Archive for category Quotes

The wardrobe that keeps on giving

Today in Poets Corner in Westminster Abbey, a memorial will be dedicated to C.S. Lewis.  50 years ago today, the beautiful imagination of C.S. Lewis died.

For many, he’s helped see how you can be intelligent and Christian.  His writings are a constant reference for me, not only in the content but simply C.S. Lewisfor the sheer pleasure in the reading.  It’s not just the persuasive logic of his arguments, the clear and common observations of faith, but how he then portrays that truth through image and metaphor in ways that linger long in your mind, that help your heart grab hold of.  He both shows and tells in a unique way that’s still to be matched.

To celebrate and remember the gift of this wise apologist and winsome author, raise a pint in memory of Jack.  And enjoy a few memorable quotes from the wardrobe of his imagination (really, where do you stop?):

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”  The Four Loves

“The sun looks down on nothing half so good as a household laughing together over a meal.”  The Weight of Glory

“If God had granted all the silly prayers I’ve made in my life, where should I be now?”  Letters to Malcolm

“No man can be an exile if he remembers that all the world is one city.”  Till We Have Faces

“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”  Collected Letters

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”    The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

“Joy is the serious business of heaven.” Letters to Malcolm

“God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”  Mere Christianity

“Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage.”  On Stories: And Other Essays on Literature

“There have been men before … who got so interested in proving the existence of God that they came to care nothing for God himself… as if the good Lord had nothing to do but to exist. There have been some who were so preoccupied with spreading Christianity that they never gave a thought to Christ.”  The Great Divorce

“Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.”  Mere Christianity

“The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.” Surprised by Joy

“I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”  God in the Dock

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”  The Weight of Glory

“When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you’ll not talk about the joy of words. I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?”  Till We Have Faces

“The choice of every lost soul can be expressed in the words “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.”   The Great Divorce

“The safest road to Hell is the gradual one — the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” The Screwtape Letters

“The truth is, of course, that what one regards as interruptions are precisely one’s life.”  Collected Works of C. S. Lewis

“All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”  The Last Battle

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Christmas: don’t be more spiritual than God

‘The Word became flesh,’ wrote John, ‘and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.’ (John 1:14).

The Nativity3.010That is what incarnation means.  It is untheological.  It is unsophisticated.  It is undignified.  But according to Christianity it is the way things are.

All religions and philosophies which deny the reality or the significance of the material, the fleshly, the earth-bound, are themselves denied.  Moses at the burning bush was told to take off his shoes because the ground on which he stood was holy ground (Exodus 3:5), and incarnation means that all ground is holy ground because God not only made it but walked on it, ate and slept and worked and died on it.  If we are saved anywhere, we are saved here.  And what is saved is not some diaphanous distillation of our bodies and our earth but our bodies and our earth themselves …

One of the blunders religious people are particularly fond of making is the attempt to be more spiritual than God.    Frederick Buechner

 

Merry Christmas to all – enjoy the wonder of the “with-us” God.

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Don’t mess with these grandmas

In our church during Advent we’re entering into the lineage of Jesus, dwelling with the stories of the four women named in Matthew’s genealogy.  As a disciple of Jesus, this is my family tree, my spiritual DNA, these strong women my faith grandmothers.  I love this genealogy, populated by wild and woolly risk-takers, most with the scent of scandal clinging about them.the women in Jesus family tree

I need to be reminded of this heritage because the slow drift of my heart is often towards cautious discipleship and a certain domestication of God.  When Christianity becomes enchanted by North American worldliness it quickly gets reduced to a consumer spirituality, cordoned off as a harmless private morality and drained of its unsettling agenda.

But that sort of thing is distinctly out of shape with the contours of the gospel.  Read Mary’s Magnificat and you can’t help but think: “Mary, Mary, little revolutionary.”  These grandmothers in the gospel remind me of Advent’s radical hope, one I clutch on to for our fragile world, the gospel’s alternate reading of reality that looks and longs for God’s good intentions for all human life.  These women lead me in a Jesus-way of life that counters both liberal and conservative ideologies, challenges both religious and irreligious, irks both traditionalists and relativists – and, consequently, a way of life that will run you into trouble with most people.

G.K. Chesterton, as he so often does, captures well the fierce faith of these women and the lovely paradox of living the gospel:

Jesus promised his disciples three things—that they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy, and in constant trouble.

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Sought After

So long as we imagine it is we who have to look for God, we must often lose heart.  But it is the other way about – he is looking for us.

Simon Tugwell, Prayer

The eyes have it.Isn’t this the heartening hope, the deep gladness of Advent?  It’s not up to us; this salvation business doesn’t depend on you or me.  Ever since Adam and Eve, we’ve been evading and avoiding God but in Jesus God has come in search of us.

This is who you are, your identity – sought after.  The prophet Isaiah says: “They will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord; and you will be called Sought After.” (62:12).

Today, enjoy the Advent reminder that we have always been known, loved and desired from eternity, that God has turned his face towards, seeking us out not with malice or judgement but with the shining eyes of grace.

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What do you love?

Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, falling in love in a quite absolute final way.  What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.  It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your mornings, how you will spend your weekends, what you will read, who you will know, what breaks your heart, what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.

Fr. Pedro Arupe

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The road ahead

Betty and I have been involved in a discernment process about the next chapter of our lives for far too long.  It’s been a humbling, trying process and I’m ready for it to be done.  Earlier today I read this quote from Thomas Merton that echoed the messy mix in my soul, of head and heart, desire and reason, confusion and conviction, ending in a hard-learned trust in God’s goodness.

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.  I do not see the road ahead of me.  I cannot know for certain where it will end.  Nor do  I really know myself.  And the fact that I am following your will does not mean I am actually doing so.  But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.  And I hope I have that desire in everything I am doing.  I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire and I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.  Therefore, I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.  I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude.

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Dorothy Sayers on the consumer economy

I need to read more dead Christians.  I’m too blinkered by my cultural biases and need a wisdom from another era.  Dorothy Sayers, long gone from this world’s stage, wrote an essay called “Why Work?” in 1942.  There was a quote that jumped out at me, words that couldn’t be more spot on for today’s economy:

A society in which consumption has to be artificially stimulated in order to keep production going is a society founded on trash and waste, and such a society is a house built upon sand.

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