Thursday, July 29, 2010

Simplicity, Complexity

I would not give a fig for the simplicity on this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.

Oliver Wendell Holmes
qtd. in The Blue Sweater

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Laying low

Christian brothers and sisters may warn us if we are taking on too many activities, or if we are getting too puffed up, or both, as one friend said to me once, ‘You need to lay low in the Lord.’  They may encourage us that we are moving in the right direction.  They may stir us up to love and good works.
Richard J. Foster
Freedom of Simplicity

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Praying and labouring

The things, good Lord, that we pray for, give us the grace to labour for.

Thomas More, English philosopher, lawyer, and author of Utopia

Monday, July 26, 2010

Maintaining the status quo

"When the status quo benefits you, your theology doesn't normally include changing the status quo. For most white, middle-class Christians, the world is working fine. So religion that includes social change doesn't matter. They want to leave things pretty much as they are."

From "Always Personal, Never Private" in the Summer issue of Leadership.

What do we think life is for?

The frantic, fragmenting, multitasking character of contemporary living has made it likely that many of us will simply evade, or fail to consider with much seriousness or depth, life’s most basic and profound questions: What is all our living finally for? Why do we commit to so much? Why do we devote ourselves to the tasks or priorities that we do? Will we know when we have achieved or acquired enough? What purpose does our striving serve? While these questions point to the basic ingredients of any recipe for a decent human life, they are also vital to the life of faith...

Norman Wirzba
Living the Sabbath

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Connectedness

The Hmong have a phrase, hais cuaj txub kaum txub, which means ‘to speak of all kinds of things.’ It is often used at the beginning of an oral narrative as a way of reminding the listeners that the world is full of things that may not seem to be connected but actually are; that no event occurs in isolation; that you can miss a lot by sticking to the point; and that the storyteller is likely to be rather long-winded.

Anne Fadiman
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

Thursday, July 22, 2010

God's love...and loss

God’s love is such a powerful companion for us that no matter how searing or how intense the hurt of a loss is we know that our spirit need not be destroyed by it; we know that God will help us to recover our hope, our courage, and our direction in life.

Joyce Rupp, from her book Praying Our Goodbyes

Tyrannizing Creation

The creation stories in Genesis 1 and 2, some of the most profound and evocative stories ever written, certainly don’t envisage humans tyrannizing creation. Try doing that to a garden, forcing it to do what you want whether the soil will take it or not, and you may well create a wilderness.

N.T. Wright
After You Believe

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


There is just enough room in the world for all the people in it, but there is no room for the fences that separate them.

Father Taylor of Boston, quoted by Rita Snowden.

Found in The Daily Study Bible: The Letters to Galatians and Ephesians, by William Barclay, pg 113. (Revised Edition 1976

"Father" Edward Thompson Taylor (1793-1871), the chaplain at Boston's Seamen's Bethel, inspired Herman Melville to create "Father Mapple" in Moby Dick.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The sacred in everything

For Christians, the seculum is nothing more or less than God’s world. Recent publications argue that to live in New Zealand is to sense, all around us, that sacredness. Robyn McPhail, for example, points out the sacredness of topsoil for farmers. We have noted the suggestions that we learn to read the work of our poets and artists in terms of an earthed and earthy spirituality.

Peter Matheson, in The Myth of Secular New Zealand, published in Pacifica 19 (June 2006)

seculum - definied as world/universe; secular/temporal/earthly/worldly affairs/cares/temptation

Friday, July 16, 2010

Church Discipline

Recovery of the practice of church discipline in our congregations is absolutely essential if the church today is to end the scandal of cheap grace and gross disobedience. Of course, we must be careful to avoid the harshness and legalism that too often crept into church discipline in the past. But loving, firm, courageous insistence on mutual accountability must again become a normal part of congregational life. We must relearn how, as John Wesley said, ‘to watch over one another in love.’

Ronald J. Sider
The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience

Uncomfortable Bible

There is, in a word, nothing comfortable about the Bible -- until we manage to get so used to it that we make it comfortable for ourselves. But then we are perhaps too used to it and too at home in it. Let us not be too sure we know the Bible ... just because we have learned not to have problems with it. Have we perhaps learned ... not to really pay attention to it? Have we ceased to question the book and be questioned by it?

- Thomas Merton
from his book Opening the Bible

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Institutionalized rejection of difference is an absolute necessity in a profit economy which needs outsiders as surplus people. As members of such an economy, we have all been programmed to respond to the human differences between us with fear and loathing ... But we have no patterns for relating across our human differences as equals. As a result, those differences have been misnamed and misused in the service of separation and confusion.

- Audre Lorde
from her book Sister Outsider

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


All too often we bemoan our imperfections rather than embrace them as part of the process in which we are brought to God. Cherished emptiness gives God space in which to work. We are pure capacity for God. Let us not, then, take our littleness lightly. It is a wonderful grace. It is a gift to receive. At the same time, let us not get trapped in the confines of our littleness, but keep pushing on to claim our greatness. Remind yourself often, “I am pure capacity for God; I can be more.”

- Macrina Wiederkehr
from A Tree Full of Angels

Tuesday, July 13, 2010 commitment not about propositions, but about commitment. It does not mean that I intellectually subscribe to the following list of statements, but that I give my heart to this reality. Believe, indeed, comes to us from the Old English belove, making clear that this too is meant to be heart language. To say "I believe in Jesus Christ" is not to subscribe to an uncertain proposition. It is a confession of commitment, of love.

Diane Eck

Encountering God

Monday, July 12, 2010

Friday, July 09, 2010

Becoming Me

"Instead of making vows about how my spiritual life will be perfectly well organized until I die, I seek to surrender my will for just this day. I look for small graces. I try to engage in little acts of service. I pray briefly to accommodate my limited attention span. I look for ways of being with God that I already enjoy. I try to go for half an hour without complaining. I try to say something encouraging to three people in a row. I put twenty dollars in my pocket that I will give away during the day. I take a five-minute break to read a page of great thoughts." (P. 71).

John Ortberg: The Me I Want to Be - Becoming God's Best Version of You

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Delivering us from fear

O Lord, we beseech thee to deliver us from the fear of the unknown future; from fear of failure; from fear of poverty; from fear of bereavement; from fear of loneliness; from fear of sickness and pain; from fear of age; and from fear of death. Help us, O Father, by thy grace to love and fear thee only, fill our hearts with cheerful courage and loving trust in thee; through our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.

Akanu Ibaim
“Fear of the Unknown” in An African Prayer Book

Friday, July 02, 2010

Not being silent

I swore never to be silent whenever, wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant.

Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech: