Christian Practices Quotes

We've searched our database for all the quotes and captions related to Christian Practices. Here they are! All 100 of them:

There was a thing called Heaven; but all the same they used to drink enormous quantities of alcohol." ... "There was a thing called the soul and a thing called immortality." ... "But they used to take morphia and cocaine." ... "Two thousand pharmacologists and biochemists were subsidized in A.F. 178." ... "Six years later it was being produced commercially. The perfect drug." ... "Euphoric, narcotic, pleasantly hallucinant." ... "All the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects." ... "Take a holiday from reality whenever you like, and come back without so much as a headache or a mythology." ... "Stability was practically assured.
Aldous Huxley (Brave New World)
You will know as much of God, and only as much of God, as you are willing to put into practice.
Eric Liddell (Disciplines of Christian Life)
Difference of opinion is advantageous in religion. The several sects perform the office of a Censor morum over each other. Is uniformity attainable? Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth. Let us reflect that it is inhabited by a thousand millions of people. That these profess probably a thousand different systems of religion. That ours is but one of that thousand. That if there be but one right, and ours that one, we should wish to see the 999 wandering sects gathered into the fold of truth. But against such a majority we cannot effect this by force. Reason and persuasion are the only practicable instruments. To make way for these, free enquiry must be indulged; and how can we wish others to indulge it while we refuse it ourselves.
Thomas Jefferson (Notes on the State of Virginia (Published by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the University of North Carolina Press))
If we look back into history for the character of present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practised it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England, blamed persecution in the Roman church, but practised it against the Puritans: these found it wrong in the Bishops, but fell into the same practice themselves both here and in New England. [Letter to the London Packet, 3 June 1772]
Benjamin Franklin (The Life and Letters of Benjamin Franklin)
The truth is, our civilization is not Christian; it is a tragic compound of great ideal and fearful practice, of loving charity and fearful clutching of possessions.
Alan Paton (Cry, The Beloved Country)
If we lived in a culture that valued women's autonomy and in which men and women practiced cooperative birth control, the abortion issue would be moot.
Christiane Northrup (Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing)
For even if the whole world believed in resurrection, little would change until we began to practice it. We can believe in CPR, but people will remain dead until someone breathes new life into them. And we can tell the world that there is life after death, but the world really seems to be wondering if there is life before death.
Shane Claiborne (The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical)
Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory to itself than this thing called Christianity. Too absurd for belief, too impossible to convince, and too inconsistent for practice, it renders the heart torpid or produces only atheists or fanatics. As an engine of power, it serves the purpose of despotism, and as a means of wealth, the avarice of priests, but so far as respects the good of man in general it leads to nothing here or hereafter.
Thomas Paine (The Age of Reason)
A compassionate open home is part of Christian responsibility, and should be practiced up to the level of capacity.
Francis A. Schaeffer
One of the great tragedies of life is that men seldom bridge the gulf between practice and profession, between doing and saying. A persistent schizophrenia leaves so many of us tragically divided against ourselves. On the one hand, we proudly profess certain sublime and noble principles, but on the other hand, we sadly practise the very antithesis of these principles. How often are our lives characterised by a high blood pressure of creeds and an anaemia of deeds! We talk eloquently about our commitment to the principles of Christianity, and yet our lives are saturated with the practices of paganism. We proclaim our devotion to democracy, but we sadly practise the very opposite of the democratic creed. We talk passionately about peace, and at the same time we assiduously prepare for war. We make our fervent pleas for the high road of justice, and then we tread unflinchingly the low road of injustice. This strange dichotomy, this agonising gulf between the ought and the is, represents the tragic theme of man's earthly pilgrimage.
Martin Luther King Jr. (Strength to Love)
By the way, I never realized that to be nonbelieving, to be an atheist, was a thing to be proud of. It went without saying as it were. ...Our creed is indeed a queer creed. You others, Christians (and similar people), consider our ethics much inferior, indeed abominable. There is that little difference. We adhere to ours in practice, you don't.
Erwin Schrödinger (A Life of Erwin Schrödinger)
That is the idea -- that we should all be wicked if we did not hold to the Christian religion. It seems to me that the people who have held to it have been for the most part extremely wicked. You find this curious fact, that the more intense has been the religion of any period and the more profound has been the dogmatic belief, the greater has been the cruelty and the worse has been the state of affairs. In the so-called ages of faith, when men really did believe the Christian religion in all its completeness, there was the Inquisition, with all its tortures; there were millions of unfortunate women burned as witches; and there was every kind of cruelty practiced upon all sorts of people in the name of religion. You find as you look around the world that every single bit of progress in humane feeling, every improvement in the criminal law, every step toward the diminution of war, every step toward better treatment of the colored races, or every mitigation of slavery, every moral progress that there has been in the world, has been consistently opposed by the organized churches of the world. I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world. You may think that I am going too far when I say that that is still so. I do not think that I am. Take one fact. You will bear with me if I mention it. It is not a pleasant fact, but the churches compel one to mention facts that are not pleasant. Supposing that in this world that we live in today an inexperienced girl is married to a syphilitic man; in that case the Catholic Church says, 'This is an indissoluble sacrament. You must endure celibacy or stay together. And if you stay together, you must not use birth control to prevent the birth of syphilitic children.' Nobody whose natural sympathies have not been warped by dogma, or whose moral nature was not absolutely dead to all sense of suffering, could maintain that it is right and proper that that state of things should continue. That is only an example. There are a great many ways in which, at the present moment, the church, by its insistence upon what it chooses to call morality, inflicts upon all sorts of people undeserved and unnecessary suffering. And of course, as we know, it is in its major part an opponent still of progress and improvement in all the ways that diminish suffering in the world, because it has chosen to label as morality a certain narrow set of rules of conduct which have nothing to do with human happiness; and when you say that this or that ought to be done because it would make for human happiness, they think that has nothing to do with the matter at all. 'What has human happiness to do with morals? The object of morals is not to make people happy.
Bertrand Russell (Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects)
Okay, why don't we practice your talking with Marguerite? OUT LOUD. I'll be her." Julius stared at him blankly. "Now?" "No, I was thinking maybe next April. Then you could maybe give her a call, arrange a date..." He arched his eyebrow in question, and snapped, "Yes, NOW.
Lynsay Sands (Vampire, Interrupted (Argeneau, #9))
Our creed [atheism] is indeed a queer creed. You others, Christians (and similar people), consider our ethics much inferior, indeed abominable. There is that little difference. We adhere to ours in practice, you don't.
Erwin Schrödinger (A Life of Erwin Schrödinger)
We want to stay on the straight and narrow path and serve God, yet we continue a practice that often pulls us in the wrong direction.
Joshua Harris (I Kissed Dating Goodbye)
The practice of giving thanks...eucharisteo...this is the way we practice the presence of God, stay present to His presence, and it is always a practice of the eyes. We don't have to change what we see. Only the way we see.
Ann Voskamp
Religion is not about accepting twenty impossible propositions before breakfast, but about doing things that change you. It is a moral aesthetic, an ethical alchemy. If you behave in a certain way, you will be transformed. The myths and laws of religion are not true because they they conform to some metaphysical, scientific or historical reality but because they are life enhancing. They tell you how human nature functions, but you will not discover their truth unless you apply these myths and doctrines to your own life and put them into practice.
Karen Armstrong (The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness)
Now is the time to Start a Normal Christian Life!
Bill Johnson (When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles)
Servile, and base, and mercenary, is the notion of Christian practice among the bulk of nominal Christians. They give no more than they dare not with-hold; they abstain from nothing but what they must not practise.
William Wilberforce (Real Christianity)
My request today is simple. Today. Tomorrow. Next week. Find somebody, anybody, that’s different than you. Somebody that has made you feel ill-will or even hateful. Somebody whose life decisions have made you uncomfortable. Somebody who practices a different religion than you do. Somebody who has been lost to addiction. Somebody with a criminal past. Somebody who dresses “below” you. Somebody with disabilities. Somebody who lives an alternative lifestyle. Somebody without a home. Somebody that you, until now, would always avoid, always look down on, and always be disgusted by. Reach your arm out and put it around them. And then, tell them they’re all right. Tell them they have a friend. Tell them you love them. If you or I wanna make a change in this world, that’s where we’re gonna be able to do it. That’s where we’ll start. Every. Single. Time.
Dan Pearce (Single Dad Laughing: The Best of Year One)
You create a path of your own by looking within yourself and listening to your soul, cultivating your own ways of experiencing the sacred and then practicing it. Practicing until you make it a song that sings you.
Sue Monk Kidd (The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman's Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine)
Most Christians repent enough to get forgiven, but not enough to see the Kingdom.
Bill Johnson (When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles)
When we are passionately in love with our Prince, we put Him above all else--not just in theory, but also practically, in every moment of our day-to-day lives. We do not live for the applause of heaven. Our longings are not for people's approval but only for more and more of Him. We are marked by an effortless, unshakable strength that is found in the presence of our perfect Lover.
Leslie Ludy (Authentic Beauty: The Shaping of a Set-Apart Young Woman)
Merely to resist evil with evil by hating those who hate us and seeking to destroy them, is actually no resistance at all. It is active and purposeful collaboration in evil that brings the Christian into direct and intimate contact with the same source of evil and hatred which inspires the acts of his enemy. It leads in practice to a denial of Christ and to the service of hatred rather than love.
Thomas Merton (Passion for Peace; Reflections on War and Nonviolence)
Don’t we get it? To put our arm around someone who is gay, someone who has an addiction, somebody who lives a different lifestyle, someone who is not what we think they should be… doing that has nothing to do with enabling them or accepting what they do as okay by us. It has nothing to do with encouraging them in their practice of what you or I might feel or believe is wrong vs right. It has everything to do with being a good human being. A good person. A good friend.
Dan Pearce (Single Dad Laughing: The Best of Year One)
God's Word teaches a very hard, disturbing truth. Those who neglect the poor and the oppressed are really not God's people at all—no matter how frequently they practice their religious rituals nor how orthodox are their creeds and confessions.
Ronald J. Sider (Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger: Moving from Affluence to Generosity)
Similarly, when we denigrate our bodies—whether through neglect or staring at our faces and counting up our flaws—we are belittling a sacred site, a worship space more wonderous than the most glorious, ancient cathedral. We are standing before the Grand Canyon or the Sistine Chapel and rolling our eyes.
Tish Harrison Warren (Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life)
It is abnormal for a Christian not to have an appetite for the impossible. It has been written into our spiritual DNA to hunger for the impossibilities around us to bow at the name of Jesus.
Bill Johnson (When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles)
Jesus's teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did.
Timothy J. Keller (The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith)
In fact, monotheism, as it has played out in history, is a kaleidoscope of monotheist, dualist, polytheist and animist legacies, jumbling together under a single divine umbrella. The average Christian believes in the monotheist God, but also in the dualist Devil, in polytheist saints, and in animist ghosts. Scholars of religion have a name for this simultaneous avowal of different and even contradictory ideas and the combination of rituals and practices taken from different sources. It’s called syncretism. Syncretism might, in fact, be the single great world religion.
Yuval Noah Harari (קיצור תולדות האנושות)
One of the purest souls ever to live on this fallen planet was Nicholas Herman, known as Brother Lawrence. He wrote very little, but what he wrote has seemed to several generations of Christians to be so rare and so beautiful as to deserve a place near the top among the world's great books of devotion. The writings of Brother Lawrence are the ultimate in simplicity; ideas woven like costly threads to make a pattern of great beauty.
A.W. Tozer
Why do you want a letter from me? Why don't you take the trouble to find out for yourselves what Christianity is? You take time to learn technical terms about electricity. Why don't you do as much for theology? Why do you never read the great writings on the subject, but take your information from the secular 'experts' who have picked it up as inaccurately as you? Why don't you learn the facts in this field as honestly as your own field? Why do you accept mildewed old heresies as the language of the church, when any handbook on church history will tell you where they came from? Why do you balk at the doctrine of the Trinity - God the three in One - yet meekly acquiesce when Einstein tells you E=mc2? What makes you suppose that the expression "God ordains" is narrow and bigoted, while your own expression, "Science demands" is taken as an objective statement of fact? You would be ashamed to know as little about internal combustion as you know about Christian beliefs. I admit, you can practice Christianity without knowing much theology, just as you can drive a car without knowing much about internal combustion. But when something breaks down in the car, you go humbly to the man who understands the works; whereas if something goes wrong with religion, you merely throw the works away and tell the theologian he is a liar. Why do you want a letter from me telling you about God? You will never bother to check on it or find out whether I'm giving you personal opinions or Christian doctrines. Don't bother. Go away and do some work and let me get on with mine.
Dorothy L. Sayers
Charity is the power of defending that which we know to be indefensible. Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances which we know to be desperate. It is true that there is a state of hope which belongs to bright prospects and the morning; but that is not the virtue of hope. The virtue of hope exists only in earthquake and eclipse. It is true that there is a thing crudely called charity, which means charity to the deserving poor; but charity to the deserving is not charity at all, but justice. It is the undeserving who require it, and the ideal either does not exist at all, or exists wholly for them. For practical purposes it is at the hopeless moment that we require the hopeful man, and the virtue either does not exist at all, or begins to exist at that moment. Exactly at the instant when hope ceases to be reasonable it begins to be useful.
G.K. Chesterton (Heretics)
It is usually considered good practice to examine a thing for one's self before echoing the vulgar ridicule of it.
J. Gresham Machen (Christianity and Liberalism)
It seems to me that one of the great hazards is quick love, which is actually charm. We get used to smiling, hugging, bantering, practicing good eye contact. And it's easier then true, slow, awkward and painful connection with someone who sees all the worst parts of you. Your act is easy. Being with you, deeply with, is difficult.
Shauna Niequist (Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living)
How beautiful, then, the marriage of two Christians, two who are one in home, one in desire, one in the way of life they follow, one in the religion they practice . . . Nothing divides them either in flesh or in spirit . . . They pray together, they worship together, they fast together; instructing one another, encouraging one another, strengthening one another. Side by side they visit God's church and partake God's banquet, side by side they face difficulties and persecution, share their consolations. They have no secrets from one another; they never shun each other's company; they never bring sorrow to each other's hearts . . . Seeing this Christ rejoices. To such as these He gives His peace. Where there are two together, there also He is present.
Tertullian
Hospitality is the practice of God's welcome by reaching across difference to participate in God's actions bringing justice and healing to our world in crisis.
Letty M. Russell
Okay," Christian said with a great show at maintaining his patience. "So you can't dance. But you could at least talk to the woman." Julius frowned and avoided his gaze. "I am talking." "You aren't," Christian insisted. "You haven't said more than a handful of words." Scowling, he admitted, "I'm practicing in my head." Christian blinked at this. "Practicing?" "Well, you don't just blurt out the first thing that comes to mind," Julius said with exasperation. "I have to approach this carefully, so I'm practicing." "In your head?" Christian clarified. "Yes." Julius nodded. "In my head." "Right....Good, good," he nodded, and then said "but you know what would be even better?" Julius raised his eyebrows with interest. "What?" "Talking to her OUT LOUD!" Christian snapped. "Jesus Christ, Father, you're as old as the earth. You run a huge corporation, dealing with people-even women-day in day out. Surely you can string a couple of words together and manage a little conversation with the woman?
Lynsay Sands (Vampire, Interrupted (Argeneau, #9))
Radically ordinary hospitality does not simply flow from the day-to-day interests of the household. You must prepare spiritually. The Bible calls spiritual preparation warfare. Radically ordinary hospitality is indeed spiritual warfare.
Rosaria Champagne Butterfield (The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World)
Instead of being a point of pride for Christians, shouldn't the historical continuity of a practice that has caused women to fare much worse than men for thousands of years caused concern? Shouldn't Christians, who are called to be different from the world, treat women differently? What if patriarchy isn't divinely ordained but is a result of human sin?
Beth Allison Barr (The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth)
God in Christ has taken into Himself the brokenness of the human condition. Hence, human woundedness, brokenness, death itself are transformed from dead ends to doorways into Life. In the divinizing humanity of Christ, bruises become balm.
Martin Laird (Into the Silent Land: A Guide to the Christian Practice of Contemplation)
It's only their fight club, Liss," I said, having no need for her side of the conversation, "Nothing's going on. They're going to talk punches and kicking and other boring stuff." Well, actually that stuff was pretty sweet, but I wasn't about to glorify Christian and Mia hanging out. "Maybe now nothing's going on," she growled, staring stonily ahead. "But who knows what could happen? They spend time together, practice some physical moves, one thing leads to another—" "That's ridiculous," I said. "That kind of stuff isn't romantic at all." Another lie, seeing as that was exactly how my relationship with Dimitri had begun. Again, best not to mention that.
Richelle Mead (Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy, #5))
To make it quite practical I have a very simple test. After I have explained the way of Christ to somebody I say “Now, are you ready to say that you are a Christian?” And they hesitate. And then I say, “What’s the matter? Why are you hesitating?” And so often people say, “I don’t feel like I’m good enough yet. I don’t think I’m ready to say I’m a Christian now.” And at once I know that I have been wasting my breath. They are still thinking in terms of themselves. They have to do it. It sounds very modest to say, “Well, I don’t think I’ good enough,” but it’s a very denial of the faith. The very essence of the Christian faith is to say that He is good enough and I am in Him. As long as you go on thinking about yourself like that and saying, “I’m not good enough; Oh, I’m not good enough,” you are denying God – you are denying the gospel – you are denying the very essence of the faith and you will never be happy. You think you’re better at times and then again you will find you are not as good at other times than you thought you were. You will be up and down forever. How can I put it plainly? It doesn’t matter if you have almost entered into the depths of hell. It does not matter if you are guilty of murder as well as every other vile sin. It does not matter from the standpoint of being justified before God at all. You are no more hopeless than the most moral and respectable person in the world.
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Its Cure)
We cultivate our feelings the way we cultivate a garden: we can't entirely prevent weeds from coming up, but we can take care to remove them before they do much harm.
Phillip Cary (Good News for Anxious Christians: Ten Practical Things You Don't Have to Do)
Most theists are deists most of the time, in practice if not in theory. They practice the absence of God instead of the presence of God.
Peter Kreeft (Jesus-Shock)
the night of thought is the light of perception.
Evelyn Underhill (Practical Mysticism)
Q. What is your view of the daily discipline of the Christian life - the need for taking time to be alone with God? Lewis: "We have our New Testament regimental orders upon the subject. I would take it for granted that everyone who becomes a Christian would undertake this practice. It is enjoined upon us by Our Lord; and since they are his commands, I believe in following them. It is always just possible that Jesus Christ meant what he said when He told us to seek the secret place and to close the door.
C.S. Lewis
That many do not advance in the Christian progress because they stick in penances, and particular exercises, while they neglect the love of God, which is the end. That this appeared plainly by their works, and was the reason why we see so little solid virtue.
Brother Lawrence (The Practice of the Presence of God)
Church history has repeatedly and clearly proven one thing: Once the highest view of Scripture is abandoned by any theologian, group, denomination, or church, the downhill slide in both its theology and practice is inevitable.
James R. White (Scripture Alone: Exploring the Bible's Accuracy, Authority and Authenticity)
Somewhere, on the edge of consciousness, there is what I call a mythical norm, which each one of us within our hearts knows “that is not me.” In america, this norm is usually defined as white, thin, male, young, heterosexual, christian, and financially secure. It is with this mythical norm that the trappings of power reside within this society. Those of us who stand outside that power often identify one way in which we are different, and we assume that to be the primary cause of all oppression, forgetting other distortions around difference, some of which we ourselves may be practicing.
Audre Lorde (Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches)
The early church was strikingly different from the culture around it in this way - the pagan society was stingy with its money and promiscuous with its body. A pagan gave nobody their money and practically gave everybody their body. And the Christians came along and gave practically nobody their body and they gave practically everybody their money.
Timothy J. Keller
Being salt and light demands two things: we practice purity in the midst of a fallen world and yet we live in proximity to this fallen world. If you don't hold up both truth in tension, you invariably becomes useless and separated from the world God loves.
David Kinnaman (unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity... and Why It Matters)
I would not be practicing love toward God OR my neighbour if I were to smile benignly on an unjust social order. It is not charitable to refrain from moral judgment: when Jesus says 'Judge not, lest ye be judged," he is forbidding condemnation, not discernment. There are times indeed when Christian charity demands that one speak forcibly.
Alan Jacobs (A Visit to Vanity Fair: Moral Essays on the Present Age)
Every day that we're not practicing godliness we're being conformed to the world of ungodliness around us.
Jerry Bridges (The Fruitful Life)
And here is the edge: Christians are called to live in the world but not live like the world. Christians are called to dine with sinners but not sin with sinners. But either way, when Christians throw their lot in with Jesus, we lose the rights to protect our own reputation.
Rosaria Champagne Butterfield (The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World)
And libertarianism is good because it helps conservatives pass off a patently pro-business political agenda as a noble bid for human freedom. Whatever we may think of libertarianism as a set of ideas, practically speaking, it is a doctrine that owes its visibility to the obvious charms it holds for the wealthy and the powerful. The reason we have so many well-funded libertarians in America these days is not because libertarianism has acquired an enormous grassroots following, but because it appeals to those who are able to fund ideas. Like social Darwinism and Christian Science before it, libertarianism flatters the successful and rationalizes their core beliefs about the world. They warm to the libertarian idea that taxation is theft because they themselves don’t like to pay taxes. They fancy the libertarian notion that regulation is communist because they themselves find regulation intrusive and annoying. Libertarianism is a politics born to be subsidized. In the “free market of ideas,” it is a sure winner.
Thomas Frank (The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule)
The peculiar predicament of the present-day self surely came to pass as a consequence of the disappointment of the high expectations of the self as it entered the age of science and technology. Dazzled by the overwhelming credentials of science, the beauty and elegance of the scientific method, the triumph of modern medicine over physical ailments, and the technological transformation of the very world itself, the self finds itself in the end disappointed by the failure of science and technique in those very sectors of life which had been its main source of ordinary satisfaction in past ages. As John Cheever said, the main emotion of the adult Northeastern American who has had all the advantages of wealth, education, and culture is disappointment. Work is disappointing. In spite of all the talk about making work more creative and self-fulfilling, most people hate their jobs, and with good reason. Most work in modern technological societies is intolerably dull and repetitive. Marriage and family life are disappointing. Even among defenders of traditional family values, e.g., Christians and Jews, a certain dreariness must be inferred, if only from the average time of TV viewing. Dreary as TV is, it is evidently not as dreary as Mom talking to Dad or the kids talking to either. School is disappointing. If science is exciting and art is exhilarating, the schools and universities have achieved the not inconsiderable feat of rendering both dull. As every scientist and poet knows, one discovers both vocations in spite of, not because of, school. It takes years to recover from the stupor of being taught Shakespeare in English Lit and Wheatstone's bridge in Physics. Politics is disappointing. Most young people turn their backs on politics, not because of the lack of excitement of politics as it is practiced, but because of the shallowness, venality, and image-making as these are perceived through the media--one of the technology's greatest achievements. The churches are disappointing, even for most believers. If Christ brings us new life, it is all the more remarkable that the church, the bearer of this good news, should be among the most dispirited institutions of the age. The alternatives to the institutional churches are even more grossly disappointing, from TV evangelists with their blown-dry hairdos to California cults led by prosperous gurus ignored in India but embraced in La Jolla. Social life is disappointing. The very franticness of attempts to reestablish community and festival, by partying, by groups, by club, by touristy Mardi Gras, is the best evidence of the loss of true community and festival and of the loneliness of self, stranded as it is as an unspeakable consciousness in a world from which it perceives itself as somehow estranged, stranded even within its own body, with which it sees no clear connection. But there remains the one unquestioned benefit of science: the longer and healthier life made possible by modern medicine, the shorter work-hours made possible by technology, hence what is perceived as the one certain reward of dreary life of home and the marketplace: recreation. Recreation and good physical health appear to be the only ambivalent benefits of the technological revolution.
Walker Percy (Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book)
It it is worse than useless for Christians to talk about the importance of Christian morality, unless they are prepared to take their stand upon the fundamentals of Christian theology. It is a lie to say that dogma does not matter; it matters enormously. It is fatal to let people suppose that Christianity is only a mode of feeling; it is vitally necessary to insist that it is first and foremost a rational explanation of the universe. It is hopeless to offer Christianity as a vaguely idealistic aspiration of a simple and consoling kind; it is, on the contrary, a hard, tough, exacting, and complex doctrine, steeped in a drastic and incompromising realism. And it is fatal to imagine that everybody knows quite well what Christianity is and needs only a little encouragement to practice it. The brutal fact is that in this Christian country not one person in a hundred has the faintest notion what the Church teaches about God or man or society or the person of Jesus Christ.... ...Theologically this country is at present is in a state of utter chaos established in the name of religious toleration and rapidly degenerating into flight from reason and the death of hope.
Dorothy L. Sayers (Creed or Chaos?: Why Christians Must Choose Either Dogma or Disaster; Or, Why It Really Does Matter What You Believe)
But one aspect of Revelation must not be allowed to exclude or to obscure another; and Christianity is dogmatical, devotional, practical all at once; it is esoteric and exoteric; it is indulgent and strict; it is light and dark; it is love, and it is fear.
John Henry Newman (An Essay On the Development Of Christian Doctrine: Theology)
We typically misunderstand what's wrong about consumerism. It's not that it makes us love material things too much. To be a good consumer, you have to desire to get lots of things, but you must not love any of them too much once you have them. Consumerism needs children who do not stay attached to their toys for very long and learn to expect the next round of presents as soon as possible. When consumerism succeeds, our attachments are shallow, easily broken, so we can move on to the next thing we're supposed to get. Being a good consumer means desiring new things, not cherishing old ones. And the new things you're supposed to desire are not always material things. Spirituality is now a consumerist enterprise, too.
Phillip Cary (Good News for Anxious Christians: Ten Practical Things You Don't Have to Do)
President Lyndon Johnson's 10 point formula for success: 1. Learn to remember names. Inefficiency at this point may indicate that your interest is not sufficiently outgoing. 2. Be a comfortable person so there is no strain in being with you. Be an old-shoe, old-hat kind of individual. 3. Acquire the quality of relaxed easy-going so that things do not ruffle you. 4. Don't be egotistical. Guard against the impression that you know it all. 5. Cultivate the quality of being interesting so people will get something of value from their association with you. 6. Study to get the "scratchy" elements out of your personality, even those of which you may be unconscious. 7. Sincerely attempt to heal, on an honest Christian basis, every msiunderstanding you have had or now have. Drain off your grievances. 8. Practice liking people until you learn to do so genuinely. 9. Never miss an opportunity to say a word of congratulation upon anyone's achievement, or express sympathy in sorrow or disappointment. 10. Give spiritual strength to people, and they will give genuine affection to you.
Lyndon B. Johnson
For Christians to influence the world with the truth of God's Word requires the recovery of the great Reformation doctrine of vocation. Christians are called to God's service not only in church professions but also in every secular calling. The task of restoring truth to the culture depends largely on our laypeople. To bring back truth, on a practical level, the church must encourage Christians to be not merely consumers of culture but makers of culture. The church needs to cultivate Christian artists, musicians, novelists, filmmakers, journalists, attorneys, teachers, scientists, business executives, and the like, teaching its laypeople the sense in which every secular vocation-including, above all, the callings of husband, wife, and parent--is a sphere of Christian ministry, a way of serving God and neighbor that is grounded in God's truth. Christian laypeople must be encouraged to be leaders in their fields, rather than eager-to-please followers, working from the assumptions of their biblical worldview, not the vapid clichés of pop culture.
J. Gresham Machen
Christian ethics is not a matter of discovering what's going on in the world and getting in tune with it. It isn't a matter of doing things to earn God's favor. It is not about trying to obey dusty rulebooks from long ago or far away. It is about practicing, in the present, the tunes we shall sing in God's new world.
N.T. Wright (Simply Christian)
Christian friendships are call-and-response friendships. We tell each other over and over, back and forth, the truth of who we are and who God is. Over dinner and on walks, dropping off soup when someone is sick, and in prayer over the phone, we speak the good news to each other. And we become good news to every other.
Tish Harrison Warren (Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life)
Dimitri moved closer to me, his eyes sparkling with a secret. "It gets better:you're Lissa's guardian." "What?" I almost pulled away. "That's impossible. They'd never..." "They did. She'll have others, so they probably figured it was okay to let you hang around if someone else could keep you in line," he teased. "You're not..." A lump formed in my stomach, a reminder of a problem that has plagued so long ago. "You're not one of her guardian too, are you?" It had constantly been a concern, that conflict of interest. I wanted him near me. Always. But how could he watch Lissa and put her safely first if we were worried about each other? The past was returning to torment us. "No. I have a different assignment." "Oh." For some reason, that made me a little sad too, even though I knew it was the smarter choice. "I'm Christian's guardian." This time I did sit up, doctor's orders or no. Stitches tugged in my chest, but I ignored the sharp discomfort. "But that's...that's practically the same thing!
Richelle Mead (Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy, #6))
So we find that the three possible solutions of the great problem of increasing human energy are answered by the three words: food, peace, work. Many a year I have thought and pondered, lost myself in speculations and theories, considering man as a mass moved by a force, viewing his inexplicable movement in the light of a mechanical one, and applying the simple principles of mechanics to the analysis of the same until I arrived at these solutions, only to realize that they were taught to me in my early childhood. These three words sound the key-notes of the Christian religion. Their scientific meaning and purpose now clear to me: food to increase the mass, peace to diminish the retarding force, and work to increase the force accelerating human movement. These are the only three solutions which are possible of that great problem, and all of them have one object, one end, namely, to increase human energy. When we recognize this, we cannot help wondering how profoundly wise and scientific and how immensely practical the Christian religion is, and in what a marked contrast it stands in this respect to other religions. It is unmistakably the result of practical experiment and scientific observation which have extended through the ages, while other religions seem to be the outcome of merely abstract reasoning. Work, untiring effort, useful and accumulative, with periods of rest and recuperation aiming at higher efficiency, is its chief and ever-recurring command. Thus we are inspired both by Christianity and Science to do our utmost toward increasing the performance of mankind. This most important of human problems I shall now specifically consider.
Nikola Tesla
Every time we turn to Christ in faith it is like a moment of Sabbath, a little foretaste of eternal rest and glory. The gift of that moment lies not in what we do but what we receive. It is the holy time set aside to receive the greatest gift of God ever has to give, which is himself, in his own beloved Son.
Phillip Cary (Good News for Anxious Christians: Ten Practical Things You Don't Have to Do)
In other words, The­ol­ogy is prac­ti­cal: espe­cially now. In the old days, when there was less edu­ca­tion and dis­cus­sion, per­haps it was pos­si­ble to get on with a very few sim­ple ideas about God. But it is not so now. Every­one reads, every­one hears things dis­cussed. Con­se­quently, 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-date ideas. For a great many of the ideas about God which are trot­ted out as novel­ties to-day are simply the ones which real The­olo­gians tried cen­turies ago and rejected.
C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)
No, really, Herr Nietzche, I have great admiration for you. Sympathy. You want to make us able to live with the void. Not lie ourselves into good-naturedness, trust, ordinary middling human considerations, but to question as has never been questioned before, relentlessly, with iron determination, into evil, through evil, past evil, accepting no abject comfort. The most absolute, the most piercing questions. Rejecting mankind as it is, that ordinary, practical, thieving, stinking, unilluminated, sodden rabble, not only the laboring rabble, but even worse the "educated" rabble with its books and concerts and lectures, its liberalism and its romantic theatrical "loves" and "passions"--it all deserves to die, it will die. Okay. Still, your extremists must survive. No survival, no Amor Fati. Your immoralists also eat meat. They ride the bus. They are only the most bus-sick travelers. Humankind lives mainly upon perverted ideas. Perverted, your ideas are no better than those the Christianity you condemn. Any philosopher who wants to keep his contact with mankind should pervert his own system in advance to see how it will really look a few decades after adoption. I send you greetings from this mere border of grassy temporal light, and wish you happiness, wherever you are. Yours, under the veil of Maya, M.E.H.
Saul Bellow (Herzog)
At this crucial point, for the Roman Church to reach a compromise between this myth of Mithra and the Hellenistic Christianity of St. Paul, it was necessary to have a sudden change of events or an altered version of Jesus's life, and it was here that the Roman Church began to implement a psychological process known today as Cognitive Dissonance. In a few words, this happens when a group of people produce a false reconstruction of an event they want to continue to believe in, a literary strategy also known as the Reconstructive Hypothesis. This theological notion is equally known as Apotheosis or the glorification of a subject to divine level such as a human becoming a god. In the case of Jesus, this process was copied in its entirety from the religion of Mithra where their 'divinisations' were practically the same.
Anton Sammut (The Secret Gospel Of Jesus AD 0-78)
The core symbols we use for God represent what we take to be the highest good....These symbols or images shape our worldview, our ethical system, and our social practice--how we relate to one another. For instance, [Elizabeth A.] Johnson suggests that if a religion speaks about God as warrior, using militaristic language such as how "he crushes his enemies" and summoning people to become soldiers in God's army, then the people tend to become militaristic and aggressive. Likewise, if the key symbol of God is that of a male king (without any balancing feminine imagery), we become a culture that values and enthrones men and masculinity.
Sue Monk Kidd (The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman's Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine (Plus))
What does Christianity mean today? National Socialism is a religion. All we lack is a religious genius capable of uprooting outmoded religious practices and putting new ones in their place. We lack traditions and ritual. One day soon National Socialism will be the religion of all Germans. My Party is my church, and I believe I serve the Lord best if I do his will, and liberate my oppressed people from the fetters of slavery. That is my gospel.
Joseph Goebbels
Any faith that does not command the one who holds it is not a real belief; it is a pseudo belief only. And it might shock some of us profoundly if we were brought suddenly face to face with our beliefs and forced to test them in the fires of practical living. Many of us Christians have become extremely skillful in arranging our lives so as to admit the truth of Christianity without being embarrassed by its implications.
A.W. Tozer (The Root of the Righteous)
There are a whole lot of religious people in America, including the majority of Democrats. When we abandon the field of religious discourse—when we ignore the debate about what it means to be a good Christian or Muslim or Jew; when we discuss religion only in the negative sense of where or how it should not be practiced, rather than in the positive sense of what it tells us about our obligations toward one another; when we shy away from religious venues and religious broadcasts because we assume that we will be unwelcome—others will fill the vacuum. And those who do are likely to be those with the most insular views of faith, or who cynically use religion to justify partisan ends.
Barack Obama (The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream)
A sign hangs on the wall in a New Monastic Christian community house: “Everyone wants a revolution. No one wants to do the dishes.” I was, and remain, a Christian who longs for revolution, for things to be made new and whole in beautiful and big ways. But what I am slowly seeing is that you can’t get to the revolution without learning to do the dishes. The kind of spiritual life and disciplines needed to sustain the Christian life are quiet, repetitive, and ordinary. I often want to skip the boring, daily stuff to get to the thrill of an edgy faith. But it’s in the dailiness of the Christian faith—the making the bed, the doing the dishes, the praying for our enemies, the reading the Bible, the quiet, the small—that God’s transformation takes root and grows.
Tish Harrison Warren (Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life)
I don't approve of mixing ideologies," Ivanov continued. "There are only two conceptions of human ethics, and they are at opposite poles. One of them is Christian and humane, declares the individual to be sacrosanct, and asserts that the rules of arithmetic are not to be applied to human units. The other starts from the basic principle that a collective aim justifies all means, and not only allows, but demands, that the individual should in every way be subordinated and sacrificed to the community--which may dispose of it as an experimentation rabbit or a sacrificial lamb. The first conception could be called anti-vivisection morality, the second, vivisection morality. Humbugs and dilettantes have always tried to mix the two conceptions; in practice, it is impossible.
Arthur Koestler (Darkness at Noon)
The early Christians made it a part of their religion to look for his return. They looked backward to the cross and the atonement for sin, and rejoiced in Christ crucified. They looked upward to Christ at the right hand of God, and rejoiced in Christ interceding. They looked forward to the promised return of their Master, and rejoiced in the thought that they would see him again. And we ought to do the same
J.C. Ryle (Practical Religion)
I've never been able to write poetry without having vast tracts of dead time. Poetry requires a certain kind of disciplined indolence that the world, including many prose writers, doesn't recognize as discipline. It is, though. It's the discipline to endure hours that you refuse to fill with anything but the possibility of poetry, though you may in fact not be able to write a word of it just then, and though it may be playing practical havoc with your life. It's the discipline of preparedness.
Christian Wiman (Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet)
Karl Marx famously called religion 'the opiate of the masses'. Buddhism, particularly as it is popularly practiced, promises improvement through karma. Islam and Christianity promise eternal life to the faithful. And that is a powerful opiate, certainly, the hope of a better life to come. But there's a Sufi story that challenges the notion that people believe only because they need an opiate. Rabe'a al-Adiwiyah, a great woman saint of Sufism, was seen running through the streets of her hometown, Basra, carrying a torch in one hand and a bucket of water in the other. When someone asked her what she was doing, she answered, 'I am going to take this bucket of water and pour it on the flames of hell, and then I am going to use this torch to burn down the gates of paradise so that people will not love God for want of heaven or fear of hell, but because He is God.
John Green
But sharing does not mean wanting others to abandon their own spiritual roots and embrace your faith. That would be cruel. People are stable and happy only when they are firmly rooted in their own tradition and culture. To uproot them would make them suffer. There are already enough people uprooted from their tradition today, and they suffer greatly, wandering around like hungry ghosts, looking for something to fill their spiritual needs. We must help them return to their tradition. Each tradition must establish dialogue with its own people first, especially with those young people who are lost and alienated. During the last fifteen years while sharing the Buddha’s Dharma in the West, I always urged my Western friends to go back to their own traditions and rediscover the values that are there, those values they have not been able to touch before. The practice of Buddhist meditation can help them do so, and many have succeeded. Buddhism is made of non-Buddhist elements. Buddhism has no separate self. When you are a truly happy Christian, you are also a Buddhist. And vice versa.
Thich Nhat Hanh (Living Buddha, Living Christ)
Defined simply, narcissism means excessive self-preoccupation; pragmatism means excessive focus on work, achievement, and the practical concerns of life; and restlessness means an excessive greed for experience, an overeating, not in terms of food but in terms of trying to drink in too much of life...And constancy of all three together account for the fact that we are so habitually self-absorbed by heartaches, headaches, and greed for experience that we rarely find the time and space to be in touch with the deeper movements inside of and around us.
Ronald Rolheiser (The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality)
We have everyday habits—formative practices—that constitute daily liturgies. By reaching for my smartphone every morning, I had developed a ritual that trained me toward a certain end: entertainment and stimulation via technology. Regardless of my professed worldview or particular Christian subculture, my unexamined daily habit was shaping me into a worshiper of glowing screens. Examining my daily liturgy as a liturgy—as something that both revealed and shaped what I love and worship—allowed me to realize that my daily practices were malforming me, making me less alive, less human, less able to give and receive love throughout my day. Changing this ritual allowed me to form a new repetitive and contemplative habit that pointed me toward a different way of being-in-the-world.
Tish Harrison Warren (Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life)
Here there comes a practical question which has often troubled me. Whenever I go into a foreign country or a prison or any similar place they always ask me what is my religion. I never know whether I should say "Agnostic" or whether I should say "Atheist". It is a very difficult question and I daresay that some of you have been troubled by it. As a philosopher, if I were speaking to a purely philosophic audience I should say that I ought to describe myself as an Agnostic, because I do not think that there is a conclusive argument by which one prove that there is not a God. On the other hand, if I am to convey the right impression to the ordinary man in the street I think I ought to say that I am an Atheist, because when I say that I cannot prove that there is not a God, I ought to add equally that I cannot prove that there are not the Homeric gods. None of us would seriously consider the possibility that all the gods of homer really exist, and yet if you were to set to work to give a logical demonstration that Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, and the rest of them did not exist you would find it an awful job. You could not get such proof. Therefore, in regard to the Olympic gods, speaking to a purely philosophical audience, I would say that I am an Agnostic. But speaking popularly, I think that all of us would say in regard to those gods that we were Atheists. In regard to the Christian God, I should, I think, take exactly the same line.
Bertrand Russell
The true Christian was intended by Christ to prove all things by the Word of God: all churches, all ministers, all teaching, all preaching, all doctrines, all sermons, all writings, all opinions, all practices. These are his marching orders. Prove all by the Word of God; measure all by the measure of the Bible; compare all with the standard of the Bible; weigh all in the balances of the Bible; examine all by the light of the Bible; test all in the crucible of the Bible. That which cannot abide the fire of the Bible, reject, refuse, repudiate, and cast away. This is the flag which he nailed to the mast. May it never be lowered!
John Wycliffe
Faith is always coveted most and needed most urgently where will is lacking; for will, as the affect of command, is the decisive sign of sovereignty and strength. In other words, the less one knows how to command, the more urgently one covets someone who commands, who commands severely—a god, prince, class, physician, father confessor, dogma, or party conscience. From this one might perhaps gather that the two world religions, Buddhism and Christianity, may have owed their origin and above all their sudden spread to a tremendous collapse and disease of the will. And that is what actually happened: both religions encountered a situation in which the will had become diseased, giving rise to a demand that had become utterly desperate for some "thou shalt." Both religions taught fanaticism in ages in which the will had become exhausted, and thus they offered innumerable people some support, a new possibility of willing, some delight in willing. For fanaticism is the only "strength of the will" that even the weak and insecure can be brought to attain, being a sort of hypnotism of the whole system of the senses and the intellect for the benefit of an excessive nourishment (hypertrophy) of a single point of view and feeling that henceforth becomes dominant— which the Christian calls his faith. Once a human being reaches the fundamental conviction that he must be commanded, he becomes "a believer." Conversely, one could conceive of such a pleasure and power of self-determination, such a freedom of the will [ This conception of "freedom of the will" ( alias, autonomy) does not involve any belief in what Nietzsche called "the superstition of free will" in section 345 ( alias, the exemption of human actions from an otherwise universal determinism).] that the spirit would take leave of all faith and every wish for certainty, being practiced in maintaining himself on insubstantial ropes and possibilities and dancing even near abysses. Such a spirit would be the free spirit par excellence.
Friedrich Nietzsche (The Gay Science: With a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs)
The importance of falling in love lies not in how it feels, but in what it perceives. And as always with our feelings, the key moral issue is how truthful the perception is... Falling in love is a sign that this might be someone with whom you could make a good marriage. Still, it's not enough, because the feeling is not always as perceptive as it should be... So falling in love is not the basis for a good marriage. It's not even a requirement. Marriage does not depend on falling in love; it depends on the promises you make to each other in your wedding vows and then spend a lifetime keeping. As many people have pointed out, you can't promise how you'll feel. But you can promise to cultivate a virtue, such as the virtue of love.
Phillip Cary (Good News for Anxious Christians: Ten Practical Things You Don't Have to Do)
On the first day of November last year, sacred to many religious calendars but especially the Celtic, I went for a walk among bare oaks and birch. Nothing much was going on. Scarlet sumac had passed and the bees were dead. The pond had slicked overnight into that shiny and deceptive glaze of delusion, first ice. It made me remember sakes and conjure a vision of myself skimming backward on one foot, the other extended; the arms become wings. Minnesota girls know that this is not a difficult maneuver if one's limber and practices even a little after school before the boys claim the rink for hockey. I think I can still do it - one thinks many foolish things when November's bright sun skips over the entrancing first freeze. A flock of sparrows reels through the air looking more like a flying net than seventy conscious birds, a black veil thrown on the wind. When one sparrow dodges, the whole net swerves, dips: one mind. Am I part of anything like that? Maybe not. The last few years of my life have been characterized by stripping away, one by one, loves and communities that sustain the soul. A young colleague, new to my English department, recently asked me who I hang around with at school. "Nobody," I had to say, feeling briefly ashamed. This solitude is one of the surprises of middle age, especially if one's youth has been rich in love and friendship and children. If you do your job right, children leave home; few communities can stand an individual's most pitiful, amateur truth telling. So the soul must stand in her own meager feathers and learn to fly - or simply take hopeful jumps into the wind. In the Christian calendar, November 1 is the Feast of All Saints, a day honoring not only those who are known and recognized as enlightened souls, but more especially the unknowns, saints who walk beside us unrecognized down the millennia. In Buddhism, we honor the bodhisattvas - saints - who refuse enlightenment and return willingly to the wheel of karma to help other beings. Similarly, in Judaism, anonymous holy men pray the world from its well-merited destruction. We never know who is walking beside us, who is our spiritual teacher. That one - who annoys you so - pretends for a day that he's the one, your personal Obi Wan Kenobi. The first of November is a splendid, subversive holiday. Imagine a hectic procession of revelers - the half-mad bag lady; a mumbling, scarred janitor whose ravaged face made the children turn away; the austere, unsmiling mother superior who seemed with great focus and clarity to do harm; a haunted music teacher, survivor of Auschwitz. I bring them before my mind's eye, these old firends of my soul, awakening to dance their day. Crazy saints; but who knows what was home in the heart? This is the feast of those who tried to take the path, so clumsily that no one knew or notice, the feast, indeed, of most of us. It's an ugly woods, I was saying to myself, padding along a trail where other walkers had broken ground before me. And then I found an extraordinary bouquet. Someone had bound an offering of dry seed pods, yew, lyme grass, red berries, and brown fern and laid it on the path: "nothing special," as Buddhists say, meaning "everything." Gathered to formality, each dry stalk proclaimed a slant, an attitude, infinite shades of neutral. All contemplative acts, silences, poems, honor the world this way. Brought together by the eye of love, a milkweed pod, a twig, allow us to see how things have been all along. A feast of being.
Mary Rose O'Reilley (The Barn at the End of the World: The Apprenticeship of a Quaker, Buddhist Shepherd)
The God of the legalistic Christian, on the other hand, is often unpredictable, erratic, and capable of all manner of prejudices. When we view God this way, we feel compelled to engage in some sort of magic to appease Him. Sunday worship becomes a superstitious insurance policy against His whims. This God expects people to be perfect and to be in perpetual control of their feelings and thoughts. When broken people with this concept of God fail—as inevitably they must—they usually expect punishment. So they persevere in religious practices as they struggle to maintain a hollow image of a perfect self. The struggle itself is exhausting. The legalists can never live up to the expectations they project on God.
Brennan Manning (The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out)
Many will argue that there is nothing remotely spiritual in combat. Consider this. Mystical or religious experiences have four common components: constant awareness of one's own inevitable death, total focus on the present moment, the valuing of other people's lives above one's own, and being part of a larger religious community such as the Sangha, ummah, or church. All four of these exist in combat. The big difference is that the mystic sees heaven and the warrior sees hell. Whether combat is the dark side of the same version, or only something equivalent in intensity, I simply don't know. I do know that at the age of fifteen I had a mystical experience that scared the hell out of me and both it and combat put me into a different relationship with ordinary life and eternity. Most of us, including me, would prefer to think of a sacred space as some light-filled wonderous place where we can feel good and find a way to shore up our psyches against death. We don't want to think that something as ugly and brutal as combat could be involved in any way with the spiritual. However, would any practicing Christian say that Calvary Hill was not a sacred space?
Karl Marlantes (What It is Like to Go to War)
Unfortunately, the term “identity politics” has been weaponized. It is most often used by speakers to describe politics as practiced by members of historically marginalized groups. If you’re black and you're worried about police brutality, that’s identity politics. If you’re a woman and you’re worried about the male-female pay gap, that’s identity politics. But if you’re a rural gun owner decrying universal background checks as tyranny, or a billionaire CEO complaining that high tax rates demonize success, or a Christian insisting on Nativity scenes in public squares — well, that just good, old fashioned politics. With a quick sleight of hand, identity becomes something that only marginalized groups have. The term “identity politics,” in this usage, obscures rather than illuminates; it’s used to diminish and discredit the concerns of the weaker groups by making them look self-interested, special pleading in order to clear the agenda for the concerns of stronger groups, which are framed as more rational, proper topics for political debate. But in wielding identity as a blade, we have lost it as a lens, blinding ourselves in a bid for political advantage. WE are left searching in vaid for what we refuse to allow ourselves to see.
Ezra Klein (Why We're Polarized)
Nothing can be rightly known, if God be not known; nor is any study well managed, nor to any great purpose, if God is not studied. We know little of the creature, till we know it as it stands related to the Creator: single letters, and syllables uncomposed, are no better than nonsense. He who overlooketh him who is the 'Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending,' and seeth not him in all who is the All of all, doth see nothing at all. All creatures, as such, are broken syllables; they signify nothing as separated from God. Were they separated actually, they would cease to be, and the separation would be annhiliation; and when we separate them in our fancies, we make nothing of them to ourselves. It is one thing to know the creatures as Aristotle, and another thing to know them as a Christian. None but a Christian can read one line of his Physics so as to understand it rightly. It is a high and excellent study, and of greater use than many apprehend; but it is the smallest part of it that Aristotle can teach us.
Richard Baxter (The Reformed Pastor (The Practical Works of Richard Baxter, Vol. 4) (The Practical Works of Richard Baxter, 4))
To be really Bible-believing Christians we need to practice, simultaneously, at each step of the way, two biblical principles. One principle is that of the purity of the visible church. Scripture commands that we must do more than just talk about the purity of the visible church; we must actually practice it, even when it is costly. The second principle is that of an observable love among all true Christians. In the flesh we can stress purity without love, or we can stess love without purity; we cannot stress both simultaneously. To do so we must look moment by moment to the work of Christ and to the Holy Spirit. Without that, a stress on purity becomes hard, proud, and legalistic; likewise without it a stress on love becomes sheer compromise. Spiritually begins to have real meaning in our lives as we begin to exhibit simultaneously the holiness of God and the love of God. We never do this perfectly, but we must look to the living Christ to help us do it truly.
Francis A. Schaeffer (The Great Evangelical Disaster)
If tribulation is a necessary element in the redemption we must anticipate that it will never cease till God sees the world to be either redeemed or no further redeemable. A Christian cannot, therefore, believe any of those who promise that if only some reform in our economic, political, or hygienic system were made, a heaven on earth would follow. This might seem to have a discouraging effect on the social worker, but it is not found in practice to discourage him. On the contrary, a strong sense of our common miseries, simply as men, is at least as good a spur to the removal of all the miseries we can, as any of those wild hopes which tempt men to seek their realisation by breaking the moral law and prove such dust and ashes when they are realised. If applied to individual life, the doctrine that an imagined heaven on earth as necessary for vigorous attempts to remove present evil, would at once reveal its absurdity. Hungry men seek food and sick men healing none the less because they know that after the meal or the cure the ordinary ups and downs of life still await them.
C.S. Lewis (The Problem of Pain)
Long enshrined traditions around communion aside, there are always folks who fancy themselves bouncers to the heavenly banquet, charged with keeping the wrong people away from the table and out of the church. Evangelicalism in particular has seen a resurgence in border patrol Christianity in recent years, as alliances and coalitions formed around shared theological distinctives elevate secondary issues to primary ones and declare anyone who fails to conform to their strict set of beliefs and behaviors unfit for Christian fellowship. Committed to purifying the church of every errant thought, difference of opinion, or variation in practice, these self-appointed gatekeepers tie up heavy loads of legalistic rules and place them on weary people’s shoulders. They strain out the gnats in everyone else’s theology while swallowing their own camel-sized inconsistencies. They slam the door of the kingdom in people’s faces and tell them to come back when they are sober, back on their feet, Republican, Reformed, doubtless, submissive, straight.
Rachel Held Evans (Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church)
The most powerful anti-Christian movement is the one that takes over and "radicalizes" the concern for victims in order to paganize it. The powers and principalities want to be “revolutionary” now, and they reproach Christianity for not defending victims with enough ardor. In Christian history they see nothing but persecutions, acts of oppression, inquisitions. This other totalitarianism presents itself as the liberator of humanity. In trying to usurp the place of Christ, the powers imitate him in the way a mimetic rival imitates his model in order to defeat him. They denounce the Christian concern for victims as hypocritical and a pale imitation of the authentic crusade against oppression and persecution for which they would carry the banner themselves. In the symbolic language of the New Testament, we would say that in our world Satan, trying to make a new start and gain new triumphs, borrows the language of victims. ... The Antichrist boasts of bringing to human beings the peace and tolerance that Christianity promised but has failed to deliver. Actually, what the radicalization of contemporary victimology produces is a return to all sorts of pagan practices: abortion, euthanasia, sexual undifferentiation, Roman circus games galore but without real victims, etc. Neo-paganism would like to turn the Ten Commandments and all of Judeo-Christian morality into some alleged intolerable violence, and indeed its primary objective is their complete abolition. Faithful observance of the moral law is perceived as complicity with the forces of persecution that are essentially religious... Neo-paganism locates happiness in the unlimited satisfaction of desires, which means the suppression of all prohibitions. This idea acquires a semblance of credibility in the limited domain of consumer goods, whose prodigious multiplication, thanks to technological progress, weakens certain mimetic rivalries. The weakening of mimetic rivalries confers an appearance of plausibility, but only that, on the stance that turns the moral law into an instrument of repression and persecution.
René Girard (I See Satan Fall Like Lightning)
[…] I began to see Algiers as one of the most fascinating and dramatic places on earth. In the small space of this beautiful but congested city intersected two great conflicts of the contemporary world. The first was the one between Christianity and Islam (expressed here in the clash between colonizing France and colonized Algeria). The second, which acquired a sharpness of focus immediately after the independence and departure of the French, was a conflict at the very heart of Islam, between its open, dialectical — I would even say “Mediterranean” — current and its other, inward-looking one, born of a sense of uncertainty and confusion vis-à-vis the contemporary world, guided by fundamentalists who take advantage of modern technology and organizational principles yet at the same time deem the defense of faith and custom against modernity as the condition of their own existence, their sole identity. […] In Algiers one speaks simply of the existence of two varieties of Islam — one, which is called the Islam of the desert, and a second, which is defined as the Islam of the river (or of the sea). The first is the religion practiced by warlike nomadic tribes struggling to survive in one of the world's most hostile environments, the Sahara. The second Islam is the faith of merchants, itinerant peddlers, people of the road and of the bazaar, for whom openness, compromise, and exchange are not only beneficial to trade, but necessary to life itself.
Ryszard Kapuściński (Travels with Herodotus)
More profoundly, Nihilist "simplification" may be seen in the universal prestige today accorded the lowest order of knowledge, the scientific, as well as the simplistic ideas of men like Marx, Freud, and Darwin, which underlie virtually the whole of contemporary thought and life. We say "life," for it is important to see that the Nihilist history of our century has not been something imposed from without or above, or at least has not been predominantly this; it has rather presupposed, and drawn its nourishment from, a Nihilist soil that has long been preparing in the hearts of the people. It is precisely from the Nihilism of the commonplace, from the everyday Nihilism revealed in the life and thought and aspiration of the people, that all the terrible events of our century have sprung. The world-view of Hitler is very instructive in this regard, for in him the most extreme and monstrous Nihilism rested upon the foundation of a quite unexceptional and even typical Realism. He shared the common faith in "science," "progress," and "enlightenment" (though not, of course, in "democracy"), together with a practical materialism that scorned all theology, metaphysics, and any thought or action concerned with any other world than the "here and now," priding himself on the fact that he had "the gift of reducing all problems to their simplest foundations." He had a crude worship of efficiency and utility that freely tolerated "birth control", laughed at the institution of marriage as a mere legalization of a sexual impulse that should be "free", welcomed sterilization of the unfit, despised "unproductive elements" such as monks, saw nothing in the cremation of the dead but a "practical" question and did not even hesitate to put the ashes, or the skin and fat, of the dead to "productive use." He possessed the quasi-anarchist distrust of sacred and venerable institutions, in particular the Church with its "superstitions" and all its "outmoded" laws and ceremonies. He had a naive trust in the "natural mom, the "healthy animal" who scorns the Christian virtues--virginity in particular--that impede the "natural functioning" of the body. He took a simple-minded delight in modern conveniences and machines, and especially in the automobile and the sense of speed and "freedom" it affords. There is very little of this crude Weltanschauung that is not shared, to some degree, by the multitudes today, especially among the young, who feel themselves "enlightened" and "liberated," very little that is not typically "modern.
Seraphim Rose
A cult is a group of people who share an obsessive devotion to a person or idea. The cults described in this book use violent tactics to recruit, indoctrinate, and keep members. Ritual abuse is defined as the emotionally, physically, and sexually abusive acts performed by violent cults. Most violent cults do not openly express their beliefs and practices, and they tend to live separately in noncommunal environments to avoid detection. Some victims of ritual abuse are children abused outside the home by nonfamily members, in public settings such as day care. Other victims are children and teenagers who are forced by their parents to witness and participate in violent rituals. Adult ritual abuse victims often include these grown children who were forced from childhood to be a member of the group. Other adult and teenage victims are people who unknowingly joined social groups or organizations that slowly manipulated and blackmailed them into becoming permanent members of the group. All cases of ritual abuse, no matter what the age of the victim, involve intense physical and emotional trauma. Violent cults may sacrifice humans and animals as part of religious rituals. They use torture to silence victims and other unwilling participants. Ritual abuse victims say they are degraded and humiliated and are often forced to torture, kill, and sexually violate other helpless victims. The purpose of the ritual abuse is usually indoctrination. The cults intend to destroy these victims' free will by undermining their sense of safety in the world and by forcing them to hurt others. In the last ten years, a number of people have been convicted on sexual abuse charges in cases where the abused children had reported elements of ritual child abuse. These children described being raped by groups of adults who wore costumes or masks and said they were forced to witness religious-type rituals in which animals and humans were tortured or killed. In one case, the defense introduced in court photographs of the children being abused by the defendants[.1] In another case, the police found tunnels etched with crosses and pentacles along with stone altars and candles in a cemetery where abuse had been reported. The defendants in this case pleaded guilty to charges of incest, cruelty, and indecent assault.[2] Ritual abuse allegations have been made in England, the United States, and Canada.[3] Many myths abound concerning the parents and children who report ritual abuse. Some people suggest that the tales of ritual abuse are "mass hysteria." They say the parents of these children who report ritual abuse are often overly zealous Christians on a "witch-hunt" to persecute satanists. These skeptics say the parents are fearful of satanism, and they use their knowledge of the Black Mass (a historically well-known, sexualized ritual in which animals and humans are sacrificed) to brainwash their children into saying they were abused by satanists.[4] In 1992 I conducted a study to separate fact from fiction in regard to the disclosures of children who report ritual abuse.[5] The study was conducted through Believe the Children, a national organization that provides support and educational sources for ritual abuse survivors and their families.
Margaret Smith (Ritual Abuse: What It Is, Why It Happens, and How to Help)
Liberalism has been degraded into liberality. Men have tried to turn "revolutionise" from a transitive to an intransitive verb. The Jacobin could tell you not only the system he would rebel against, but (what was more important) the system he would not rebel against, the system he would trust. But the new rebel is a sceptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything. For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it. Thus he writes one book complaining that imperial oppression insults the purity of women, and then he writes another book (about the sex problem) in which he insults it himself. He curses the Sultan because Christian girls lose their virginity, and then curses Mrs. Grundy because they keep it. As a politician, he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then, as a philosopher, that all life is waste of time. A Russian pessimist will denounce a policeman for killing a peasant, and then prove by the highest philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself. A man denounces marriage as a lie, and then denounces aristocratic profligates for treating it as a lie. He calls a flag a bauble, and then blames the oppressors of Poland or Ireland because they take away that bauble. The man of this school goes first to a political meeting, where he complains that savages are treated as if they were beasts; then he takes his hat and umbrella and goes on to a scientific meeting, where he proves that they practically are beasts. In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite sceptic, is always engaged in undermining his own mines. In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men. Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything.
G.K. Chesterton (Orthodoxy)
Many readers are familiar with the spirit and the letter of the definition of “prayer”, as given by Ambrose Bierce in his Devil’s Dictionary. It runs like this, and is extremely easy to comprehend: Prayer: A petition that the laws of nature be suspended in favor of the petitioner; himself confessedly unworthy. Everybody can see the joke that is lodged within this entry: The man who prays is the one who thinks that god has arranged matters all wrong, but who also thinks that he can instruct god how to put them right. Half–buried in the contradiction is the distressing idea that nobody is in charge, or nobody with any moral authority. The call to prayer is self–cancelling. Those of us who don’t take part in it will justify our abstention on the grounds that we do not need, or care, to undergo the futile process of continuous reinforcement. Either our convictions are enough in themselves or they are not: At any rate they do require standing in a crowd and uttering constant and uniform incantations. This is ordered by one religion to take place five times a day, and by other monotheists for almost that number, while all of them set aside at least one whole day for the exclusive praise of the Lord, and Judaism seems to consist in its original constitution of a huge list of prohibitions that must be followed before all else. The tone of the prayers replicates the silliness of the mandate, in that god is enjoined or thanked to do what he was going to do anyway. Thus the Jewish male begins each day by thanking god for not making him into a woman (or a Gentile), while the Jewish woman contents herself with thanking the almighty for creating her “as she is.” Presumably the almighty is pleased to receive this tribute to his power and the approval of those he created. It’s just that, if he is truly almighty, the achievement would seem rather a slight one. Much the same applies to the idea that prayer, instead of making Christianity look foolish, makes it appear convincing. Now, it can be asserted with some confidence, first, that its deity is all–wise and all–powerful and, second, that its congregants stand in desperate need of that deity’s infinite wisdom and power. Just to give some elementary quotations, it is stated in the book of Philippians, 4:6, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication and thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God.” Deuteronomy 32:4 proclaims that “he is the rock, his work is perfect,” and Isaiah 64:8 tells us, “Now O Lord, thou art our father; we art clay and thou our potter; and we are all the work of thy hand.” Note, then, that Christianity insists on the absolute dependence of its flock, and then only on the offering of undiluted praise and thanks. A person using prayer time to ask for the world to be set to rights, or to beseech god to bestow a favor upon himself, would in effect be guilty of a profound blasphemy or, at the very least, a pathetic misunderstanding. It is not for the mere human to be presuming that he or she can advise the divine. And this, sad to say, opens religion to the additional charge of corruption. The leaders of the church know perfectly well that prayer is not intended to gratify the devout. So that, every time they accept a donation in return for some petition, they are accepting a gross negation of their faith: a faith that depends on the passive acceptance of the devout and not on their making demands for betterment. Eventually, and after a bitter and schismatic quarrel, practices like the notorious “sale of indulgences” were abandoned. But many a fine basilica or chantry would not be standing today if this awful violation had not turned such a spectacularly good profit. And today it is easy enough to see, at the revival meetings of Protestant fundamentalists, the counting of the checks and bills before the laying on of hands by the preacher has even been completed. Again, the spectacle is a shameless one.
Christopher Hitchens (Mortality)