a global survey by the World Health Organization, people in wealthy countries suffer depression as much as eight times the rate they do in poor countries, and people in countries with income disparities - like the United Sates - run a much higher lifelong risk of developing severe mood disorders. A 2006 study comparing depression rates in Nigeria to depression rates in North America found that across the board, women in rural areas were less likely to get depressed than their urban counterparts. And urban North American women - the most affluent demographic in the study - were the most likely to experience depression.' 
Sebastian Jurgen, Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, p.20. 

Saturday, 29 July 2017

THE DANGER OF BUSYNESS

'I am afraid that you will despair of an end to the many demands made upon you and become calloused....It would be much wiser to remove yourself from these demands even for a while than to allow yourself to be distracted by them and led, little by little, where you certainly do not want to go. Where? To a hard heart. Do not go on to ask what that is; if you have not been terrified by it, it is yours already.' 
Bernard of Clairvaux in Peter Scazzero, The Emotionally Healthy Leader, p.188. 

THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE IS YOURSELF

'...the first and most difficult task we face as leaders is to lead ourselves. Why? Because it requires confronting part of who we are that we prefer to neglect, forget or deny.' 
Peter Scazzero, The Emotionally Healthy Leader, p.51. 

CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP

'Leading a church, an organisation, or a ministry that transforms the world requires more than the latest leadership strategies and techniques. Lasting change in churches and organizations requires men and women committed to leading from a deep and transformed inner life. We leads more out of who we are than out of what we do, strategic or otherwise. If we fail to recognize that who we are on the inside informs every aspect of our leadership, we will do damage to ourselves and to those we lead.' 
Peter Scazzero, The Emotionally Healthy Leader, p.48. 

FAITH NEEDS A STORY

'It was in church that I learnt how perilously faith depends upon story, for without narrative there is only theological assertion, which is, in effect, inert cargo. Story is the beast of burden, the bearer of imaginative energy.' 
Tim Winton, The Boy Behind the Curtain, p.106. 

WHAT CHURCH PROMOTES

'Church-going was my introduction to conscious living. Nowhere else was I exposed to the kind of self-examination and reflective discipline that the faith of my childhood required. I'd be surprised if anyone at my boyhood church had even a page of Tolstoy, but it seemed to me now that the question that ate at him so late in his life was the central issue for us, too. What then must we do?'
Tim Winton, The Boy Behind the Questions, p.100. 

BREAKING BAD NEWS

'At fourteen, alongside my father, I'd had to help break the news to a close mate that his father had been killed. The feeling is hideous. It's like killing someone. They go down like a water buffalo by an axe, and some part of you believes it's your fault.' 
Tim Winton, The Boy Behind the Curtain, p.46. 

THE IMPORTANCE OF PARENTS

'At some level every kid knows that his parents' wellbeing is paramount to his own safety, even his sense of self.' 
Tim Winton, The Boy Behind the Curtain, p.43. 

THE EMOTIONAL LITERACY OF CHILDREN

'How quick children are to absorb the unexpressed anxieties of their parents; how fluent they become in the unconscious art of compensation, and how instinctive is their assumption of responsibility.' 
Tim Winton, The Boy Behind the Curtain: Notes from an Australian Life, p.40. 

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

DEEPER SPIRITUALITY

'If we accept Paul's view of "spiritual", as that which pertains to the Spirit of God, then such a view includes our bodies, since God's Spirit gives life to them. This challenges us to think again about what we count as "spirituality." It certainly suggests that we should include physical well-being under the heading of spirituality. Taking time to care for our bodies is a spiritual discipline and needs to be placed alongside prayer and worship in our thoughts about spirituality: sleep, exercise, pampering in a spa, having a well-cooked meal with friends are all part of spirituality and we should take care to ensure we do them regularly. They are not an indulgence, they are life giving.
It might also mean that we learn to listen to our bodies in order to discover the state of our spiritual well-being. Extreme exhaustion or regular illness may have nothing to do with our spiritual well-being but they might do. Taking the time to listen to our bodies, to feel how they really are in more than a merely cursory way might tell us something important about our life with God in the Spirit.' 
Paula Gooder, Body, p.129.

GOD'S SPIRIT IS NOT AN OPTIONAL EXTRA

'...we cannot see the Spirit as an additional extra to our life that we engage with if we feel like it; the Spirit is vital to the very breath of the Church and the gifts of the Spirit are the means by which the body breathes full life-giving breaths. More importantly, without the gifts of the Spirit, the Church pants for breath and struggles to function as it should. The body of Christ, just like each one of our bodies, needs the Spirit to live.'
Paula Gooder, Body, p.128. 

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

CHRISTIAN IDENTITY IS A CORPORATE IDENTITY

'One of the reasons why Christianity struggles to find a natural home in the modern Western world is because Christianity is underpinned by an understanding of corporate identity, in which who you really are can only be understood together rather than apart. The Western world has departed so far from this understanding of identity that this crucial piece of theology appears irrelevant and arcane. The challenge is that it may appear to be irrelevant but it is not. There remains much for us to understand about ourselves and our communities in the view that we are bound together in Christ, but it is something we must become better at expressing, both in word and deed. True lived community in which our identity is embedded in Christ-like love is the most valuable gift we can offer a world fractured by suspicion and loneliness, but it only works if we believe it and live it ourselves.' 
Paula Gooder, Body, p.109. 

THE MUSIC OF 1 CORINTHIANS

'...much of 1 Corinthians is a fugue on the body. In music a fugue is a composition in which a theme is introduced, imitated, in different ways and with different instruments, before being recapitulated one or more times. In other words it plays with a theme, developing it, leaving it silent for a while and then bringing it back in a recognizable but slightly different form.' 
Paula Gooder, Body, p.107. 

Monday, 17 July 2017

LIVING IN THE LIGHT OF THE FUTURE

'The call to Christian living is a call to fix our eyes on the horizon of the new creation, a horizon marked by peace, justice, harmony, and true life, and "live up" to that horizon, wrestling to live now as we will all live then.' 
Paula Gooder, Body, p.82. 

OUR DEPENDENCE ON GOD'S SPIRIT

'It is not our ability to think or speak that enables us to engage with God. It is God's Spirit poured into us and entwining with our own spirit that does that.' 
Paula Gooder, Body, p.81. 

Sunday, 16 July 2017

PAUL'S THEOLOGY OF THE BODY

'...in Paul, bodies are to be found in both the old age and the age to come, in the old creation and in the new creation. There is, then, simply no room in Paul's theology for bodies to be automatically and universally evil. Bodies per se are not evil, imprisoning or corrupting, there are the gift of God to be cherished and nurtured.' 
Paula Gooder, Body, p.46. 

THE NEED TO TALK ABOUT DEATH

'The problem we often face is that we wait until somebody has died to talk about life after death. The one time in our lives when we simply cannot engage in any meaningful creative theological conversation is when we are in the grip of a raw and disorientating grief. Unless discussion about the fundamentals of what we believe happens after death becomes a common conversation among us, we will never be able to become a community that can talk meaningfully, confidently and compassionately about death, grief and loss.' 
Paula Gooder, Body, p.44. 

SOUL-MAKING

'Soul-making implies a deliberate intention on our part to pay attention to who we are called to be and to seek regular refreshment so that we can grow more and more into the people God yearns for us to be. There is and should be an emphasis on the regularity of this refreshment. Just as we cannot give up breathing, so we should not give up deliberate and intentional soul-making.
This soul-making is something that includes our bodies - that active seeking out of refreshment that animates us and brings new life only makes sense if it includes our bodies as well as "inner" beings. Intentional soul-making involves paying attention to those events, activities, and relationships that animate us and seeking to engage in something that brings life to as many aspects of our being as possible, as regularly as possible. Then we will begin to see that we are not "just" keeping body and soul together but living out of a richly animated, integrated existence that brings life and refreshment.' 
Paula Gooder, Body: Biblical spirituality for the whole person, p.42. 

Thursday, 6 July 2017

THE TRINITY

'The revelation of the Trinity was incidental to, and the inevitable effect of, the accomplishment of redemption.' 
BB Warfield in Fred Sanders, The Trinue God, p.240. 

THE OLD TESTAMENT

'...a chamber richly furnished but dimly lit...' 
BB Warfield in Fred Sanders, The Triune God, p.214. 

Thursday, 29 June 2017

NATIONALISM

'Is it not the the first duty of nationalism to find for every problem a culprit rather than a solution?' 
Amin Maalouf, On Identity, p.67. 

ISLAM

'...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.' 
Amin Maalouf, On Identity, p.51.

THE DANGER OF IDENTITY POLITICS

'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.' 
Amin Maalouf, On Identity, p.28. 

WHEN AN IDENTITY IS PERSECUTED

'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.' 
Amin Maalouf, On Identity, p.22.

IDENTITY

'My identity is what prevents me from being identical to anybody else.'
Amin Maalouf, On Identity, p.10.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

BECOMING THE RIGHT PERSON

'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.' 
John Armstrong, Conditions of Love, p.158. 

HOW TRUE LOVE MATURES

'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.' 
John Armstrong, Conditions of Love, p.153. 

Saturday, 24 June 2017

INFATUATION

'If infatuation is based on fantasy, the cure is a generous serving of banality.'
John Armstrong, Conditions of Love, p.81. 

Friday, 23 June 2017

WE NEED OTHERS

'...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.' 
John Armstrong, Conditions of Love, p.58. 

FRIENDSHIP

'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.'" 
John Armstrong, Conditions of Love, p.52. 

LONELINESS

'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."'
John Armstrong, Conditions of Love, p.51. 

MARRIAGE

'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. 

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

DROWNING MODALISMS

'...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.' 
Fred Sanders, The Triune God, p.196. 

Monday, 19 June 2017

RENEWING SOCIETY

'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. 

REAL SOLUTIONS MUST BE OPEN TO ALL

'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. 

THE DANGERS OF IDEOLOGY

'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. 

Thursday, 15 June 2017

LEARNING OUR LIMITS THROUGH THE INCARNATION

'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.' 
Brad Andrews in David Murray, Reset, p.190. 

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

EXPLAINING DIFFICULT THINGS

'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. 

THE TRINITY IN SIX STATEMENTS

'...summarizing the doctrine in six statements:
  1. In Scripture there are three who are recognized as God.
  2. These three are so described in Scripture that we are compelled to conceive of them as distinct persons.
  3. This tripersonality of divine nature is not merely economic and temporal, but it immanent and eternal.
  4. This tripersonality is not tritheism, for while there are three persons, there is but one essence.
  5. The three persons - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - are equal. 
  6. Inscrutable and yet not contradictory, this doctrine furnishes the key to all other doctrines.'
Augustus Hopkins Strong in Fred Sanders, The Triune God, p.173. 

PREACHING CHRIST IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

'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. 

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

LIVING OUT UNION WITH CHRIST

'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. 

Monday, 12 June 2017

BE IDLE TO WORK HARD

'To do great work a man must be very idle as well as very industrious.' 
Samuel Butler in David Murray, Reset: Living a Grace-filled Life in a Burnout Culture, p.103. 

A CHRISTIAN'S STATUS WITH GOD

'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. 

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

THE POWER OF THE INTERNET

'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. 

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

THE BIBLE'S STORY

'The Bible is the story of how God the Father sends the Son and the Holy Spirit to save humanity by being God's own power and presence in person.' 
Fred Sanders, The Triune God, p.105. 

THE BIBLE AS A RIVER

'Holy Scripture, then, is like an immense river: the farther it flows, the greater it grows by the addition of many waters.'
Bonaventure in Fred Sanders, The Triune God, p.103. 

TRINITARIAN FOUNDATIONS

'...the first step toward the doctrine of the Trinity is to read the entire Bible as a whole...' 
Fred Sanders, The Triune God, p.101.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

THE TRINITY

'It is important to note that there is no moment when Jesus Christ expressly reveals this doctrine. It was overheard, rather than heard. It was simply that in the gradual process of intercourse with Him, His disciples came to recognize Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as included in their deepening and enlarging thought of God.' 
Charles Gore in Fred Sanders, The Triune God, p.73. 

Monday, 29 May 2017

HERBERT'S BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION

'The parson's method in handling of a text consists in two parts: first, a plain and evident declaration of the meaning of the texts; and secondly, some choice observations drawn out of the whole text as it lies entire and unbroken in the Scripture itself.' 
George Herbert, The Country Pastor, p.206. 

TARGETED PREACHING

'When he preacheth he procures attention by all possible art, both by earnestness of speech (it being natural to men to think that where is much earnestness there is something that is worth hearing), and by a diligent and busy cast of his eyes upon his auditors,, with letting them know that he observes who marks and who not; and with particularizing of his speech - now to the younger sort, then to the elder; now to the poor, and now to the rich. This is for you, and This is for you; for particulars ever touch and awake more than generals.' 
George Herbert, The Country Pastor, p.204. 

THE NEED FOR ILLUSTRATIONS

'The Country Parson is full of all knowledge. They say that it is an ill mason that refuseth any stone; and that there is no knowledge, but in a skillful hand serves either positively as it is, or else to illustrate some other knowledge. He condescends even to the knowledge of tilling and pasturage, and makes great use of them in teaching, because people by what they understand are best led to what they understand not.'
George Herbert, The Country Pastor (in The Complete English Works), p.200. 

Sunday, 28 May 2017

POST-MODERNISM

'The hub of postmodern life strategy is not identity building but avoidance of fixation.'
Zygmunt Bauman in Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option, p.66. 

Saturday, 27 May 2017

PRAYER AS THE THE BULWARK OF FAITH

'The 1960s media theorist Marshall McLuhan, a practicing Christian, once said that everyone he knew who had lost his faith began by ceasing to pray. If we are to live rightly ordered Christian lives, then prayer must be the basis of everything we do.' 
Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option, p.60. 

A VISION FOR A CHRISTIAN FUTURE?

'Could it be that the best way to fight the flood is to stop...stop fighting. the flood? That is, to quit piling up sandbags and to build an ark in which to shelter until the water recedes and we can put our feet on dry land again? Rather than wasting energy and resources fighting unwinnable political battles, we should instead work on building communities, institutions, and networks of resistance than can outwit, outlast and eventually overcome the occupation.' 
Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, p.12. 

Friday, 26 May 2017

THE TRUE POET

'The man who has had the time to think enough,
The central man, the human globe, responsive
As a mirror with a voice, the man of glass,
Who in a million diamonds sums us up.'
Wallace Steven in John Drury, Muisc at Midnight, p.328. 

UNDERSTANDING POETRY

'...the only real way to understand poetry is to know the life and beliefs of the poet.'
Elizabeth Bishop in John Drury, Music at Midnight:  The Life and Poetry of George Herbert, p.322.

A SOUL-BOOK

'Now and again in a lifetime a friend introduces you to a writer and you discover a soul-book, a work that engraves itself on your heart: one you read over and over, falling in love with it more deeply each time.' 
Roger Deakin, Wildwood, p.268. 

THE BEAUTY OF A BLUEBELL

'I do not think I have ever seen anything more beautiful than the bluebell I have been looking at. I know the beauty of our Lord by it.' 
Gerard Manley Hopkins in Roger Deakin, Wildwood, p.39.

GETTING TO KNOW THE NEIGHBOURS

'There is no more intimate way of getting to know your neighbours than teaching their children.' 
Roger Deakin, Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees, p.4.

MODERN TECHNOLOGY

'I know this sounds like a conspiracy theory, but it's not really a theory, it's more of a hunch: a conspiracy feeling. We are surrendering the freedom to be human in exchange for the freedom to live in confected dreams: dreams in which nature is dead. except for the pretty bits, and bad things never happen and nobody dies, and there is nothing to life but entertainment and everything we see we can control, because we have created it.' 
Paul Kingsnorth, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist, p.248. 

THE CHOICES AROUND IMMIGRATION

'The people of any nation will always want the right to control their own borders and decide on the direction of their culture, and England is no exception. But that majority has its own questions to answer, too. In a nation whose population is ageing, and whose people consistently demand more and cheaper stuff, who is going to do the heavy lifting? If you want a chap nanny and your cut-price supermarket vegetables picked in all weathers for the minimum wage, then someone has to do it. There is no doubt that large-scale immigration changes the shape, texture and potentially the identity of a nation, bit so do out-of-town retail parks, coffee chains, theme pubs, second homes, gentrified cities and privatised streets. If you don't want the population movement, you don't get the easy consumer lifestyle it facilitates. Which will you choose?' 
Paul Kingsnorth, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist, p.206. 

WHEN ACCUSED OF BEING A "CRANK"

'A crank is a very elegant device. It's small, it's strong, it's lightweight, energy efficient, and it makes revolutions.' 
EF Schumacher in Paul Kingsnorth, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist, p.126. 

HOME

'"Do you think it could be a general rule," Berry asked Synder towards the end of 1979, "that the only place one is urgently needed is at home?" I think it could be. I think it is.'
Wendell Berry in Paul Kingsnorth, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist, p.106. 

HOW TO MAKE AN IMPACT

'...I thought for years that the best way to put a spanner in the consumer dystopia that is unfolding is to ground yourself in a place and learn to do things with your hands - actually learn to do them, not just write about learning to do them. Grow your own carrots, learn to use an axe and a scythe, know where the sun falls and what the trees do and what is growing in the laneways. Get to know your neighbors, put down roots and stay even when you don't want to stay. Be famous, as Gary Snyder so wonderfully suggested, for fifteen miles.' 
Paul Kingsnorth, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist, p.105.

BRINGING ABOUT CHANGE

'Once you start thinking you are responsible for, or can influence, everything, you are lost. When you take responsibility for a specific something, on the other hand, it's possible you might get somewhere.'
Paul Kingsnorth, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist, p.101. 

POETRY

'A function of poetry is to give words to intuitions that, if expressed in prose, would fall apart under their own flimsiness; to see what is coming and try and express it and not have it understood until everybody else can also see it, at which point they will claim that they saw it all along.'
Paul Kingsnorth, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist, p.84. 

ENVIRONMENTALISM TODAY

'The weird and unintentional pincer movement of the failed left, with its class analysis of waterfalls and fresh air, and the managerial, carbon-uber-alles brigade has infiltrated, ironed out and reworked environmentalism for its own ends. Now it is not about the ridiculous beauty of coral, the mist over the fields at dawn. It is not about ecocentrism. It is not about reforging a connection between over-civilised people and the world outside their windows. It is not about living close to the land or valuing work for the sake of the world. It is not about attacking the self-absorbed conceits of the bubble that our civilsation has become. 
Today's environmentalism is about people. It is a consolation prize for a gaggle of washed-up Trots and at the same time, with an amusing irony, it is an adjunct to hyper-capitalism; the catalytic converter on the silver SUV of the global economy. It is an engineering challenge; a problem-solving device for people to whom the sight of a wild Pennine hilltop brings not feelings of transcendence but thoughts about the wasted potential for renewable energy. It is about saving civilisation from the results of its own actions; a desperate attempt to prevent Gaia from hiccuping and wiping out our coffee shops and broadband connections. It is our last hope.'  
Paul Kingsnorth, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist, p.78.

IDEALISTIC BIAS

'The kind of people who are disgusted by an idealised past can often barely contain their enthusiasm for an idealised future.' 
Paul Kingsnorth, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist, p.39.

SUICIDE

'Suicide is everywhere in this culture, under every stone and once you come to be part of that great, unspeakable clan of people that have been touched by it, you see this. Three years ago, my wife and I had a baby daughter. Before she was born I never noticed babies except when they annoyed me in cafes. Now I see babies everywhere. The streets are full of toddlers; they cascade from the doorways and overflow the drains. Experience changes you. Nothing else changes you.'
Paul Kingsnorth, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist, p.16.

SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL

'Wherever something is wrong, something is too big.'
Leopald Kohr in Paul Kingsnorth, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist, p.10. 

WHEN A FATHER CRIES

'It was the first time I saw my father cry. A childhood milestone, when another's tears are more unbearable than one's own.'
Philip Roth, The Plot Against America, p.113.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

THE TRINITY & THE BIBLE

;...the Trinity is in the Bible because the Bible is in the Trinity.'
Fred Sanders, The Triune God, p.44. 

THE TRINITY & REVELATION

'Knowledge of the Trinity is inside knowledge given by insiders.'
Fred Sanders, The Triune God, p.38. 

THEOLOGY

'Theology is not itself if it is not also praise.'
Fred Sanders, The Triune God, p.28. 

Sunday, 30 April 2017

A SURE SIGN OF INSANITY

'"I have noticed again and again since I have been in the Church that lay interest in ecclesiastical matters is often a prelude to insanity."' 
Evelyn Waugh, Decline and Fall, p.72. 

ENGLISH PUBLIC SCHOOLS

'"There's a blessed equity in the English social system," said Grimes, "that ensures the public-school man against starvation. One goes through four or five years of hell at an age when life is bound to be hell, anyway, and after that the social system never lets you down.'"  
Evelyn Waugh, Decline and Fall, p.28. 

Saturday, 15 April 2017

THE PATTERNS OF LOVE

'Arnold, after yawning twice, got up and went into the house. Stretched out on the bed in his room, with the Venetian blinds closed, he began to compare the life of the Talbots with his own well-ordered but childless and animalless life in town. Everywhere they go, he thought, they leave tracks behind them, like people walking in the snow. Paths crisscrossing, lines that are perpetually meeting: the mother's loving pursuit of the youngest, the man's love for his daughter, the dog's love for the man, the two boys;' preoccupation with each other. Wheels and diagrams, Arnold said to himself. The patterns of love.' 
William Maxwell, 'The Patterns of Love' in Over by the River  and Other Stories, p.81. 

TIME

'Here's how time works. When you're young, your mind is running really fast, like a camera over-cranked to produce a slow-motion film, so the days and weeks and summers seem incredibly long. When you grow old, the mind slows down, doesn't clock so much sensory stimuli, so the days and years flash by. The same of things happens in a day. Morning time seems longer because your mind is whirring. Evening times goes by faster, because you've slowed down - unless you're being stimulated by lively company at dinner.'
Roger Deakin, Notes from Walnut Tree Farm, p.259.

Friday, 14 April 2017

DON'T FORGET THE MYSTERY

'Every aspect of God's reality and work, without exception, is mystery. The eternal Trinity; God's sovereignty in creation, providence, and grace; the incarnation, exaltation, present reign and approaching return of Jesus Christ; the inspiring of the Holy Scriptures; and the ministry of the Spirit in the Christian and the Church - each of these (to look no further) is a reality beyond our full fathoming, just as the cross is. And theories about any of these things which used human analogies to dispel the dimension of mystery would deserve our distrust, just as rationalistic theories about the cross do.' 
JI Packer, 'What Did the Cross Achieve?' in Celebrating the Saving Work of God, p.89. 

THE IMPORTANCE OF HISTORY IN THEOLOGY

'Every theological question has behind it a history of study, and narrow eccentricity in handling it is unavoidable unless the history is taken into account.' 
JI Packer, 'What did the Cross Achieve' in Celebrating the Saving Work of God, p.85. 

THE SAFETY NET OF GOD'S LOVE

'Perhaps the best definition of revelation is the uncovering of the truth that it is safe to love. The walls of our anxiety, our anguish, our narrowness are broken down and a wide endless horizon is shown. "We have to love, because he loved us first." It is safe to embrace in vulnerability because we both find ourselves in loving hands. It is safe to be available because someone old us that we stand on solid ground. It is safe to surrender because we will not fall into a dark pit but enter a welcoming home. It is safe to be weak because we are surrounded by a creative strength.' 
Henri JM Nouwen, Intimacy, p.36. 

SEXUAL LOVE IS FOR LIFE

'When the physical encounter of men and women in the intimate act of intercourse is not an expression of their total availability to each other, the creative fellowship of the weak is not yet reached. Every sexual relationship with built-in reservations, with mental restrictions or time limits, is still part of the taking structure. It means "I want you now, but not tomorrow. I want something from you, but I don't want you." Love is limitless. Only when mean and women give themselves to each other in total surrender, that is, with their whole person for their whole life, can the encounter bear full fruits.' 
Henri JM Nouwen, Intimacy, p.32. 

GOD AS FATHER

'Is the idea of God an infantile prolongation of our ideal father image, or is our receptivity to the child-father idea the result of our more profound and primary relationship with God? Indeed the basic criticism of Freud proposed by the German psychiatrist Binswanger is a reversal: God is not the prolongation of the child's relationship with his dad, but the child's feeling for his dad is a concretizing of an idea born of his more fundamental relation to his Creator. In others words, we couldn't love our father if God had not loved us first.'
Henri JM Nouwen, Intimacy, p.11. 

Sunday, 9 April 2017

FAIREST LORD JESUS

Fairest Lord Jesus, Lord of all creation
Jesus, of God and Man
You will I cherish, you will I honour
You are my soul’s delight and crown

Fair are the meadows, fair are the woods
Robed in the blooms of spring
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer
He makes the saddest heart to sing

Fair are the flowers, fair are the children
Beautiful in all their youth
Yet is their beauty, fading and fleeting
Lord Jesus yours will never fade

Fair is the moonlight, fairer still the sunshine
Fair is the starry sky
My Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines clearer
Than all the heavenly host on high

All fairest beauty, heavenly and earthly
Jesus, in you is found
None can be nearer, fairer or dearer
Than you my Saviour to me bound

http://www.garagehymnal.com/albums/unity/fairest-lord-jesus/

EATING FOOD IS SELF-REPAIR

'...food marks the first and basic level at which societies engage in self-repair, and it is just where churches have most frequently expressed their ministries: soup kitchens, basement meals, celebrations, and, of course, peculiar liturgical actions.' 
Ephraim Radner, A Time to Keep, p.212. 

WORK

'Work is actually the container God gives us, as creatures, for our learning of wisdom: surviving; providing; loving; receiving; learning; listening. Toil, it turns out, is a gift of a profound kind.' 
Ephraim Radner, A Time to Keep, p.211. 

Thursday, 6 April 2017

THE POWER OF PLACE

'All of us, I believe, carry about in our heads places and landscapes we shall never forget because we experienced such intensity of life there: places where, like the child that "feels its life in every limb" in Wordsworth's poem 'We are Seven,' our eyes have opened wider, and all our senses have somehow heightened. By way of returning the compliment, we accord these places that have given us such joy a special place in our memories and imaginations. They live on in us, wherever we may be, however far way from them.' 
Roger Deakin, Notes from Walnut Tree Farm, p.242. 

Saturday, 1 April 2017

LOVE

'Why, Florence wondered, were people so impatient? Didn't they realize that love was slow, shy, baffled half the time by pride?' 
Victor Lodato, Edgar & Lucy, p.82. 

GRANDPARENTAL LOVE

'oh, if she could have a tall glass of this child every morning, she would live forever. Sometimes she worried that her love for Edgar was too strong, a covetous earthly love, a love against God, a love to reclaim lost things. But what love wasn't like that? What love wasn't a reward to counter an old wrong? Anyway, it wasn't something she could control. How she felt about the boy was how she felt. Love was love, and it was always a monster.' 
Victor Lodato, Edgar & Lucy, p.18. 

FRIENDSHIP & SINGLENESS

'True friendship is a treasure, often most deeply discovered by single persons, cherished, burnished, garnished, but then offered to others.' 
Ephraim Radner, A Time to Keep, p.185. 

FRIENDSHIP & FARMING

'Friendships are cultivated with all the care and dangerous fragility of any sustenance agriculture. There is the careful time of discerning and planting - and here wisdom and experience can bring only success - and not a little luck. There is the giving over of oneself in loyalty, the breaking up by betrayal, the hard and welcome corrections and growth, the difficult learning and respecting of limits as in all things, and longstanding reaping and replenishing. Friendship is a life's work.' 
Ephraim Radner, A Time to Keep. p.185. 

THE BEST FRIENDS ARE DIFFERENT

'...in all friendships of depth there is always the realization of the glorious victory of difference over likeness...'
Ephraim Radner, A Time to Keep, p.184. 

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.