Letters To The Church Quotes

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The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries. [Letter objecting to the use of government land for churches, 1803]
James Madison
People cited violation of the First Amendment when a New Jersey schoolteacher asserted that evolution and the Big Bang are not scientific and that Noah's ark carried dinosaurs. This case is not about the need to separate church and state; it's about the need to separate ignorant, scientifically illiterate people from the ranks of teachers.
Neil deGrasse Tyson
...legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.
Thomas Jefferson (Letters of Thomas Jefferson)
Were I a Roman Catholic, perhaps I should on this occasion vow to build a chapel to some saint, but as I am not, if I were to vow at all, it should be to build a light-house. [Letter to his wife, 17 July 1757, after narrowly avoiding a shipwreck; often misquoted as "Lighthouses are more helpful than churches."]
Benjamin Franklin (Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Benjamin Franklin Volume 2)
The Church is the Church only when it exists for others...not dominating, but helping and serving. It must tell men of every calling what it means to live for Christ, to exist for others.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Letters and Papers from Prison)
People go to church for the same reasons they go to a tavern: to stupefy themselves, to forget their misery, to imagine themselves, for a few minutes anyway, free and happy. -- Circular Letter to My Friends in Italy
Mikhail Bakunin
Surely you know that if a man can't be cured of churchgoing, the next best thing is to send him all over the neighbourhood looking for the church that "suits" him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches.
C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)
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)
We must not falter nor weary in well-doing. We must lengthen our stride. Not only is our own eternal welfare at stake, but also the eternal welfare of many of our brothers and sisters who are not now members of this, the true Church. I thrill to the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith in a letter that he sent to the Church from Nauvoo on September 6, 1842: 'Shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward. … Courage … and on, on to the victory!
Spencer W. Kimball
...the only thing that makes the Church endurable is that it is somehow the body of Christ and that on this we are fed. It seems to be a fact that you have to suffer as much from the Church as for it but if you believe in the divinity of Christ, you have to cherish the world at the same time that you struggle to endure it.
Flannery O'Connor (The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O'Connor)
The early Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the Church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles o popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society.
Martin Luther King Jr. (Letter from the Birmingham Jail)
The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of. Our attention would have been on God.
C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer)
Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together. [Letter to Edward Livingston, 10 July 1822 - Writings 9:100--103]
James Madison (James Madison: Writings)
When you leave a man alone with his Bible and the Holy Ghost inspires him, he's going to be a Catholic one way or another, even though he knows nothing about the visible church. His kind of Christianity may not be socially desirable, but will be real in the sight of God.
Flannery O'Connor (The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O'Connor)
For me it is the virgin birth, the Incarnation, the resurrection which are the true laws of the flesh and the physical. Death, decay, destruction are the suspension of these laws. I am always astonished at the emphasis the Church puts on the body. It is not the soul she says that will rise but the body, glorified.
Flannery O'Connor (The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O'Connor)
The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused him of being a bore - on the contrary, they thought him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround him with an atmosphere of tedium. We have efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified him "meek and mild" and recommended him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies.
Dorothy L. Sayers (Letters to a Diminished Church: Passionate Arguments for the Relevance of Christian Doctrine)
When we read Paul, we are reading somebody else’s mail—and unless we know the situation being addressed, his letters can be quite opaque...It is wise to remember that when we are reading letters never intended for us, any problems of understanding are ours and not theirs.
Marcus J. Borg (The First Paul: Reclaiming the Radical Visionary Behind the Church's Conservative Icon)
An average Christian, in an average church, listen to an average Sunday sermon has achieved a level of arrogance simply unimaginable in scientific discourse -- and there have been some extraordinary arrogant scientists.
Sam Harris (Letter to a Christian Nation)
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
I don't think literature would be possible in a determined world. We might go through the motions but the heart would be out of it. Nobody could then 'smile darkly and ignore the howls.' Even if there were no Church to teach me this, writing two novels would do it. I think the more you write, the less inclined you will be to rely on theories like determinism. Mystery isn't something that is gradually evaporating. It grows along with knowledge.
Flannery O'Connor (The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O'Connor)
Oh, yes! Fill the churches with dirty thoughts! Introduce honesty to the White House! Write letters in dead languages to people you've never met! Paint filthy words on the foreheads of children! Burn your credit cards and wear high heels! Asylum doors stand open! Fill the suburbs with murder and rape! Divine madness! Let there be ecstasy, ecstasy in the streets! Laugh and the world laughs with you!
Grant Morrison (Batman: Arkham Asylum - A Serious House on Serious Earth)
I remembered what Morrie said during our visit: “The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it.” "Morrie true to these words, had developed his own culture – long before he got sick. Discussion groups, walks with friends, dancing to his music in the Harvard Square church. He started a project called Greenhouse, where poor people could receive mental health services. He read books to find new ideas for his classes, visited with colleagues, kept up with old students, wrote letters to distant friends. He took more time eating and looking at nature and wasted not time in front of TV sitcoms or “Movies of the Week.” He had created a cocoon of human activities– conversations, interaction, affection–and it filled his life like an overflowing soup bowl.
Mitch Albom
And the leftist bullies use that nonconstitutional phrase as a baton with which to club their opponents into submission. Jefferson’s “wall of separation between Church & State,” a phrase from his 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists, was meant not to prevent people from expressing religion in the public square but to prevent government from infringing on religious freedom.
Ben Shapiro (Bullies)
The search for a "suitable" church makes the man a critic where God wants him to be a pupil. What he wants from the layman in church is an attitude which may, indeed, be critical in the sense of rejecting what is false or unhelpful but which is wholly uncritical in the sense that it does not appraise- does not waste time in thinking about what it rejects, but lays itself open in uncommenting, humble receptivity to any nourishment that is going.
C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)
If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century.
Martin Luther King Jr. (Why We Can't Wait)
What he says, even on his knees, about his own sinfulness is all parrot talk. At bottom, he still believes he has run up a very favorable credit-balance in the Enemy's ledger by allowing himself to be converted, and thinks that he is showing great humility and condescension in going to church with these 'smug', commonplace neighbors at all.
C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)
Wherever the early Christians entered a town the power structure got disturbed and immediately sought to convict them for being 'disturbers of the peace' and 'outside agitators.' But they went on with the conviction that they were a 'colony of heaven' and had to obey God rather than man. They were small in number but big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be 'astronomically intimidated.' They brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contest. Things are different now. The contemporary Church is so often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. It is so often the archsupporter of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the Church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the Church’s silent and often vocal sanction of things as they are.
Martin Luther King Jr. (Letter from the Birmingham Jail)
The Government, Church and television keep the average man so mired in petty concerns that he can no longer discern which battles are worth fighting for.
J. Nozipo Maraire
The State which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person—every person—needs: namely, loving personal concern. We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State which, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need. The Church is one of those living forces.
Benedict XVI (God Is Love: Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI)
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.
Dorothy L. Sayers (Letters to a Diminished Church: Passionate Arguments for the Relevance of Christian Doctrine)
The Jews were, as he (Augustine) put it, the living letters of the Law, that they were a constant reminder of the love of God to His chosen people, and that they were a constant reminder that Christ would be returning.
Thomas F. Madden (From Jesus to Christianity: A History of the Early Church)
if a man can’t be cured of churchgoing, the next best thing is to send him all over the neighbourhood looking for the church that ‘suits’ him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches.
C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)
The phrase ‘separation of church and state,’ which appears in no founding document (only in a letter written by Thomas Jefferson), means that America must never have a state religion, not that the state be indifferent to religion.
Dennis Prager (Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph)
To those of us who believe that all of life is sacred every crumb of bread and sip of wine is a Eucharist, a remembrance, a call to awareness of holiness right where we are. I want all of the holiness of the Eucharist to spill out beyond church walls, out of the hands of priests and into the regular streets and sidewalks, into the hands of regular, grubby people like you and me, onto our tables, in our kitchens and dining rooms and backyards.
Shauna Niequist (Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes)
More men go to church than want to.
Mark Twain (Letters from the Earth: Uncensored Writings)
All too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained-glass windows
Martin Luther King Jr. (Letter from the Birmingham Jail)
God does not punish, just as the Church no longer condemns, except those who stay faithful to Tradition. (p. 61)
Marcel Lefebvre (Open Letter to Confused Catholics)
And in fact the artist's experience lies so unbelievably close to the sexual, to its pain and its pleasure, that the two phenomena are really just different forms of one and the same longing and bliss. And if instead of "heat" one could say "sex";- sex in the great, pure sense of the word, free of any sin attached to it by the Church, - then his art would be very great and infinitely important. His poetic power is great and as strong as a primal instinct; it has its own relentless rhythms in itself and explodes from him like a volcano.
Rainer Maria Rilke (Letters to a Young Poet)
In the legends that males have invented to explain life, the first human creature is a man named Adam. Eve arrives later, to give him pleasure and cause trouble. In the paintings that adorn churches, God is an old man with a beard, never an old woman with white hair. And all the heroes are males: from Prometheus who discovered fire to Icarus who tried to fly, on down to Jesus whom they call the Son of God and of the Holy Spirit, almost as though the woman giving birth to him were an incubator or a wetnurse.
Oriana Fallaci (Letter to a Child Never Born)
the very last thing I want to do is to unsettle in the mind of any Christian, whatever his denomination, the concepts -- for him traditional -- by which he finds it profitable to represent to himself what is happening when he receives the bread and wine. I could wish that no definitions had ever been felt to be necessary; and, still more, that none had been allowed to make divisions between churches.
C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer)
So, Swami Jesus, will you go on the hajj this year?" Ravi said, bringing the palms of his hands together in front of his face in a reverent namaskar. "Does Mecca beckon?" He crossed himself. "Or will it be to Rome for your coronation as the next Pope Pius?" He drew in the air a Greek letter, making clear the spelling of his Mockery. "Have you found time yet to get the end of your pecker cut off and become a Jew? At the rate you're going, if you go to temple on Thursday, mosque on Friday, synagogue on Saturday and church on Sunday, you only need to convert to three more religions to be on holiday for the rest of your life.
Yann Martel (Life of Pi)
Though if infidels were to be converted by force, if those that are either blind or obstinate were to be drawn off from their errors by armed soldiers, we know very well that it was much more easy for Him to do it with armies of heavenly legions than for any son of the Church, how potent soever, with all his dragoons.
John Locke (A Letter Concerning Toleration)
This century will be called Darwin's century. He was one of the greatest men who ever touched this globe. He has explained more of the phenomena of life than all of the religious teachers. Write the name of Charles Darwin on the one hand and the name of every theologian who ever lived on the other, and from that name has come more light to the world than from all of those. His doctrine of evolution, his doctrine of the survival of the fittest, his doctrine of the origin of species, has removed in every thinking mind the last vestige of orthodox Christianity. He has not only stated, but he has demonstrated, that the inspired writer knew nothing of this world, nothing of the origin of man, nothing of geology, nothing of astronomy, nothing of nature; that the Bible is a book written by ignorance--at the instigation of fear. Think of the men who replied to him. Only a few years ago there was no person too ignorant to successfully answer Charles Darwin, and the more ignorant he was the more cheerfully he undertook the task. He was held up to the ridicule, the scorn and contempt of the Christian world, and yet when he died, England was proud to put his dust with that of her noblest and her grandest. Charles Darwin conquered the intellectual world, and his doctrines are now accepted facts. His light has broken in on some of the clergy, and the greatest man who to-day occupies the pulpit of one of the orthodox churches, Henry Ward Beecher, is a believer in the theories of Charles Darwin--a man of more genius than all the clergy of that entire church put together. ...The church teaches that man was created perfect, and that for six thousand years he has degenerated. Darwin demonstrated the falsity of this dogma. He shows that man has for thousands of ages steadily advanced; that the Garden of Eden is an ignorant myth; that the doctrine of original sin has no foundation in fact; that the atonement is an absurdity; that the serpent did not tempt, and that man did not 'fall.' Charles Darwin destroyed the foundation of orthodox Christianity. There is nothing left but faith in what we know could not and did not happen. Religion and science are enemies. One is a superstition; the other is a fact. One rests upon the false, the other upon the true. One is the result of fear and faith, the other of investigation and reason.
Robert G. Ingersoll (Lectures of Col. R.G. Ingersoll: Including His Letters on the Chinese God--Is Suicide a Sin?--The Right to One's Life--Etc. Etc. Etc, Volume 2)
The theology that matters is not the theology we profess but the theology we practice.
Francis Chan (Letters to the Church)
That God should play the tyrant over man is a dismal story of unrelieved oppression; that man should play the tyrant over man is the usual dreary record of human futility; but that man should play the tyrant over God and find him a better man than himself is an astonishing drama indeed.
Dorothy L. Sayers (Letters to a Diminished Church: Passionate Arguments for the Relevance of Christian Doctrine)
We want the Church to be small not only that fewer men may know the Enemy but also that those who do may acquire the uneasy intensity and the defensive self-righteousness of a secret society or a clique.
C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)
Zack let out the breath he'd been holding since he walked out of the conference room. Blake is back! Zack smiled. He would soon receive an almost four hundred-thousand-dollar fee for an interview, a letter, two phone calls, and a meeting. "I love this job . . .
Mark M. Bello (Betrayal of Faith (Zachary Blake Legal Thriller, #1))
This is why I persist, and if you wish to know the real reason for my persistence, it is this. At the hour of my death, when Our Lord asks me: "What have you done with your episcopate, what have you done with your episcopal and priestly grace?" I do not want to hear from his lips the terrible words "You have helped to destroy the Church along with the rest of them." (p. 163)
Marcel Lefebvre (Open Letter to Confused Catholics)
The sixth deadly sin is named by the church acedia or sloth. In the world it calls itself tolerance; but in hell it is called despair. It is the accomplice of the other sins and their worst punishment. It is the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, loves nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive only because there is nothing it would die for. We have known it far too well for many years. The only thing perhaps that we have not known about it is that it is a mortal sin.
Dorothy L. Sayers (Letters to a Diminished Church: Passionate Arguments for the Relevance of Christian Doctrine)
Now then, in the earth these people cannot stand much church -- an hour and a quarter is the limit, and they draw the line at once a week. That is to say, Sunday. One day in seven; and even then they do not look forward to it with longing. And so -- consider what their heaven provides for them: "church" that lasts forever, and a Sabbath that has no end! They quickly weary of this brief hebdomadal Sabbath here, yet they long for that eternal one; they dream of it, they talk about it, they think they think they are going to enjoy it -- with all their simple hearts they think they think they are going to be happy in it!
Mark Twain (Letters from the Earth: Uncensored Writings)
I write with the entire alphabet, not just the popular letters. Readers don't want to lose themselves in the text. They want to find themselves in it.
Mark R. Trost (Post Marked)
A pastor really needs to be broken before God every day, or he will break up the church of God with his willfulness or let it slip into spiritual death through his sloth.
C. John Miller (The Heart of a Servant Leader: Letters from Jack Miller)
When you eat, I want you to think of God, of the holiness of hands that feed us, of the provision we are given every time we eat. When you eat bread and you drink wine, I want you to think about the body and the blood every time, not just when the bread and wine show up in church, but when they show up anywhere— on a picnic table or a hardwood floor or a beach.
Shauna Niequist (Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes)
To make a start, it should give away all its property to those in need. The clergy must live solely on the free-will offerings of their congregations, or possibly engage in some secular calling. The church must share in the secular problems of ordinary human life, not dominating, but helping and serving.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Letters Papers from Prison)
We can glimpse it in the book of Acts: the method of the kingdom will match the message of the kingdom. The kingdom…goes out into the world vulnerable, suffering, praising, praying, misunderstood, misjudged, vindicated, celebrating: always – as Paul puts it in one of his letters – bearing in the body the dying of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be displayed.
N.T. Wright (Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church)
For the civil government can give no new right to the church, nor the church to the civil government. So that, whether the magistrate join himself to any church, or separate from it, the church remains always as it was before — a free and voluntary society. It neither requires the power of the sword by the magistrate’s coming to it, nor does it lose the right of instruction and excommunication by his going from it. This is the fundamental and immutable right of a spontaneous society — that it has power to remove any of its members who transgress the rules of its institution; but it cannot, by the accession of any new members, acquire any right of jurisdiction over those that are not joined with it.
John Locke (A Letter Concerning Toleration)
In her voyage across the ocean of this world, the Church is like a great ship being pounded by the waves of life’s different stresses. Our duty is not to abandon ship but to keep her on her course.
Saint Boniface (The Letters of St. Boniface)
Perhaps, just perhaps, we can’t read singular verses or chapters in a vacuum; perhaps we can’t read letters written to specific people with specific situations in mind in a specific context and then apply them, broad-brush, to the whole of humanity or the church or even our own small selves. Perhaps we need wisdom, insight. We need the Holy Spirit. Perhaps we need Jesus as our best and clearest lens; we need all of Scripture, too. After all, Jesus is the Word of God incarnate.
Sarah Bessey (Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible's View of Women)
I used to have to do readings in church, and it was terrifying. I would never have my glasses. The words are printed so small even Superman would be nervous. And you’re reading from the Bible. It’s not like you can just make something up and improvise. “A reading from the letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians. Uhhh. Dear Corinthians, … How was your weekend? Sure is hot here. Uh, tell Jesus ‘Hey.’ This is the word of the Lord.
Jim Gaffigan (Dad Is Fat)
You showed me that my past didn't make me unworthy to receive the nearness of God in the elements. I could stand before the table of grace a whole person -- deeply flawed and still incredibly valued, hand-made by a loving God
Lenny Duncan (Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the US)
The author nicely encapsulates Paul's overarching intent in his letter to Corinth, to impress upon those in the church infatuated with the gifts of the Spirit a greater awestruck awareness of His presence in and among them. The author then illustrates thusly: if we have but a few coins, we may carry them lightly with little concern as to whether we lose them. But if we are aware that we carry a great sum, we will carry it with great care. How much more the Treasure of the Holy Spirit within the earthen vessel of our bodies?
Watchman Nee (The Normal Christian Life)
The Church still prizes the Moral Sense as man's noblest asset today, although the Church knows God had a distinctly poor opinion of it and did what he could in his clumsy way to keep his happy Children of the Garden from acquiring it.
Mark Twain (Letters from the Earth: Uncensored Writings)
God language can tie people into knots, of course. In part, that is because ‘God’ is not God's name. Referring to the highest power we can imagine, ‘God’ is our name for that which is greater than all and yet present in each. For some the highest imaginable power will be a petty and angry tribal baron ensconced high above the clouds on a golden throne, visiting punishment on all who don't believe in him. But for others, the highest power is love, goodness, justice, or the spirit of life itself. Each of us projects our limited experience on a cosmic screen in letters as big as our minds can fashion. For those whose vision is constricted (illiberal, narrow-minded people), this can have horrific consequences. But others respond to the munificence of creation with broad imagination and sympathy. Answering to the highest and best within and beyond themselves, they draw lessons and fathom meaning so redemptive that surely it touches the divine.
Forrest Church (The Cathedral of the World: A Universalist Theology)
Salvation, then, is not “going to heaven” but “being raised to life in God’s new heaven and new earth.” But as soon as we put it like this we realize that the New Testament is full of hints, indications, and downright assertions that this salvation isn’t just something we have to wait for in the long-distance future. We can enjoy it here and now (always partially, of course, since we all still have to die), genuinely anticipating in the present what is to come in the future. “We were saved,” says Paul in Romans 8:24, “in hope.” The verb “we were saved” indicates a past action, something that has already taken place, referring obviously to the complex of faith and baptism of which Paul has been speaking in the letter so far. But this remains “in hope” because we still look forward to the ultimate future salvation of which he speaks in (for instance) Romans 5:9, 10.
N.T. Wright (Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church)
Dear Daniel, How do you break up with your boyfriend in a way that tells him, "I don't want to sleep with you on a regular basis anymore, but please be available for late night booty calls if I run out of other options"? Lily Charlotte, NC Dear Lily, The story's so old you can't tell it anymore without everyone groaning, even your oldest friends with the last of their drinks shivering around the ice in their dirty glasses. The music playing is the same album everyone has. Those shoes, everybody has the same shoes on. It looked a little like rain so on person brought an umbrella, useless now in the starstruck clouded sky, forgotten on the way home, which is how the umbrella ended up in her place anyway. Everyone gets older on nights like this. And still it's a fresh slap in the face of everything you had going, that precarious shelf in the shallow closet that will certainly, certainly fall someday. Photographs slipping into a crack to be found by the next tenant, that one squinter third from the left laughing at something your roommate said, the coaster from that place in the city you used to live in, gone now. A letter that seemed important for reasons you can't remember, throw it out, the entry in the address book you won't erase but won't keep when you get a new phone, let it pass and don't worry about it. You don't think about them; "I haven't thought about them in forever," you would say if anybody brought it up, and nobody does." You think about them all the time. Close the book but forget to turn off the light, just sit staring in bed until you blink and you're out of it, some noise on the other side of the wall reminding you you're still here. That's it, that's everything. There's no statue in the town square with an inscription with words to live by. The actor got slapped this morning by someone she loved, slapped right across the face, but there's no trace of it on any channel no matter how late you watch. How many people--really, count them up--know where you are? How many will look after you when you don't show up? The churches and train stations are creaky and the street signs, the menus, the writing on the wall, it all feels like the wrong language. Nobody, nobody knows what you're thinking of when you lean your head against the wall. Put a sweater on when you get cold. Remind yourself, this is the night, because it is. You're free to sing what you want as you walk there, the trees rustling spookily and certainly and quietly and inimitably. Whatever shoes you want, fuck it, you're comfortable. Don't trust anyone's directions. Write what you might forget on the back of your hand, and slam down the cheap stuff and never mind the bad music from the window three floors up or what the boys shouted from the car nine years ago that keeps rattling around in your head, because you're here, you are, for the warmth of someone's wrists where the sleeve stops and the glove doesn't quite begin, and the slant of the voice on the punch line of the joke and the reflection of the moon in the water on the street as you stand still for a moment and gather your courage and take a breath before stealing away through the door. Look at it there. Take a good look. It looks like rain. Love, Daniel Handler
Daniel Handler
I’m now reading Tertullian, Cyprian, and others of the church fathers with great interest. In some ways they are more relevant to our time than the Reformers, and at the same time they provide a basis for talks between Protestants and Roman Catholics.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Letters Papers from Prison)
The possibility of evil exists from the moment that a creature is made that can love and do good because it chooses and not because it is unable to do anything else. The actuality of evil exists from the moment that that choice is exercised in the wrong direction.
Dorothy L. Sayers
letters.
Frank Viola (The Untold Story of the New Testament Church: An Extraordinary Guide to Understanding the New Testament)
If joy could break windows and hallelujahs could break floorboards, this church would have been broken down by noon.
Hannah Brencher (If You Find This Letter: My Journey to Find Purpose Through Hundreds of Letters to Strangers)
The church is church only when it is there for others.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Letters and Papers from Prison DBW Vol 8)
Just because something is said with the wrong attitude doesn’t mean it’s wrong information
Francis Chan (Letters to the Church)
It was two weeks after the day she turned eighteen All dressed in white Going to the church that night She had his box of letters in the passenger seat Sixpence in a shoe, something borrowed, something blue And when the church doors opened up wide She put her veil down Trying to hide the tears Oh she just couldn't believe it She heard trumpets from the military band And the flowers fell out of her hand Baby why'd you leave me Why'd you have to go? I was counting on forever, now I'll never know I can't even breathe It's like I'm looking from a distance Standing in the background Everybody's saying, he's not coming home now This can't be happening to me This is just a dream The preacher man said let us bow our heads and pray Lord please lift his soul, and heal this hurt Then the congregation all stood up and sang the saddest song that she ever heard Then they handed her a folded up flag And she held on to all she had left of him Oh, and what could have been And then the guns rang one last shot And it felt like a bullet in her heart Baby why'd you leave me Why'd you have to go? I was counting on forever, now I'll never know I can't even breathe It's like I'm looking from a distance Standing in the background Everybody's saying, he's not coming home now This can't be happening to me This is just a dream Oh, this is just a dream Just a dream
Carrie Underwood
From such an extravegent summary, we can draw only one conclusion: either we must condemn the Second Vatican Council which authorized it, or we must condemn the Council of Trent and all the Popes who, since the sixteenth century, have declared Protestantism heretical and schismatic.
Marcel Lefebvre (Open Letter to Confused Catholics)
Evil is the soul’s choice of the not-God. The corollary is that damnation, or hell, is the permanent choice of the not-God. God does not (in the monstrous old-fashioned phrase) “send” anybody to hell; hell is that state of the soul in which its choice becomes obdurate and fixed; the punishment (so to call it) of that soul is to remain eternally in the state that it has chosen.
Dorothy L. Sayers
I'd like to start this week with a request, and this one goes out to the followers of the three Abrahamic religions: the Muslims, Christians, and Jews. It's just a little thing, really, but do you think that when you've finished smashing up the world and blowing each other to bits and demanding special privileges while you do it, do you think that maybe the rest of us could sort of have our planet back? I wouldn't ask, but I'm starting to think that there must be something written in the special books that each of you so enjoy referring to that it's ok to behave like special, petulant, pugnacious, pricks. Forgive the alliteration, but your persistent, power-mad punch-ups are pissing me off. It's mainly the extremists obviously, but not exclusively. It's a lot of 'main-streamers' as well. Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about. Muslims: listen up my bearded and veily friends! Calm down, ok? Stop blowing stuff up. Not everything that said about you is an attack on the prophet Mohammed and Allah that needs to end in the infidel being destroyed. Have a cup of tea, put on a Cat Stevens record, sit down and chill out. I mean seriously, what's wrong with a strongly-worded letter to The Times? Christians: you and your churches don't get to be millionaires while other people have nothing at all. They're your bloody rules; either stick to them or abandon the faith. And stop persecuting and killing people you judge to be immoral. Oh, and stop pretending you're celibate -- it's a cover-up for being a gay or a nonce. Right, that's two ticked off. Jews! I know you're god's 'Chosen People' and the rest of us are just whatever, but when Israel behaves like a violent, psychopathic bully and someone mentions it that doesn't make them antisemitic. And for the record, your troubled history is not a license to act with impunity now.
Marcus Brigstocke
While we can’t force people to be devoted, it may be that we have made it too easy for them not to be. By trying to keep everyone interested and excited, we’ve created a cheap substitute for devotion. Rather than busying themselves with countless endeavors, the early followers devoted themselves to a few. And it changed the world. It seems like the Church of America is constantly looking for the next new thing.
Francis Chan (Letters to the Church)
Our church, which has been fighting in these years only for its self-preservation, as though that were an end in itself, is incapable of taking the word of reconciliation and redemption to mankind and the world.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Letters Papers from Prison)
If “atheophobia” denotes the violent criticism of atheism, I invite my Bible-thumping friends to sign up without fear for their safety. Don’t reserve your insults to Reason for the privacy of those tombs of thought you call temples, churches, synagogues, and mosques! Publish newspapers and blogs, stage plays and puppet shows, to mock what you see as the absurdity of life without God, of life without your Supreme Blankie!
Charb (Open Letter: On Blasphemy, Islamophobia, and the True Enemies of Free Expression)
God-centered, Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated churches where the gospel is cherished—these are the birthplace of the kind of racial harmony that gives long-term glory to God and long-term gospel good to the world.
Bryan Loritts (Letters to a Birmingham Jail)
Surely you know that if a man can’t be cured of churchgoing, the next best thing is to send him all over the neighbourhood looking for the church that ‘suits’ him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches.
C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)
whatever the Roman Church may be otherwise, she wants to be and also is church of the cross, church of the Crucified, whose sacrificial death plays a greater part in its life and thought than in many Protestant Churches.
Herman Sasse (Letters to Lutheran Pastors - Volume 1)
After more than one hundred and fifty years of living alone in the darkness, I met you, Susannah, and through you, I met Father Dominic. Everything my mother said in her letter came true. It wasn’t the same church, and it wasn’t the same priest. But the letter and the ring were there, all because of you. And now I want to give that ring to you.
Meg Cabot (The Proposal (The Mediator, #6.5))
Many of us make decisions based on what brings us the most pleasure....We pursue what we want; then we make sure there are no biblical commands we are violating. In essence, we want to know what God will tolerate rather than what He desires. Maybe we are afraid to ask what will bring Him the most pleasure. Ignorance feels better than disobedience.
Francis Chan (Letters to the Church)
Do you know, where does this phrase "separation of Church and State" come from? It was not in Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptists...The exact phrase "separation of Church and State" came out of Adolf Hilter's mouth, that's where it comes from. So the next time your liberal friends talk about the separation of Church and State - ask them why they're Nazis.
Glen Urquhart
Perhaps we are not following Christ all the way or in the right spirit. We are likely, for example, to be a little sparing of the palms and hosannas. We are chary of wielding the scourge of small cords, lest we should offend somebody or interfere with trade. We do not furnish up our wits to disentangle knotty questions about Sunday observance and tribute money, nor hasten to sit at the feet of the doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions. We pass hastily over disquieting jests about making friends with the mammon of unrighteousness and alarming observations about bringing not peace but a sword; nor do we distinguish ourselves by the graciousness by which we sit at meat with publicans and sinners. Somehow or other, and with the best intentions, we have shown the world the typical Christian in the likeness of a crashing and rather ill-natured bore---and this in the name of the one who assuredly never bored a soul in those thirty-three years during which he passed through the world like a flame. Let us, in heaven's name, drag out the divine drama from under the dreadful accumulation of slipshod thinking and trashy sentiment heaped upon it, and set it on an open stage to startle the world into some sort of vigorous reaction. If the pious are the first to be shocked, so much worse for the pious---others will pass into the kingdom of heaven before them. If all men are offended because of Christ, let them be offended; but where is the sense of their being offended at something that is not Christ and is nothing like him? We do him singularly little honor by watering down his personality till it could not offend a fly. Surely it is not the business of the Church to adapt Christ to men, but to adapt men to Christ.
Dorothy L. Sayers (Letters to a Diminished Church: Passionate Arguments for the Relevance of Christian Doctrine)
Paul suggests that gentiles can practice a law written in their hearts, which will be seen as not only equal to but also above the written Torah…It should be remembered that in Paul’s day the only religious law for Paul was that of the Jewish Bible, in Hebrew… Though Torah and the New Testament, including Paul’s letters, will eventually shape church law, the New Testament’s books are not in themselves composed as law. They are not a self-consciously composed constitution. They contain no Ten Commandments in form or statement.
Willis Barnstone (The Restored New Testament: A New Translation with Commentary, Including the Gnostic Gospels Thomas, Mary, and Judas)
The catch is that for most people the New Testament is taken as proof for the conventional picture of Christian origins, and the conventional picture is taken as proof for the way in which the New Testament was written. . . . For this reason the New Testament is commonly viewed and treated as a charter document that came into being much like the Constitution of the United States. According to this view, the authors of the New Testament were all present at the historic beginnings of the new religion and collectively wrote their gospels and letters for the purpose of founding the Christian church that Jesus came to inaugurate. Unfortunately for this view, that is not the way it happened.
Burton L. Mack
Religious laws, in all the major religious traditions, have both a letter and a spirit. As I understand the words and example of Jesus, the spirit of the law is all-important whereas the letter, while useful… becomes lifeless and deadly without it. In accord with this distinction a yearning to worship on wilderness ridges or beside rivers rather than in churches could legitimately be called evangelical… if your words or deeds harmonize with the example of Jesus, you are evangelical in spirit whether you claim to be or not. When the non-Christian Ambrose Bierce wrote, “War is the means by which Americans learn geography,” his words are aimed at the same antiwar end as “Blessed are the peacemakers.
David James Duncan (God Laughs & Plays: Churchless Sermons in Response to the Preachments of the Fundamentalist Right)
In particular, our church will have to confront the vices of hubris, the worship of power, envy, and illusionism[28] as the roots of all evil. It will have to speak of moderation, authenticity, trust, faithfulness, steadfastness, patience, discipline, humility, modesty, contentment.[
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Letters and Papers from Prison DBW Vol 8)
We come to the house of the Lord to study the Word of the Lord and learn how to live according to the teachings of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, so when we step out of the church building and enter back into the activities of life, we can conquer the hindrances and attacks against us.
Mark T. Barclay (The Missing Red Letters)
For decades church leadership like myself have lost sight of the powerful mystery inherent in the Church and have instead run to other methods to keep people interested. In all honesty, we have trained you to become addicted to lesser things. We have cheapened something sacred, and we we must repent.
Francis Chan (Letters to the Church)
If a man can't be cured of churchgoing, the next best thing [for Satan and his devils to do] is to send him all over the neighbourhood looking for the church that "suits"him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches. The reasons are obvious. In the first place the parochial organization should always be attacked, because, being a unity of place and not of likings, it brings people of different classes and psychology together in the kind of unity the [Lord] desires... In the second place, the search for a "suitable" church makes the man a critic where the [Lord] wants him to be a pupil.
C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)
This is the first principle of democracy: that the essential things in men are the things they hold in common, not the things they hold separately. And the second principle is merely this: that the political instinct or desire is one of these things which they hold in common. Falling in love is more poetical than dropping into poetry. The democratic contention is that government ... is a thing like falling in love, and not a thing like dropping into poetry. It is not something analogous to playing the church organ, painting on vellum,..., being Astronomer Royal, and so on. For these things we do not wish a man to do at all unless he does them well. It is, on the contrary, a thing analogous to writing one's own love-letters or blowing one's own nose. These things we want a man to do for himself, even if he does them badly. .... In short, the democratic faith is this: that the most terribly important things must be left to ordinary men themselves--the mating of the sexes, the rearing of the young, the laws of the state. This is democracy; and in this I have always believed.
G.K. Chesterton
Similarly, some biblical views of women are superior to others. And so the apostle Paul’s attitude about women is that they could be and should be leaders of the Christian communities—as evidenced by the fact that in his own communities there were women who were church organizers, deacons, and even apostles (Romans 16). That attitude is much better than the one inserted by a later scribe into Paul’s letter of 1 Corinthians, which claims women should always be silent in the church (1 Corinthians 14:35–36), or the one forged under Paul’s name in the letter of 1 Timothy, which insists that women remain silent, submissive, and pregnant (1 Timothy 2:11–15).
Bart D. Ehrman (Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don't Know About Them))
I don’t want a church of false unity. And some fundamental truths are worth fighting over.
Lenny Duncan (Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the US)
This is indeed only a game, but it is a game of life and death!” the Reverend John Hollidge of Gold Hill Baptist Church in Buckinghamshire said in a letter to parents.
David M. Ewalt (Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and The People Who)
Community is essential, but the fundamental calling of the church is global.
Calvin Miller (Letters to a Young Pastor)
Churches that ignore their communities will not grow, and churches that will not globalize don’t matter much.
Calvin Miller (Letters to a Young Pastor)
Nothing is a masterpiece - a real masterpiece - till it's about two hundred years old. A picture is like a tree or a church, you've got to let it grow into a masterpiece. Same with a poem or a new religion. They begin as a lot of funny words. Nobody knows whether they're all nonsense or a gift from heaven. And the only people who think anything of 'em are a lot of cranks or crackpots, or poor devils who don't know enough to know anything. Look at Christianity. Just a lot of floating seeds to start with, all sorts of seeds. It was a long time before one of them grew into a tree big enough to kill the rest and keep the rain off. And it's only when the tree has been cut into planks and built into a house and the house has got pretty old and about fifty generations of ordinary lumpheads who don't know a work of art from a public convenience, have been knocking nails in the kitchen beams to hang hams on, and screwing hooks in the walls for whips and guns and photographs and calendars and measuring the children on the window frames and chopping out a new cupboard under the stairs to keep the cheese and murdering their wives in the back room and burying them under the cellar flags, that it begins even to feel like a religion. And when the whole place is full of dry rot and ghosts and old bones and the shelves are breaking down with old wormy books that no one could read if they tried, and the attic floors are bulging through the servants' ceilings with old trunks and top-boots and gasoliers and dressmaker's dummies and ball frocks and dolls-houses and pony saddles and blunderbusses and parrot cages and uniforms and love letters and jugs without handles and bridal pots decorated with forget-me-nots and a piece out at the bottom, that it grows into a real old faith, a masterpiece which people can really get something out of, each for himself. And then, of course, everybody keeps on saying that it ought to be pulled down at once, because it's an insanitary nuisance.
Joyce Cary (The Horse's Mouth)
To us, many situations in Scripture involve a punishment that was too severe for the crime. But Why do we feel this way? We don't understand what it means for something to be "sacred.
Francis Chan (Letters to the Church)
Living according to God's truth means that my ego must die, and I must live entirely for God and for my neighbors. Living according to God's truth means not following the crowd and not being dismayed when even your friends misunderstand you. For the God whom you serve will have the final word. On the day of judgement he will speak the final word over the whole of your life.
Mikhail Khorev (Letters from a Soviet Prison Camp)
Every week seems to bring another luxuriantly creamy envelope, the thickness of a letter-bomb, containing a complex invitation – a triumph of paper engineering – and a comprehensive dossier of phone numbers, email addresses, websites, how to get there, what to wear, where to buy the gifts. Country house hotels are being block-booked, great schools of salmon are being poached, vast marquees are appearing overnight like Bedouin tent cities. Silky grey morning suits and top hats are being hired and worn with an absolutely straight face, and the times are heady and golden for florists and caterers, string quartets and Ceilidh callers, ice sculptors and the makers of disposable cameras. Decent Motown cover-bands are limp with exhaustion. Churches are back in fashion, and these days the happy couple are travelling the short distance from the place of worship to the reception on open-topped London buses, in hot-air balloons, on the backs of matching white stallions, in micro-lite planes. A wedding requires immense reserves of love and commitment and time off work, not least from the guests. Confetti costs eight pounds a box. A bag of rice from the corner shop just won’t cut it anymore.
David Nicholls (One Day)
Dear Church, it’s time to stop prioritizing tradition and civility over the lives of the marginalized. Our well-meaning desires to be tolerant and welcoming have left us ill equipped to face radical evil.
Lenny Duncan (Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the US)
If there is anything I regret then it is that period when I allowed mystical and theological profundities to mislead me into withdrawing too much into myself. …..When you wake up in the morning and find you are not alone but can see a fellow creature there in the half-light, it makes the world look so much more welcoming. Much ,more welcoming than the devotional journals and whitewashed church walls beloved of clergymen.
Vincent van Gogh (Complete Letters of Vincent Van Gogh (vol. iii of iii))
We do not know this Messiah solely through the red letters in the gospel texts. We know him in his fullness because we are joined to him in his Body, the church. In this joining, we do not lose our individuality or our individual stories of conversion and encounter with Christ. Instead, our own small stories are wrapped up in the story of all believers throughout time, which are together part of the eternal story of Christ.
Tish Harrison Warren (Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life)
After a long and happy life, I find myself at the pearly gates (a sight of great joy; the word for “pearl” in Greek is, by the way, margarita). Standing there is St. Peter. This truly is heaven, for finally my academic questions will receive answers. I immediately begin the questions that have been plaguing me for half a century: “Can you speak Greek? Where did you go when you wandered off in the middle of Acts? How was the incident between you and Paul in Antioch resolved? What happened to your wife?” Peter looks at me with some bemusement and states, “Look, lady, I’ve got a whole line of saved people to process. Pick up your harp and slippers here, and get the wings and halo at the next table. We’ll talk after dinner.” As I float off, I hear, behind me, a man trying to gain Peter’s attention. He has located a “red letter Bible,” which is a text in which the words of Jesus are printed in red letters. This is heaven, and all sorts of sacred art and Scriptures, from the Bhagavad Gita to the Qur’an, are easily available (missing, however, was the Reader’s Digest Condensed Version). The fellow has his Bible open to John 14, and he is frenetically pointing at v. 6: “Jesus says here, in red letters, that he is the way. I’ve seen this woman on television (actually, she’s thinner in person). She’s not Christian; she’s not baptized - she shouldn’t be here!” “Oy,” says Peter, “another one - wait here.” He returns a few minutes later with a man about five foot three with dark hair and eyes. I notice immediately that he has holes in his wrists, for when the empire executes an individual, the circumstances of that death cannot be forgotten. “What is it, my son?” he asks. The man, obviously nonplussed, sputters, “I don’t mean to be rude, but didn’t you say that no one comes to the Father except through you?” “Well,” responds Jesus, “John does have me saying this.” (Waiting in line, a few other biblical scholars who overhear this conversation sigh at Jesus’s phrasing; a number of them remain convinced that Jesus said no such thing. They’ll have to make the inquiry on their own time.) “But if you flip back to the Gospel of Matthew, which does come first in the canon, you’ll notice in chapter 25, at the judgment of the sheep and the goats, that I am not interested in those who say ‘Lord, Lord,’ but in those who do their best to live a righteous life: feeding the hungry, visiting people in prison . . . ” Becoming almost apoplectic, the man interrupts, “But, but, that’s works righteousness. You’re saying she’s earned her way into heaven?” “No,” replies Jesus, “I am not saying that at all. I am saying that I am the way, not you, not your church, not your reading of John’s Gospel, and not the claim of any individual Christian or any particular congregation. I am making the determination, and it is by my grace that anyone gets in, including you. Do you want to argue?” The last thing I recall seeing, before picking up my heavenly accessories, is Jesus handing the poor man a Kleenex to help get the log out of his eye.
Amy-Jill Levine (The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus)
Lastly, those are not at all to be tolerated who deny the being of a God. Promises, covenants, and oaths, which are the bonds of human society, can have no hold upon an atheist. The taking away of God, though but even in thought, dissolves all; besides also, those that by their atheism undermine and destroy all religion, can have no pretence of religion whereupon to challenge the privilege of a toleration. As for other practical opinions, though not absolutely free from all error, if they do not tend to establish domination over others, or civil impunity to the Church in which they are taught, there can be no reason why they should not be tolerated.
John Locke (A Letter Concerning Toleration)
if God had a church it would not be split up into factions, and that if he taught one society to worship one way, and administer in one set of ordinances, He would not teach another, principles which were diametrically opposed.
Joseph Smith Jr. (The Wentworth Letter)
Each life lived eventually became a book. How a single letter becomes a word, becomes a sentence, becomes a paragraph, before finally becoming a chapter and on and on and on until cycle of life ends and the book has been written.
Betta Ferrendelli (The Friday Edition (Samantha Church, #1))
Imagine a New Testament that closed with the little Letter of Jude addressed to a second-generation church that was being corrupted in its creed, conduct, character and conversation. So is that how it will all end? What a depressing anticlimax!
David Pawson (Unlocking the Bible)
He pauses. “Maybe that letter was left for you.” “No, she was pretty pissed that I wrote back.” Now he hesitates. “I don’t mean that she left the letter for you.” It takes me a second to figure out his tone. “Rev, if you start preaching at me, I’m going in the house.” “I’m not preaching.” No, he’s not. Yet. He still has that old Bible I found him clutching in my closet. It was his mother’s. He’s read it about twenty times. He’ll debate theology with anyone who’s interested—and I’m not on that list. Geoff and Kristin used to take him to church, but he said he didn’t like that he couldn’t live by his own interpretation. What he didn’t say was that looking up at a man in a pulpit reminded him too much of his father. Rev doesn’t walk around quoting Bible verses or anything—usually—but his faith is rock solid. I once asked him how he can believe in a providential god when he barely survived living with his father. He looked at me and said, “Because I did survive.” And there’s no arguing that.
Brigid Kemmerer (Letters to the Lost (Letters to the Lost, #1))
[W]hen they have opened a gap in the hedge or wall of Separation between the Garden of the Church and the Wildernes of the world, God hath ever broke down the wall it selfe, removed the Candlestick, &c. and made his Garden a Wildernesse, as at this day.
Roger Williams (Mr. Cottons Letter Lately Printed, Examined and Ansvvered.)
The Virgin Mary is called the [Greek words] (the "book of the Word of life") by the Greek Church. The book of the Gospel, the book of Christ's origins and life, can be written and proclaimed because God has first written his living Word in the living book of the Virgin's being, which she has offered to her Lord in all its purity and humility—the whiteness of a chaste, empty page. If the name of Mary does not often appear in the pages of the Gospel as evident participant in the action, it is because she is the human ground of humility and obedience upon which every letter of Christ's life is written. She is the Theotokos, too, in the sense that she is the book that bears, and is inscribed with, the Word of God. She keeps her silence that he might resonate the more plainly within her.
Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis (Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word: Meditations on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew, Vol. 1)
It causes the world great indignation that the question of God and his revelation could be taken so seriously, as seriously as it was taken by the teachers and synods of the ancient church, and by Lutherans, Reformed, and Catholics in the century of the Reformation.
Hermann Sasse (The Lonely Way: Selected Essays and Letters, Volume 2 (1941-1976))
My father old Cosway, with his white marble tablet in the English church at Spanish Town for all to see. It have a crest on it and a motto in Latin and words in big black letters. I never know such lies. [...] "Pious", they write up. "Beloved by all." Not a word about the people he buy and sell like cattle. "Merciful to the weak", they write up. Mercy! [...] I can still see that tablet before my eye because I go to look at it often. I know by heart all the lies they tell - no one stand up and say, Why you write lies in the church?
Jean Rhys (Wide Sargasso Sea)
Saint Paul was proud of his Roman citizenship, and his letter to various Christian communities in the empire presupposed an effective communications system that only Roman government, law, and military might allowed. "The Church's administration evolved as the imperial government's structured was modified over time. An archbishop ruled a large territory that the Romans called a province. A bishop ruled a diocese, a smaller Roman administrative unit dominated by a large city. "The capitals of the eastern and western parts of the empire -- Constantinople and Rome -- came in time to signify unusual and superior power for the bishops resident there. When the Roman state was dissolved in the Latin-speaking world around 458 A.D., the pope replaced the emperor as the political leader of the Eternal City.
Norman F. Cantor (Antiquity: The Civilization of the Ancient World)
Shall we suffer a Pagan to deal and trade with us, and shall we not suffer him to pray unto and worship God? If we allow the Jews to have private houses and dwellings amongst us, why should we not allow them to have synagogues? Is their doctrine more false, their worship more abominable, or is the civil peace more endangered by their meeting in public than in their private houses? But if these things may be granted to Jews and Pagans, surely the condition of any Christians ought not to be worse than theirs in a Christian commonwealth. You will say, perhaps: "Yes, it ought to be; because they are more inclinable to factions, tumults, and civil wars." I answer: Is this the fault of the Christian religion? If it be so, truly the Christian religion is the worst of all religions and ought neither to be embraced by any particular person, nor tolerated by any commonwealth. For if this be the genius, this the nature of the Christian religion, to be turbulent and destructive to the civil peace, that Church itself which the magistrate indulges will not always be innocent.
John Locke (A Letter Concerning Toleration)
Asilomar’s lack of focus on ethical issues bothered many religious leaders. That prompted a letter to President Jimmy Carter signed by the heads of three major religious organizations: the National Council of Churches, the Synagogue Council of America, and the U.S. Catholic Conference. “We are rapidly moving into a new era of fundamental danger triggered by the rapid growth of genetic engineering,” they wrote. “Who shall determine how human good is best served when new life forms are being engineered?”13 These decisions should not be left to scientists, the trio argued. “There will always be those who believe it appropriate to ‘correct’ our mental and social structures by genetic means. This becomes more dangerous when the basic tools to do so are finally at hand. Those who would play God will be tempted as never before.
Walter Isaacson (The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race)
This informal “pre-exclusion” is probably the more powerful and widely exerted form in many churches. It is in my denomination. As the divorced and remarried don’t seek communion at a Roman Catholic parish, gays and lesbians don’t seek to participate in most evangelical churches.
Ken Wilson (A Letter to My Congregation: An Evangelical Pastor's Path to Embracing People Who Are Gay, Lesbian and Transgender in the Company of Jesus)
Paul embodied principles of leadership that he also described in his letters. He certainly thought the life of individual believers and churches ought to resemble a solid foundation on Christ (see 1 Corinthians 3:9-17). Looking at Paul's life, we can see leadership all the more clearly.
J. Oswald Sanders (Spiritual Leadership)
Vatican’s secretly composed message to all of Germany’s Catholics. On Palm Sunday, 1937, the letter had been read by every priest, bishop, and cardinal across Germany to their congregations and three hundred thousand copies had been disseminated. Drafted by Munich’s Cardinal von Faulhaber and Pope Pius XI, it told German Catholics in carefully veiled terms that National Socialism was an evil religion based on racism that stood contrary to the church’s teachings and every man’s right to equality. It made reference to “an insane and arrogant prophet” without naming Hitler.
Adam Makos (A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II)
Dear Church, I’ll say it again: systemic racism, white supremacy, and the whiteness of the ELCA constitute a theological problem, not a sociological one. And theological problems are often rooted in the symbolism of our liturgy and ritual. After all, we access God primarily through symbols and ritual.
Lenny Duncan (Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the US)
In 1902 before the site of the steel plant was even located, Jamsetji when abroad, described his dream city of steel to his son Dorab in a letter: ‘Be sure to lay wide streets planted with shady trees, every other of a quick-growing variety. Be sure that there is plenty of space for lawns and gardens. Reserve large areas for football, hockey and parks. Earmark areas for Hindu temples, Mohammedan mosques and Christian churches.’ Two decades after Jamsetji penned these lines, J.R.D. first visited Jamshedpur. The dream had come true. In the intervening years men of steel had raised a city out of a jungle.
R.M. Lala (Beyond the last blue mountain)
If anyone maintain that men ought to be compelled by fire and sword to profess certain doctrines, and conform to this or that exterior worship, without any regard had unto their morals; if anyone endeavour to convert those that are erroneous unto the faith, by forcing them to profess things that they do not believe and allowing them to practise things that the Gospel does not permit, it cannot be doubted indeed but such a one is desirous to have a numerous assembly joined in the same profession with himself; but that he principally intends by those means to compose a truly Christian Church is altogether incredible.
John Locke (A Letter Concerning Toleration)
The reason the ELCA has remained so white is a theological problem, not a sociological one. We as church have declared racism a sin. But the demonic system that keeps racist structures in place is where our real work will need to begin. We need to name evil for what it is, and we won’t overcome it until we do.
Lenny Duncan (Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the US)
After all, if the human body was an envelope to hold the human soul--God's letters to the universe--as most churches taught, then the American Eternal coffin was an envelope to hold the human body, and to these husky young cousins or nephews or whatever they were, the past was just a dead letter to be filed away.
Stephen King (Pet Sematary)
He was just a small church parson when the war broke out, and he Looked and dressed and acted like all parsons that we see. He wore the cleric's broadcloth and he hooked his vest behind. But he had a man's religion and he had a stong man's mind. And he heard the call to duty, and he quit his church and went. And he bravely tramped right with 'em every- where the boys were sent. He put aside his broadcloth and he put the khaki on; Said he'd come to be a soldier and was going to live like one. Then he'd refereed the prize fights that the boys pulled off at night, And if no one else was handy he'd put on the gloves and fight. He wasn't there a fortnight ere he saw the sol- diers' needs, And he said: "I'm done with preaching; this is now the time for deeds." He learned the sound of shrapnel, he could tell the size of shell From the shriek it make above him, and he knew just where it fell. In the front line trench he laboured, and he knew the feel of mud, And he didn't run from danger and he wasn't scared of blood. He wrote letters for the wounded, and he cheered them with his jokes, And he never made a visit without passing round the smokes. Then one day a bullet got him, as he knelt be- side a lad Who was "going west" right speedy, and they both seemed mighty glad, 'Cause he held the boy's hand tighter, and he smiled and whispered low, "Now you needn't fear the journey; over there with you I'll go." And they both passed out together, arm in arm I think they went. He had kept his vow to follow everywhere the boys were sent.
Edgar A. Guest
To promise to abide by this legislation, so inimical to God, would mean forsaking the gospel and turning away from God's law. This is why Christians have a choice to make, either to trade in their loyalty to God for freedom from persecution, or to remain true to Christ and consequently run the risk of persecution.
Mikhail Khorev (Letters from a Soviet Prison Camp)
One of his first initiatives for the church, for instance, was to set up a “serious evangelistic campaign” that would be carried on throughout his first full year. “This campaign,” he wrote in a letter of recommendation, “shall be carried out by 25 evangelistic teams, each consisting of a captain and at least three other members. Each team shall be urged to bring in at least five new members within the church year. The team that brings in the highest number of members shall be duly recognized at the end of the church year. Each captain shall call his team together at least once a month to discuss findings and possibilities.
Donald T. Phillips (Martin Luther King, Jr., on Leadership: Inspiration and Wisdom for Challenging Times)
Charley looked over at him. "About how much you and Jesse have in common." Jesse said, "Why don't you tell it, Bob; if you remember." Bob inched forward in his chair. "Well, if you'll pardon my saying so, it is interesting, the many ways you and I overlap and whatnot. You begin with my daddy, J.T. Ford. J stands for James! And T is Thomas, meaning 'twin.' Your daddy was a pastor of the New Hope Baptist Church; my daddy was part-time pastor of a church at Excelsior Springs. You're the youngest of the three James boys; I'm the youngest of the five Ford boys. You had twins as sons, I had twins as sisters. Frank is four and a half years older than you, which incidentally is the difference between Charley and me, the two outlaws in the Ford clan. Between us is another brother, Wilbur here (with six letters in his name); between Frank and you was a brother, Robert, also with six letters. Robert died in infancy, as most everyone knows, and he was named after your father, Robert, who was remembered by your brother's first-born, another Robert. Robert, of course, is my Christian name. My uncle, Robert Austin Ford, has a son named Jesse James Ford. You have blue eyes; I have blue eyes. You're five feet eight inches tall; I'm five feet eight inches tall. We're both hot-tempered and impulsive and devil-may-care. Smith and Wesson is our preferred make of revolver. There's the same number of letters and syllables in our names; I mean, Jesse James and Robert Ford. Oh me, I must've had a list as long as your nightshirt when I was twelve, but I lost some curiosities over the years.
Ron Hansen (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford)
In ordinary times we get along surprisingly well, on the whole, without ever discovering what our faith really is.If, now and again, this remote and academic problem is so unmannerly as to thrust its way into our minds, there are plenty of things we can do to drive the intruder away. We can get the car out or go to a party or to the cinema or read a detective story or have a row with a district council or write a letter to the papers about the habits of the nightjar or Shakespeare's use of nautical metaphor. Thus we build up a defense mechanism against self-questioning because, to tell the truth, we are very much afraid of ourselves.
Dorothy L. Sayers (Letters to a Diminished Church: Passionate Arguments for the Relevance of Christian Doctrine)
What would I do differently if I could do it all over again? I would put more emphasis on being a better husband and father. To the church or the university I would whip out a lot more noes, and a lot more yesses to my family. I would eradicate almost all of the ‘Daddy’s-too-busies,’ and the ‘later, darlings,’ from my vocabulary.
Calvin Miller (Letters to a Young Pastor)
The Emperor Napoleon is said to have confronted Cardinal Consalvi, the secretary of state to Pope Pius VII, saying that he, Napoleon, would destroy the Church—to which the Cardinal deftly responded, “Oh my little man, you think you’re going to succeed in accomplishing what centuries of priests and bishops have tried and failed to do?
Robert Barron (Letter to a Suffering Church: A Bishop Speaks on the Sexual Abuse Crisis)
In Greek the name Christ is χριστός (christos). The first letter looks like the English letter X. Every vocation has its shorthand, and those in the church used the letter chi (χ) to represent Christ in words that began with “Christ-.” So “Xmas” is an honorable abbreviation for Christmas. It was not intended to take Christ out of Christmas
Warren W. Wiersbe (C Is for Christmas: The History, Personalities, and Meaning of Christ's Birth)
Groups have a center of gravity. Families, friends, churches, offices, and schools all have a dominant consciousness, a center of gravity, a party line. It’s the often unspoken agreement that keeps things running smoothly based on what to believe, how to behave, what’s acceptable, and what isn’t. So when you charge in all excited about whatever it is you’ve learned, you are a disruption. And systems don’t take kindly to disruptions, often expending extraordinary energy to quell the disruption, pushing it to the edges, discrediting it. This is why some churches ban books, this is why certain topics are off-limits at family gatherings, and this is often why people use words like heretic.
Rob Bell (What Is the Bible?: How an Ancient Library of Poems, Letters, and Stories Can Transform the Way You Think and Feel About Everything)
Paul used social media to ensure that his view prevailed, cementing the establishment of the Christian church as a religion open to all, and not just to Jews. Such is his influence that his letters are still read out in Christian churches all over the world today— a striking testament to the power of documents copied and distributed along social networks.
Tom Standage (Writing on the Wall: Social Media - The First 2,000 Years)
When people in churches today discuss Paul and his letters, they often think only of the man of ideas who dealt with lofty and difficult concepts, implying a world of libraries, seminar rooms, or at least the minister’s study for quiet sermon preparation. We easily forget that the author of these letters spent most of his waking hours with his sleeves rolled up, doing hard physical work in a hot climate, and that perhaps two-thirds of the conversations he had with people about Jesus and the gospel were conducted not in a place of worship or study, not even in a private home, but in a small, cramped workshop. Saul had his feet on the ground, and his hands were hardened with labor. But his head still buzzed with scripture and the news about Jesus.
N.T. Wright (Paul: A Biography)
(regarding what kind of day she would want to be released) If I had the opportunity to choose, I would want it to be a radiant sunshiny day! And I would love it to be a Saturday morning. I'd go home and take a bath and soak and shampoo and put on clean underwear and clean clothes! And then Sunday morning I want to go to church and thank Gd for freedom -- with capital letters.
Diet Eman (Things We Couldn't Say)
The horror of the Same Old Thing is one of the most valuable passions we have produced in the human heart—an endless source of heresies in religion, folly in counsel, infidelity in marriage, and inconstancy in friendship. The humans live in time, and experience reality successively. To experience much of it, therefore, they must experience many different things; in other words, they must experience change. And since they need change, the Enemy (being a hedonist at heart) has made change pleasurable to them, just as He has made eating pleasurable. But since He does not wish them to make change, any more than eating, an end in itself, He has balanced the love of change in them by a love of permanence. He has contrived to gratify both tastes together on the very world He has made, by that union of change and permanence which we call rhythm. He gives them the seasons, each season different yet every year the same, so that spring is always felt as a novelty yet always as the recurrence of an immemorial theme. He gives them in His Church a spiritual ear; they change from a fast to a feast, but it is the same feast as before.
The Screwtape Letters, C.S.Lewis
The horror of the Same Old Thing is one of the most valuable passions we have produced in the human heart—an endless source of heresies in religion, folly in counsel, infidelity in marriage, and inconstancy in friendship. The humans live in time, and experience reality successively. To experience much of it, therefore, they must experience many different things; in other words, they must experience change. And since they need change, the Enemy (being a hedonist at heart) has made change pleasurable to them, just as He has made eating Pleasurable. But since He does not wish them to make change, any more than eating, an end in itself, He has balanced the love of change in them by a love of permanence. He has contrived to gratify both tastes together on the very world He has made, by that union of change and permanence which we call Rhythm. He gives them the seasons, each season different yet every year the same, so that spring is always felt as a novelty yet always as the recurrence of an immemorial theme. He gives them in His Church a spiritual ear; they change from a fast to a feast, but it is the same feast as before.
The Screwtape Letters, C.S.Lewis
The Church wishes, for example, to apply Rosmini's invitation to 'hear loftily of God' with worthy liturgical celebrations, stripping the concept of God from the guises, at times ingenuous and caricatural, in which an agrarian and prescientific civilization had dressed it. But it is a hard job. On the right, they shout impiety and sacrilege every time an old ritual is abandoned for a new one. On the left, vice versa, novelty is indiscriminately hailed for the sake of novelty, the whole edifice of the past is merrily dismantled, paintings and statues are sent up to the attic; idolatry and superstition are found everywhere, and it is even said that, to safeguard God's dignity, God must be spoken of in only the most select terms, or there must actually be silence.
Pope John Paul I (Illustrissimi: Letters from Pope John Paul I)
The ancient Letter to Diognetus records these observations about the early church: “The Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor by language, nor by the customs that they observe; for they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. They marry, as do all others; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. They are poor, yet they make many rich; they are lacking all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonored, and yet in their very dishonor are glorified. They are spoken of as evil, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; they are insulted and repay the insult with honor; they do good, yet are punished as evildoers.
Shane Claiborne (Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals)
How about if (...) pious people all lived longer than non-pious people? How about when a plane crashes, only the pious people survive? How about Jesus comes when people say he will come? How about people pray for peace, and then all wars in the world stop permanently? How about good things happen excluesively to good people and bad things happen exclusively to bad people? How about an earthquake strikes Lisbon on All Saints Day, while everyone is in Church, as it did in 175, and it kills only people who are not in Church, rather than the tens of thousands of people who were, as what actually happened that fateful morning. These events would trigger serious (scientific) conversation about the existence of God and how he treats people who worship him versus those who do not.
Neil deGrasse Tyson (Letters From An Astrophysicist)
If it’s 11:00 p.m. and your ten-year-old asks for a latte because he’s tired, you need to tell him to go to sleep. Sleep is the right solution for his fatigue. Too often we have given people what they ask for rather than what they need. There are times when the most loving thing we can do is teach people that joy will come only when they stop screaming for attention and save their voices for the throne.
Francis Chan (Letters to the Church)
Let us spend one day as deliberately as Nature, and not be thrown off the track by every nutshell and mosquito's wing that falls on the rails. Let us rise early and fast, or break fast, gently and without perturbation; let company come and let company go, let the bells ring and the children cry, -- determined to make a day of it. Why should we knock under and go with the stream? Let us not be upset and overwhelmed in that terrible rapid and whirlpool called a dinner, situated in the meridian shallows. Weather this danger and you are safe, for the rest of the way is down hill. With unrelaxed nerves, with morning vigor, sail by it, looking another way, tied to the mast like Ulysses. If the engine whistles, let it whistle till it is hoarse for its pains. If the bell rings, why should we run? We will consider what kind of music they are like. Let us settle ourselves, and work and wedge our feet downward through the mud and slush of opinion, and prejudice, and tradition, and delusion, and appearance, that alluvion which covers the globe, through Paris and London, through New York and Boston and Concord, through church and state, through poetry and philosophy and religion, till we come to a hard bottom and rocks in place, which we can call reality, and say, This is, and no mistake; and then begin, having a point d'appui, below freshet and frost and fire, a place where you might found a wall or a state, or set a lamp-post safely, or perhaps a gauge, not a Nilometer, but a Realometer, that future ages might know how deep a freshet of shams and appearances had gathered from time to time. If you stand right fronting and face to face to a fact, you will see the sun glimmer on both its surfaces, as if it were a cimeter, and feel its sweet edge dividing you through the heart and marrow, and so you will happily conclude your mortal career. Be it life or death, we crave only reality. If we are really dying, let us hear the rattle in our throats and feel cold in the extremities; if we are alive, let us go about our business. Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains. I would drink deeper; fish in the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with stars. I cannot count one. I know not the first letter of the alphabet. I have always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I was born. The intellect is a cleaver; it discerns and rifts its way into the secret of things. I do not wish to be any more busy with my hands than is necessary. My head is hands and feet. I feel all my best faculties concentrated in it. My instinct tells me that my head is an organ for burrowing, as some creatures use their snout and fore-paws, and with it I would mine and burrow my way through these hills. I think that the richest vein is somewhere hereabouts; so by the divining rod and thin rising vapors I judge; and here I will begin to mine.
Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
This sort of reading of the Apocalypse was nowhere more eloquently performed than in the simple anthem of the U.S. Civil Rights movement: “We Shall Overcome.” The word “overcome” was taken from the King James Version’s rendering of the verb nikan, used pervasively in Revelation and translated in most modern versions as “conquer.”33 The word is used in the refrain of promise that concludes each of the letters to the seven churches. For example, “To him that over-cometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (3:21, KJV). As freedom marchers from the black churches joined hands and sang, “We shall overcome someday,” they were expressing their faith that, despite their lack of conventional political power, their witness to the truth would prevail over violence and oppression.
Richard B. Hays (The Moral Vision of the New Testament: Community, Cross, New CreationA Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethic)
By eroding their sense of shame we've made immorality normal, not only in the world but also in the forbidden squadron. ...their new Christian friends recommended some of the movies Fletcher had been wondering if he should now avoid. I was delighted one of them said, "This is a great movie--only one sex scene, and the f-word's only used a few times." 'Titanic' is one of my favorites. How many Christian young people have watched it in their own homes? Think of it, Squaltaint. Suppose someone in the youth group said to the boys, 'There's an attractive girl down the street. Let's get together and go look through her window and watch her undress and lay back on a couch and pose naked from the waist up. Then this girl and her boyfriend will get in a car and have sex--let's get as close as we can and listen to them and watch the windows steam up.' The strategy would never work. They'd know immediately it was wrong. But you can get them to do exactly the same thing by using a television instead of a window. That's all is takes! Think of it, Squaltaint. Every day Christians across the country, including many squadron leaders, watch women and men undress and commit acts of fornication and adultery the Enemy calls an abomination. We've made them a bunch of voyeurs! Churches full of peeping toms.
Randy Alcorn (Lord Foulgrin's Letters)
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)
Once, as he passed out from the doors of the Greater Testimony, the rector heard some one say: "The Church would be all right if that old mugwump was out of the pulpit." It went to his heart like a barbed thorn, and stayed there. You know, perhaps, how a remark of that sort can stay and rankle, and make you wish you could hear it again to make sure of it, because perhaps you didn't hear it aright, and it was a mistake after all. Perhaps no one said it, anyway. You ought to have written it down at the time. I have seen the Dean take down the encyclopaedia in the rectory, and move his finger slowly down the pages of the letter M, looking for mugwump. But it wasn't there. I have known him, in his little study upstairs, turn over the pages of the "Animals of Palestine," looking for a mugwump. But there was none there. It must have been unknown in the greater days of Judea.
Stephen Leacock (Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town)
The rain is colder than I expect—which is ridiculous, since it’s March. My cheeks are freezing by the time we go two blocks, my hair has a sodden weight on my shoulder. My glasses are so wet I need to shove them in a pocket. I threw Mom’s pullover windbreaker over my sweatshirt before leaving the house, thinking it would be waterproof, but I am so wrong. By the time I make the final turn for the church, I wonder if I’m stupid for being out here. It’s pouring so hard that a haze has formed around the streetlight, and I can barely see anything through the darkness. My sneakers squish in the grass. I get to the spot where we sat for the last two nights. And of course he’s not there. I sigh. Only a complete moron would go meet in the rain. Then Texy woofs and bounces on her front paws. I turn, and it’s like I’m in a chick flick. His shadowed figure lopes across the grass. Okay, maybe the dark and rain make it more like a horror movie than a romantic comedy, BUT STILL. He draws to a stop in front of me. He had the sense to wear a heavy, waterproof coat over his hoodie, but the hood is soaked and rain drips down his cheeks. “Hey,” he says, his voice a little loud over the rain. I’m blushing. I tell my cheeks to knock it off. “Hey.” “I wasn’t sure you’d show up, but I didn’t have a way to text you …” “I had the same thought process.
Brigid Kemmerer (More Than We Can Tell (Letters to the Lost, #2))
In editing a volume of Washington's private letters for the Long Island Historical Society, I have been much impressed by indications that this great historic personality represented the Liberal religious tendency of his time. That tendency was to respect religious organizations as part of the social order, which required some minister to visit the sick, bury the dead, and perform marriages. It was considered in nowise inconsistent with disbelief of the clergyman's doctrines to contribute to his support, or even to be a vestryman in his church. In his many letters to his adopted nephew and younger relatives, he admonishes them about their manners and morals, but in no case have I been able to discover any suggestion that they should read the Bible, keep the Sabbath, go to church, or any warning against Infidelity. Washington had in his library the writings of Paine, Priestley, Voltaire, Frederick the Great, and other heretical works. [The Religion of Washington]
Moncure Daniel Conway
We should protect our legacy of a free church in a free state. We ought to pray and work for a “quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Tim. 2:2 kjv). But that is not the ultimate sign of our success. It is better for our future generations to be willing to go to jail—for the right reasons—than to exchange the gospel of the kingdom for a mess of Esau’s pottage. Sometimes jails filled with hymn-singing, letter-writing, gospel-preaching Christians can do extraordinary things.
Russell D. Moore (Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel)
In my first leadership position, I mistakenly thought that being named the leader meant that I was the leader. Back then I defined leading as a noun—as the position I was appointed to—not a verb—as what I was doing. Though I had been hired as the senior pastor, I quickly discovered the real leader of the church was a down-to-earth farmer named Claude, who had been earning his leadership influence through many positive actions over many years. He later explained it to me, saying, “John, all the letters
John C. Maxwell (JumpStart Your Leadership: A 90-Day Improvement Plan)
Except... what Jesus said was: "I will build My church," not you. The verse is not a prediction, it is a proclamation of the Lord of the Earth, who never once talked of "children in subjection." or "wives be grave... sober, faithful in all things." In fact, reading the New Testament from the Gospels into Paul's letters, is like watching the Wizard of Oz backwards -- going from a world of color and amazement, into a land of black-and-white with insane devout women trying to kill your dog. -- editorial 2014
Glenn Hefley
Without the thought, though the material parts already exist, the form does not and cannot. The creation is not a product of the matter and is not simply a rearrangement of the matter. The amount of matter in the universe is limited, and its possible rearrangements, though the sum of them would amount to astronomical figures, is also limited. But no such limitations of numbers applies to the creation of works of art. The poet is not obliged, as it were to destroy the material of a Hamlet in order to create a Falstaff, as a carpenter must destroy a tree form to create a table form. The components of the material world are fixed; those of the world of imagination increase by a continuous and irreversible process, without any destruction or rearrangement of what went before. This represents the nearest approach we experience to creation out of nothing, and we conceive of the act of absolute creation as being an act analogous to that of the creative artist. Thus Berdyaev is able to say: "God created the world by imagination.
Dorothy L. Sayers (Letters to a Diminished Church: Passionate Arguments for the Relevance of Christian Doctrine)
The next morning, of course, Betsy made a list. Lists were always her comfort. For years she had made lists of books she must read, good habits she must acquire, things she must do to make herself prettier—like brushing her hair a hundred strokes at night, and manicuring her fingernails, and doing calisthenics before an open window in the morning. (That one hadn’t lasted long.) It was fun making this list, sitting in bed with her breakfast tray on her lap…hot chocolate, crisp hard rolls, and a pat of butter. Hanni had brought it to her after closing the windows and pushing back the velvet draperies. Betsy felt like a heroine in one of her own stories; their maids always awakened them that way. 1. Learn the darn money. 2. Study German. (You’ve forgotten all you knew.) 3. Buy a map and learn the city—from end to end, as you told Papa you would. 4. Read the history of Bavaria. You must have it for background. 5. Go to the opera. (You didn’t stay in Madeira because Munich is such a center for music and art???) 6. Go to the art galleries. (Same reason.) 7. Write! Full of enthusiasm, she planned a schedule. First, each morning, she would have her bath, and then write until noon. After the midday dinner she would go out and learn the city. She would go to the galleries, museums, and churches. She would have coffee out—for atmosphere. “Then I’ll come home and study German and read Bavarian history. And after supper…” she tried not to remember the look of that dining room…“I’ll write my diary-letter, except when I go to the opera or concerts.
Maud Hart Lovelace (Betsy and the Great World / Betsy's Wedding (Betsy-Tacy #9-10))
In the end, we are not Catholics because our leaders are flawless, but because we find the claims of Catholicism both compelling and beautiful. We are Catholics because the Church speaks of the Trinitarian God whose very nature is love; of Jesus the Lord, crucified and risen from the dead; of the Holy Spirit, who inspires the followers of Christ up and down the ages; of the sacraments, which convey the Christ-life to us; and of the saints, who are our friends in the spiritual order. This is the treasure; this is why we stay.
Robert Barron (Letter to a Suffering Church: A Bishop Speaks on the Sexual Abuse Crisis)
You would think they could not fail to see the application. You would expect to find the ‘low’ churchman genuflecting and crossing himself lest the weak conscience of his ‘high’ brother should be moved to irreverence, and the ‘high’ one refraining from these exercises lest he should betray his ‘low’ brother into idolatry. And so it would have been but for our ceaseless labour. Without that the variety of usage within the Church of England might have become a positive hotbed of charity and humility. —from The Screwtape Letters
C.S. Lewis (A Year with C. S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works)
There had been circulated around the Church a letter, which somehow had been sent to the bishops and stake presidents, announcing that the Church was out of the way, that we did not have the priesthood because the priesthood was never conferred properly. . . . This was having quite an influence around the Church. Someone asked President Smith, "What about this letter?" He said, "Well, before I tell you about the letter, let me tell you about the man." He proceeded to tell us a few things, and then said, "And so you see, that man is a liar, pure and simple. Well, maybe not so pure!" . . . Our members are marvelous. They can answer the questions of the detractors. It is not worth doing with some detractors. They will think what they think, and we think what we think. They go where they are going, and we are going to go where we are going. . . . The Lord does not have to explain why. I have learned to never ask why. You get the answer "because." . . . Do not take counsel from your fears, and do not hope that everything is done in one day. [CES Evening with a General Authority, Feb. 29, 2008]
Boyd K. Packer
Sermon On the Mount: "You have heard it said of old..." "Jesus was referring to the 'letter of the Mosaic law' of the OT then went on to illustrate that He embodied the fulfillment of that 'law' and that now we may walk in the 'Law of the Spirit' thereby realizing the 'liberty' He came to 'engift' us with. We therefore are no longer subject to judgement but rather Grace as we 'abide' in Him. Additionally, the 'early church' fathers of which Paul was the first are what God intended the Ecclesia to be developed and built upon". ~R. Alan Woods [2012]
R. Alan Woods
The danger of speaking about life exclusively in terms of problem and solution is that we are thus tempted to overlook the limitations of this detective game and the very existence of the initial arbitrary rules that makes the playing of it possible. The rule is to exclude from the terms of the problem everything that the solution cannot solve. It is diverting and useful to know that, for the chemist, a man is made up of a few pennyworth of salt, sugar, iron, and what not, together with an intolerable deal of water. But we must not assert that ‘man is, in fact, nothing but’ these things, or suppose that the solution of the pennyworths in the water will produce a complete and final solution of man. . . . It was said by Kronecker, the mathematician: ‘God made the integers; all else is the work of man.’ Man can table the integers and arrange them into problems that he can solve in the terms in which they are set. But before the inscrutable mystery of the integers themselves he is helpless, unless he calls upon that tri-unity in himself that is made in the image of God, and can include and create the integers.
Dorothy L. Sayers (Letters to a Diminished Church: Passionate Arguments for the Relevance of Christian Doctrine)
To the enormous majority of persons who risk themselves in literature, not even the smallest measure of success can fall. They had better take to some other profession as quickly as may be, they are only making a sure thing of disappointment, only crowding the narrow gates of fortune and fame. Yet there are others to whom success, though easily within their reach, does not seem a thing to be grasped at. Of two such, the pathetic story may be read, in the Memoir of A Scotch Probationer, Mr. Thomas Davidson, who died young, an unplaced Minister of the United Presbyterian Church, in 1869. He died young, unaccepted by the world, unheard of, uncomplaining, soon after writing his latest song on the first grey hairs of the lady whom he loved. And she, Miss Alison Dunlop, died also, a year ago, leaving a little work newly published, Anent Old Edinburgh, in which is briefly told the story of her life. There can hardly be a true tale more brave and honourable, for those two were eminently qualified to shine, with a clear and modest radiance, in letters. Both had a touch of poetry, Mr. Davidson left a few genuine poems, both had humour, knowledge, patience, industry, and literary conscientiousness. No success came to them, they did not even seek it, though it was easily within the reach of their powers. Yet none can call them failures, leaving, as they did, the fragrance of honourable and uncomplaining lives, and such brief records of these as to delight, and console and encourage us all. They bequeath to us the spectacle of a real triumph far beyond the petty gains of money or of applause, the spectacle of lives made happy by literature, unvexed by notoriety, unfretted by envy. What we call success could never have yielded them so much, for the ways of authorship are dusty and stony, and the stones are only too handy for throwing at the few that, deservedly or undeservedly, make a name, and therewith about one-tenth of the wealth which is ungrudged to physicians, or barristers, or stock-brokers, or dentists, or electricians. If literature and occupation with letters were not its own reward, truly they who seem to succeed might envy those who fail. It is not wealth that they win, as fortunate men in other professions count wealth; it is not rank nor fashion that come to their call nor come to call on them. Their success is to be let dwell with their own fancies, or with the imaginations of others far greater than themselves; their success is this living in fantasy, a little remote from the hubbub and the contests of the world. At the best they will be vexed by curious eyes and idle tongues, at the best they will die not rich in this world’s goods, yet not unconsoled by the friendships which they win among men and women whose faces they will never see. They may well be content, and thrice content, with their lot, yet it is not a lot which should provoke envy, nor be coveted by ambition.
Andrew Lang (How to Fail in Literature: A Lecture)
That Jesus had brothers is, despite the Catholic doctrine of his mother Mary’s perpetual virginity, virtually indisputable. It is a fact attested to repeatedly by both the gospels and the letters of Paul. Even Josephus references Jesus’s brother James, who would become the most important leader of the early Christian church after Jesus’s death. There is no rational argument that can be made against the notion that Jesus was part of a large family that included at least four brothers who are named in the gospels—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas—and an unknown number of sisters who, while mentioned in the gospels, are unfortunately not named.
Reza Aslan (Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth)
I was naturally drawn to those like me. “The person I talk to most,” I wrote to my family in my first letter home, “is from Leslie County, Kentucky. He talks like he’s from Jackson. I was telling him how much bullshit it was that Catholics got all the free time they did. They get it because of the way the church schedule works. He is definitely a country kid, ’cause he said, ‘What’s a Catholic?’ And I told him that it was just another form of Christianity, and he said, ‘I might have to try that out.’” Mamaw understood precisely where he came from. “Down in that part of Kentucky, everybody’s a snake handler,” she wrote back, only partially joking.
J.D. Vance (Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis)
But as to our country and our race, as long as the well compacted structure of our church and state, the sanctuary, the holy of holies of that ancient law, defended by reverence, defended by power, a fortress at once and a temple, shall stand inviolate on the brow of the British Sion—as long as the British Monarchy, not more limited than fenced by the orders of the State, shall, like the proud Keep of Windsor, rising in the majesty of proportion, and girt with the double belt of it’s kindred and coeval towers, as long as this awful structure shall oversee and guard the subjected land—so long the mounds and dykes of the low, fat, Bedford level will have nothing to fear from all the pickaxes of all the levellers of France. As long as our Sovereign Lord the King, and his faithful subjects, the Lords and Commons of this realm, the triple cord, which no man can break; the solemn, sworn, constitutional frank-pledge of this nation; the firm guarantees of each others being, and each others rights; the joint and several securities, each in it’s place and order, for every kind and every quality, of property and of dignity—As long as these endure, so long the Duke of Bedford is safe: and we are all safe together—the high from the blights of envy and the spoliations of rapacity; the low from the iron hand of oppression and the insolent spurn of contempt.
Edmund Burke (A Letter To A Noble Lord)
in A Moral Vision of the New Testament. Hays says, “This means that for the foreseeable future we must find ways to live within the church in a situation of serious moral disagreement while still respecting one another as brother and sisters in Christ. If the church is going to start practicing the discipline of exclusion from the community, there are other issues far more important than homosexuality where we should begin to draw a line in the dirt: violence and materialism, for example.” [117] I am convinced that how the biblical prohibitions apply to monogamous gay relationships is indeed a disputable matter and that the teaching of Romans 14-15 should guide our response.
Ken Wilson (A Letter to My Congregation: An Evangelical Pastor's Path to Embracing People Who Are Gay, Lesbian and Transgender in the Company of Jesus)
Yet, if the phrase “separation of church and state” appears in no official founding document, then what is the source of that phrase? And how did it become so closely associated with the First Amendment? On October 7, 1801, the Danbury Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut, sent a letter to President Thomas Jefferson expressing their concern that protection for religion had been written into the laws and constitutions. Believing strongly that freedom of religion was an inalienable right given by God, the fact that it appeared in civil documents suggested that the government viewed it as a government-granted rather than a God-granted right. Apprehensive that the government might someday wrongly believe that it did have the power to regulate public religious activities, the Danbury Baptists communicated their anxiety to President Jefferson.36 On January 1, 1802, Jefferson responded to their letter. He understood their concerns and agreed with them that man accounted only to God and not to government for his faith and religious practice. Jefferson emphasized to the Danbury Baptists that none of man’s natural (i.e., inalienable) rights – including the right to exercise one’s faith publicly – would ever place him in a situation where the government would interfere with his religious expressions.37 He assured them that because of the wall of separation, they need not fear government interference with religious expressions: Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, . . . I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.38 In his letter, Jefferson made clear that the “wall of separation” was erected not to limit public religious expressions but rather to provide security against governmental interference with those expressions, whether private or public.
David Barton (Separation of Church and State: What the Founders Meant)
In a remarkable letter to the director of the Vatican Observatory, John Paul II wrote: The church does not propose that science should become religion or religion science. On the contrary, unity always presupposes the diversity and integrity of its elements. Each of these members should become not less itself but more itself in a dynamic interchange, for a unity in which one of the elements is reduced to the other is destructive, false in its promises of harmony, and ruinous of the integrity of its components. We are asked to become one. We are not asked to become each other. . . . Unity involves the drive of the human mind towards understanding and the desire of the human spirit for love. When human beings seek to understand the multiplicities that surround them, when they seek to make sense of experience, they do so by bringing many factors into a common vision. Understanding is achieved when many data are unified by a common structure. The one illuminates the many: it makes sense of the whole. . . . We move towards unity as we move towards meaning in our lives. Unity is also the consequence of love. If love is genuine, it moves not towards the assimilation of the other but towards union with the other. Human community begins in desire when that union has not been achieved, and it is completed in joy when those who have been apart are now united.10
Ilia Delio (Making All Things New: Catholicity, Cosmology, Consciousness (Catholicity in an Evolving Universe Series))
When he was twenty-three years old, he (George Fox) saw the inner light in a vision. For him it symbolized the spirit against the letter, silence against chatter, experience against dogma, and equality against all who build inequality on authority and power, be it of the state or religion. His mistrust of the official Anglican Church was immense. He spoke with disdain of the "towered houses" and was tormented by the ringing of church bells. He frequently interrupted preachers, standing in the church's doorway, a hat covering his head, and uttering threatening words toward the pulpit, causing great excitement in the gathered congregation. It often resulted in Fox being beaten up, banished, and, later on, jailed for years. What aroused his ire, above all, were the priests who, without ever having experienced or even looked for illumination, presented themselves as servants of God but, in truth, comprised a "society of cannibals." It is "not enough to have been educated in Oxford or Cambridge in order to become capable for and efficient in the service of Christ. To this day it is difficult for many Friends to speak of "Quaker theology." The Friends believe in Scripture - George Fox knew it by heart - but they also believe that the Spirit transcends Scripture and that the inner light is experienced by all human beings without human mediation. "The inner light," "the inward teacher" are names that the early Quakers gave to their experiences of the Spirit. They believe that everyone can meet the "Christ within," even though he has different names in different ages and places and is not tied to any form of religion. This light is open to everyone and, yet, it is not simply the natural light of reason. In a conversation that Fox had with Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell, he vigorously resisted this rational interpretation. In every human being is "that of God," hidden, eclipsed, often forgotten. Linguistically a clumsy expression at best, "that of God in everyone" is the foundation of human dignity. In addition, it is the admonition to believe in it, to discover it in each and everyone and to respond to it. Fox said, "Walk joyfully on the earth and respond to that of God in every human being.
Dorothee Sölle (The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance)
The first few lines of the third chapter run as follows: All significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts not only because of their historical development—in which they were transferred from theology to the theory of the state, whereby, for example, the omnipotent God became the omnipotent lawgiver—but also because of their systematic structure, the recognition of which is necessary for a sociological consideration of these concepts. The state of exception in jurisprudence is analogous to the miracle in theology. Only by being aware of this analogy can we appreciate the manner in which the philosophical idea of the state developed over the last few centuries. I had quickly come to see Carl Schmitt as an incarnation of Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor. During a stormy conversation at Plettenberg in 1980, Carl Schmitt told me that anyone who failed to see that the Grand Inquisitor was right about the sentimentality of Jesuitical piety had grasped neither what a Church was for, nor what Dostoevsky—contrary to his own conviction—had “really conveyed, compelled by the sheer force of the way in which he posed the problem.” I always read Carl Schmitt with interest, often captivated by his intellectual brilliance and pithy style. But in every word I sensed something alien to me, the kind of fear and anxiety one has before a storm, an anxiety that lies concealed in the secularized messianic dart of Marxism. Carl Schmitt seemed to me to be the Grand Inquisitor of all heretics.
Jacob Taubes (To Carl Schmitt: Letters and Reflections)
The toleration of those that differ from others in matters of religion is so agreeable to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to the genuine reason of mankind, that it seems monstrous for men to be so blind as not to perceive the necessity and advantage of it in so clear a light. I will not here tax the pride and ambition of some, the passion and uncharitable zeal of others. These are faults from which human affairs can perhaps scarce ever be perfectly freed; but yet such as nobody will bear the plain imputation of, without covering them with some specious colour; and so pretend to commendation, whilst they are carried away by their own irregular passions. But, however, that some may not colour their spirit of persecution and unchristian cruelty with a pretence of care of the public weal and observation of the laws; and that others, under pretence of religion, may not seek impunity for their libertinism and licentiousness; in a word, that none may impose either upon himself or others, by the pretences of loyalty and obedience to the prince, or of tenderness and sincerity in the worship of God; I esteem it above all things necessary to distinguish exactly the business of civil government from that of religion and to settle the just bounds that lie between the one and the other. If this be not done, there can be no end put to the controversies that will be always arising between those that have, or at least pretend to have, on the one side, a concernment for the interest of men's souls, and, on the other side, a care of the commonwealth.
John Locke (A Letter Concerning Toleration)
The unChristian faith is distressing. So is our culture. Yet to see spiritual resurgence among Mosaics and Busters, I hope our response to this observation is like that of the recipients of Paul’s letter. I hope we put aside casual forms of Christianity, piercing the antagonism of our peers with service and sacrifice. We may think the answer to the perception of our being unChristian is for outsiders to understand our faith. The church is not effective when it calls outsiders to live virtuously, which is never really possible apart from regeneration through Christ anyway. The reprieve from our deep-seated image problem comes when Christ followers become more faithful to a God who has redeemed us and more concerned about a hostile culture in need of the same redemption. 4
David Kinnaman (unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity...and Why It Matters)
Trusting in God's Direction When I served as a denominational leader in Vancouver, one of our churches believed God was leading it to begin three new mission churches for different language groups. At that time, the church had only seventeen members. Human reason would have immediately ruled out such a large assignment for a small church. They were hoping to receive financial support from our denomination's Home Mission Board to pay the mission pastors' salaries. One pastor was already in the process of relocating to Vancouver when we unexpectedly received word that the mission board would be unable to fund any new work in our area for the next three years. The church didn't have the funds to do what God had called it to do. When they sought my counsel, I suggested that they first go back to the Lord and clarify what God had said to them. If this was merely something they wanted to do for God, God would not be obligated to provide for them. After they sought the Lord, they returned and said, “We still believe God is calling us to start all three new churches.” At this point, they had to walk by faith and trust God to provide for what He was clearly leading them to do. A few months later, the church received some surprising news. Six years earlier, I had led a series of meetings in a church in California. An elderly woman had approached me and said she wanted to will part of her estate for use in mission work in our city. The associational office had just received a letter from an attorney in California informing them that they would be receiving a substantial check from that dear woman's estate. The association could now provide the funds needed by the sponsoring church. The amount was sufficient to firmly establish all three churches this faithful congregation had launched. Did God know what He was doing when He told a seventeen-member church to begin three new congregations? Yes. He already knew the funds would not be available from the missions agency, and He was also aware of the generosity of an elderly saint in California. None of these details caught God by surprise. That small church in Vancouver had known in their minds that God could provide. But through this experience they developed a deeper trust in their all knowing God. Whenever God directs you, you will never have to question His will. He knows what He is going to do.
Henry T. Blackaby (Experiencing God)
When the great Greek cry breaks into the Latin of the Mass, as old as Christianity itself, it may surprise some to learn that there are a good many people in church who really do say kyrie eleison and mean exactly what they say. But anyhow, they mean what they say rather more than a man who begins a letter with "Dear Sir" means what he says. "Dear" is emphatically a dead word; in that place it has ceased to have any meaning. It is exactly what the Protestants would allege of Popish rites and forms; it is done rapidly, ritually, and without any memory even of the meaning of the rite. When Mr. Jones the solicitor uses it to Mr. Brown the banker, he does not mean that the banker is dear to him, or that his heart is filled with Christian love, even so much as the heart of some poor ignorant Papist listening to the Mass.
G.K. Chesterton (The Blatchford Controversies and Other Essays on Religion)
It was a clear autumn day Sunday in 1876; Vincent van Gogh, twenty-three years old, left the English boarding school where he was teaching to give a sermon at a small Methodist church in Richmond, a humble London suburb. Standing in front of the lectern, he felt like a lost soul emerging from the dark cave in which he had been buried. The sermon, which survives among Vincent's collected letters, reiterates universal ideas and is not an outstanding example of the art of homiletics. Nevertheless, his words grew out of his tormented life and had an intense emotional charge. Preaching to the congregation, he was also preaching to himself -- and of himself. The images he used were the same as those that were to be given powerful expression in his pictures. The text chosen for the sermon was Psalm 119:19, 'I am a stranger on the earth, hide not Thy commandments from me.'
Albert J. Lubin (Stranger On The Earth: A Psychological Biography Of Vincent Van Gogh)
Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. —Psalm 85:10 (KJV) When my husband, David, made the heart-wrenching decision to leave his post as senior minister at Hillsboro Presbyterian Church, the church was strong, thriving, and ripe for new leadership. But leaving was complicated. No one has ever loved a congregation more than David, and the congregation responded in kind. So it was infinitely sad when an influential person began working to erase David’s legacy. We had looked forward to returning to Hillsboro after the proper transition period, but now amid the confusion, the outlook was cloudy. Would it work for David to come back? Would we lose our church family forever? Finally, a new minister was chosen. For me, I wasn’t sure how I would feel until I met Chris. My reaction was immediate. I have a pastor! But what about David? I would never go back to Hillsboro without him. Well, it seems God had planned ahead. Chris sent out a letter to the congregation, addressing the misperception that “it’s not possible to love the new pastor if you still love the previous pastor.” He dispelled that notion with five simple words: “It’s okay to love both.” Chris went on to describe his meetings with David and to announce that he had invited him to come back to Hillsboro where the two of them “share a love for the church and its people.” And so it was finished. We had a church home once again, where we could come and worship with our family and friends, a place where there’s enough love for everyone, and a new minister wise enough to know that’s true. Father, I pray for the day when all of us grasp the unlimited reservoir of Your love and can finally see its regenerating power. —Pam Kidd Digging Deeper: Ps 132:7; Eph 4:15–16; Col 3:14–17
Guideposts (Daily Guideposts 2014)
Letter 4 As I lay dreaming, Montezuma introduced himself and put his hand on my shoulder. The palm of the Aztec king felt like ancient papyrus. When I looked up at him, I saw that his nose was chipped like that of a sphinx. His arms were like long ivory ropes that frayed into hands. He led me down to the river, where we sat together and shared the river’s silence. Then he spoke: „Allow me to tell you my story. It may help you understand your own. At dusk, in the year of one thousand rivers, the Spanish explorer Cortés arrived at the gates of my city. I welcomed him with open arms. I showed Cortés hundreds of aviaries that had built in the city, and finally I took him to the most aviary of sighs. These birds carried only love letters. Cortes laughed and said that all the bird songs made him feel like a virgin bride who is drunk with faith as she walks down the aisle of the church. On her wedding night, she undresses for her husband and he takes her in his arms. She believes everything is possible. When Cortés stared straight into my eyes and said 'It is a night that is always colored in blood'." He paused for a long time before he spoke. Then he said, „Cortés returned with a small army of soldiers on horseback. When they ransacked the city, I was Cortes's own hand that lit the torch that set fire to the aviary of sighs. The fires raged. The birds painted the blue sky black with the ashes of their wings. The gardens were reddened with the blood of our children. The sun rose behind a sky filled with plumes of dark smoke. But during night, three birds of phoenix had risen from the burning aviaries. They closed their eyes and soared straight up into the dark clouds. When they opened their eyes they could see the stars clearly, though they could not see the ground below.
Gregory Colbert (Ashes and Snow: A Novel in Letters)
Virtually all letter writers confessed how their encounter with Nietzsche's philosophy either emboldened or chastened them, liberated them from old falsehoods, or saddled them with new moral responsibilities. Helen Bachmuller of Dayton, Ohio, wrote to let Förster-Nietzsche know that her brother had inspired the belief that human greatness was still possible in the modern world. Though unworthy of his greatness, he nevertheless awakened in her a longing for something deeper in herself. Nietzsche, Bachmuller confessed, had saved her from her 'own inner emptiness.' The 'Ohio country' she called home had become 'tame and commonplace,' filled with lives 'trivial and ... essentially ugly, for they are engrossed with matters of money and motors, not with work or faith or art.' She regarded the Methodist church near her house as 'vulgar, pretentious.' Though disgusted by the offensive mediocrity around her, she was also chagrined by her own limitations: 'It would be, probably, impossible for you to imagine anything more superficial than I am.' But reading presumably the recently released translation of Förster-Nietzsche's The_Nietzsche-Wagner_Correspondence had exposed Bachmuller to 'depths beyond depths, of one great soul striking fire against another great soul, and I became thrilled. I could feel the harmonies and dissonances, the swell and surge of those two glorious beings, and I felt much more that I cannot express.' Reading Nietzsche enlivened her to the possibility 'for a companionship that would stimulate, that would deepen, that would give me Tiefen [depth].' Nietzsche strengthened her resolve that 'all my life I will hold on to my hunger, if I never manage to have a soul, at any rate I will remain, by hook or crook, aware of it and I will desire one all my life, I will not accept substitutes.
Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen (American Nietzsche: A History of an Icon and His Ideas)
As Psalm 136:5--9 tell us, creation was God’s power expressed in love. By reading and understanding the Bible as a series of love letters to men and women, you begin to recognize the tender and mighty love of God. The Bible is not a rule book for life or a collection of fairy tales; it’s a weapon of mass instruction. It’s a love letter from God to humanity. It’s an introduction to Jesus Christ, who is God in human form. It declares to the world: God is for you, not against you. To me, the Bible is a work of nonfiction broken into three parts: from Genesis to Malachi, it’s about Jesus Christ coming to earth; from Matthew to John, it’s about Jesus’ life on earth; and from Acts to Revelation, it’s about Jesus coming back to earth. It’s all about Jesus and how we can have a relationship with the omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, eternal, holy, and righteous Almighty. This relationship is more important than simply joining a church or doing a few good things.
Jase Robertson (Good Call: Reflections on Faith, Family, and Fowl)
Nanna: Inside, there was a long rigmarole that went on and on; it began with my hair, which had been cut off in the church, and said that he had gathered it together and made a neckband of it for himself; and my forehead was clearer than a cloudless sky. He compared my eyebrows to the black wood which is used to make combs, and he said that my cheeks were so white that they filled milk and cream with envy. He declared my teeth were like a row of pearls, and my lips like pomegranate blossoms; he composed a great preamble on my hands - he even praised my fingernails; and he said that my voice was like the canticle 'Gloria in eccelsis'; and when he came to my breasts, he waxed positively ecstatic - they displayed two apples as white and shining as the snow in sunlight. Finally he allowed himself to slip down to the fountain, saying that he had drunk from it all unworthily, and that it distilled nectar and manna, and that the curls of hair round it were made of silk.
Pietro Aretino (The Secret Life of Nuns)
Lillian was determined that her next role would be Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter and assumed she only needed to find the right actor to play opposite her as Reverend Dimmesdale. Mayer informed her there was a much larger issue at stake; The Scarlet Letter was on the Hays office “blacklist” of books that could not be filmed. The very idea of a blacklist was ridiculous to Lillian and she took up the matter directly with Will Hays. While he would occasionally publicly chastise the studios, Hays never forgot that the full name of his office was the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America and worked to smooth the path any and every way he could. He told Lillian that the major source of objection was “the Protestant Church, especially the Methodists,” and directed her to the heads of several church and women’s organizations where she forcefully presented her case. Even with Hays’s assistance, no other actress had the personal and professional reputation pure enough to garner the response she received: the ban would be lifted if she was “personally responsible” for the film. Lillian turned her attention to finding the consummate Dimmesdale and Mayer suggested she watch Lars Hanson in The Saga of Gosta Berling. The studio boss had seen Mauritz Stiller’s film in Berlin the previous December and he immediately put the director and the film’s three stars, Hanson, Mona Martenson, and Greta Gustafsson, all under contract. Lillian agreed Hanson was “perfect” and was enthusiastic when Thalberg suggested the experienced Swede Victor Seastrom (Sjöström) direct, for she believed he had “Mr. Griffith’s sensitivity to atmosphere.” And so the ban was lifted from The Scarlet Letter, Lars Hanson was coming from Sweden, Victor Seastrom was assigned to direct, and now it was Irving Thalberg’s problem. He had no script. Lillian would later say that Irving “told me that Frances Marion and I could adapt it,” but it was hardly that simple.
Cari Beauchamp (Without Lying Down: Screenwriter Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood)
This mere political Priesthood are the agents of Satan to enslave mankind; the most wicked and remorseless Tyrants of the Earth have found it impossible to enslave man by any other means but by uniting with such Priests—with their aid the most sacred rights of man have been easily seized. These men have wickedly instructed their dupes that God required of man passive obedience to the most bloody and savage Tyrants, thus have they profaned Religion, (which is intended to bless mankind, both here & hereafter) to the vile purpose of Slavery and Misery. A union of Church with State is more destructive to the happiness of man than any other conspiracy since the first Apostacy and union of fallen Angels. True Christians have but one opinion of those Priests who wickedly prate about a union of Church and State—they believe them to be only wolves in sheep’s clothing; they are mere Hirelings; they have no call to preach the Gospel except what they fancy they derive from a College education
Chris Rodda (From Theocracy To Religious Liberty: Connecticut’s Journey from Thomas Jefferson’s “Wall of Separation” Letter to a State Constitution, as Told Through the Newspapers of the Time)
Presidents of the United States tend to speak in God's name, although none of them has let on if He communicates by letter, fax, telephone, or telepathy. With or without His approval, in 2006 God was proclaimed chairman of the Republican Party of Texas. That said, the All Powerful, who is even on the dollar bill, was a shining absence at the time of independence. The constitution did not mention Him. At the Constitutional Convention, when a prayer was suggested, Alexander Hamilton responded: 'We don't need foreign aid.' On his deathbed, George Washington wanted no prayers or priest or minister or anything. Benjamin Franklin said divine revelation was nothing but poppy-cock. 'My mind is my own church,' affirmed Thomas Paine, and President John Adams believed that 'this world be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it.' According to Thomas Jefferson, Catholic priests and Protestant minsters were 'soothsayers and necromancers' who divided humanity, making 'one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites.
Eduardo Galeano (Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone)
At a talk I gave at a church months later, I spoke about Charlie and the plight of incarcerated children. Afterward, an older married couple approached me and insisted that they had to help Charlie. I tried to dissuade these kind people from thinking they could do anything, but I gave them my card and told them they could call me. I didn't expect to hear from them, but within days they called, and they were persistent. We eventually agreed that they would write a letter to Charlie and send it to me to pass on to him. When I received the letter weeks later, I read it. It was remarkable. Mr. and Mrs. Jennings were a white couple in their mid-seventies from a small community northeast of Birmingham. They were kind and generous people who were active in their local United Methodist church. They never missed a Sunday service and were especially drawn to children in crisis. They spoke softly and always seemed to be smiling but never appeared to be anything less than completely genuine and compassionate. They were affectionate with each other in a way that was endearing, frequently holding hands and leaning into each other. They dressed like farmers and owned ten acres of land, where they grew vegetables and lived simply. Their one and only grandchild, whom they had helped raise, had committed suicide when he was a teenager, and they had never stopped grieving for him. Their grandson struggled with mental health problems during his short life, but he was a smart kid and they had been putting money away to send him to college. They explained in their letter that they wanted to use the money they'd saved for their grandson to help Charlie. Eventually, Charlie and this couple began corresponding with one another, building up to the day when the Jenningses met Charlie at the juvenile detention facility. They later told me that they "loved him instantly." Charlie's grandmother had died a few months after she first called me, and his mother was still struggling after the tragedy of the shooting and Charlie's incarceration. Charlie had been apprehensive about meeting with the Jenningses because he thought they wouldn't like him, but he told me after they left how much they seemed to care about him and how comforting that was. The Jenningses became his family. At one point early on, I tried to caution them against expecting too much from Charlie after his release. 'You know, he's been through a lot. I'm not sure he can just carry on as if nothing has ever happened. I want you to understand he may not be able to do everything you'd like him to do.' They never accepted my warnings. Mrs. Jennings was rarely disagreeable or argumentative, but I had learned that she would grunt when someone said something she didn't completely accept. She told me, 'We've all been through a lot, Bryan, all of us. I know that some have been through more than others. But if we don't expect more from each other, hope better for one another, and recover from the hurt we experience, we are surely doomed.' The Jenningses helped Charlie get his general equivalency degree in detention and insisted on financing his college education. They were there, along with his mother, to take him home when he was released.
Bryan Stevenson (Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption)
(1) The church-state issue. If parents could use their vouchers to pay tuition at parochial schools, would that violate the First Amendment? Whether it does or not, is it desirable to adopt a policy that might strengthen the role of religious institutions in schooling? The Supreme Court has generally ruled against state laws providing assistance to parents who send their children to parochial schools, although it has never had occasion to rule on a full-fledged voucher plan covering both public and nonpublic schools. However it might rule on such a plan, it seems clear that the Court would accept a plan that excluded church-connected schools but applied to all other private and public schools. Such a restricted plan would be far superior to the present system, and might not be much inferior to a wholly unrestricted plan. Schools now connected with churches could qualify by subdividing themselves into two parts: a secular part reorganized as an independent school eligible for vouchers, and a religious part reorganized as an after-school or Sunday activity paid for directly by parents or church funds. The constitutional issue will have to be settled by the courts. But it is worth emphasizing that vouchers would go to parents, not to schools. Under the GI bills, veterans have been free to attend Catholic or other colleges and, so far as we know, no First Amendment issue has ever been raised. Recipients of Social Security and welfare payments are free to buy food at church bazaars and even to contribute to the collection plate from their government subsidies, with no First Amendment question being asked. Indeed, we believe that the penalty that is now imposed on parents who do not send their children to public schools violates the spirit of the First Amendment, whatever lawyers and judges may decide about the letter. Public schools teach religion, too—not a formal, theistic religion, but a set of values and beliefs that constitute a religion in all but name. The present arrangements abridge the religious freedom of parents who do not accept the religion taught by the public schools yet are forced to pay to have their children indoctrinated with it, and to pay still more to have their children escape indoctrination.
Milton Friedman (Free to Choose: A Personal Statement)
Saint John Paul II wrote, “when its concepts and conclusions can be integrated into the wider human culture and its concerns for ultimate meaning and value.”7 Religion, too, develops best when its doctrines are not abstract and fixed in an ancient past but integrated into the wider stream of life. Albert Einstein once said that “science without religion is lame and religion without science is blind.”8 So too, John Paul II wrote: “Science can purify religion from error and superstition; religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes. Each can draw the other into a wider world, a world in which both can flourish.”9 Teilhard de Chardin saw that dialogue alone between the disciplines is insufficient; what we need is a new synthesis of science and religion, drawing insights from each discipline into a new unity. In a remarkable letter to the director of the Vatican Observatory, John Paul II wrote: The church does not propose that science should become religion or religion science. On the contrary, unity always presupposes the diversity and integrity of its elements. Each of these members should become not less itself but more itself in a dynamic interchange, for a unity in which one of the elements is reduced to the other is destructive, false in its promises of harmony, and ruinous of the integrity of its components. We are asked to become one. We are not asked to become each other. . . . Unity involves the drive of the human mind towards understanding and the desire of the human spirit for love. When human beings seek to understand the multiplicities that surround them, when they seek to make sense of experience, they do so by bringing many factors into a common vision. Understanding is achieved when many data are unified by a common structure. The one illuminates the many: it makes sense of the whole. . . . We move towards unity as we move towards meaning in our lives. Unity is also the consequence of love. If love is genuine, it moves not towards the assimilation of the other but towards union with the other. Human community begins in desire when that union has not been achieved, and it is completed in joy when those who have been apart are now united.10 The words of the late pope highlight the core of catholicity: consciousness of belonging to a whole and unity as a consequence of love.
Ilia Delio (Making All Things New: Catholicity, Cosmology, Consciousness (Catholicity in an Evolving Universe Series))
The legal argument the ACLU used to support Engel and his fellow plaintiffs was that the Regents’ nondenominational prayer violated the Establishment Clause. The ACLU backed its argument not with a clause in the Constitution, but with a phrase taken from a private letter written by President Thomas Jefferson. In a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut on January 1, 1802, Jefferson wrote that the First Amendment, enacted on behalf of all the American people, “declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”7 Jefferson coined the metaphor of a wall of church-state separation to assure the Baptists in Connecticut that the government would never infringe on the free exercise of their religion. The ACLU stood Jefferson’s reassurance on its head, turning it into a rationale for suppressing the free exercise of religion. That phrase, “wall of separation between church and state,” became a bumper-sticker slogan for leftists and secularists who want to silence religious people and marginalize their beliefs.
David Horowitz (DARK AGENDA: The War to Destroy Christian America)
In church it occurred to me that it is time for the public to hear that the giant evil and danger in this country, the danger which transcends all others, is the vast wealth owned or controlled by a few persons. Money is power. In Congress, in state legislatures, in city councils, in the courts, in the political conventions, in the press, in the pulpit, in the circles of the educated and the talented, its influence is growing greater and greater. Excessive wealth in the hands of the few means extreme poverty, ignorance, vice, and wretchedness as the lot of the many. It is not yet time to debate about the remedy. The previous question is as to the danger—the evil. Let the people be fully informed and convinced as to the evil. Let them earnestly seek the remedy and it will be found. Fully to know the evil is the first step towards reaching its eradication. Henry George is strong when he portrays the rottenness of the present system. We are, to say the least, not yet ready for his remedy. We may reach and remove the difficulty by changes in the laws regulating corporations, descents of property, wills, trusts, taxation, and a host of other important interests, not omitting lands and other property.
Rutherford B. Hayes (Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes: Nineteenth President of the United States (1922))
Thus that Upright Judge, whose three Letters my Friend having read, did well approve of 'em, acknowledging, that with great Exactness he had distinguished between Religion and Priest-craft: And he added, If you will shew me, Sir, any Christian Church where that distinction is observed, I will become a Member of it. I recommended the Church of England; he presently told me that he had read the 39 Articles, and observed that 3 of them were wholly design'd to uphold the Power of the Clergy over the People. And then he bad me only compare the Design, which has been, and still is, carrying on under the Name of the Church of England, with the Design of the Christian Religion, as 'tis described by Sir Matthew Hale; and I should find one in all its parts a Contradiction to the other. 'Tis plain (said he) the Clergy do not allow of Sir Matthew's Notions, nor will they suffer us to take any thing for Religion, that is distinguished from their particular Interest. To what end have so many Persecutions and Penal Laws been set a foot by the Clergy in Christendom? was it to bring Men to any one Point of that full Description of Christian Religion, which you cited from Sir Matthew Hale? or only to bring them to that short Article of their Clergy Religion, i.e. to submit to their Power?
William Stephens (An account of the growth of deism in England)
The greatest difference between present-day Christianity and that of which we read in these letters, is that to us it is primarily a performance; to them it was real experience. We are apt to reduce the Christian religion to a code or, at best, a rule of heart and life. To these men it is quite plainly the invasion of their lives by a new quality of life altogether. They do not hesitate to describe this as Christ "living in" them. Mere moral reformation will hardly explain the transformation and the exuberant vitality of these men's lives -- even if we could prove a motive for such reformation, and certainly the world around offered little encouragement to the early Christians! We are practically driven to accept their own explanation, which is that their little human lives had, through Christ, been linked up with the very life of God. Many Christians today talk about the "difficulties of our times" as though we should have to wait for better ones before the Christian religion can take root. It is heartening to remember that this faith took root and flourished amazingly in conditions that would have killed anything less vital in a matter of weeks. These early Christians were on fire with the conviction that they had become, through Christ, literal sons of God; they were pioneers of a new humanity, founders of a new kingdom. They still speak to us across the centuries. Perhaps if we believed what they believed, we might achieve what they achieved.
J.B. Phillips (Letters To Young Churches: A Translation of the New Testament Epistles)
[Wilford] Woodruff met with three members of the Young family: Elder [Brigham] Young [Jr.]; his brother, Major Willard Young; and their nephew, Captain Richard W. Young. . . . 'The apostle was chastised for speaking without authorization and was told not to oppose the enlistment of Mormon volunteers.' . . . That same day, the First Presidency sent out several other letters that explained the Church's stance on members enlisting in the armed services. First, a letter was sent to Governor Heber M. Wells. In that letter, the presidency explained that the Church was against war and that its responsibility was to proclaim peace. Yet in the current circumstances they also felt it their duty to support the war effort. Next, President George Q. Cannon wrote a letter to all of the stake presidents of the Church. President Cannon instructed these leaders not to impede the work of recruitment among their members. Conversely, they were to encourage the enlistment of Latter-day Saint soldiers for the conflict. By sending their message out on several fronts, Church members no longer had to guess at the Church's position on the war. . . . Once the Church had put forward its stance on the war, members of the Church joined the army in great numbers. . . . The Church demonstrated in a remarkable way that service in the military during wartime was in the veins of its people. To all fair observers, it was clear that Latter-day Saints could be counted on to stand by their nation. Since then, the Church has never looked back.
James I. Mangum
the things common to all men are more important than the things peculiar to any men. Ordinary things are more valuable than extraordinary things; nay, they are more extraordinary. Man is something more awful than men; something more strange. The sense of the miracle of humanity itself should be always more vivid to us than any marvels of power, intellect, art, or civilization. The mere man on two legs, as such, should be felt as something more heartbreaking than any music and more startling than any caricature. Death is more tragic even than death by starvation. Having a nose is more comic even than having a Norman nose. This is the first principle of democracy: that the essential things in men are the things they hold in common, not the things they hold separately. And the second principle is merely this: that the political instinct or desire is one of these things which they hold in common. Falling in love is more poetical than dropping into poetry. The democratic contention is that government (helping to rule the tribe) is a thing like falling in love, and not a thing like dropping into poetry. It is not something analogous to playing the church organ, painting on vellum, discovering the North Pole (that insidious habit), looping the loop, being Astronomer Royal, and so on. For these things we do not wish a man to do at all unless he does them well. It is, on the contrary, a thing analogous to writing one's own love-letters or blowing one's own nose. These things we want a man to do for himself, even if he does them badly.
G.K. Chesterton (Orthodoxy)
The contemporary Christian Church, precisely, has understood them in this' 'wrong way, to the letter, 'like the Jews,' exoterically, not esoterically. Nevertheless to say 'like the Jews' is an error. One would have to say 'as the Jews want.' Because they also possess an exotericism, for their masses, represented by the Torah and Talmud, and an esotericism, in the Cabala (which means: 'Received Tradition'), in the Zohar ('brightness'), the Merkaba or Chariot being the most secret part of the Cabala which only initiated rabbis know and use as the powerful tool of their magic. We have already said that the Cabala reached them from elsewhere, like everything else, in the Middle Ages, even though they tell us otherwise, using and transforming it in concordance with their Archetype. The Hasidim, from Poland, represent an exclusively esoteric sect of Judaism. Islam also has its esoteric magic, represented by Sufism and the sect of the Assassins, Hassanists, oflran. They interpret the Koran symbolically. And it was because of contact with this sect of the 'Old Man of the Mountain' that the Templars felt compelled to secede more and more from the direction of Rome, centering themselves in their Esoteric Kristianity and Mystery of the Gral. This was also why Rome destroyed them, like the esoteric Cathars (katharos = pure in Greek), the Bogomils, the Manichees and the gnostics. In the Church of Rome, called Catholic, there only remains a soulless ritual of the Mass, as a liturgical shell that no longer reaches the Symbol, which no longer touches it, no longer puts it into action. The Nordic contribution has been lost, destroyed by prejudice and the ethnological persecution of Nordicism, Germanism and the complete surrender to Judaism. Zen Buddhism preserves the esotericism of Buddha. In Japan Shinto and Zen are practiced by a racially superior warrior caste, the Samurai. The most esoteric side of Hinduism is found in Tantrism, especially in the Kaula or Kula Order. So understood, esotericism is what goes beyond the exterior form and the masses, the physical, and puts an elite in contact with invisible superior forces. In my case, the condition that paralysed me in the midst of dreaming and left me without means to influence the phenomena. The visible is symbol of invisible forces (Archetypes, Gods). By means of an esoteric knowledge, of an initiation in this knowledge, a hierarchic minority can make contact with these invisible forces, being able to act on the Symbol, dynamizing and controlling the physical phenomena that incarnate them. In my case: to come to control the involuntary process which, without knowing how, was controlling me, to be able to guide it, to check or avoid it. Jung referred to this when he said 'if someone wisely faces the Archetype, in whatever place in the world, he acquires universal validity because the Archetype is one and indivisible'. And the means to reach this spiritual world, 'on the other side of the mirror,' is Magic, Rite, Ritual, Ceremony. All religions have possessed them, even the Christian, as we have said. And the Rite is not something invented by humans but inspired by 'those from beyond,' Jung would say by the Collective Unconscious.
Miguel Serrano
Although nobody in the grace movement is saying grace is a license to sin (nor have they ever), it’s often assumed that, since we don’t emphasize the Law and push it on people like our accusers think we should, we must be endorsing sin and telling people it’s okay to do whatever they want. In truth, we avoid pushing the Law because we believe what scripture says: that the Law increases sin (Romans 5:20), sin gets its strength from the Law (1 Cor. 15:56), the Law is the ministry of death (2 Cor. 3:6), the Law isn’t based on faith (Gal. 3:12), and nobody can be made right with God through keeping the Law (Gal. 2:20). In fact, though many preachers will tell us today that it’s sin that separates us from God, and we need to go back to His holy Law to be reconciled, scripture actually teaches the opposite. It says that the Law is what separates people from Christ and causes them to fall from grace (Gal. 5:4). Our choice to not enforce those Laws is not because we want to see people sin, but because we want them to live free from sin. Scripture is very clear that those Laws are the very thing causing people to sin. While we receive many accusations that our grace-emphasized message is a “license to sin,” if you look at the church today, and all throughout its entire history, sin and the blatant abuse of people has always been done in the name of the Law, not in the name of grace. Nobody has ever killed anyone in the name of God’s grace, and yet countless crusades and wars have been waged in the name of upholding and enforcing those Laws. Some today are in Uganda using the law as a license to kill homosexuals.[27] Why do we ignore what scripture so clearly says about the law? “The letter kills…
D.R. Silva (Hyper-Grace: The Dangerous Doctrine of a Happy God)
Is a Can Opener a Can Opener . . . ? As we explain in The Shaping of Things to Come,[157] one of the “trick questions” we use to get group discussion going around the idea of purpose is, “Is a can opener a can opener if it can’t open cans anymore?” This usually initiates a lively discussion around the idea of essence versus function. When the discussion turns to the application to the idea of church, it generates insight into the issue of purpose of the church. Is the church simply a church because it confesses Christ, or is there some functional test that must be applied? When answering the question, “What do you do with a can opener that doesn’t open cans anymore?” most people will say that unless it is fixable, it is not fulfilling that which it was designed for and it should be thrown away. Without getting too heavy about it, and recognizing that we do live by the grace and love of God, we must recognize that in the Hebraic worldview, fruitfulness and functionality are very important and tend to trump the concept of “essence,” which derives largely from Platonic idealism and Greek philosophy. (Idealism basically states that concepts and ideas are real in themselves and are the essence of reality, and forms are just expressions of preexisting ideas.) This is why Jesus always applies the very Hebraic test of fruitfulness to any claims of belief (e.g., Matt. 7:16–20; 12:33; 21:19; Luke 3:8; 13:6–9; John 15; Rev. 2–3). The ultimate test of faithfulness in the Scriptures is not correct intellectual belief (e.g., Matt. 25; Luke 6:46; James 2:12, 21–26) but rather an ethical-functional one—in 1 John it is whether we love or fail in love; in James it is faith with works, about how we care for widows and orphans; in the letters of Peter it is our capacity to suffer in our witness for Jesus; in Hebrews to stay true to the journey. And as politically incorrect as it is to say it, judgment regarding fruitfulness is a vital aspect of the revelation of God in the Scriptures (e.g., John 15; Rev. 2–3; as well as the many parables of judgment that lace Jesus’s teachings).
Michael Frost (The Faith of Leap: Embracing a Theology of Risk, Adventure & Courage)
And then, on his soul and conscience, [Gringoire] ... was not very sure that he was madly in love with the gypsy. He loved her goat almost as dearly. It was a charming animal, gentle, intelligent, clever; a learned goat. Nothing was more common in the Middle Ages than these learned animals, which amazed people greatly, and often led their instructors to the stake. But the witchcraft of the goat with the golden hoofs was a very innocent species of magic. Gringoire explained them to the archdeacon, whom these details seemed to interest deeply. In the majority of cases, it was sufficient to present the tambourine to the goat in such or such a manner, in order to obtain from him the trick desired. He had been trained to this by the gypsy, who possessed, in these delicate arts, so rare a talent that two months had sufficed to teach the goat to write, with movable letters, the word “Phœbus.” “‘Phœbus!’” said the priest; “why ‘Phœbus’?” “I know not,” replied Gringoire. “Perhaps it is a word which she believes to be endowed with some magic and secret virtue. She often repeats it in a low tone when she thinks that she is alone.” “Are you sure,” persisted Claude, with his penetrating glance, “that it is only a word and not a name?” “The name of whom?” said the poet. “How should I know?” said the priest. “This is what I imagine, messire. These Bohemians are something like Guebrs, and adore the sun. Hence, Phœbus.” “That does not seem so clear to me as to you, Master Pierre.” “After all, that does not concern me. Let her mumble her Phœbus at her pleasure. One thing is certain, that Djali loves me almost as much as he does her.” “Who is Djali?” “The goat.” The archdeacon dropped his chin into his hand, and appeared to reflect for a moment. All at once he turned abruptly to Gringoire once more. “And do you swear to me that you have not touched her?” “Whom?” said Gringoire; “the goat?” “No, that woman.” “My wife? I swear to you that I have not.” “You are often alone with her?” “A good hour every evening.” Dom Claude frowned. “Oh! oh! Solus cum sola non cogitabuntur orare Pater Noster.” “Upon my soul, I could say the Pater, and the Ave Maria, and the Credo in Deum patrem omnipotentem without her paying any more attention to me than a chicken to a church.” “Swear to me, by the body of your mother,” repeated the archdeacon violently, “that you have not touched that creature with even the tip of your finger.” “I will also swear it by the head of my father, for the two things have more affinity between them. But, my reverend master, permit me a question in my turn.” “Speak, sir.” “What concern is it of yours?” The archdeacon’s pale face became as crimson as the cheek of a young girl.
Victor Hugo (Notre-Dame de Paris | The Hunchback of Notre-Dame)
If we consider the possibility that all women–from the infant suckling her mother’s breast, to the grown woman experiencing orgasmic sensations while suckling her own child, perhaps recalling her mother’s milk-smell in her own; to two women, like Virginia Woolf’s Chloe and Olivia, who share a laboratory; to the woman dying at ninety, touched and handled by women–exist on a lesbian continuum, we can see ourselves as moving in and out of this continuum, whether we identify ourselves as lesbian or not. It allows us to connect aspects of woman-identification as diverse as the impudent, intimate girl-friendships of eight- or nine-year-olds and the banding together of those women of the twelfth and fifteenth centuries known as Beguines who “shared houses, rented to one another, bequeathed houses to their room-mates … in cheap subdivided houses in the artisans’ area of town,” who “practiced Christian virtue on their own, dressing and living simply and not associating with men,” who earned their livings as spinners, bakers, nurses, or ran schools for young girls, and who managed–until the Church forced them to disperse–to live independent both of marriage and of conventual restrictions. It allows us to connect these women with the more celebrated “Lesbians” of the women’s school around Sappho of the seventh century B.C.; with the secret sororities and economic networks reported among African women; and with the Chinese marriage resistance sisterhoods–communities of women who refused marriage, or who if married often refused to consummate their marriages and soon left their husbands–the only women in China who were not footbound and who, Agnes Smedley tells us, welcomed the births of daughters and organized successful women’s strikes in the silk mills. It allows us to connect and compare disparate individual instances of marriage resistance: for example, the type of autonomy claimed by Emily Dickinson, a nineteenth-century white woman genius, with the strategies available to Zora Neale Hurston, a twentieth-century black woman genius. Dickinson never married, had tenuous intellectual friendships with men, lived self-convented in her genteel father’s house, and wrote a lifetime of passionate letters to her sister-in-law Sue Gilbert and a smaller group of such letters to her friend Kate Scott Anthon. Hurston married twice but soon left each husband, scrambled her way from Florida to Harlem to Columbia University to Haiti and finally back to Florida, moved in and out of white patronage and poverty, professional success and failure; her survival relationships were all with women, beginning with her mother. Both of these women in their vastly different circumstances were marriage resisters, committed to their own work and selfhood, and were later characterized as “apolitical ”. Both were drawn to men of intellectual quality; for both of them women provided the ongoing fascination and sustenance of life.
Adrienne Rich (Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence)
APRIL 6 Don’t be discouraged at the spiritual war you’re called to fight every day. The Lord almighty is with you and wars on your behalf. Between the “already” and the “not yet,” life is war. It can be exhausting, frustrating, and discouraging. We all go through moments when we wish life could just be easier. We wonder why parenting has to be such a continual spiritual battle. We all wish our marriages could be free of war. We all would love it if there were no conflicts at our jobs or in our churches. But we all wake up to a war-torn world every day. It is the sad legacy of a world that has been broken by sin and is constantly under the attack of the enemy. The way the apostle Paul ends his letter to the Ephesian church is interesting and instructive. Having laid out the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ and having detailed their implications for our street-level living, he ends by talking about spiritual warfare: Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. (Eph. 6:10–20) When you get to this final part of Paul’s letter, it’s tempting to think that he has entirely changed the subject. No longer, it seems, is he talking about everyday Christianity. But that’s exactly what he’s talking about. He is saying to the Ephesian believers, “You know all that I’ve said about marriage, parenting, communication, anger, the church, and so on—it’s all one big spiritual war.” Paul is reminding you that at street level, practical, daily Christianity is war. There really is moral right and wrong. There really is an enemy. There really is seductive and deceptive temptation. You really are spiritually vulnerable. But he says more. He reminds you that by grace you have been properly armed for the battle. The question is, will you use the implements of battle that the cross of Jesus Christ has provided for you?
Paul David Tripp (New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional)
Cultivate Spiritual Allies One of the most significant things you learn from the life of Paul is that the self-made man is incomplete. Paul believed that mature manhood was forged in the body of Christ In his letters, Paul talks often about the people he was serving and being served by in the body of Christ. As you live in the body of Christ, you should be intentional about cultivating at least three key relationships based on Paul’s example: 1. Paul: You need a mentor, a coach, or shepherd who is further along in their walk with Christ. You need the accountability and counsel of more mature men. Unfortunately, this is often easier said than done. Typically there’s more demand than supply for mentors. Some churches try to meet this need with complicated mentoring matchmaker type programs. Typically, you can find a mentor more naturally than that. Think of who is already in your life. Is there an elder, a pastor, a professor, a businessman, or other person that you already respect? Seek that man out; let him know that you respect the way he lives his life and ask if you can take him out for coffee or lunch to ask him some questions — and then see where it goes from there. Don’t be surprised if that one person isn’t able to mentor you in everything. While he may be a great spiritual mentor, you may need other mentors in the areas of marriage, fathering, money, and so on. 2. Timothy: You need to be a Paul to another man (or men). God calls us to make disciples (Matthew 28:19). The books of 1st and 2nd Timothy demonstrate some of the investment that Paul made in Timothy as a younger brother (and rising leader) in the faith. It’s your job to reproduce in others the things you learn from the Paul(s) in your life. This kind of relationship should also be organic. You don’t need to approach strangers to offer your mentoring services. As you lead and serve in your spheres of influence, you’ll attract other men who want your input. Don’t be surprised if they don’t quite know what to ask of you. One practical way to engage with someone who asks for your input is to suggest that they come up with three questions that you can answer over coffee or lunch and then see where it goes from there. 3. Barnabas: You need a go-to friend who is a peer. One of Paul’s most faithful ministry companions was named Barnabas. Acts 4:36 tells us that Barnabas’s name means “son of encouragement.” Have you found an encouraging companion in your walk with Christ? Don’t take that friendship for granted. Enjoy the blessing of friendship, of someone to walk through life with. Make it a priority to build each other up in the faith. Be a source of sharpening iron (Proverbs 27:17) and friendly wounds (Proverbs 27:6) for each other. But also look for ways to work together to be disruptive — in the good sense of that word. Challenge each other in breaking the patterns of the world around you in order to interrupt it with the Gospel. Consider all the risky situations Paul and Barnabas got themselves into and ask each other, “what are we doing that’s risky for the Gospel?
Randy Stinson (A Guide To Biblical Manhood)
We cannot provide a definition of those products from which the age takes it name, the feuilletons. They seem to have formed an uncommonly popular section of the daily newspapers, were produced by the millions, and were a major source of mental pabulum for the reader in want of culture. They reported on, or rather "chatted" about, a thousand-and-one items of knowledge. The cleverer writers poked fun at their own work. Many such pieces are so incomprehensible that they can only be viewed as self-persiflage on the part of the authors. In some periods interviews with well-known personalities on current problems were particularly popular. Noted chemists or piano virtuosos would be queried about politics, for example, or popular actors, dancers, gymnasts, aviators, or even poets would be drawn out on the benefits and drawbacks of being a bachelor, or on the presumptive causes of financial crises, and so on. All that mattered in these pieces was to link a well-known name with a subject of current topical interest. It is very hard indeed for us to put ourselves in the place of those people so that we can truly understand them. But the great majority, who seem to have been strikingly fond of reading, must have accepted all these grotesque things with credulous earnestness. If a famous painting changed owners, if a precious manuscript was sold at auction, if an old palace burned down, the readers of many thousands of feature articles at once learned the facts. What is more, on that same day or by the next day at the latest they received an additional dose of anecdotal, historical, psychological, erotic, and other stuff on the catchword of the moment. A torrent of zealous scribbling poured out over every ephemeral incident, and in quality, assortment, and phraseology all this material bore the mark of mass goods rapidly and irresponsibly turned out. Incidentally, there appear to have been certain games which were regular concomitants of the feature article. The readers themselves took the active role in these games, which put to use some of their glut of information fodder. Thousands upon thousands spent their leisure hours sitting over squares and crosses made of letters of the alphabet, filling in the gaps according to certain rules. But let us be wary of seeing only the absurd or insane aspect of this, and let us abstain from ridiculing it. For these people with their childish puzzle games and their cultural feature articles were by no means innocuous children or playful Phaeacians. Rather, they dwelt anxiously among political, economic, and moral ferments and earthquakes, waged a number of frightful wars and civil wars, and their little cultural games were not just charming, meaningless childishness. These games sprang from their deep need to close their eyes and flee from unsolved problems and anxious forebodings of doom into an imaginary world as innocuous as possible. They assiduously learned to drive automobiles, to play difficult card games and lose themselves in crossword puzzles--for they faced death, fear, pain, and hunger almost without defenses, could no longer accept the consolations of the churches, and could obtain no useful advice from Reason. These people who read so many articles and listened to so many lectures did not take the time and trouble to strengthen themselves against fear, to combat the dread of death within themselves; they moved spasmodically on through life and had no belief in a tomorrow.
Hermann Hesse