Monday, December 17, 2007
"Then the father replied angrily: 'I shall give thee unto Death.' The father, having once said so, though in haste, had to be true to his word and to sacrifice his son. The son said: 'I go as the first, at the head of many who have still to die; I go in the midst of many who are now dying. What will be the work of Yama the ruler of the departed which to day he has to do unto me? Look back how it was with those who came before, look forward how it will be with those who come hereafter. A mortal ripens like corn, like corn he springs up again."
Death says to the son after being pleased with his willingness to be sacrificed through a special fire sacrifice:
"The fire sacrifice shall be named after thee. When he [others] has learnt and understood this fire, which knows or makes us know all that is born of Brahman, which is venerable and divine, then he obtains everlasting peace."
"Fools dwelling in darkness, wise in their own conceit, and puffed up with vain knowledge, go round and round, staggering to and fro, like blind men led by the blind. The Hereafter never rises before the eyes of the careless child, deluded by the delusion of wealth. 'This is the world', he thinks, 'there is no other;'--thus he falls again and again under my sway"
"Though thou hadst seen the fulfillment of all desires, the foundation of the world, the endless rewards of good deeds, the shore where there is no fear, that which is magnified by praise, the wide abode, the rest, yet being wise thou hast with firm resolve dismissed it all."
"Has it its own light, or does it reflect light? The sun does not shine there, nor the moon and the stars, nor these lightnings, and much less this fire. When he sines, everything shines after him; by his light all this is lighted."
"Beyond the Undeveloped is the Person, the all-pervading and entirely imperceptible. Every creature that knows him is liberated, and obtains immortality. By the words 'He Is', is he to be apprehended, and by admitting the reality of both the invisible Brahman and the visible world, as coming from Brahman. When he has been apprehended by the words 'He Is', then his reality reveals itself."
From The Brahmana
"He behind whom the year revolves with the days, him the gods worship as the light of lights, as immortal time. He in whom the five beings and the ether rest, him alone I believe to be the Self--I who know, believe him to be Brahman; I who am immortal, believe him to be immortal."
"He, the Self, is to be described by--No, no! He is incomprehensible, for he cannot be comprehended; he is imperishable, for he cannot perish; he is unattached, for he does not attach himself; unfettered, he does not suffer, he does not fail.
From the Dhammapada
The Twin Verses
"The thoughtless man, even if he can recite a large portion of the law, but is not a doer of it, has no share in the priesthood, but is like a cowherd counting the cows of others."
"Whatever a hater may do to a hater, or an enemy to an enemy, a wrongly directed mind will do us greater mischief"
"Like a beautiful flower, full of color, but without scent, are the fine but fruitless words of him who does not act accordingly."
"He who does not rouse himself when it is time to rise, who, though young and strong, is full of sloth, whose will and thought are weak, that lazy and idle man will never find the way to knowledge."
From "The Foundations of the Moral Life" by Baruch Spinoza
The Highest Virtue of Reason
"The highest thing which the mind can understand is God, that is to say, Being absolutely infinite, and without whom nothing can be nor can be conceived, and therefore that which is chiefly profitable to the mind, or which is the highest good of the mind, is the knowledge of God."
IV: The Evil Emotions
"Nothing but a gloomy and sad superstition forbids enjoyment. For why is it more seemly to extinguish hunger and thirst than to drive away melancholy?"
"Humility is sorrow, that springs from this, that a man contemplates his own weakness."
"But if we suppose that he forms a conception of his own impotence because he understands something to be more powerful than himself, by the knowledge of which he limits his own power of action, in this case we simply conceive that he understands himself distinctly, and his power of action is increased."
"A man, therefore, who is ashamed of what he has done, although he is sorrowful, is nevertheless more perfect than the shameless man who has no desire of living uprightly."
From "Pensees" by Blaise Pascal
1"The whole visible world is only an imperceptible atom in the ample bosom of nature. No idea approaches it. We may enlarge our conceptions beyond all imaginable space; we only produce atoms in comparison with the reality of things. It is an infinite sphere, the center of which is everywhere, the circumference nowhere. In short it is the greatest sensible mark of the almighty power of God, that imagination loses itself in that thought."
"For who will not be astounded at the fact that our body, which a little while ago was imperceptible in the universe, itself imperceptible in the bosom of the whole, is now a colossus, a world, or rather a whole, in respect to the nothingness which we cannot reach? He who regards himself in this light will be afraid of himself, and observing himself sustained in the body given him by nature between those two abysses of the Infinite and Nothing, will tremble at the sight of these marvels; and I think that, as his curiosity changes into admiration, he will be more disposed to contemplate them in silence than to examine them with presumption."
"When we think to attach ourselves to any point and to fasten to it, it wavers and leaves us; and if we follow it, it eludes our grasp, slips past us, and vanishes for ever. Nothing stays for us. This is our natural condition, and yet most contrary to our inclination; we burn with desire to find solid ground and an ultimate sure foundation whereon to build a tower reaching to the Infinite. But our whole groundwork cracks, and the earth opens to abysses."
"If man made himself the first object of study, he would see how incapable he is of going further. How can a part know the whole?
3"Those who have a lively imagination are a great deal more pleased with themselves than the wise can reasonably be. They look down upon men with haughtiness; they argue with boldness and confidence, others with fear and diffidence; and this gaiety of countenance often gives them the advantage in the opinion of the hearers, such favor have the imaginary wise in the eyes of judges of like nature. Imagination cannot make fools wise; but she can make them happy, to the envy of reason which can only make its friends miserable; the one covers them with glory, the other with shame."
5"To make light of philosophy, is to be a true philosopher"
14"The will is one of the chief factors in belief, not that is creates belief, but because things are true or false according to the aspect in which we look at them. The will, which prefers one aspect to another, turns away the mind from considering the qualities of all that it does not like to see; and thus the mind, moving in accord with the will, stops to consider the aspect which it likes, and so judges by what it sees."
16"Two errors: To take everything literally. To take everything spiritually."
18"If this religion boasted of having a clear view of God, and of possessing it open and unveiled, it would be attacking it to say that we see nothing in the world which shows it with this clearness. But, on the contrary, it says that men are in darkness and estranged from God, that He has hidden Himself from their knowledge, that this is in fact the name which He gives Himself in the Scriptures, Deus absconditus (God Hidden)."
"Death, which threatens us every moment, must infallibly place us within a few years under the dreadful necessity of being for ever either annihilated or unhappy. There is nothing more real than this, nothing more terrible. Be we as heroic as we like, that is the end which awaits the noblest life in the world."
"I am in terrible ignorance of everything. I know not what my body is, nor my senses, nor my soul, not ever that part of me which thinks what I say, which reflects on all and on itself, and knows itself no more than the rest. I see those frightful spaces of the universe which surround me, and I find myself tied to one corner of this vast expanse, without knowing why I am put in this place rather than another, nor why the short time which is given me to live is assigned to me at this point rather than at another of the whole eternity which was before me or which shall come after me. I see nothing but infinities on all sides, which surround me as an atom, and as a shadow which endures only for an instant and returns no more. All I know is that I must soon die, but what I know least is this very thing which I cannot escape."
"The only shame is to have none."
"Nothing is more dastardly than to act with bravado before God."
28"Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature; but he is a thinking reed. The entire universe need not arm itself to crush him. A vapor, a drop of water suffices to kill him. But, if the universe were to crush him, man would still be more noble than that which killed him, because he knows that he dies and the advantage which the universe has over him; the universe knows nothing of this. All our dignity consists, then, in thought. By it we must elevate ourselves, and not by space and time which we cannot fill. Let us endeavor then, to think well; this is the principle of morality."
From "Nicomachean Ethics" by Aristotle
4"Most people do not act, but take refuge in theory and think they are being philosophers and will become good in this way, behaving somewhat like patients who listen attentively to their doctors, but do none of the things they are ordered to do. As the latter will not be made well in the body by such a course of treatment, the former will not be made well in the soul by such a course of philosophy."
From "Orthodoxy" by G.K. Chesterton
"Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason. Poets do not go mad; but chess players do." pg 21
"Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion...the poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits." pg 22
"The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason." pg 24
"He is in the clean and well-lit prison of one idea: he is sharpened to one painful point. He is without healthy hesitation and healthy complexity. He understands everything, and everything does not seem worth understanding." pg 27
"The Christian admits that the universe is manifold and even miscellaneous, just as a sane man knows that he is complex. The sane man knows that he has a touch of the beast, a touch of the devil, a touch of the saint, a touch of the citizen. Nay, the really sane man knows that he has a touch of the madman....Materialists and madman never have doubts." pg 29
"Mysticism keeps men sane. As long as you have mystery you have health; when you destroy mystery you create morbidity...[Ordinary man] has always cared more for truth than for consistency. If he saw two truths that seemed to contradict each other, he would take the two truths and the contradiction along with them. his spiritual sight is stereoscopic, like his physical sight: he sees two different pictures at once and yet sees all the better for that. Thus he has always believed that there was such a thing as fate, but such a thing as free will also. It is exactly this balance of apparent contradictions that has been the whole buoyancy of the healthy man. The whole secret of mysticism is this: that man can understand everything by the help of what he does not understand. The morbid logician seeks to make everything lucid, and succeeds in making everything mysterious. The mystic allows one thing to be mysterious, and everything else becomes lucid...He puts the seed of dogma in a central darkness; but it branches forth in all directions with abounding natural health...the cross, though it has at its heart a collision and a contradiction, can extend its four arms for ever without altering its shape. Because it has a paradox in its center it can grow without changing."pg 33
"The one created thing which we cannot look at is the one thing in light of which we look at everything. Like the sun at noonday, mysticism explains everything else by the blaze of its own victorious invisibility. Detached intellectualism is (literally) all moonshine; for it is light without heat, and it is secondary light, reflected from a dead world." pg 33
"We may say that the most characteristic current philosophies have not only a touch of mania, but a touch of suicidal mania. The mere questioner has knocked his head against the limits of human thought; and cracked it." pg 42
"Traditions means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death." pg 53
"For our Titanic purposes of faith and revolution, what we need is not the cold acceptance of the world as a compromise, but some way in which we can heartily hate and heartily love it. We do not want joy and anger to neutralize each other and produce a surly contentment; we want a fiercer delight and a fiercer discontent . We have to feel the universe at once as an ogre's castle, to be stormed, and yet as our own cottage, to which we can return at evening. Can we hate it enough to change it, and yet love it enough to think it worth changing?" pg 77
"Life is not an illogicality; yet it is trap for logicians. It looks just a little more mathematical and regular than it is; its exactitude is obvious, but its inexactitude is hidden; its wildness lies in wait.It is this silent swerving from accuracy by an inch that is the uncanny element in everything. It seems a sort of secret treason in the universe." pg 87
"He that will lose his life, the same shall save it...A man cut off by the sea may save his life if he will risk it on the precipice. He can only get away from death by continually stepping within an inch of it. A soldier surrounded by enemies, if he is to cut his way out, needs to combine a strong desire for living with a strange carelessness about dying...He must seek his life in a spirit of furious indifference to it; he must desire life like water, and yet drink death like wine." pg 99
"It is always simple to fall; there are an infinity of angles at which one falls, only one at which one stands." pg 108
"This fixed and familiar ideal is necessary to any sort of revolution. man will sometimes act slowly upon new ideas; but he will only act swiftly upon old ideas." pg115
"The whole point depends upon his being at once humble enough to wonder, and haughty enough to defy." pg 120
"A bird is active, because a bird is soft. A stone is helpless, because a stone is hard. The stone must by its own nature go downwards, because hardness is weakness. The bird can of its nature go upwards, because fragility is force. Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly.Pride is the downward drag of all things into an easy solemnity. For solemnity flows out of men naturally; but laughter is a leap. It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light. Satan fell by the force of gravity." pg 127-128
"Christianity alone has felt that God, to be wholly God, must have been a rebel as well as a king. And now let the revolutionists choose a creed and a god. They will not find another god who has himself been in revolt." pg 145
Sunday, May 13, 2007
From "Mere Christianity"
"For example, such silence need not mean that I myself am sitting on the fence. Sometimes I am. There are questions at issue between Christians to which I do not think we have been told the answer. There are some to which I may never know the answer: if I asked them, even in a better world, I might be answered as a far greater questioner was answered: 'What is that to thee? Follow thou Me.'"
"Ever since I served as an infantryman in the First World War I have had a great dislike of people who, themselves in ease and safety, issue exhortations to men in the front line. As a result I have a reluctance to say much about temptations to which I myself am not exposed."
"When you have reached your room, be kind to those who have chosen different doors and to those who are still in the hall. If they are wrong they need your prayers all the more; and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them. That is one of the house rules."
"The most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of your own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs. There is not one of them which will not make us into devils if we set it up as an absolute guide."
"We all want progress, but progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man."
"God is the only comfort, He is also the supreme terror: the thing we most need and the thing we most want to hide from. He is our only possible ally, and we have made ourselves His enemies. Some people talk as if meeting the gaze of absolute goodness would be fun. They need to think again. They are still only playing with religion. Goodness is either the great safety or the great danger- according to the way you react to it."
"Reality, in fact, is usually something you could not have guessed. That is one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It is a religion you could not have guessed. If it offered us just the kind of universe we had always expected, I should feel we were making it up. But, in fact, it is not the sort of thing anyone would have made up. If has just that queer twist about it that real things have. So let us leave behind all these boys' philosophies-- these over-simple answers. The problem is not simple and the answer is not going to be simple either."
"This universe is at war. It is a civil war, a rebellion, and we are living in a part of the universe occupied by the rebel. Enemy occupied territory- that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to church you are really listening to the secret messages from our friends: that is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going."
"Why is God landing in this enemy occupied world in disguise and starting a sort of secret society to undermine the devil? Why is He not landing in force, invading it? Is it that He is not strong enough? Well, Christians think He is going to land in force; we do not know when. But we can guess why He is delaying. He wants to give us the chance of joining His side freely. I do not suppose you and I would have thought much of a Frenchman who waited till the Allies were marching into Germany and then announced he was on our side. God will invade. But I wonder whether people who ask God to interfere openly and directly in our world quite realize what it will be like when He does. When that happens, it is the end of the world. When the author walks on to the stage the play is over. God is going to invade, all right: but what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else-something it never entered your head to conceive- comes crashing in; something so beautiful to some of us and so terrible to others that none of us will have any choice left? For this time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature. It will be too late then to choose your side. There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up. That will not be the time for choosing: it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realized it before or not. Now, today, this mo[ve]ment, is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It will not last forever. We must take it or leave it."
“I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same.”
“He came to this world and became a man in order to spread to other men the kind of life He has- by what I call 'good infection'. Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else.”
[about having the “good infection”]
“Already the new men are dotted here and there all over the earth. Some, as I have admitted, are still hardly recognizable: but others can be recognized. Every now that then one meets them. Their very voices and faces are different from ours: stronger, quieter, happier, more radiant. They begin where most of us leave off. They are, I say, recognizable; but you must know what to look for. They will not be very like the ideas of 'religious people' which you have formed from your general readings...When you have recognized one of them, you will recognize the next one much more easily. And I strongly suspect that they recognize one another immediately and infallibly, across every barrier of color, sex, class, age, and even of creeds. In that way, to become holy is rather like joining a secret society.”
[about understanding God's nature]
"Indeed, if we found that we could fully understand it, that very fact would show it was not what it professes to be-the inconceivable, the uncreated, the thing from beyond nature, striking down into nature like lightning."
"Your natural life is derived from your parents; that does not mean it will stay there if you do nothing about it. You can lose it by neglect, or you can drive it away by committing suicide. You have to feed it and look after it: but always remember that you are not making it, you are only keeping up a life you got from someone else. In the same way a Christian can lose the Christ-life which has been put into him, and he has to make efforts to keep it. But even the best Christian that ever lived is not acting on his own steam-he is only nourishing or protecting a life he could never have acquired by his own efforts."
"Christians are Christ's body, the organism through which He works. Every addition to that body enables Him to do more. If you want to help those outside you must add your own little cell to the body of Christ who alone can help them. Cutting off a man's fingers would be an odd way of getting him to more work."
"He wants a child's heart, but a grown-up's head. He wants us to be simple, single-minded, affectionate, and teachable, as good children are; but He also wants every bit of intelligence we have to be alert at its job, and in first-class fighting trim."
"If you are thinking of becoming a Christian, I warn you, you are embarking on something which is going to take the whole of you, brains and all. But, fortunately, it works the other way round. Anyone who is honestly trying to be a Christian will soon find his intelligence being sharpened: one of the reasons why it needs no special education to be a Christian is that Christianity is an education it-self."
"One of the marks of a certain type of bad man is that he cannot give up a thing himself without wanting every one else to give it up. That is not the Christian way. An individual Christian may see fit to give up all sorts of things for special reasons-marriage, or meat, or beer, or the cinema; but the moment he starts saying the things are bead in themselves, or looking down his nose at other people who do use them, he has taken the wrong turning."
"We might think that God wanted simply obedience to a set of rule: whereas He really wants people of a particular sort."
"People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed. The real job of every moral teacher is to keep on bringing us back, time after time, to the old simple principles which we are all so anxious not to see; like bringing a horse back and back to the fence it has refused to jump or bringing a child back and back to the bit in its lesson that it wants to shirt."
"For many of us the great obstacle to charity lies not in our luxurious living or desire for more money, but in our fear- fear of insecurity."
"Most of us are not really approaching the subject in order to find out what Christianity says: we are approaching it in the hope of finding support from Christianity for the views of our own party. We are looking for an ally where we are offered either a Master or- A judge."
"Everyone knows that the sexual appetite, like our other appetites, grows by indulgence. Starving men may think much about food, but so do gluttons; the gorged, as well as the famished, like titillations."
"It is no good quoting 'thou shall not kill'. There are two greek words: the ordinary word tokill and the word to murder. And when Christ quotes that commandment He uses the murder one in all three accounts, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. And I am told there is the same distinction in Hebrew. All killing is not murder any more than all sexual intercourse is adultery."
"In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that-and, therefore, know yourself as nothing in comparison- you do not know God at all. As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of couse, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you."
"They theoretically admit themselves to be nothing in the presence of this phantom God, but are really all the time imagining how He approves of them and thinks them far better than ordinary people: that is, they pay a pennyworth of imaginary humility to Him and get out of it a pound's worth of Pride towards their fellow-men."
"But love, in the Christian sense, does not mean an emotion. It is a state not of the feelings but of the will; that state of the will which we have naturally about ourselves, and must learn to have about other people."
"Do not waste time bothering whether you 'love' your neighbor; act as if you did."
"Do not sit trying to manufacture feelings. Ask yourself, 'If I were sure I loved God, what would I do?' When you have found the answer, go and do it."
"If you read history you will find that the Christian who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next."
“It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth 'thrown in': aim at earth and you will get neither.”
“We shall never save civilization as long as civilization is our main object. We must learn to want something else even more.”
“It is not reason that is taking away my faith: on the contrary, my faith is based on reason. IT is my imagination and emotions. The battle is between faith and reason on one side and emotion and imagination on the other.”
“A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by yielding to it.”
“We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means- the only complete realist.”
“To trust Him means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There wold be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him.”
“Christians have often disputed as to whether what leads the Christian home is good actions, or faith in Christ. I have no right really to speak on such a difficult question, but it does seem to me like asking which blade in a pair of scissors is most necessary.”
“In fact, that is just why a vague religion-all about feeling God in nature, and so one- is so attractive. It is all thrills and no work: like watching the waves from the beach. But you will not get to Newfoundland by studying the Atlantic that way, and you will not get eternal life by simply feeling the presence of God in flowers or music. Neither will you get anywhere by looking at maps without going to sea. Nor will you be very safe if you go to sea without a map.”
“If you do not listen to Theology, that will not mean that you have no ideas about God. It will mean that you have a lot of wrong ones- bad, muddled, out of day ideas.”
“And that is precisely what Christianity is about. This world is a great sculptor's shop. We are the statues and there is a rumor going round the shop that some of us are some day going to come to life.”
“Of course, what these people mean when they say that God is love is often something quite different: they really mean 'Love is God'. They really mean that our feelings of love, however and wherever they arise, and whatever results they produce, are to be treated with great respect.”
“In Christianity God is not a static thing-not eve a person- but a dynamic, pulsating activity, a life, almost a kind of drama. Almost, if you will not think me irreverent, a kind of dance. The union between the Father and the Son is such a life concrete thing that this union itself is also a Person.”
“If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire: if you want to be wet you must get into the water. IF you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them. They are not a sort of prize which God could, if He chose, just hand out to anyone. They are a great fountain of energy and beauty spurting up at the very center of reality: If you are close to it, the spray will wet you: if you are not, you will remain dry. Once a man is united to God, how could he not live forever? Once a man is separated from God, what can he do but wither and die?”
“Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you had it already. That is why children's games are so important. They are always pretending to be grown ups- playing soldiers, playing shop. But all the time, they are hardening their muscles and sharpening their wits so that they pretense of being grown ups helps them to grow up in earnest.”
“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”
“Every father is pleased at the baby's first attempt to walk: no father would be satisfied with anything less than a firm, free, manly walk in a grown-up son. In the same way, he said, 'God is easy to please, but hard to satisfy'.”
“Never forget that we are all still 'the early christians'. The present wicked and wasteful divisions between us are, let us hope, a disease of infancy: we are still teething.”
Sunday, March 25, 2007
"The church has failed to follow her appointed pathway of separation, holiness, heavenliness and testimony to an absent but coming Christ; she has turned aside from that purpose to the work of civilizing the world, building magnificent temples, and acquiring earthly power and wealth, and, in this way, has ceased to follow in the footsteps of Him who had not where to lay His head."
-C. I. Scofield:
"Christianity has been buried inside the walls of churches and secured with the shackles of dogmatism. Let it be liberated to come into the midst of us and teach us freedom, equality and love."
“Christianity is the story of how the rightful King has landed, you might say in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in His great campaign of sabotage”
“Of all religions, Christianity is without a doubt the one that should inspire tolerance most, although, up to now, the Christians have been the most intolerant of all men”
-Voltaire (French Philosopher and Writer. One of the greatest of all French authors, 1694-1778)
“Evangelical Christianity, as everyone knows, is founded upon hate, as the Christianity of Christ was founded upon love”
-Henry Louis Mencken
“Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.”
- Augustine of Hippo
Sunday, March 11, 2007
A New Kind of Christian- Brian McLaren
"Now take a moment and let this really sink in. To the Christian culture of medieval Europe, none of you today could be considered real Christians. True, you might say that you believe in Jesus and that you follow the Bible- but that would sound like nonsense to them if at the same time you denied what to them was essential for any reasonable person to accept: the medieval worldview, which was the context of their faith [(ie-astronomy, Copernicus etc)]. That brings me to an important question for you to think about: Is it possible that we as moderns have similarly intertwined a different but equally contingent worldview, with our eternal faith? And another question: What if we live at the end of the modern period, at a time when our modern worldview is crumbling, just as the medieval one began to do in the sixteenth century?" - Pg 34
"Most modern people love to relativize the viewpoints of the others against the unquestioned superiority of their own modern viewpoint. But in a way, you cross the threshold into postmodernity the moment you turn your critical scrutiny from others to yourself, when you relativize your own modern viewpoint. When you do this, everything changes. It is like a conversion. You cant go back. You begin to see that what seemed like pure, objective certainty really depends heavily on a subjective preference for your personal viewpoint." -Pg 35
"Our interpretations reveal less about God or the Bible than they do about ourselves. They reveal what we want to defend what we want to attack, what we want to ignore, what we're unwilling to question. When Judgment Day comes, God might ask a lot of us how we interpreted the Bible-not to judge if our interpretations are right or wrong but to let our interpretations reveal our hearts. That will be telling enough." =Pg 50
Searching for God Knows What- Donald Miller
"How many people have walked away from faith because their systematic theology proved unable to answer the deep longings and questions of the soul? What we need here, truly, is faith in a Being, not a list of ideas." p 161
"The story bears repeating: I presented the gospel to Christian Bible college students and left out Jesus. Nobody noticed....To a culture that believes they "go to heaven" based on whether or not they are morally pure, or that they understand some theological ideas, or that they are very spiritual, Jesus is completely unnecessary. At best, He is an afterthought, a technicality by which we become morally pure, or a subject of which we know, or a founding father of our woo-woo spirituality."p 159
"And then I wondered at how Jesus could say He was a Shepherd and we were sheep, and that the Father in heaven was our Father and we were His children, and He Himself was a Bridegroom and we were His bride, and that He was a King and we were His subjects, and yet we somehow missed His meaning and thought becoming a Christian was like sitting in a chair."p 157
"I get this feeling sometimes that after the world ends, when God destroys all our buildings and our flags, we will wish we had seen everybody as equal...." p104
"If you ask me, the way to tell if a person knows God for real, I mean knows the real God, is that they will fear Him. They wouldn't go around making absurd political assertions and drop God's name like an ace card, and they wouldn't be making absurd statements about how God wants you to be rich and how if you send in some money to the ministry God will bless you. It seems like, if you really knew the God who understands the physics of our existence, you would operate a little more cautiously, a little more compassionately, a little less like you are the center of the universe."p 38
"If I weren't a Christian, and I kept seeing Christian leaders on television more concerned with money, fame, and power than with grace, love and social justice, I wouldn't want to believe in God at all."p 28
"The very scary thing about religion, to me, is that people actually believe God is who they think He is. By that I mean they have Him all figured out, mapped out....dissected and put into jars on the shelf."p 20
Blue Like Jazz- Donald Miller
"Too much of our time is spent trying to chart God on a grid, and too little is spent allowing our hearts to feel awe. By reducing Christian spirituality to a formula, we deprive our hearts of wonder." p 205
"I think we have two choices in the face of such big beauty: terror or awe. And this is precisely why we attempt to chart God, because we want to be able to predict Him, to dissect Him...We reduce Him to math so we don't have to fear Him, and yet the Bible tells us fear is the appropriate response, that it is the beginning of wisdom...I stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon once, behind a railing, and though I was never going to fall off the edge, I feared the thought of it." p 205
"Many of our attempts to understand Christian faith have only cheapened it." p 202
"It is hard for us to admit we have a sin nature because we live in this system of checks and balances. If we get caught, we will be punished. But that doesn't make us good people; it only makes us subdued." p 18
Fools Gold- John MacArthur
"By the way, true worship is not something that can be stimulated artificially. A bigger, louder band and more sentimental music might do more to stir peoples emotions. But that is not genuine worship." p38
"The showman's ability to lure people in should not impress us more than the Bible's ability to transform lives"p 41
"There are plenty of gifted communicators in the modern evangelical movement [who] massage people's egos and focus on fairly insipid subjects...
Like the ubiquitous Plexiglas lecterns from which these messages are delivered, such preaching is lightweight and without substance, cheap and synthetic, leaving little more than an ephemeral impression on the mind of the hearers." p36
"Choice- saturated, capitalistic, American Christians [need to] discern the difference between seeking God's kingdom and building their own." p 165
"Truth be told, Jesus never spoke in terms of a one-time decision that you make about Him but rather exhorted His hearers to follow Him wholeheartedly for all of their lives. Christ was calling people to a life that continually confesses Him before men. We do not find in Scripture that the test of discipleship is a one time decision." p134
"Mindless emotionalism, often hyped up by repetition and "letting go", comes closer to the paganism of the Gentiles (cf Matt 6:7) than to any form of biblical worship." p126
"The music has been carefully and purposefully brought to this intense emotional peak. One senses that this is the whole purpose of the congregational singing-to elevate emotions to a white-hot fervor. The more intense the feeling, the more people are convinced they have truly "worshiped"." p 120
"When we look at contemporary ministry, we see programs and methods that are the fruit of human invention, the offspring of opinion polls and neighborhood surveys, and other pragmatic artifices. Church growth experts have in essence wrested control of the church's agenda from her true Head, the Lord Jesus Christ." p37
A Generous Orthodoxy- Brian McLaren
"Has [Christ] become (I shudder to ask this) less our Lord, and more our mascot?"p86
"How many of us have used the cross in Caesar's way, to dominate, rather than in Jesus' way, to liberate?" p 91
"Is it any surprise that with this understanding of salvation, churches tend to become gatherings of self-interested people who gather for mutual self-interest--constantly treating the church as a purveyor of religious goods and services, constantly shopping and "trading up" for churches that can "meet my needs" better?"p118
"This competitive Protestant religious market eventually spawned a kind of infomercial mentality, where each group advertised its unique features, seeking loyal customers for their religious products and services." p137
"To the degree they preoccupy themselves with the question of who's right , to the exclusion of considering whether they are truly good (as in bearing good fruit) they're destined to fade, wither, fail. To the degree that they have sold their spiritual birthright for a political ideology, they must repent; neither left nor right leads to the higher kingdom." p154
"We must, therefore, never underestimate our power to be wrong when talking about God, when thinking about God, when imagining God...language can be a window through which one glimpses God, but never a box in which God can be contained." p170,171
"I believe that we must be always reforming, not because we've got it wrong and were closer and closer to finally getting it right, but because our mission is ongoing and our context is dynamic. For this viewpoint "getting it right" is beside the point; the point is being and doing good as followers of Jesus in our unique time and place, fitting in with the ongoing story of God's saving love for Planet Earth." p 214
"Believing as I do that doctrinal distinctives are a lot like cigarettes, the use of which often leads to a hard to break Protestant habit that is hazardous to spiritual health (and that makes the breath smell bad)..."p217
"While some Protestants seem to let Jesus be Savior, but promote Paul to Lord and Teacher, Anabaptists have always interpreted Paul through Jesus, and not the reverse." p231
"Just as the early Christians could not imagine the gospel outlasting the Roman Empire, 19th century Evangelicals couldn't imagine the gospel outlasting modernity, the empire of Scientism, consumerism, and individualism." p268
"Given the chance, would Christianity eradicate every vestige of the world's other religions?" p286
"We must be open to the perpetual possibility that our received understandings of the gospel may be faulty, imbalanced, poorly nuanced, or downright warped and twisted." p 294
"I am more and more convinced that Jesus didn't come merely to start another religion to compete in the marketplace of other religions. If anything, I believe he came to end standard competitive religion (which Paul called the law) by fulfilling it; I believe He came to open up something beyond religion- a new possibility, a realm, a domain, a territory of the spirit that welcomes everyone but requires everyone to think again and become like little children" p299
"A generous orthodoxy must look back on our first 2,000 years of Christian history and face our failures, our atrocities, our abdications, our cowardice, our complicity, our betrayal of Jesus, and say to ourselves, "Never Forget"." p 305
"True prophets (those who bring a new word from God to assist in the current process of emergence) are crucified; false prophets (those who promise shortcuts that will cause regression or stagnation) are made rich and famous. The process is messy." p 323
"In Christian theology, this anti-emergent thinking is expressed in systematic theologies that claim (overtly, covertly, or unconsciously) to have final orthodoxy nailed down, freeze-dried, and shrink wrapped forever." p 325
"I wanna be the greatest in the kingdom of God, superzie my church supersize my odds
Fling wide the doors and re-route the streets, this churching thing is pretty neat..."
- From "Buy my book" by Penitent
"Its the magic show, that you didnt know
The illusionist pulls the strings from behind the curtain
Manipulation in lights and smoke, mirrors and prayers its all a joke
Im so sick of slight of hand, I can hardly breath
We put our change in the pot of hope, but an entertainers pocket is all that feels our change
Who are we now so easily controlled, they keep us dumb and never feed us bread
Starving minds starving hearts settling for a fake calf in a palacial room
Then the bass hits my face reverberates in my chest to summon the experience
Pull that rabbit from that hat you bastard, cmon and give us a show
Manufacturing our spiritual milk, giving us bronze instead of gold (x2)
Give us something more, give us something less
Stop filling my eyes and fill my chest
Give me candles give me wax and something true
Give the poor my godly tax and get a cheaper room."
-From "Magic Show" by Penitent