“The Church is not something made by men. It is the instrument of the living God for the setting-forward of His reign on earth . . . This is an hour of testing and peril for the Church, no less than for the world. But it is the hour of God’s call to the Church . . . For those who have eyes to see, there are signs that the tide of faith is beginning to come in.”
Category : Notable & Quotable
Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace
–Alexander Pope (1688”“1744)
When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice.
–William James (1842-1910)
“The superiority of pagan over Christian truth was believed by Catholic Christianity’s critics to subsist precisely in the fact that ‘these things never happened, but always are.'”
–Markus Bockmuehl, quoting Sallustius (4th cent.), De dis et mundo 4 (tauta de egeneto oudepote, esti de aei), against Hauerwas’ Matthew; Pro ecclesia 17:1 (Winter 2008): p. 27
The sure mark of an unliterary man is that he considers ”˜I’ve read it already’ to be a conclusive argument against reading a work. We have all known women who remembered a novel so dimly that they had to stand for half an hour in the library skimming through it before they were certain they had once read it. But the moment they became certain, they rejected it immediately. It was for them dead, like a burnt-out match, an old railway ticket, or yesterday’s newspaper; they had already used it. Those who read great
works, on the other hand, will read the same work ten, twenty or thirty times during the course of their life.”
–C.S.Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism
Corrie ten Boom told of not being able to forget a wrong that had been done to her. She had forgiven the person, but she kept rehashing the incident and so couldn’t sleep. Finally Corrie cried out to God for help in putting the problem to rest. “His help came in the form of a kindly Lutheran pastor,” Corrie wrote, “to whom I confessed my failure after two sleepless weeks.” “Up in the church tower,” he said, nodding out the window, “is a bell which is rung by pulling on a rope. But you know what? After the sexton lets go of the rope, the bell keeps on swinging. First ding, then dong. Slower and slower until there’s a final dong and it stops. I believe the same thing is true of forgiveness. When we forgive, we take our hand off the rope. But if we’ve been tugging at our grievances for a long time, we mustn’t be surprised if the old angry thoughts keep coming for a while. They’re just the ding-dongs of the old bell slowing down.” “And so it proved to be. There were a few more midnight reverberations, a couple of dings when the subject came up in my conversations, but the force — which was my willingness in the matter — had gone out of them. They came less and less often and at the last stopped altogether: we can trust God not only above our emotions, but also above our thoughts.”
–Quoted in this morning’s sermon by yours truly on forgiveness
The temptation to form premature theories upon insufficient data is the bane of our profession. –Sherlock Holmes
–I have tried to keep things in my hands and lost them all, but what I have given into God’s hands I still possess.
–Martin Luther; quoted in this morning’s sermon by yours truly
I always feel like …[we are] on the front lines, and we’re in combat, and we’re receiving fire and returning fire. And we’re running out of bullets, and we’re running out of guns, and we’re running out of food, and we’re running out of water. And supply lines had better advance.
When we “use” God, the church, and ministry to appease religious curiosity and demand, determine winners and losers, gain an upper hand or prove we are better than our competitors, we become participants in death: life without God
When I pay 100% of the airfare, 100% of the plane is a minimum requirement.
21. However, secondly, we believe that there remains a lack of clarity about the stance of The Episcopal Church, especially its position on the authorisation of Rites of Blessing for persons living in same-sex unions. There appears to us to be an inconsistency between the position of General Convention and local pastoral provision. We recognise that the General Convention made no explicit resolution about such Rites and in fact declined to pursue resolutions which, if passed, could have led to the development and authorisation of them. However, we understand that local pastoral provision is made in some places for such blessings. It is the ambiguous stance of The Episcopal Church which causes concern among us.
22. The standard of teaching stated in Resolution 1.10 of the Lambeth Conference 1998 asserted that the Conference “cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions”.
–The Anglican Primates Tanzania Communique
The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence. More than that, it is cooperation in violence.
Stuart Smalley (Voiceover): I deserve good things. I am entitled to my share of happiness. I refuse to beat myself up. I am attractive person. I am fun to be with.
Announcer: “Daily Affirmation with Stuart Smalley”. Stuart Smalley is a caring nurturer, a member of several 12-step programs, but not a licensed therapist.
[ open on Stuart giving himself a pep talk in his full-length mirror ]
Stuart Smalley: I’m going to do a terrific show today! And I’m gonna help people! Because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and, doggonit, people like me!
“Thank God there are those in the contemporary church who are determined at all costs to defend and uphold God’s revealed truth. But sometimes they are conspicuously lacking in love. When they think they smell heresy, their nose begins to twitch, their muscles ripple, and the light of battle enters their eye. They seem to enjoy nothing more than a fight. Others make the opposite mistake. They are determined at all costs to maintain and exhibit brotherly love, but in order to do so are prepared even to sacrifice the central truths of revelation. Both these tendencies are unbalanced and unbiblical. Truth becomes hard if it is not softened by love; love becomes soft if it is not strengthened by truth. The apostle [Paul] calls us to hold the two together, which should not be difficult for Spirit-filled believers, since the Holy Spirit is himself ”˜the Spirit of truth,’ and his firstfruit is ”˜love.’ There is no other route than this to a fully mature Christian unity.”
–John Stott, The Message of Ephesians (Downer’s Grove, Illinois: InterVarsityPress, 1979), p. 172
The world is a dangerous place to live ”” not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.
Greed is the logical result of the belief that there is no life after death. We grab what we can while we can however we can and then hold on to it hard.
–Sir Fred Catherwood, Evangelicals Now
“The gospel of grace begins and ends with forgiveness ”¦ grace is the only force in the universe powerful enough to break the chains that enslave generations. Grace alone melts ungrace.”
–Philip Yancey, quoted in this morning’s sermon
“Urgency engulfs the manager; yet the most urgent task is not always the most important. The tyranny of the urgent lies in its distortion of priorities. One of the measures of a manager is the ability to distinguish the important from the urgent, to refuse to be tyrannize–d by the urgent, to refuse to manage by crisis.”
–R. Alec Mackenzie, also from this morning’s sermon
“He that is everywhere is nowhere.” ”” Thomas Fuller, 17th century historian, scholar, and author, also quoted in this morning’s sermon
Writer Charles Swindoll once found himself with too many commitments in too few days. He got nervous and tense about it. “I was snapping at my wife and our children, choking down my food at mealtimes, and feeling irritated at those unexpected interruptions through the day,” he recalled in his book Stress Fractures. “Before long, things around our home started reflecting the patter of my hurry-up style. It was becoming unbearable.
“I distinctly remember after supper one evening, the words of our younger daughter, Colleen. She wanted to tell me something important that had happened to her at school that day. She began hurriedly, ‘Daddy, I wanna tell you somethin’ and I’ll tell you really fast.’
“Suddenly realizing her frustration, I answered, ‘Honey, you can tell me — and you don’t have to tell me really fast. Say it slowly.” “I’ll never forget her answer: ‘Then listen slowly.'”
–From Bits & Pieces, June 24, 1993, and quoted in this morning’s sermon
But attending was not really about taking a peek at another school’s methods. “The fundÂamental reason was that I wanted to have my own skills improved as a manager and leader,” Prof Francis says. “The course did what it said it would ”“ we were both impressed.
“The opportunity of talking about it with 89 other senior executives who have depth and experience is part of what you are paying for ”“ as is being led by someone who is highly experienced and can pull out all the nuances.”
Harvard, Prof Francis says, has developed and crystallised his thinking and given him greater confidence that his intuition about how and what to change were correct. “For me, one of the biggest, most striking insights is the importance of organisational culture. There was a phrase I found very striking, which Ford had pinned up in the boardroom: ”˜culture eats strategy for breakfast’. It means that you can strategise all you like but, if you have not got hearts and minds, it is a complete waste of time.”
–Professor Arthur Francis, Dean of Bradford University School of Management, in yesterday’s Financial Times, page 12
“All those vague theosophical minds for whom the universe is an immense melting pot are exactly the minds which shrink instinctively from that earthquake saying of our Gospels, which declare that the Son of God came not with peace but with a sundering sword.”
–G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, chapter 8 (“The Romance of Orthodoxy”)
This elf was offline almost all day yesterday, so we didn’t have a chance to post any Independence Day links. Here are three pieces we found worth reading:
1. I particularly appreciated Sarah Hey’s reflection “Happy Birthday America” over on Stand Firm, which inexplicably has no comments. (Maybe it should have been posted as a feature, not under news?) Sarah provides some links and excerpts to several Independence Day op-eds and then ask us to consider:
What does that liberty mean for you, here in America?
For me, it means that whatever I imagine, whatever I hope for, whatever I dream in, no matter how foolish, quixotic, unimaginable, trifling, serious, extravagant, impractical, noble, as long as it does not violate the rights of others [and of course, personally, as long as it does not violate the Christian faith] . . . I am free to pursue it. Others may denounce my foolhardiness, or ignore me, or cheer me on, or wonder why, or roll their eyes, or hope for my success — but no matter what, I am at liberty.
What about you?
2. Several blogs I try to follow noted Michael Gerson’s op-ed in yesterday’s Washington Post: Why we Keep this Creed
The privileged and powerful can love America for many reasons. The oppressed and powerless, stripped of selfish motives for their love, have found America lovely because of its ideals.
It is typical of America that our great national day is not the celebration of a battle — or, as in the case of France, the celebration of a riot. It is the celebration of a political act, embedded in a philosophic argument: that the rights of man are universal because they are rooted in the image of God. That argument remains controversial. Some view all claims of universal truth with skepticism. Some believe such claims by America amount to hubris.
Which is why some of us love this holiday so much. It is the day when cynicism is silent. It is the day when Americans recall that “all men are created equal” somehow applies to the Mexican migrant and the Iraqi shopkeeper and the inner-city teenager. And it is the day we honor those who take this fact seriously. Those in our military who fight for the liberty of strangers are noble. Those dissidents who risk much in Burma, Zimbabwe, North Korea and China are heroic. Those who work against poverty and injustice in America are patriots — because patriotism does not require us to live in denial, only to live in hope.
In America we respect, defend and obey the Constitution — but we change it when it is inconsistent with our ideals. Those ideals are defined by the Declaration of Independence. We have not always lived up to them. But we would not change them for anything on Earth.
3. Evangelical Outpost blog has a quote from CS Lewis posted under the heading “Democracy and the Fall.” It’s interesting to read this in light of all the rhetoric from TEC bishops and other leaders of late about Democracy and the Episcopal Church.
From C.S. Lewis’ essay “Equality” on the relationship between democracy and mankind’s fall from grace:
I am a democrat [believer in democracy] because I believe in the Fall of Man. I think most people are democrats for the opposite reason. A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought mankind so wise and good that every one deserved a share in the government. The danger of defending democracy on those grounds is that they’re not true. . . . I find that they’re not true without looking further than myself. I don’t deserve a share in governing a hen-roost. Much less a nation. . . . The real reason for democracy is just the reverse. Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows. Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters. (“Equality,” in C. S. Lewis: Essay Collection and Other Short Pieces, ed. by Lesley Walmsley [London: HarperCollins Publishers, 2000,] p. 666).
“Today we stand on an awful arena, where character which was the growth of centuries was tested and determined by the issues of a single day. We are compassed about by a cloud of witnesses; not alone the shadowy ranks of those who wrestled here, but the greater parties of the action–they for whom these things were done. Forms of thought rise before us, as in an amphitheatre, circle beyond circle, rank above rank; The State, The Union, The People. And these are One. Let us–from the arena, contemplate them–the spiritual spectators.
“There is an aspect in which the question at issue might seem to be of forms, and not of substance. It was, on its face, a question of government. There was a boastful pretence that each State held in its hands the death-warrant of the Nation; that any State had a right, without show of justification outside of its own caprice, to violate the covenants of the constitution, to break away from the Union, and set up its own little sovereignty as sufficient for all human purposes and ends; thus leaving it to the mere will or whim of any member of our political system to destroy the body and dissolve the soul of the Great People. This was the political question submitted to the arbitrament of arms. But the victory was of great politics over small. It was the right reason, the moral consciousness and solemn resolve of the people rectifying its wavering exterior lines according to the life-lines of its organic being.
“There is a phrase abroad which obscures the legal and moral questions involved in the issue,–indeed, which falsifies history: “The War between the States”. There are here no States outside of the Union. Resolving themselves out of it does not release them. Even were they successful in intrenching themselves in this attitude, they would only relapse into territories of the United States. Indeed several of the States so resolving were never in their own right either States or Colonies; but their territories were purchased by the common treasury of the Union. Underneath this phrase and title,–“The War between the States”–lies the false assumption that our Union is but a compact of States. Were it so, neither party to it could renounce it at his own mere will or caprice. Even on this theory the States remaining true to the terms of their treaty, and loyal to its intent, would have the right to resist force by force, to take up the gage of battle thrown down by the rebellious States, and compel them to return to their duty and their allegiance. The Law of Nations would have accorded the loyal States this right and remedy.
“But this was not our theory, nor our justification. The flag we bore into the field was not that of particular States, no matter how many nor how loyal, arrayed against other States. It was the flag of the Union, the flag of the people, vindicating the right and charged with the duty of preventing any factions, no matter how many nor under what pretence, from breaking up this common Country.
“It was the country of the South as well as of the North. The men who sought to dismember it, belonged to it. Its was a larger life, aloof from the dominance of self-surroundings; but in it their truest interests were interwoven. They suffered themselves to be drawn down from the spiritual ideal by influences of the physical world. There is in man that peril of the double nature. “But I see another law”, says St. Paul. “I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind.”
–Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (1828-1914)
“”¦’I am a nut about community, and what is missing in the Church for me is any realness between people. So many communities want pseudo-community and are not willing to do the work to have real community. They don’t want authenticity and reality. They want to hear a sermon that is going to make them feel better, but they don’t want to get real with each other and hear each other’s pain and talk about that kind of this. They don’t want to talk about the real stuff of life. That is very sad. Jesus said, ”˜I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly.’ Many churches I go to are not very [alive] places. You get the feeling that, beneath the smile and the singing and the clapping, there is no real life underneath.’ ”¦”
With seven days of meetings running from 6.30 A.M. to 9.00 P.M., the patience and stamina of delegates seemed likely to be tested to the maximum. With a strictly controlled agenda and the rather directive stance taken by the Council of General Synod in presenting its own motions on some of the most contentious issues, it was also questionable how much time and opportunity delegates would ultimately have to work through the implications of very significant decisions.
Before us in proud humiliation stood the embodiment of manhood: men whom neither toils and sufferings, nor the fact of death, nor disaster, nor hopelessness could bend from their resolve; standing before us now, thin, worn, and famished, but erect, and with eyes looking level into ours, waking memories that bound us together as no other bond; was not such manhood to be welcomed back into a Union so tested and assured?
… when the head of each division column comes opposite our group, our bugle sounds the signal and instantly our whole line from right to left, regiment by regiment in succession, gives the soldier’s salutation, from the ‘order arms’ to the old ‘carry,’ the marching salute.
Gordon at the head of the column, riding with heavy spirit and downcast face, catches the sound of shifting arms, looks up, and, taking the meaning, wheels superbly, making with himself and his horse one uplifted figure, with profound salutation as he drops the point of his sword to the boot toe; then facing to his own command, gives word for his successive brigades to pass us with the same position of the manual ”” honor answering honor.
On our part not a sound of trumpet more, nor roll of drum; not a cheer, nor word nor whisper of vain-glorying, nor motion of man standing again at the order, but an awed stillness rather, and breath-holding, as if it were the passing of the dead!
— Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain [1828-1914], The Passing of the Armies, on the surrender at Appomattox on April 9, 1865
Malle and Wat were burning garden rubbish; the heap was crackling merrily; below the busy flames were sliding their quick fingers about the dry wizened stalks, feeling along, licking up; above, smoke, reeking of rottenness, poured out, leaned sideways, swirled wide and swept over half the garden. Malle and Wat, casting down fork and rake, fled out of it to the clear air to breathe, and leaned together upon the wall.
”˜Wat,’ said Malle, ”˜have you thought that He has stained Himself, soiled Himself, being not only with men, but Himself a man. What’s that, to be man? Look at me. Look at you.’
They looked at each other, and one saw a dusty wretched dumb lad, and the other saw a heavy slatternly woman.
Malle said: ”˜It’s to be that which shoots down the birds out of the free air, and slaughters dumb beasts, and kills his own kind in wars.’
She looked away up the Dale towards Calva, rust-red with dead bracken, smouldering under the cold sky.
”˜And it wasn’t that He put on man like a jacket to take off at night, or to bathe or to play. But man He was, as man is man, the maker made Himself the made; God was un-Godded by His own hand.’
She put her hands to her face, and was silent, till Wat pulled them away.
”˜He was God,’ she said, ”˜from before the beginning, and now never to be clean God again. Never again. Alas!’ she said, and then, ”˜Osanna!’
–H. F. M. Prescott, The man on a donkey (New York: Macmillan, 1961), pp. 455-456
I walk down the garden-paths,
And all the daffodils
Are blowing, and the bright blue squills.
I walk down the patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
With my powdered hair and jeweled fan,
I too am a rare
Pattern. As I wander down
My dress is richly figured,
And the train
Makes a pink and silver stain
On the gravel, and the thrift
Of the borders.
Just a plate of current fashion,
Tripping by in high-heeled, ribboned shoes.
Not a softness anywhere about me,
Only whalebone and brocade.
And I sink on a seat in the shade
Of a lime tree. For my passion
Wars against the stiff brocade.
The daffodils and squills
Flutter in the breeze
As they please.
And I weep;
For the lime-tree is in blossom
And one small flower has dropped upon my bosom.
And the splashing of waterdrops
In the marble fountain
Comes down the garden-paths.
The dripping never stops.
Underneath my stiffened gown
Is the softness of a woman bathing in a marble basin,
A basin in the midst of hedges grown
So thick, she cannot see her lover hiding,
But she guesses he is near,
And the sliding of the water
Seems the stroking of a dear
Hand upon her.
What is Summer in a fine brocaded gown!
I should like to see it lying in a heap upon the ground.
All the pink and silver crumpled up on the ground.
I would be the pink and silver as I ran along the paths,
And he would stumble after,
Bewildered by my laughter.
I should see the sun flashing from his sword-hilt and the buckles on his shoes.
I would choose
To lead him in a maze along the patterned paths,
A bright and laughing maze for my heavy-booted lover.
Till he caught me in the shade,
And the buttons of his waistcoat bruised my body as he clasped me,
Aching, melting, unafraid.
With the shadows of the leaves and the sundrops,
And the plopping of the waterdrops,
All about us in the open afternoon–
I am very like to swoon
With the weight of this brocade,
For the sun sifts through the shade.
Underneath the fallen blossom
In my bosom,
Is a letter I have hid.
It was brought to me this morning by a rider from the Duke.
“Madam, we regret to inform you that Lord Hartwell
Died in action Thursday se’nnight.”
As I read it in the white, morning sunlight,
The letters squirmed like snakes.
“Any answer, Madam,” said my footman.
“No,” I told him.
“See that the messenger takes some refreshment.
No, no answer.”
And I walked into the garden,
Up and down the patterned paths,
In my stiff, correct brocade.
The blue and yellow flowers stood up proudly in the sun,
I stood upright too,
Held rigid to the pattern
By the stiffness of my gown.
Up and down I walked,
Up and down.
In a month he would have been my husband.
In a month, here, underneath this lime,
We would have broke the pattern;
He for me, and I for him,
He as Colonel, I as Lady,
On this shady seat.
He had a whim
That sunlight carried blessing.
And I answered, “It shall be as you have said.”
Now he is dead.
In Summer and in Winter I shall walk
Up and down
The patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
The squills and daffodils
Will give place to pillared roses, and to asters, and to snow.
I shall go
Up and down
In my gown.
Boned and stayed.
And the softness of my body will be guarded from embrace
By each button, hook, and lace.
For the man who should loose me is dead,
Fighting with the Duke in Flanders,
In a pattern called a war.
Christ! What are patterns for?
–Amy Lowell (1874 – 1925), Patterns