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Quotations 2018

February 8, 2018

Q18Although you can’t see it, January is the time of the year that sap begins to rise through what looks dead and barren wood to prepare a new season of growth. Only a few weeks later, buds and new life make themselves visible. YY Rubinstein

 ” If only the only tool you have is a hammer then every problem seems to be nail” Mazlow

“Worry is like a rocking chair, gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.” Van Wilder, Party Liaison

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
W.B. Yeats

Candlemas is the quietest of the Church’s festivals — one whose gentleness derives not just from the infant Jesus presented in the Temple, but also from its image of old age, as seen in Anna and Simeon who welcomed Him there.

Here is old age, not sans eyes, sans teeth, sans everything, bemoaning the losses of life, not filled with reactionary attitudes about the mistakes of a younger generation and the mess they are making of the world, but old age with all the dignity of experience. How very different from our world, which wants to be forever young and in control — a world that fears the ageing process and what the years can do to our bodies, and the implication that what happens to the wrinkling body must also happen to the soul or spirit, as it too grows withered, inflexible and unyielding to all ideas different from its own.

But there’s none of that either in Simeon or Anna. Here is old age with maturity and warmth, a good vintage mellowed by the years and without a sell-by date, as Simeon welcomes, not a poverty-stricken family not quite conforming to what is expected, but a brand-new and very special life bringing hope, even into the very darkest corners of our world.

Lord, we thank You for Simeon, accepting the years and the consequence of living them, Simeon, persevering in his prayers to the end, even though the answer was so long in coming. Simeon, the good, devout believer, very much of his own tradition andyet the model for all religious faith.

Simeon, whose lifetime of prayer led him to understand that our Lord’s vision for the world is far bigger and more generous than ours. So for him and those like him today, we give You thanks, 0 Lord. Amen.  Noel Battye         

 If we knew the unwritten story of our past, especially the pre­historic past, its fascination would cut the history of kings and queens, wars and parliaments, down to proper size. John McLeish

We belong to a universe of creatively interacting systems, a giant network of interplay and possibility forever drawn toward novelty and innovation (which is what natural selection makes possible). In the creation around us there are no isolated objects; everything belongs to creative interactive systems. We miss the deeper meaning if we stay with the product and ignore or bypass the evolving process. Nothing is static or stable (a favored concept of classical Newtonian science); each moment characterizes the unfolding dynamics of a highly creative universe.

 New life-forms do not simply come into being when all the con­ditions are right. Often they unfold long before their expected time. Genetic mutation and natural selection are not just random processes; new possibilities are being invoked, often against tremendous odds. And we do not need to invoke some “God of the gaps” to explain the new upsurge. There is a deep and powerful creativity at work within the evolving process itself.

To describe this creative future as endowed with a sense of “prom­ise” embraces religious wisdom in a way that enhances and enforces some of science’s greatest discoveries. In all the major religions, God promises—not just a reward in a life hereafter, but a fullness of life in an open-ended future that is more enduring and all embracing than any “here” or “hereafter.” This is the resilience of life that science never has been able to explain adequately. The fascinating coincidences are sometimes suggested as evidence for God’s involvement in the evolu­tionary process; they certainly awaken a sense of awe and mystery, but I suspect that they are no more than a tiny glance at the depth of mys­tery that characterizes creation. We never are, and never will be, able to explain adequately this divine creativity; to do so would effectively strip the future of its radical promise and possibility.

Does this mean that everybody is a theologian? Yes, it does. God reveals indiscriminately and with prodigious generosity. Some will ap­propriate the revelation through the study of theology or some other exploration of ultimate meaning. An indigenous person may appro­priate it through a convivial relationship with the land. A little child staring into her mother’s eyes and intuitively knowing that she is loved unconditionally is responding as profoundly as any theologian ever did. An old man sitting in an armchair and reflecting in gentle grati­tude on the story of his lifetime is doing theology in its fullest sense. And so is the politician seeking a peaceful and just outcome to the tribal conflicts that ravage many African countries. All are touching into the energy of the ultimate mystery.

The theologian Peter Hodgson (1994) grapples extensively with the meaning of energy, and he concludes that we are dealing with some­thing akin to a primal, erotic, alluring, relational force. It is beyond precise definition, and Hodgson, like Chaisson, believes that it perme­ates every sphere of existence. It is tangible but not quantifiable. For those who believe in God, energy is a primary characteristic of divine creativity; indeed, it might well be the most tangible evidence of God’s creativity at work in the cosmos.

Were there no differentiation, the universe would collapse into a homogeneous smudge; were there no subjectivity (autopoiesis), the universe would collapse into inert, dead extension; were there no communion, the universe would collapse into isolated singularities of being. Diarmuid O’Murchu

 Of course I am tempted ­as you are — to put God to the test, to look for special protection especially when sickness or danger threatens. And it’s all because I doubt that I really am a child of God. That’s the real tempta­tion: my reluctance to become what I truly am — my failure to grasp and to live by the life-changing truth that I am baptized, that I am a child of God: in St Paul’s words, an ‘heir of God and a joint heir with Christ’. If it is true that we are sons and daugh­ters of God, then we must act as if we believe it.

We Christians are not exempt from the lightning flash or the cancer cell, from accident or sud­den death. If we leap off pinnacles of temples we shall be killed. What it does mean is that we become those who say with Job, `Though he slay me, yet will I trust him’, or with the dying Jesus: `Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’

Yet Lent is not a bleak, forbidding time, but a very positive and optimistic remembering of who and what we truly are. ‘Dust’, yes, but dust that dreams of glory. Dust that has been claimed by God. Dust that has a deep, aching sense both of its mortality and of its reaching after the God glimpsed in Jesus whom one day we shall see face to face. Lent is a time for remembering where our true home lies, and for setting our face once again in that direction.

Perhaps that is a lesson for us all – the truly important in our lives and to be freed phernalia of life. Looking back we can bean own unique story and see that the very found in human friendship and love. a which God has for us in Jesus Christ. loving as we grow older then the world place and we can see its promise in those glimpse the beating heart at the centre

The concept of ‘successful ageing’ is a rich one and its initial entry into the field of social gerontology can be found in gerontological lit­erature over 30 years ago.’ The term is appealing because it implies that ageing can for the most part be a positive and rewarding ex­perience. There is, inevitably, a range of perspectives identified with the concept. It is worth noting that the concept of ‘successful ageing’ is often related to the concept of middle age or the ‘mid course’ of life, in that ‘successful ageing’ is identified as, in effect, the continu­ation of the activities, interests and involvements that have been developed in that phase of a person’s life. Some gerontologists have offered an opposite view, seeing older people as progressively disengaging from life, this being an important part of normal `ageing’?

“If you have never found something so dear and so precious to you that you will die for it, then you aren’t fit to live. You may be thirty-eight years old, as I happen to be, and one day some great principle, some great opportunity stands before you and calls upon you to stand up for some great issue, some great cause. And you refused to do it because you want to live longer. You’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you’re afraid that somebody will stab you or shoot at you or bomb your house.

So you refuse to take the stand. Well, you may go on and live until you are ninety, but you are just as dead at thirty-eight as you would be at ninety. And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit. You died when you refused to stand up for right. You died when you refused to stand up for truth. You died when you refused to stand up for justice.”   M L King

 I have a beautiful Japanese bowl. It is mended where it once broke. I once saw some new pieces of the same ware in a shop, and they were not so beautiful. The glaze seemed too shiny. My first reaction was to denounce the debasement of a fine old craft. On consideration, I realized what was different was not how the bowls were made. My bowl has been used, and that has given it the rich glow that the new bowls lacked. Even being broken has not harmed either its beauty or its usefulness. Japanese traditionally have treasured priceless old tea things that have been broken and repaired with gold; the place where they were broken now gleams proudly, and the utensil is even more valuable. Richard Cleaver

 Autobiography in Five Short Chapters by Portia Nelson

  1. I walk down the street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I fall in.

I am lost … I am hopeless.

It isn’t my fault.

It takes forever to find a way out.

 

  1. I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don’t see it.

I fall in again.

I can’t believe I’m in the same place.

But it isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.

 

  1. I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it is there.

I still fall in … it’s a habit.

My eyes are open.

I know where I am.

It is my fault.

I get out immediately.

 

  1. I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.

 

  1. I walk down another street.

the poet TS Eliot wrote that Christianity is always evolving into something that can be believed: not because the faith changes but because we do and see things differently at different times.

Our unjust society and our perverted idea of God are in close and terrible alliance.  Elizabeth A. Johnson

 There is a fine book by an English theologian, W. H. Vanstone, called The Stature of Waiting, in which he relates the active and passive aspects of Jesus’ life to the pattern of our own. As we grow older, or if we are disabled, we become those for whom things are done or to whom they are done, and there is a great art in learning how to receive, how to endure patiently and cre­atively, how to rise to the stature of waiting. For God himself, incarnate in Jesus, has become one who discloses himself to us as a passive receiver and has placed himself wholly in our hands.

And God is to be seen in us both in our active, creative lives and in our passivity when that is forced on us, and he will be seen in the spirit in which we accept what others do for us, in how we respond to those on whom we now depend. Those forced to be inactive or to suffer by sickness, handicap or old age must not feel, and must not be made to feel, that they are any less valuable as human beings, or that they do not have a real contribution to make.

There’s a medieval poem that goes like this:

A poor lad once and a lad so trim,

Gave his heart to her who loved not him;

And said she ‘Bring me tonight, you rogue,

Your mother’s heart to feed my dog.’

 

To his mother’s house went the young man,

Killed her, cut out her heart, and ran.

But as he was running, look you, he fell,

And the heart rolled out on the ground as well.

 

And the lad, as the heart was a-rolling, heard

The heart was speaking and this was the word

­The heart was a-weeping, and crying so small:

`Are you hurt, my child? Are you hurt at all?’ Michael Mayne

metaphor for our place in God’s universe: It is as if you were to ask a bookworm crawling inside a copy of War and Peace whether it is a good novel or a bad one. He is sitting on one little letter trying to get some nourishment. How can he be a critic of Tolstoy? Isaac Bashevis Singer

 L A river wanted to flow to the sea through a desert. But it got afraid when it saw the immense dry sand. It complained: “The desert will drink my water, the hot breath of the sun will destroy me and I will be reduced to merely a stinking swamp”. Then it heard a voice:”Trust the desert!” But the river replied: “But, then, would I still be the same? L Wouldn’t I lose my identity?” The voice said:”You can in no way remain the same!” So the river trusted the desert and began to flow through it. The heat of the sun turned her into vapour, the wind carried her as clouds over the hot stretches of the desertsand, she was formed into a rain and out of the clouds came down a new, fresher and a more beautiful river on the other side of the desert. And the river became so happy and said: “Now I am my real self!”

“With age comes wisdom, but sometimes age comes alone.” Oscar Wilde

 “Each day, we wake slightly altered, and the person we were yesterday is dead.”
John Updike

“The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress.”
Moralist Joseph Joubert, quoted on The Browser

It is easy to mistake feeling for meaning. It is possible to recount the momentous tale of the first Easter and remain unmoved. “To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not, you must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy” (T. S. Eliot: Four Quartets). Familiarity can suppress the senses. But familiarity is also a friend. The search for novelty is a modern preoccupation. Custom operates at a deeper level than mere emotion, working on the soul as repeated exercise works on the muscles. C. S. Lewis cited the example of brushing one’s teeth: an automatic, near-thoughtless action that has no moral significance and yet does good. Participating in a ritual act has a value of its own, in that it readies us for participation in the work of redemption when we least expect it. Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Beltrame had no opportunity to think when he volunteered to take the place of a woman taken hostage by Radouane Lakdim, the jihadist terrorist who took over a supermarket in Trèbes, southern France, last week. M. Beltrame, an active Roman Catholic, paid with his life for an act, a relative said, that was a “thing he would do without hesitation”. We are often the bemused observers of our own rescue and preservation. Salvation is entirely the work of God, and an important lesson is that Easter does not depend on us. But the Passiontide and Easter rituals play their part in transforming the body of Christ into the body of Christ, so that Christlike behaviour can become second nature.

Approaches to this holy time vary. There are those who enter these days in a spirit of patience, alert to the possibility that a familiar thought or gesture can be imbued with a new meaning. Such people are seldom disappointed. It is possible, though, to take a more active part; for there is one emotion at our command: gratitude. Even if church services themselves keep us too busy, the hours surrounding them afford opportunities for quiet reflection on the merciful love that God has for every individual, demonstrated supremely on the cross. Church Times Editorial

Teresa of Avila describes such self-knowledge in the first paragraph of her book Interior Castle: It is no small misfortune and disgrace that, through our own fault, we neither understand our nature nor our origin. Would it not be gross ignorance if when a man was questioned about his name, or country, or parents, he could not answer? Stupid as it would be, it is unspeakably more foolish to care to of our nature except that we possess bodies, and o vaguely that we have souls, because people say so and it is a doctrine of faith. Rarely do we reflect upon what gifts possess, who dwells within them, or how extremely are. Therefore we do little to preserve their beauty is concentrated on our bodies, which are but the coarse setting of the diamond, or the outer walls of the castle.

They had to wait in Jerusalem until power from on high came upon them._ There are occasions when the Christian may seem to be wasting time, waiting in a wise pas­sivity. Action without preparation must often fail. There is a time to wait on God and a time to work for God. Fay Inchfawn writes of the days when life is a losing contest with a thousand little things.

I wrestle — how I wrestle! — through the hours.

Nay, not with principalities and powers ­

Dark spiritual foes of God’s and man’s

But with antagonistic pots and pans;

With footmarks on the hall,

With smears upon the wall,

With doubtful ears and small unwashen hands,

And with a babe’s innumerable demands.

 

And then, even in- the busyness, she lays aside her work to be for a moment with God.

With leisured feet and idle hands,

I sat. I, foolish, fussy, blind as any bat,

Sat down to listen, and to learn. And lo, My thousand tasks were done the better so.

The quiet times in which we wait on God are never wasted; for it is in these times when we lay aside life’s tasks that we are strength­ened for the very tasks we lay aside.

Catholic philosopher Bernard Lonergan said of doctrines: they are not battlements to be defended, but broad estates that await the full exploration of their hospitality.

“Worry is like a rocking chair, gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.” ABIGAIL TARTTELIN

the real Christian ‘practises being God’. Clement of Alexandria Those who dwell in love dwell in God (verse 16). We are made in the image and the likeness of God (Genesis 1:26). God is love; and, therefore, to be like God and be what we were meant to be, we must also love.

“Knowledge comes by taking things apart: analysis. But wisdom comes by
putting things together.” US politician John A. Morrison

 ikhtilaf ummati, ‘the diversity of my community is a blessing’. hadith, the Prophet Muhammad

As the French mathematician and theologian Blaise Pascal said in the seventeenth century ‘A drop of water or a breath of air can kill.’

I was enjoying the period of my life that Nancy Eiesland refers to as that state of being ‘temporarily able-bodied’ those times that we take for granted and assume to be permanent.

“there are many circumstances in which it is easier to love one’s enemies than it is to love those with whom one lives, works, and worships day after day” (“John” in Carol Newsom, Sharon Ringe and Jacqueline Laspley (eds.), The Women’s Bible Commentary).

there is a warning against allowing our actions to be driven by anxiety. Jesus’s “commandments” are not a list of tasks. There is but one instruction: to abide in his love. This is the precondition of all fruitfulness, and must be the foundation of all Christian ministry.

Second, there is a warning against factionalism. Mutual love in the face of adversity is one of the Church’s most powerful acts of witness (John 13.35). As Jesus reminds us (in verse 13), the love that Christians have for each other should be modelled on his self-offering on the cross. When Christians descend into factionalism and mutual scapegoating, we are no longer abiding in that love.

These two warnings are related. When our actions flow from anxiety — rather than from the love in which Christ calls us to abide — then adversity is more likely to provoke conflict with our brothers and sisters in the Church.  Ricthie

St. Thomas Aquinas says the Incomprehensibility of God (Summa Theologica, I. 1):

‘That which is in itself supremely knowable, may not knowable to a particular intellect on account of the extent to which the greatness of the thing known exceeds knowing mind, just as the sun, which is supremely visible, cannot be looked at by the bat on account of the excess of light.’

do you know that there are 228 separate muscles on the head of a caterpillar?

I remember some words of the poet William Blake, who wrote: ‘The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing which stands in the way.’

I wonder whether people with OCD become daily communicants or whether fellow Anglo-Catholics make this an expectation.

Donella Meadows, a systems thinker, quotes an ancient Sufi teaching that captures this shift in focus: ‘You think because you understand one you must understand two, because one and one make two. But you must also understand and.’

C.H. Dodd defines prayer in this way: Prayer is the divine in us appealing to the Divine above us.’

Always try to keep a patch of sky above your life. Proust

 Pity my shame, O God ; bind up my wounds ; lift me up from the dust; raise me up from this nothing; and make me something ; what thou wilt, what thou wilt delight in. Take away the partition wall, the hindrance, the sin that so easily besets me  and bring me unto Jesus my most precious saviour Jesus, unite me unto him and then, although in myself I am nothing, yet in him I shall be what I ought to be  and what though can’st not choose but lobe Amen Amen Jeremy Taylor

Lord, let the flames of holy charity, And all her gifts and graces, slide Into our hearts, and there  abide ; That thus refined, we may soar above With it . That thus refined, we may soar above  With it unto the element of love, Even unto thee, dear Spirit, –
And there eternal peace and rest inherit. Amen. Jeremy Taylor

Almighty God, Lord of heaven and earth in whom we live and move and have our being all men and making thy sun to shine on the evil as well as the good and sendeth thy rain on the just and the unjust favourably behold us Thy people, who do call upon Thy Name, and send us Thy blessing from heaven, in giving us fruitful seasons, and filling our hearts with food and gladness ; that both our hearts and mouths may be continually filled with Thy praises, giving thanks to Thee in Thy holy Church, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. John Cosin

O Holy and ever blessed Spirit, who did overshadow the Holy Virgin-Mother of our Lord, and caused her to conceive by a miraculous and mysterious manner; be pleased to overshadow our souls, and enlighten our spirits, that we may conceive the holy Jesus in our hearts, and may bear him in our minds, and may grow up to the fullness of the statue of Christ, to be a perfect person in Christ Jesus. Amen. Jeremy Taylor

Rabbi Moses Sofer, several centuries ago, capture the position of those who support Catholic women in their reproductive choices: “No woman is required to build the world by destroying herself.”

We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are. Anaïs Nin

It is good to be reminded that intercession can be “an act of spiritual defiance”, (Bp. Peter Price) since it envisages and keeps alive hope of an alternative reality.

Kenneth Leech: “Wherever men and women are despised, rejected, and abused there is Christ. Such solidarity with the victims of injustice and oppression must always override any temptation to judge or condemn. It is the critical test of fidelity to the way of Christ.”

whenever the devil, or ignorant preachers, or superstitious books, make you afraid, and tempt you to fancy that God hates you, and watches to catch you tripping, take refuge in that blessed Name, and say, ‘Satan, I defy thee; for the Almighty God of Heaven is my Father.'” Charles Kingsley

I’ve always been drawn to the saying of King Solomon: ‘death and life are in the

power of the tongue.’ Or as the comedian Eric Idle said more recently: ‘sticks

iard, especially if we   and stones may break my bones, but words will make me go in a corner and cry by myself for hours.’

which explained that   This emphasis on the power of words is reflected in the Tibetan Buddhist equivalent of the Ten Commandments. Out of ten ‘non-virtuous actions’, four of them relate to the way we choose to speak: lying, gossip, harsh words, livelihood and and divisive speech. The first time I heard this, it came as a wake-up call. Few of us would argue that lying is almost always wrong, but the other three are part of daily life. Gossip, harsh words and divisive speech are the bread and butter of

to forget them.            the media, and programmes such as The Apprentice have turned them into mass entertainment. This seems particularly sad when the capacity to master language is one of the special qualities that make us human. Every morning we wake up with a fresh choice. Either to share the grumpy mood or hurtful remark that can spoil someone else’s day; or else to consciously use our speech as a force for good — to show kindness and concern, to encourage and inspire. If we genuinely want to make the world a better place, paying attention to our use of words is a failsafe way to go about it.

The aim of Buddhism is simply to help people to be happy, and it does this by encouraging us to develop both a smart mind and a warm heart, in equal measure. The Tibetans offer the metaphor of a bird needing two wings: if it has one without the other, it will never get off the ground. To put it in contemporary terms, a smart mind untouched by kindness can create inhumane weapons and unjust financial systems, while a warm heart without intelligence can make promises that can’t be kept, or give away money in a way that harms rather than helps. We need them both.

As at Tenebrae, one after another lights are extinguished, till one alone – and that the highest of all – is left, so often it is with the soul and her guiding stars. In our early days there are many – parents, teachers, friends, books, authorities – but, as life goes by, one by one they fall and leave us in deepening darkness, with an increasing sense of the mystery and inexplicability of all things, till at last none but the figure of Christ stands out luminous against the prevailing night. George Tyrell

Lord, Thou knowest better than I know myself that I am growing older and will some day be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion. Release me from craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs. Make me thoughtful but not moody; helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all, but Thou knowest Lord that I want a few friends at the end.

Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point. Seal my lips on my aches and pains. They are increasing, and love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by. I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of others’ pains, but help me to endure them with patience.

I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessening cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken. Keep me reasonably sweet; I do not want to be a Saint – some of them are so hard to live with – but a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil. Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places, and talents in unexpected people. And, give me, O Lord, the grace to tell them so. A 17th century nun’s prayer

old Scots proverb — “you’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar”.

“All of life is organised around having a life, and then the work comes out of bumping into neighbours and going for a meal in the neighbourhood and meeting somebody out in the ocean surfing. . . Rob Bell

 ‘Bloom where you are planted,’ she said — but I wasn’t convinced. Surely we choose where we plant ourselves? It seemed too random, too much left to fate or some kind of predetermined destiny.

Now, more than 20 years later, I see the wisdom of Denise’s thinking. She understood back then that you can waste a lot of emotional energy in regrets and looking back, looking over the fence, as it were, to the garden next door, instead of making your own plot the best it can be. Andrea Ray

 Life, including all its powers of love, of joy, and of admiration. That country is the richest which nourishes the greatest number of noble and happy human beings; that man is richest who, having perfected the functions of his own life to the utmost, has also the widest helpful influence, both personal, and by means of his possessions, over the lives of others.” John Ruskin

 You do not need to read Plato or Kant to be a Christian. It is not a bad idea for anyone to read Plato and Kant; it just is not necessary if to follow Christ. But someone in the church should be charged with thr responsibility of reading Plato and Kant. They should read Plato because Plato and Kant are such serious minds who did not disdain hard work necessary to discern what is true from what is false.

‘retirement is not an option for a theologian’

“The work of theology is never done…”  Hauerwas

Theology is an ongoing attempt to make connections that are at once as strong and fragile as a spider web.’ Often you discover how to make articulate some of the connections, but you forget how the connections were made because now that the connection is made you do not need to return to the process that made the conclusion possible. Results can seem to make memory unnecessary (at least for a while) with the result that the work necessary to get the result is forgotten-. The result becomes less than it was when first discovered.

That Barth so understood the theological task helps account for his lack of concern over not finishing the Church Dogmatics. In the “Preface” to Church Dogmatics IV/ 4 he begins by reporting that over the last years he has been asked often about the nonappearance of the remaining parts of the Church Dogmatics. He responds by calling attention to the “incon­siderable bulk” of the Church Dogmatics that already exists as an opus im­perfectum. He continues, noting that some of the subjects he was to treat in the proposed volumes have been given some space in earlier volumes. And he acknowledges that the Dogmatics will remain incomplete. Yet he notes that most of the medieval Summae as well as many cathedrals were never finished. Even Mozart, Barth observes, due to his untimely death, was unable to finish his Requiem. So not to finish is a testimony to our finitude. Barth concludes by pointing out he had argued in Church Dogmatics 11/2 that perfection or completeness is an attribute that can only be ascribed to God, which means that “it is better not to seek or to imitate perfection in a human work.’

In the “Preface” to Church Dogmatics IV/4 Barth observes that in 1962 he retired and was made “professor emeritus.” Barth is clearly not sure what to make of that title, observing that “emeritus” is an amusing word. Barth acknowledges that the title indicates that his work as a university professor has come to an end, but that does not mean he retired from being a theologian.’ Yet we should not assume we know what Barth meant when he identified himself as a theologian. For example, in an interview close to the end of his life, an interview included in a book titled Final Testimonies, Barth responded to a question about the relation of his theology to Mozart by declaring, “I am not ultimately at home in theology, in the political world, or even in the church. These are all preparatory matters. They are serious, but preparatory. We have to learn to stand in them, but we have also to learn to look beyond them.”‘ Hauerwas

Do what must be done today without worrying too much about what may or may not happen tomorrow. And, as is said on the Jewish new year, judge people ba’asher hu sham—where they are now, in their current moral and mental state, without worrying excessively about what they really have in their hearts and bellies.

if orthodoxy means thinking that is frozen or petrified in its dogma and supposedly correct, well-rehearsed forms, then there is one place that, by definition, is antithetical to orthodoxy: the houses of study in which scholars devote all of their time to end­less dissection of individual verses of the Torah, to commentary on each verse, and to commentary on the existing commentary and so on, ad infinitum.

If an orthodox person is one who takes refuge in a forever-settled idea and spouts it obstinately without ever reconsidering it, there are certain people, again by definition, who are almost naturally immu­nized against the closing off of thought: the rabbis who never cease turning an idea over in their heads, spending hours, days, years, and many pages spinning out interminable paradoxes on the subject of the thousand and one ways of acting in the face of the tangle of contradic­tions posed by the slightest political, moral, metaphysical, or practical thought or decision—such as the appearance of a red heifer, an offer­ing of flour, the sadness of a widowed sister-in-law with no children, a drop of milk on a piece of meat, or the story of the death of Rabbi Akiva who was mauled with metal brushes while reciting the Shema Yisrael.

what the Kabbalah meant when it said that those letters have as many faces as the Jews who have read them Henri Lévy

 There is a tale of an old German schoolmaster who, when he entered his class Of boys in the morning, used to remove his cap and bow ceremoniously to them. One asked him why he did this. His answer was: ‘You never know what one of these boys may some day become.’ He was right — one of them was the founder of the Reformation, Martin Luther. William Barclay

 If I lived in a cave and you were my only visitor,
what would I tell you that the walls had told me?
That people are unfinished and are made between
each other …JACK UNDERWOOD,`Second’

In the meantime when God closes a door, dance in the hallway. Ship Of Fools

Comparison is the thief of joy. Theoodore Roosevelt

If you listen hard enough, everybody’s got a sacred story. . . How did they come to believe what they believe? And what are they trying to pass on to their children?. . . An organising story, of who they are and what their place in the world is. And they’re willing to share it with you if they feel as if you actually care about it. And that ends up being the glue around which relationships are formed, and trust is formed, and communities are formed.” President Obama

Do not tell everyone your story. You will only end up feeling more rejected. People cannot give you what you long for in your heart. The more you expect from people’s response to your experience of abandonment, the more you will feel exposed to ridicule.

You have to let your father and father figures go. You must stop seeing yourself through their eyes and trying to make them proud of you.

Your own growth cannot take place without growth in others. You are part of a body. When you change, the whole body changes. It is very important for you to remain deeply con­nected with the larger community to which you belong.

When people show you their boundaries (‘I can’t do this for you’), you feel rejected. You cannot accept the fact that others are unable to do for you all that you expect from them. You desire boundless love, boundless care, boundless giving.

Part of your struggle is to set boundaries to your own love ­something you have never done. You give whatever people ask of you, and when they ask for more, you give more, until you find yourself exhausted, used, and manipulated. Only when you are able to set your own boundaries will you be able to acknowledge, respect, and even be grateful for the boundaries of others.

Your community needs you, but maybe not as a constant presence. Your community might need you as a presence that offers courage and spiritual food for the journey, a presence that creates the safe ground in which others can grow and develop, a presence that belongs to the matrix of the com­munity. But your community also needs your creative absence.

You might need certain things that the community cannot provide. For these you may have to go elsewhere from time to time. This does not mean that you are selfish, abnormal, or unfit for community life. It means that your way of being present to your people necessitates personal nurturing of a special kind. Do not be afraid to ask for these things. Doing so allows you to be faithful to your vocation and to feel safe. It is a service to those for whom you want to be a source of hope and a life-giving presence. Henri Nowen

Think of a medieval castle surrounded by a moat. The drawbridge is the only access to the interior of the castle. The lord of the castle must have the power to decide when to draw the bridge and when to let it down. Without such power, he can become the victim of enemies, strangers, and wanderers. He will never feel at peace in his own castle.

It is important for you to control your own drawbridge. There must be times when you keep your bridge drawn and have the opportunity to be alone or only with those to whom you feel close. Never allow yourself to become public property, where anyone can walk in and out at will. You might think that you are being generous in giving access to anyone who wants to enter or leave, but you will soon find yourself losing your soul.

Over the years you have allowed the voices that call you to action and great visibility to dominate your life. You still think, even against your own best intuitions, that you need to do things and be seen in order to follow your vocation. But you are now discovering that God’s voice is saying, e.g. Stay home, and trust that your life will be fruitful even when hidden:

Success, notoriety, affection, future plans, entertainment, satisfying work, health, intellectual stimulation, emotional support — yes, even spiritual progress — none of these can be clung to as if they are essential for survival. Only as you let go of them can you discover the true freedom your heart most desires. That is dying, moving into the life beyond life. You must make that passage now, not just at the end of your earthly life. You cannot do it alone, but with the love of those who are being sent to you, you can surrender your fear and let yourself be guided into the new land. Henri Nowen

“The Holy Scriptures were not given to us that we should enclose them in books but that we should engrave them on our hearts” St John Chrysostom

“To say that I am made in the image of God is to say that love is the reason for my existence, for God is love. Love is my true identity. Love is my true character. Love is my name.”  Thomas Merton

 Teachers open our eyes to the world. They give us curiosity and confidence. They teach us to ask questions. They connect us to our past and future. They are the guardians of our social heritage … Life without a teacher is simply not a life. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

 And the end of words is to bring us to the knowledge of things, beyond what words can utter. So learn of the Lord to make right use of the Scriptures, which is by esteeming them in their place and prizing that above them, which is above them. The “eternal life”, the Spirit, the power, the fountain of living waters, the everlasting, pure well, is above the words concerning it. This, the believer is to witness in theirself, and to draw water with joy out of it.’ Isaac Penington, 1661

 real hap­piness, as happiness that’s lived out, practiced to the full. But it’s true. Real happiness comes in unforeseen places, through surprising twists and turns, through honesty. The straight and narrow is usually a lie, a lie to oneself.

Progress is not created by contented people. Frank Tyger, cartoonist

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