'In a frenetically mobile and ever more porous and inexorably globalizing world, we stand powerfully in need of such stable and coherent places in our lives - to ground us and orient us, and mark off a finite arena, rich with memory, for our activity as parents and children, as friends and neighbors, and as free and productive citizens.'
Wilfred M McClay 'Why Place Matters' in Wilfred M McLay & Ted V McAllister, Why Place Matters: Geography, Identity and Civic Life in Modern America, p.3.
'...there is no formation without repetition. Virtue formation takes practice, and there is no practice that isn't repetitive. We willingly embrace repetition as a good in all kinds of other sectors of our life - to hone our golf swing, our piano prowess, and our mathematical abilities, for example. If the sovereign Lord has created us as creatures of habit, why should we think repetition is inimical to our spiritual growth.'
'Instead of the bottom up emphasis on worship as our expression of devotion and praise, historic Christian worship is rooted in the conviction that God is the primary actor or agent in the worship encounter. Worship works from the top down, you might say. In worship we don't just come to show God our devotion and give him our praise; we are called to worship because in this encounter God (ree)makes us and molds us top-down. Worship is the arena in which God recalibrates our hearts, reforms our desires, and rehabituates our loves. Worship isn't just something we do; it is where God does something to us. Worship is the heart of discipleship because it is the gymnasium in which God retrains our hearts.'
'...when we distill the gospel message and embed it in the form of the mall, while we might think we are finding a fresh way for people to encounter Christ, in fact the very form of the practice is already loaded with a way of constructing the world. The liturgy of the mall is a heart-level education in consumerism that construes everything as a commodity available to make me happy. When I encounter "Jesus" in such a liturgy, rather than encountering the living Lord of history, I am implicitly being taught that Jesus is one more commodity available to make me happy. And while I might eagerly want to add him to my shelf of stuff, we shouldn't confuse this appropriation with discipleship.'
'Being available for those who need us is often the hardest and most neglected aspect of Christian living today, and yet without such availability the church will never be able to demonstrate the reality of Christ's love to the world.'
'Anger is a crucial human emotion. It can be that which eradicates oppression, fuels social change, or rails against hypocrisy. Anger at the ill-treatment of others has led to the repeal of slavery, and the outlawing of exploitative child labour. There is much anger in the Psalms where the writers cry against injustice and shout about the way evil-doers seem to prosper. There is anger in the Gospels when Jesus sees that the place where God is to be worshipped has been turned into a "den of thieves". In its right place anger is essential.'
'...only one aspect of sexuality is expressed in sexual intercourse. We also express it in warmth and touch, in closeness and care for the other persons who are dear to us. If in our lives there is no sexual union with another, perhaps because we have accepted celibacy, or gone through bereavement, illness or divorce, we are no less fully human and fully sexual. Deeply satisfying human intimacy, whether in marriage or outside, is in the end not dependent on copulation but on a faithful sharing of our hearts and lives with those whom we love, and a longing for their well-being and peace.'
'Those who are chaste by conviction are in fact a threat to all who market sex as something which we must bow before. For they are often living testimonies to the fact that human intimacy is not dependent on sexual intercourse for its meaning and power. They also know the truth that we are much more in control of the way we relate to others than our culture is prepared to acknowledge. And in this they have the witness of history.'
'One of the central Christian doctrines, the incarnation, is itself an endorsement of our sexual humanity. For Jesus had a body, Jesus was a body. Jesus touched the bodies of others, the disease-ridden and deformed as well as the beautiful. He was kissed, stroked, and anointed in return, even by a woman of doubtful sexual reputation. Jesus' body needed food, drink, sleep, comfort and exercise, and when he washed or swam he was probably naked. Nothing could be more convincing of ultimate honor of human sinews, skin and bone than the reality of Emmanuel, God bodily with us.'
'Disappointment within marriage has one very clear answer: acceptance. The issue of acceptance is the core spiritual issue that lies at the heart of every marriage. For we are all failures. We are all disappointments. No one person can be all that the other dreamed of. And so we often have to let go of what our ideal of a husband or wife should be like, and give ourselves in love to the one we actually have.'
'Being aware of the juxtaposition of power and vulnerability in the lives of the men closet to me, the stereotypes of masculinity that I have read in so many books have always left me unimpressed. In my experience as in the experience of so many others, it has simply not been true that it is always men who are strong, logical and self-sufficient; or that women are weaker, more emotional and in greater need of protection. Indeed as I have gone through life I have met many men who are very emotionally dependent on others whilst many women I know are temperamentally strong as well as analytically competent. I have listened as publically adequate men have privately crumbled without affirmation and constant support, yet have encountered women who battle alone against considerable odds.'
'Forgiving heals your memory as you change your memory's vision. When you release the wrongdoer from the wrong, you cut a malignant tumour out of you inner life. You set a prisoner free, but you discover the real prisoner was yourself.'
Lewis Smedes in Elaine Storkey, The Search for Intimacy, p.89.
'Intimacy grows best between people who have found space in their lives to get to know themselves. It flourishes most effectively when people are able to enjoy connectedness with others, and also given space to develop their own sense of separateness.'
'I have listened to many women married to men who have absorbed all the ideas of headship and authority, but who have never been given any help or advice on how to express and develop their feelings, or to allow other people to get close. Consequently, some women find that though these men may make authoritative pronouncements, and perform well publicly, at home they are effectively emotional cripples. This often has to be masked by assertion, or distance. In some cases the closer the woman becomes and the more aware of his weakness the greater the retreat from the husband. So the relationship deteriorates and the man is unable to seek help. For he is a man, and called not to be weak but authoritative, and for him it is a sign of weakness to admit there are deep emotional problems in his life.'
'...we cannot experience the fullness of intimacy until we understand that it goes deeper than anything we might find in the greatest human encounter, until we realize that its origins lie far beyond ourselves, or our universe, to the very creator. And when we come face to face with the reality of this truth, we can accept the gift for what it is; the reminder to our hearts of who we are, and whose image we bear.'
'Intimacy with myself involves me in being critically self-aware; ready to assess influences from the past, ready to understand where I need to change. It uncovers from me those areas of weakness or bitterness in my life; it helps me to learn to love myself, and accept myself, whilst rejecting what in me is harmful or destructive. True intimacy with the self means experiencing the reality of repentance, forgiveness, healing and joy. Intimacy comes when I grow in love and learn to give myself to others.'
'...intimacy is both desired and threatening. We both want our deepest privacy to be invaded, but we also fear it. We want to be able to be able to open up our very selves to the love and scrutiny of another, yet we dread the rawness of being exposed. There is somehow deep in the human psyche that tension between bonding and detachment, closeness and distance. Very often, just at the very point where intimacy seems realizable there is a fear of being engulfed, a claustrophobia, a panic and a bid for retreat. To accept that this tension is there, and to live creatively with it are probably marks of maturity. But for many the fear of intimacy itself can take over. The unwillingness to be completely open to another lies deeply in our personhood. How can we ever really trust each other to disclose our hearts and show all the weakness there?'
'I believe that much of our religious unbelief is due to a wrong conception of and a wrong feeling for the Scripture of truth. A silent God suddenly began to speak in a book and when that book was finished lapsed back into silence again for ever. Now we read the book as the record of what God said when He was for a brief time in a speaking mood. With notions like that in our heads how can we believe? The facts are that God is not silent, has never been silent. It is the nature of God to speak. The second person of the Holy Trinity is called the Word. The Bible is the inevitable outcome of God's continuous speech. It is the infallible declaration of His minds for us put into our own familiar words.'
'A God who was only holy would not have come down to us in Jesus Christ. He would have simply demanded that we pull ourselves together, that we be moral and holy enough to merit a relationship with him. A deity that was an "all-accepting God of love" would not have needed to come to Earth either. This God of the modern imagination would just have overlooked sin and evil and embraced us. Neither the God of moralism nor the God of relativism would have bothered with Christmas.
The biblical God, however, is infinitely holy, so our sin could not be shrugged off. It had to be dealt with. He is also infinitely loving. He knows we could never climb up to him, so he has come down to us.'