“Paul speaks of an abundance of grace to show that what we have received is not just a medicine sufficient to heal the wound of sin, but also health and beauty and honor, and glory and dignity far transcending our natural state. Each of these in itself would have been enough to do away with death, but when they are all put together in one there is not a trace of death left, nor can any shadow of it be seen, so entirely has it been done away with.”—St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans 10, as translated in Ancient Christian Devotional. (via wesleyanrudy)
“The mind of a child envisions a world of adventure and purpose while the mind of an adult longs for a world of comfort, ease, and power.”—John Dyer, from From the Garden to the City: The Redeeming and Corrupting Power of Technology (via settledthingsstrange)
And it is this joy of expectation and this expectation of joy that are expressed in singing and ritual, in vestments and in censing, in that whole “beauty” of the liturgy which has so often been denounced as unnecessary and even sinful.
Unnecessary it is indeed, for we are beyond the categories of the “necessary.” Beauty is never “necessary,” “functional” or “useful.” And when, expecting someone whom we love, we put a beautiful tablecloth on the table and decorate it with candles and flowers, we do all this not out of necessity, but out of love…. As long as Christians will love the Kingdom of God, and not only discuss it, they will “represent” it and signify it, in art and beauty.
”—Schmemann, For the Life of the World (via poeticfaith)
“We live in a time when many religious people feel fiercely threatened by science. O ye of little faith. Let them subscribe to Scientific American for a year and then tell me if their sense of the grandeur of God is not greatly enlarged by what they have learned from it. Of course many of the articles reflect the assumption at the root of many problems, that an account, however tentative, of some structure of the cosmos or some transaction of the nervous system successfully claims that part of reality for secularism. Those who encourage a fear of science are actually saying the same thing. If the old, untenable dualism is put aside, we are instructed in the endless brilliance of creation. Surely to do this is a privilege of modern life for which we should all be grateful.”—
[Hulga-Joy’s comment:] This certainly reflects my own experience. When I first began to move to a true rejection of science/faith dualism (extraordinarily difficult to do, even with a reasonable education), I was frequently disturbed by the vastness and complexity of nature, by the mind-blowing age of the universe, by the sheer, barely comprehensible size of the thing. It made me feel so small. How could humans possibly matter?
But then I actually remembered 1) the Incarnation and 2) how the Psalms, for instance, speak of God’s wonderful works, and their incomprehensibility; of His true greatness and mystery. And I realized that what I had come up against was not a dethroning of God, but of the limits of my own mind. It was—and continues to be—mighty, mighty humbling.
At the heart of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body is the call to love one another in the image of the Trinity, and that means establishing a genuine “unity in diversity.” Our differences, even our theological differences, can and should serve to unite us in our common journey towards the fullness of the truth.
Very often the resolution of theological debate involves finding the right balance between what appear to be competing truths, but are rather complementary aspects of the whole truth that must be held together in their proper “tension.” Finding that proper tension is like tuning a guitar—we inevitably go sharp, then flat, then back again until we find just the right tension in the string. When we understand this, we come to see how we need one another’s different emphases. Push-back from either direction is a healthy thing, so long as it’s offered charitably, and with a willingness to affirm the truth the “other side” is rightly seeking to uphold.
“Just as the reality of the Word of God in Jesus Christ bears its possibility within itself, as does also the reality of the Holy Spirit, by whom the Word of God comes to man, so too the possibility of the knowledge of God and therefore the knowability of God cannot be questioned in vacuo, or by means of a general criterion of knowledge delimiting the knowledge of God from without, but only from within this real knowledge itself. Therefore it is quite impossible to ask whether God is knowable, because this question is already decided by the only legitimate and meaningful questioning which arises in this connexion. The only legitimate and meaningful questions in this context are: how far is God known? and how far is God knowable? These questions are legitimate and meaningful because they are genuine questions of Church proclamation, and therefore also genuine questions of dogmatics—genuine objects of its formal and material task.”—Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics II.1, 6 quoted in Adiaphora: Genuine Questions of Church Proclamation
“There are good and bad amongst them as in every class. But one thing is clear to me, that no indulgence of passion destroys the spuitual nature so much as respectable selfishness.”—George MacDonald, Robert Falconer (via georgemacdonald)
“We sit by and watch the Barbarian, we tolerate him; in the long stretches of peace we are not afraid. We are tickled by his irreverence, his comic inversion of our old certitudes and our fixed creeds refreshes us; we laugh. But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond: and on these faces there is no smile.”—Hilaire Belloc, The Barbarians
“Interestingly, when smart people feel less alienated, they seem to buy different sorts of books. Instead of condemning American society for not honoring the author’s personality or tastes, the new bestsellers explore the mysteries of human behavior. Think of Malcolm Gladwell’s various books or Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow.” Perhaps once you accept that people really are different — that nobody’s normal and, at least when it comes to food or entertainment or vacations, there’s no one best way to live — you can, paradoxically enough, start to think about the commonalities known as human nature.”—
“All God’s deeds are inexpressible. We can dishonor them all by speaking about them in an irreverent way. But all God’s deeds want to be confessed, in spite of—no, on account of—their inexpressibility. God wants us to love him with all our mind and with all our strength. True theology is an act of love. In this act we cannot be silent about a single one of God’s mighty inexpressible deeds.”—Hendrikus Berkhof, Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, 9 (quoted here) (h/t)
“Human beings are responsible for what they say, not only publicly but privately… . Language is a very responsible thing. It’s not merely a question of style, or even vocabulary. Every choice of a word is essentially a moral choice.”—
“If he came to reveal his Father in miniature, as it were (for in these unspeakable things we can but use figures, and the homeliest may be the holiest), to tone down his great voice, which, too loud for men to hear it aright, could but sound to them as an inarticulate thundering, into such a still small voice as might enter their human ears in welcome human speech, then the works that his Father does so widely, so grandly that they transcend the vision of men, the Son must do briefly and sharply before their very eyes.”—George MacDonald - Miracles of Our Lord (via georgemacdonald)
“The strength of our faith is tried by those things wherein our wits and capacities are not strong. Howbeit because this divine mystery is more true than plain, divers having framed the same to their own conceits and fancies are found in their expositions thereof more plain than true.”—Richard Hooker (via wesleyanrudy)
“The supernatural vitality of hope overflows, moreover, and sheds its light also upon the rejuvenated powers of natural hope. The lives of countless saints attest to this truly astonishing fact. It seems surprising, however, how seldom the enchanting youthfulness of our great saints is noticed; especially of those saints who were active in the world as builders and founders. There is hardly anything comparable to just this youthfulness of the saint that testifies so challengingly to the fact that is surely most relevant for contemporary man: that, in the most literal sense of these words, nothing more eminently preserves and founds “eternal youth” than the theological virtue of hope. It alone can bestow on man the certain possession of that aspiration that is at once relaxed and disciplined, that adaptability and readiness, that strong-hearted freshness, that resilient joy, that steady perseverance in trust that so distinguish the young and make them loveable.”—Josef Pieper. Reminds me of that marvelous passage in Chesterton that concludes with, “our Father is younger than we.” (via wesleyhill)
“Hence reading is self-mastery, because the self (and its affirmations) are held in check while the author (and his structures of thought) are fully attended to. True diversity in literature would be to read authors in circumstances as different from our own as possible, because we might then imagine ourselves as different than we are — not the creature of circumstances, but their master. Reading is fundamental, all right: to a person’s ethical development.”—So Why Read (Fiction) Any More? « Commentary Magazine (via ayjay)
“Many introverts feel there’s something wrong with them, and try to pass as extroverts. But whenever you try to pass as something you’re not, you lose a part of yourself along the way. You especially lose a sense of how to spend your time. Introverts are constantly going to parties and such when they’d really prefer to be home reading, studying, inventing, meditating, designing, thinking, cooking…or any number of other quiet and worthwhile activities.”—The Power of Introverts: A Manifesto for Quiet Brilliance: Scientific American
“Most religious celebrations gather us around a table of some sort. They hand us a book, or a plate, or speak a word demanding a response. They want to ‘touch’ us. Choral Evensong is a liturgical expression of Christ’s Nolle me tangere – ‘Do not touch me. I have not yet ascended to my Father’ (St. John 20: 17). It reminds us that thresholds can be powerful places of contemplation; and that leaving someone alone with their thoughts is not always denying them hospitality or welcome.”—'Do not touch me': the wisdom of Anglican thresholds – Telegraph Blogs
“The real question, John [of the Cross] suggests, is about what you are really after: Do you want ‘spirituality’, mystical experience, inner peace, or do you want God? If you want God, then you must be prepared to let go all, absolutely all, substitute satisfactions, intellectual and emotional. You must recognize that God is so unlike whatever can be thought or pictured that, when you have got beyond the stage of self-indulgent religiosity, there will be nothing you can securely know or feel. You face a blank: and any attempt to avoid that or shy away from it is a return to playing comfortable religious games. The dark night is God’s attack on religion. If you genuinely desire union with the unspeakable love of God, then you must be prepared to have your own religious world shattered. If you think devotional practices, theological insights, even charitable actions give you some sort of purchase on God, you are still playing games. On the other hand, if you can face and accept and even rejoice in the experience of darkness, if you accept God is more than an idea which keeps your religion or philosophy or politics tidy – then you may find a way back to religion, philosophy or politics, to an engagement with them that is more creative because you are more aware of the oddity, the uncontrollable quality of the truth at the heart of all things. This is what ‘detachment’ means – not being ‘above the battle’, but being involved in such a way that you can honestly confront whatever comes to you without fear of the unknown; it is a kind of readiness for the unexpected, if that is not too much of a paradox.”—Rowan Williams, “The Dark Night” (via ayjay)
“There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say “It is yet more difficult than you thought.” This is the muse of form. It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.”—Wendell Berry, “Poetry and Marriage: The Use of Old Forms” (via nachtseite)
“The fact that the all-powerful nature was capable of stooping down to the lowliness of the human condition is a greater proof of power than are the miracles, imposing and supernatural though these be… The humiliation of God shows the super-abundance of his power, which is in not fettered in the midst of conditions contrary to its nature… The greatness is glimpsed in the lowliness and its exaltation is not thereby reduced.”—Gregory of Nyssa (via invisibleforeigner)
“If the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble, … “the law is a ass—a idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is that his eye may be opened by experience—by experience.”—Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist
“Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Either we have hope within us or we don’t; it is a dimension of the soul, and it’s not essentially dependent on some particular observation of the world or estimate of the situation. Hope is not prognostication. It is an orientation of the spirit, an orientation of the heart; it transcends the world that is immediately experienced, and is anchored somewhere beyond its horizons. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather, an ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed. The more propitious the situation in which we demonstrate hope, the deeper the hope is. Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”—Vaclav Havel.
“And Protestantism having deprived the Church of almost all
means of thus appealing to the eye as an inlet of truth, he was
compelled to supply the deficiency as he best could. I do not
say that Mr. Fuller would have filled his church with gorgeous
paintings as things in general, and artists in especial, are.
He shrunk in particular from the more modern representations
of our Lord given upon canvas, simply because he felt them to
be so unlike him, showing him either as effeminately soft, or
as pompously condescending ; but if he could have filled his
church with pictures in which the strength exalted the tenderness,
and the majesty was glorified by the homeliness, he
would have said that he did not see why painted windows
should be more consistent with Protestantism than painted
walls.”—Guild Court, George MacDonald (via nachtseite)
“Yet nowadays the planet is moving too fast for even a Rushdie or DeLillo to keep up, and many of us in the privileged world have access to more information than we know what to do with. What we crave is something that will free us from the overcrowded moment and allow us to see it in a larger light. No writer can compete, for speed and urgency, with texts or CNN news flashes or RSS feeds, but any writer can try to give us the depth, the nuances — the “gaps,” as Annie Dillard calls them — that don’t show up on many screens. Not everyone wants to be reduced to a sound bite or a bumper sticker.”—A long sentence is worth the read
“As Weber understood in the end, the bureaucratization of knowledge and the rationalization of the world lead to a barren knowledge that is not really knowledge, because it encompasses everything but the proper ends to which knowledge should be put. It views the world in splinters and fragments, and insensibly but surely robs human life of its own spontaneous energy, grace, and freedom.”—Wilfred McClay, What Do Experts Know? > National Affairs
In seminary Mister Rogers studied systematic theology with Dr. William S. Orr. “From then on I took everything he offered; it could have been underwater basket weaving.
"He was a great influence on many of our lives. Not just because he was brilliant," he says. "He was the kind of person who would go out on a winter’s day for lunch and come back without his overcoat.
"I studied Greek with him and then I studied New Testament with him. Every Sunday, my wife and I used to go to the nursing home to visit him. One Sunday we had just sung ‘A Mighty Fortress Is Our God’ and I was full of this one verse. I said, ‘Dr. Orr, we just sang this hymn and I’ve got to ask you about part of it.
“‘You know where it says—The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him. For, lo, his doom is sure. … one little word will fell him? Dr. Orr, what is that one thing that would wipe out evil?’
"He said, ‘Evil simply disintegrates in the presence of forgiveness. When you look with accusing eyes at your neighbor, that is what evil would want, because the more the accuser’—which, of course, is the word Satan in Hebrew—’can spread the accusing spirit, the greater evil spreads.’ Dr. Orr said, ‘On the other hand, if you can look with the eyes of the Advocate on your neighbor, those are the eyes of Jesus.’
“Nothing is more educative for man in his totality than the liturgy. The Bible is certainly a marvelous teacher of prayer, of the sense of God and of the adult convictions of conscience. Used alone, the Bible might produce a Christian of the Puritan tradition, an individualist and even a visionary. The liturgy, however, is the ‘authentic method instituted by the Church to unite souls to Jesus.’ The sort of Christian produced by an enlightened and docile participation in the liturgy is a man of peace and unified in every fibre of his human nature by the secret and powerful penetration of faith and love in his life, throughout a period of prayer and worship, during which he learned, at his mother’s knee and without effort, the Church’s language: her language of faith, love, hope, and fidelity. There is no better way of acquiring ‘the mind of the Church’ in the widest and most interior interpretation of this expression.”—Cardinal Yves Congar, O.P., 1963 (quoted by Geoffrey Hull in The Banished Heart, 2010)
“Theological formation is the gradual and often painful discovery of God’s incomprehensibility. You can be competent in many things, but you cannot be competent in God.”—Henri J. M. Nouwen (via mikegarycole)