Category Archives: Quotes

A real ingredient in the divine happiness

“To please God…to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness…to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son – it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.

C.S. Lewis, ‘The Weight of Glory”

Get Lost in a Library…

“A library is many things. It’s a place to go, to get in out of the rain. It’s a place to go if you want to sit and think. But particularly it is a place where books live, and where you can get in touch with other people, and other thoughts, through books… A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your questions answered. Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people — people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book.” ~ E.B. White

From ‘Letters to the Children of Troy’

 

‘Nuclear Man’

“From time to time a man enters into your life who, by his appearance, his behavious and his words, intimates in a dramatic way the condition of modern man. Such a man was Peter for me. He came to ask for help, but at the same time he offered a new understanding of my own world! Peter is twenty-six years old. His body is fragile; his face, framed in long blond hair, is thin with a city pallor. His eyes are tender and radiate a longing melancholy. His lips are sensual, and his smile evokes an atmosphere of intimacy. When he shakes hands he breaks through the formal ritual in such a way that you feel his body as really present. When he speaks, his voice assumes tones that ask to be listend to with careful attention.

As we talk, it becomes clear that Peter feels as if the many boundaries that give structure to life are becoming increasingly vague. His life seems a drifting over which he has no control, a life determined by many known and unknown factors in his surroundings. The clear distinction between himself and his milieu is gone and he feels that his ideas and feelings are not really his; rather, they are brought upon him. Sometimes he wonders: “What is fantasy and what is reality?” Often he has the strange feeling that small devils enter his head and create painful and anxious confusion. He also does not know whom he can trust and whom not, what he shall do and what not, why to say “yes” to one and “no” to another. The many distinctions between good and bad, ugly and beautiful, attractive and repulsive, are losing meaning for him. Even to the most bizarre suggestions he says: “Why not? Why not try something I have never tried? “Why not have a new experience, good or bad?”

In the absence of clear boundaries between himself and his milieu, between fantasy and reality, between what to do and what to avoid, it seems that Peter has become a prisoner of the now, caught in the present without meaningful connections with his past or future. When he goes home he feels that he enters a world that has become alien to him. The words his parents use, their questions and concerns, their aspirations and worries, seem to belong to another world, with another language and another mood. When he looks into his future everything becomes one big blur, an impenetrable cloud. He finds no answers to why he lives and where he is heading. Peter is not working hard to reach a goal, he does not look forward to the fulfillment of a great desire, nor does he expect that something great or important is going to happen. He looks into empty space and is sure of only one thing: If there is anything worthwhile in life it must be here and now.

I did not paint this portrait of Peter to show you a picture of a sick man in need of psychiatric help. No, I think Peter’s situation is in many ways typical of the condition of modern men and women. Perhaps Peter needs help, but his experiences and feelings cannot be understood merely in terms of individual psychopathology. They are part of the historical context in which we all live, a context which makes it possible to see in Peter’s life the signs of the times, which we too recognise in our own life experiences, What we see in Peter is a painful expression of the situation of what I call ‘nuclear man.’

…Nuclear man is a man who has lost naive faith in the possibilities of technology and is painfully aware that the same powers that enable man to create new lifestyles carry the potential for self-destruction…

…Only when man feels himself responsible for the future can he have hope or despair, but when he thinks of himself as the passive victim of an extremely complex technological bureaucracy, his motivation falters and he starts drifting from one moment to the next, making life a long row of randomly chained incidents and accidents.

When we wonder why the language of traditional Christianity has lost its liberating power for nuclear man, we have to realize that most Christian preaching is still based on the presupposition that man sees himself as meaningfully integrated with a history in which God came to us in the past, is living under us in the present, and will come to liberate us in the future.

…A preaching and teaching still based on the assumption that man is on his way to a new land filled with promises, and that his creative activities in this world are the first signs of what he will see in the hereafter, cannot find a sounding board in a man whose mind is brooding on the suicidal potentials of his own world…Obviously the level of awareness and visibility is different in different people, but I hope you will recognize in your own experiences and the experiences of your friends some of the traits which are so visible in Peter’s life style. And this recognition might also help you to realize that Christianity is not just challenged to adapt itself to a modern age, but is also challenged to ask itself whether its unarticulated suppositions can still form the basis of its redemptive pretensions.”

Henri Nouwen ‘The Wounded Healer”

Awesome images (3)

Awesome images (2)

That’s true, nobody said it was easy, but somehow we have this notion ingrained in our public consciousness – life is not supposed to be so difficult. Um, ya…fail – it is. Whenever something bad happens or life isn’t just a box of chocolates, we think that’s not normal – reality check – it is. Life is difficult. Life is hard. Pain is necessary for growth. We need each other and we need God. So the next time I start hitting the slippery parts of this track of life I’m going to tell myself: ‘Nobody said it was easy’ but I’m going to add another phrase: ‘but it is worth it‘.

image from Workisnotajob

Awesome images (1)

So today I discovered: workisnotajob. It’s a wonderful smorgasboard of creativity. I was practically clicking my heels as I went to work today after I discovered the awesome site. You really should check it out. Seriously. So I’ve decided that for the next week I’m going to post at least one image a day (from Workisnotajob) with a very brief comment of my own.

I hope you like it.

Here goes…

There are a few things that I am sure of in this life.

I know that people are more important than possessions.

A life filled with meaningful relationships is full and organic whereas a life filled with possessions is hollow and static.

Openness trumps secrecy. Always.

Life without God is not only meaningless, it is largely unmanageable (if you haven’t got to the unmanageable part, just wait).

Technology and the Internet are an integral part of the future – dismiss them at your peril.  

Life without learning is is like drinking the best wine in the world and thinking it tastes the same as an Al-Cheapo no-name brand.

So yes, I agree with the picture. The future does belong to the few willing to distinguish sense from nonsense.

Counterfeit Gods

“When people say, ‘I know God forgives me, but I can’t forgive myself,’ they mean they have failed an idol, whose approval is more important to them than God’s. Idols function like gods in our lives, and so if we make career or parental approval our god and we fail it, then the idol curses us in our hearts for the rest of our lives. We can’t shake the sense of failure”

“The idols that drive us are complex, many-layered, and largely hidden from us”

-Tim Keller in ‘Counterfeit Gods‘ – PROFOUND!!

Galbraith – economist, intellectual, legend!

John Kenneth Galbraith is one of the best, and most well-known economists to date. I really love the quotes below (which I got from here) and I think it’s plain to see why he was so popular.

A brief bio from Wikipedia: John Kenneth Galbraith (October 15, 1908 – April 29, 2006) was a Canadian-American economist. He was a Keynesian and an institutionalist, a leading proponent of 20th-century political liberalism. His books on economic topics were bestsellers from the 1950s through the 2000s and he filled the role of public intellectual from the 50’s to the 1970s on matters of economics.

Wealth, in even the most improbable cases, manages to convey the aspect of intelligence.

War remains the decisive human failure.

Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it’s just the opposite.

There are few ironclad rules of diplomacy but to one there is no exception. When an official reports that talks were useful, it can safely be concluded that nothing was accomplished.

The salary of the chief executive of a large corporation is not a market award for achievement. It is frequently in the nature of a warm personal gesture by the individual to himself.

The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.

Meetings are a great trap. Soon you find yourself trying to get agreement and then the people who disagree come to think they have a right to be persuaded. However, they are indispensable when you don’t want to do anything.

Of all classes the rich are the most noticed and the least studied.

People who are in a fortunate position always attribute virtue to what makes them so happy.

Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.

Power is not something that can be assumed or discarded at will like underwear.

The enemy of the conventional wisdom is not ideas but the march of events.

All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership.

By all but the pathologically romantic, it is now recognized that this is not the age of the small man.

Economics is extremely useful as a form of employment for economists.

Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.

If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error.

If wrinkles must be written upon our brows, let them not be written upon the heart. The spirit should never grow old.

In all life one should comfort the afflicted, but verily, also, one should afflict the comfortable, and especially when they are comfortably, contentedly, even happily wrong.

In any great organization it is far, far safer to be wrong with the majority than to be right alone.

In economics, hope and faith coexist with great scientific pretension and also a deep desire for respectability.

In economics, the majority is always wrong.

Why were there 2 tablets of stone?

“The first question is: why two tablets of stone? Surely, God could have written it all on one tablet, especially since the tablets were written on both sides (Exod 32:15). Personally I like the following explanation, which offends so many people that it must be politically correct:
“After having written the commandments, God wonders what to do with them. He first turns to the British, who look at the commandments and say: ‘Ah, we are not allowed to lie? This is not for us’. Next, he turns to the Germans, who say ‘Ach, no killing? Sorry, but no’. Then, he tries the French: ‘Oh we can’t sleep with other women?’ Finally, God turns to the people of Israel, who ask: ‘What does it cost?’ ‘Nothing’, says God. ‘Then give us two!’

-Magnus, in reply to Kennedy’s “Sinning in the Basement: What are the Rules? The Ten Commandments of Applied Econometrics”

I had a good laugh when I read this 🙂


Series of little deaths…

“My deep desire to be united with God through Jesus did not spring from disdain for human relationships, but from an acute awareness of the truth that dying in Christ can be, indeed, my greatest gift to others. In this perspective, life is a long journey of preparation – of preparing oneself to truly die for others. It is a series of little deaths in which we are asked to release many forms of clinging and to move increasingly from needing others to living for them. The many passages we have to make as we grow from childhood to adolescence, from adolescence to adulthood, and from adulthood to old age offer ever-new opportunities to choose for ourselves or to choose for others. Questions keep coming up during these passages and confront us with hard choices: Do I desire power or service; do I want to be visible or remain hidden; do I strive for a successful career or do I keep following my vocation? In this sense we can speak about life as a long process of dying to self, so that we will be able to live in the joy of God and give our lives completely to others”

“I know now that the words spoken to Jesus when he was baptized are words spoken to me and to all who are brothers and sisters of Jesus. My tendencies towards self-rejection and self-deprecation make it hard to truly hear these words and let them descend into the center of my heart. But once I have received these words fully, I am set free from my compulsion to prove myself to the world and can live in it without belonging to it. Once I have accepted the truth that I am God’s beloved child, unconditionally loved, I can be sent into the world to speak and to act as Jesus did. The great spiritual task facing me is to so fully trust that I belong to God that I can be free in the world – free to speak even when my words are not received; free to act even when my actions are criticized, ridiculed or considered useless; free also to receive love from people and to be grateful for all the signs of God’s presence in the world. I am convinced that I will truly be able to love the world when I fully believe that I am loved far beyond its boundaries.”

-Henri Nouwen – “Reaching Out” (Ch5 – Recovery)

Do not covet your ideas…



The God-breathed Book…

 

“If God has inspired a Book as the foundation of the Christian faith, there is a massive impulse unleashed in the world to teach people how to read. And if God ordained for some of that precious, God-breathed Book to be hard to understand, then God also unleashed an impulse to teach people how to think about what they read—how to read hard things and understand them, and how to use the mind in a rigorous way. Therefore, we endeavor in all of our intellectual inquiry to love God with our minds by thinking deeply and humbly about his word and his works.”

-From the Bethlehem College and Seminary Mission Statement

Christian consciousness…

“Christian consciousness begins in the painful realization that what we had assumed was the truth is in fact a lie. Prayer is immediate: “Deliver me from the liars, God! They smile so sweetly but lie through their teeth” (Ps 120). Rescue me from the lies of advertisers who claim to know what I need and what I desire, from the lies of entertainers who promise a cheap way to joy, from the lies of politicians who pretend to instruct me in power and morality, from the lies of psychologists who offer to shape my behavior and my morals so that I will live long, happily and successfully, from the lies of religionists who ‘heal the wounds of this people lightly,’ from the lies of moralists who pretend to promote me to the office of captain of my fate, from the lies of pastors who ‘get rid of God’s command so you won’t be inconvenienced in following the religious fashions” (Mt 7:8). Rescue me from the person who tells me of life and omits Christ, who is wise in the ways of the world and ignores the movement of the Spirit.

The lies are impeccably factual. They contain no errors. There are no distortions or falsified data. But they are lies all the same, because they claim to tell us who we are and omit everything about our origin in God and our destiny in God. They talk about the world without telling us that God made it. They tell us about our bodies without telling us that they are temples of the Holy Spirit. They instruct us in love without telling us about the God who loves us and gave himself for us” – Eugene Peterson P28 in ‘A Long Obedience in the Same Direction’

I am currently reading this book by Eugene Peterson who is an author pretty much in a league of his own. He resonates a wisdom and clarity that only comes from decades in the ministry, decades reading (and in his case translating) the Bible and decades praying and communing with God. I respect what he says and always have time to listen to his take on any issue. I’m reading ‘A Long Obedience in the Same Direction’ because I know consistency  is something I lack and it is something I want. On second thought, it’s something I need.

Recently I’ve been thinking about the lies I’m fed and the lies I feed myself. Every day I have the choice to dwell on my own insecurities or to see them for what they are and move on (however hard and seemingly unsuccessful that process may be). I can choose to see the best in people instead of doubting their motives and intentions. I can choose to keep stepping forward even though it feels like I’m going nowhere. In short, we all choose to lead the lives that we do. We can choose to fester in the lies of the world and try to make sense of everything around us amidst that haze. Or we can acknowledge that a weltanschauung that excludes God and His workings in our world and in our lives is necessarily incomplete.

I must say that i think these things are always much easier said than done…the motif of consistency seems to be the shadow of my life at the moment.

A counselor…a man or women of the Bible

“A counsellor is not simply an encourager or an amateur psychologist, he is a man or women of the Bible who knows when or how to guide others into what he or she knows from the Scriptures” – Michael Eaton

Prophet, Priest, King

“In fact, another way of summing up the Old Testament witness to Christ is to say that it depicts him as a greater prophet than Moses, a greater priest than Aaron and a greater king than David. That is to say, he will perfectly reveal God to man, reconcile man to God and rule over man for God. In him, the Old Testament ideals of prophecy, priesthood and kingship will find their final fulfillment.” – John Stott   ‘Understanding the Bible’ p20

On the failure of New Year’s resolutions…

‘But change must always be balanced with some degree of consistency’ – Ron Burton

The change from one year to another provides the perfect opportunity for us to believe that we can change. While the designation of years is quite arbitrary, it’s ubiquity adds to the illusion that a new year is a new leaf. We think that somehow this year will be different. Well not entirely different – the good things won’t change, but the bad things will slowly evaporate as the clock strikes midnight on the 31st of December. Fortunately this is not the case. Apart from our calendars, the only thing that changes from one year to another is personal resolve. We resolve to exercise more, eat healthier, work harder, think differently, risk more, be more. In essence we want to be better people, so we resolve to change. I really love this about us humans – this inner desire to be more than we currently are. The collective action of individuals desiring to grow culminates in the advance of society. Progress is simply the aggregation of individual advancement. But I am getting off topic here 🙂 Where was I? New Year’s resolutions, yes.

What I’ve realised in the last few weeks is that we lose our reputation with ourselves when we over-promise but under-deliver. When we make personal commitments, we are in effect making a promise to ourselves. The only problem with doing this is that your reputation is now on the line. When you make a promise to a friend – ‘I promise I’ll be there at 9AM, count on it!’ – and you don’t keep it, your friend loses his trust in your word. True, it is unlikely to be the result of only one broken promise, but these things add up in time. If you promise to do things, but regularly don’t follow through, people will soon learn that your promises are not really promises at all. The same is true of our relationship with ourselves. We make resolutions to live differently, to use our time differently, to be different people – but if we consistently fail to deliver on these resolutions or promises to ourselves, we stop believing what we tell ourselves. This is a much more grievous situation than it may sound. When you cannot trust yourself, you will find it very difficult to trust other people, or more importantly, God.

So, if it is so important that we are able to trust ourselves and believe the promises we make to ourselves, what is the solution to this problem? I think the key is to be realistic about the promises we make to ourselves. It’s not a very glamorous answer, but I think it is the right one. Don’t over-promise. There is something to be said for the axiom ‘Under-promise and over-deliver’. When I make a commitment to do something and actually fulfill that commitment, I become more trustworthy in my own eyes. I’m more likely to believe the voice in my head in the future because that voice is trustworthy. So now I don’t make promises to myself that I know will be really difficult to keep. I refuse to commit to exercise for an hour a day, read for another, pray for another, and then to fast every second day…it’s just not going to happen. We should not measure success or progress by what we start, but rather by what we finish. So I will make resolutions about many things, but they will be within my grasp. And then I will do my utmost to be consistent in the outworking of those resolutions. Rome wasn’t built in a day people….

Path of peace

“We have been rescued from our enemies so we can serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live. And you, my little son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way of the Lord. You will tell his people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins. Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace” – Luke 1:74

I’m back from holiday and seeking perspective for the new year. Let’s keep the main thing the main thing people.

nic

My Family and Other Animals

“I should like to pay a special tribute to my mother, to whom this book is dedicated. Like a gentle, enthusiastic and understanding Noah, she has steered her vessel full of strange progeny through the stormy sees of life with great skill, always faced with the possibility of mutiny, always surrounded by the dangerous shoals of overdraft and extravagance, never being sure that her navigation would be approved by her crew, but certain that she would be blamed for anything that went wrong. That she survived the voyage is a miracle, but survive it she did, and, moreover, with her reason more or less intact. As my brother Larry rightly points out, we can be proud of the way we have brought her up; she is a credit to us. That she has reached that happy Nirvana where nothing shocks or startles is exemplified by the fact that one week-end recently, when all alone in the house, she was treated to the sudden arrival of a series of crates containing two pelicans, a scarlet ibis, a vulture, and eight monkeys. A lesser mortal might have quailed at such a contingency, but not Mother. On Monday morning I found her in the garage being pursued round and round by an irate pelican which she was trying to feed with sardines from a tin. ‘I’m glad you’ve come, dear,’ she panted; ‘this pelican is a little difficult to handle.’ When I asked her how she knew the animals belonged to me, she replied: ‘Well, of course I knew they were yours, dear; who else would send pelicans to me?”

-Gerald Durrell in ‘My Family and Other Animals’

-Fascinating book about his early life in Corfu, Greece, filled with hilarious stories about animals, people, and family…

Bill Hybels

 

Excerpt from an interview with Bill Hybels
Q: At the end of a really bad day, when you lay your head on the pillow and it’s just you and God, what goes through your mind?
A: “The worst day of doing God’s bidding is better than than the best day of  not doing it. So no matter how the circumstances have stacked up against my efforts or whatever bad news I’ve received, if my efforts have aligned with the call of God on my life and I’ve been faithful to Him, I sleep very well. If, on the other hand, I’ve made secret compromises in my spirit, or haven’t been on mission or responsive to God’s promptings, that will be a longer night. At the end of the day I only have to please one person – God.”

I chose the Superman pic cos Hybels looks a bit like Superman and he is also a legend!

 

Beckham and Business

OK, so this post doesn’t have much to do with the picture (although they both involve business and the environment, and I just think this picture is cool!). Also, while I don’t necessarily agree with the quote, he’s got a point and makes it in a very humorous way – kudos Schumpeter!

“STEVE COOGAN, a British comedian, once told a joke about David Beckham, a footballer who is unlikely to win a Nobel prize for physics: “They say, ‘Oh, David Beckham—he’s not very clever.’ Yeah. They don’t say, ‘Stephen Hawking—shit at football.’” Successful corporations are like Mr Beckham. Both excel at one thing: in Mr Beckham’s case, kicking a ball; in the corporations’ case, making profits. They may also be reasonably adept at other things, such as modelling sunglasses or forming task forces to solve environmental problems. But their chief contribution to society comes from their area of specialisation.”

– Schumpeter in The Economist (Oct 21st 2010)