"The problem of the soul is how to live nobly in an animal environment; how to persuade and train the tongue and the senses to behave in agreement with the insights of the Soul.
~ Abraham Heschel
"When you begin to think outside the box, you often become some other "leaders" lousy follower. That usually costs something" (Andy Rayner)
"Our guardian angels are bored." (Mike Foster)
It's where I feel I'm at these days. “In the second half of life, it is good just to be a part of the general dance. We do not have to stand out, make defining moves, or be better than anyone else on the dance floor. Life is more participatory than assertive, and there is no need for strong or further self-definition” (Falling Upward. Richard Rohr.120).
"It would be a device of conceit, if not presumption, to insist that purity of the heart is the exclusive test of piety. Perfect purity is something we rarely know how to obtain or how to retain. No one can claim to have purged all the drawers even from his finest desire."
( Abraham Heschel. God In Search Of Man )
"The world needs more than the secret holiness of individual inwardness. It needs more of than the sacred sentiments and good intentions. God asks for the heart because he needs the lives. It is lives that the world will be redeemed, by lives that beat in concordance with God, by deeds that outbeat the finite charity of the human heart."
(Abraham Heschel. God In Search Of Man)
"There are people who try to raise their souls like a man continually taking standing jumps in the hopes that, if he jumps higher every day, a time may come when he will no longer fall back but will go right up to the sky. Thus occupied he cannot look at the sky. We cannot take a single step toward heaven. It is not in our power to travel in a vertical direction. If however we look heavenward for a long time, God comes and takes us up. He raises us easily."
—From Waiting for God by Simone Weil
"I am deeply distressed by what I can only call in our Christian culture the idolatry of the Scriptures. For many Christians, the Bible is not a pointer to God but God himself. In a word – bibliolatry. God cannot be confined to a leather-bound book. I develop a nasty rash around people who speak as if mere scrutiny of its pages will reveal precisely how God thinks and precisely what God wants. The four Gospels are the key to knowing Jesus. But conversely, Jesus is the key to knowing the meaning of the gospel – and of the Bible as a whole. Instead of remaining content with the bare letter, we should pass on to the more profound mysteries that are available only through intimate and heartfelt knowledge of Jesus."
~ Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus
"When we prayed to win the lottery, do we ever consider the untold numbers who will therefore not win.? Do we think about all those other folks, many of whom are in dire straits, unemployed, maybe with hungry kids? Do our prayers naturally drift to other people for whom a winning ticket would be a way out of poverty, abuse, or oppression? I am not just talking about a little lottery here, since so many of our prayers are an appeal for luck.
When we pray for our kids to make the basketball team or be accepted to a certain College, do we ever think of the other kids who will be left out if God fulfills our prayers?
How about when we pray for our church to grow? Do our prayers, be they private or from the pulpit, include remorse and regret regret for all the small churches that will need to close their doors to make way for another Urban mega church? The statistics are indisputable, churches grow because other churches shrink or close. Do our prayers include them?
My prayers are dominated by me and my people. Do I pray for other countries to succeed or just my country? Do I take into compassionate consideration that many, many other countries are filled with poverty, famine, and epidemics that would make our poorest neighborhoods look like paradise? Do we pray for the success of our neighbors across the globe?
How about when we pray for our soldiers? Do our appeals drift to the soldiers on the other side, for their safety and spared life? How about their families?
In the end, I believe that most of us are narcissists when it comes to our God-imaginations. God is at the game table, and we believe he should be skewing the game to support me, my people, my church, my country my.... my...my....
Am I the only one treating at all like a game?
(Tony Kriz. Aloof. Pg 26)
"“What? Me? I’d rather not,” he paused. “I don’t have any ability to judge.”“Oh, that is not true,” returned the quick reply, tinged now with a hint of sarcasm. “You have already proven yourself very capable, even in our short time together. And besides, you have judged many throughout your life. You have judged the actions and even the motivations of others, as if you somehow knew what those were in truth. You have judged the color of skin and body language and body odor. You have judged history and relationships. You have even judged the value of a person’s life by the quality of your concept of beauty. By all accounts, you are quite well-practiced in the activity.” Mack felt shame reddening his face. He had to admit he had done an awful lot of judging in his time.""
(William P. Young. The Shack)
"“Have you noticed that even though you call me Lord and King, I have never really acted in that capacity with you? I’ve never taken control of your choices or forced you to do anything, even when what you were about to do was destructive or hurtful to yourself and others................
"Because we want you to join us in our circle of relationship. I don’t want slaves to my will; I want brothers and sisters who will share life with me.”"
(William P. Young. The Shack)
"An explorer, a white man, anxious to reach his destination in the heart ofAfrica , promised an extra payment to his bearers if they would make greater speed. For several days, the bearers moved along at a faster pace. One afternoon, though, they all suddenly put down their burden and sat on the ground. No matter how much money they were offered, they refused to move on. When the explorer finally asked why they were behaving as they were, he was given the following answer: “We have been moving along at such a fast pace that we no longer know what we are doing. Now we have to wait until our soul catches up with us.”
(Paulo Coelho: Maktub)
The master met one night with his disciples, and asked them to build a campfire so they could sit and talk. “The spiritual path is like a fire that burns before us,” he said. “A man who wants to light the fire has to bear with the disagreeable smoke that makes it difficult for him to breathe, and brings tears to his eyes. That is how his faith is rediscovered. However, once the fire is rekindled, the smoke disappears, and the flames illuminate everything around him -providing heat and tranquility.” “But what if someone else lights the fire for him?” asked one of the disciples. “And if someone helps us to avoid the smoke?” “If someone does that, he is a false master. A master capable of taking the fire to wherever he desires, or of extinguishing it whenever he wants to do so. And, since he has taught no one how to light the fire, he is likely to leave everyone in the darkness.”
(Paulo Coelho: Maktub)
"Between France and Spain is a range of mountains. In one of those mountains, there is a village named Argeles, and in the village is a hill leading to the valley. Every afternoon, an old man climbs and descends the hill. When the wanderer went to Argeles for the first time, he was not aware of this. On his second visit, he noticed that he crossed paths with the same man. And every time he went to the village, he perceived the man in greater detail -his clothing, his beret, his cane, his glasses. Nowadays, whenever he thinks about that village, he thinks of the old man, as well -even though he is not aware that this is true.
Only once did the wanderer ever speak to the man. In a joking fashion, he asked the man, “Do you think that God lives in these beautiful mountains surrounding us?” “God lives,” said the old man, “in those places where they allow Him to enter.”
(Paulo Coelho: Maktub)
"Generally, by the time you are real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all because once you are real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
(The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams)
"I get the impression that many modern church movements see authoritarianism as a means to "make it happen" without the hindrance or inertia of group decision-making. That's basically an invitation for the power hungry to assert their dominance."
"..... be prepared for autumn’s sudden changes, for winter’s treacherous snow and ice, for spring’s seductive flowers, for the drought and the rain of summer. Make the most of each of these seasons, and do not complain about them."
(Paulo Coelho. Book of Manuals)
"As long as we are on earth, the love that unites us will bring us suffering by our very contact with one another, because this love is the resetting of a Body of broken bones."
“You humans, so little in your own eyes. You are truly blind to your own place in the Creation. Having chosen the ravaged path of independence, you don’t even comprehend that you are dragging the entire Creation along with you.”
(William P. Young. The Shack. Sarayu, speaking to Mack)
"If one thing is clear as soon as the Church becomes serious about its missionary and ministerial calling for the world, it is that two difficult roads in particular have to be trodden: first, the road towards overcoming the scantiness of its knowledge of the world of today, and its ignoring of what really goes on in the world under its surface; secondly, the road towards reforming its spirit, atmosphere, and inherited structure, in so far as they give no room for new vitality.
... What can and must be said and resaid, with all gratitude for what in many places is already happening, is that a fearless scrutiny and revision of structure is one of the most urgent aspects of a renewal of the Church."
... Hendrik Kraemer (1888-1965), A Theology of the Laity
"Here I slackened pace, for I drank the spicy, resiny wind, and beneath the arms of this noble tree I felt that I was safely home. Never did pine trees seem so dear. How sweet was their breath and their song, and how grandly they winnowed the sky!"
(John Muir. Steep Trails)
Lottie Moon was a missionary to China in the mid to late 19th century. She said,
"When the gospel is allowed to grow naturally in China, without forcing processes of development, the "church in the house" is usually its first form of organization. God grant us faith and courage to keep "hands off" and allow this new garden of the Lord's planting to ripen in the rays of the Divine Love, free from human interference!"
- Lottie Moon, Pingtu, September 10, 1890
"When you get those rare moments of clarity, those flashes when the universe makes sense, you try desperately to hold on to them. They are the lifeboats for the darker times, when the vastness of it all, the incomprehensible nature of life is completely elusive.
So, the question becomes, or should have been all along, what would you do if you knew you only had one day, or one week, or one month to live?
What lifeboat would you grab on to?
What secret would you tell?
What band would you see?
What person would you declare your love too?
What wish would you fulfill?
What exotic local would you fly to for coffee?
What book would you write?"
~ One Week, movie.
One of my top ten movies.
After his cancer diagnoses, and against his fiances advice or his family being informed of his diagnosis, Ben takes a week long motorcycle trip across Canada before entering into a cancer treatment offering at best 10% chance of survival.
"I asked a man when I was on the road how ya know if you're in love. He told me, 'If you have to ask, you're not.' You never had to ask anyone, did you Sam?" (Ben)
"No, of course not." (Samantha)
"Are you angry?" (Ben)
"Of course I am. But not just about that." (Samantha)
"I'm sorry I got us into this mess."(Ben)
"You should be." (Samantha)
"How are you feeling?" (Samantha)
"Was your trip worth it?" (Samantha)
"Did you take pictures? (Samantha)
"A lifetimes worth." (Ben)
~Movie - One Week
" The consequences of his ignorance have been catastrophic, and even his most benign efforts changed the world in ways that he could never have foreseen."
(Moritz Thomsen. The Saddest Pleasure: A Journey On Two Rivers. He is speaking of Pizarro)
"One is constantly reminded of the infinite lavishness and fertility of Nature—inexhaustible abundance amid what seems enormous waste. And yet when we look into any of her operations that lie within reach of our minds, we learn that no particle of her material is wasted or worn out. It is eternally flowing from use to use, beauty to yet higher beauty.."
( John Muir. My First Summer In The Sierras )
"If I had a few sacks of flour, an axe, and some matches, I would build a cabin of pine logs, pile up plenty of firewood about it and stay all winter to see the grand fertile snow-storms, watch the birds and animals that winter thus high, how they live, how the forests look snow-laden or buried, and how the avalanches look and sound on their way down the mountains. But now I'll have to go.... "
(John Muir. My First Summer In The Sierras )
".... how willingly people who considered it a privilege to eat had swarmed into the city's to overrun the slums and to seek out Factory jobs. God's face now takes on the form of a Time clock, and a hundred million people will now dedicate themselves to the production of a mountain of products all skilfully designed to wear out in 3 years - cars, radios, TV sets, and tape decks, outboard motors and pocket calculators, hoola-hoops and little plastic dolls that when you squeeze them make wee-wee in their plastic panties. How incredible that we have come so far that we can stamp out a pissing doll from a nickel's worth of plastic and never wonder if the girl at the machine who stamped them out for eight hours a day year after year is living a life that gives her satisfaction.
"And what did you do with your life, my child?" God asks at the gates of paradise. "I stamped out pissing dolls, Lord."
"And are you happy with the life you've had, my pet?"
"I ate, Lord.""
(The Saddest Pleasure: A Journey On Two Rivers. A Memoir by Moritz Thomsen)
"When I was a boy going to church, I was surrounded by the most lovely, honest, and well-meaning people. One of the things these well-meaning people taught me was that it was not okay to have difficult questions. They didn't do it intentionally or maliciously, but they did it all the same. I was always rewarded when I got an answer correct or responded as a 'good' Christian kid should. The few times I tempted to explore a critique or a possible doubt, it was met with a furrowed brow and a correction. I was taught that there was an agreed-upon script and we were not to wander from it. Those furrowed brows were destructive to an honest faith story. They wounded my soul."
(Tony Kriz. Aloof: Figuring Out Life With A God Who Hides)
Storytelling is an important spiritual practice. It may even be essential to the way we humans have been designed. You see, our stories are precious things. They are the foundation of our beliefs. They are the fuel of our hope. My soul has forgotten most of my stories. They have long ago drifted away into the fog. However, there are a precious few that my soul vigorously holds on to."
(Tony Kriz. Aloof: Figuring Out Life With A God Who Hides.)
"10 Implied Messages of Institutional Church Because The Medium Is The Message:
1. Church is a place, a location, a building.
2. Christianity happens in services, classes, meetings, events, and programs.
3. What people need most is good information about God.
4. “God’s work” needs organizational or corporate infrastructure.
5. The more control the better; no telling what people will do if left to themselves.
6. It’s best you let us decide how to use and distribute your money.
7. Depend on us for the spiritual formation of your children; we are trained.
8. The bigger the church, the better.
9. People are more valuable and spiritual depending on how often they attend and how much they tithe.
10. Relationships happen in group meetings."
- Jim Palmer
In the desert, fruit was scarce. God called one of his prophets and said: - Each person may only eat one fruit a day. The custom was obeyed for many generations, and the ecology of the place was preserved. Since the remaining fruit supplied seeds, other trees appeared. Soon, the entire region was turned into fertile soil, which was the envy of other towns. But the people continued to eat one fruit a day - they remained faithful to what the ancient prophet of their forefathers had told them. However they never allowed the inhabitants of other villages to take advantage of the abundant harvest with which they were rewarded each year. The result was that fruit rotted on the ground. God called a new prophet and said: - Let them eat as much fruit as they like.
And ask them to share the abundance with their neighbors. The prophet came to the town with the new message. But he was stoned - for by now the custom was ingrained in the hearts and minds of each of the inhabitants. With time, the younger villagers began to question the barbaric old custom. But, since the tradition of the elders was unbending, they decided to abandon the religion. Thus, they could eat as much fruit as they wished, and give the rest to those in need of food. The only people who remained faithful to the local church, were those who considered themselves saints. But in truth they were unable to see how the world changes, and recognize how one must change with it.
(Paulo Coelho : Warrior Of The Light - Vol 2 )