Saturday, September 27, 2014

Turning the other cheek

There are three ways of taking the command to turn the other cheek. One is the Pacifist interpretation; it means what it says and imposes a duty of nonresistance on all men in all circumstances. Another is the minimising interpretation; it does not mean what it says but is merely an orientally hyperbolical way of saying that you should put up with a lot and be placable. Both you and I agree in rejecting this view. The conflict is therefore between the Pacifist interpretation and a third one which I am now going to propound. I think the text means exactly what it says, but with an understood reservation in favour of those obviously exceptional cases which every hearer would naturally assume to be exceptions without being told. . . . . That is, insofar as the only relevant factors in the case are an injury to me by my neighbour and a desire on my part to retaliate, then I hold that Christianity commands the absolute mortification of that desire. No quarter whatever is given to the voice within us which says, “He’s done it to me, so I’ll do the same to him.”

From The Weight of Glory by C S Lewis

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The real thing

Lately I have been thinking that the point must be reached when scientists, politicians, artists, philosophers, men of religion, and all those who work in the fields should gather here, gaze out over these fields, and talk things over together. I think this is the kind of thing that must happen if people are to see beyond their specialties.... An object seen in isolation from the whole is not the real thing.

Masanobu Fukuoka

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Care for fellow citizens

In real life, only from the ordinary adults of the city sidewalks do children learn -- if they learn it at all -- the first fundamental of successful city life:  people must take a modicum of public responsibility for each other even if they have no ties to each other. This is a lesson nobody learns by being told. It is learned from the experience of having other people without ties of kinship or close friendship or formal responsibility take a modicum of public responsibility for you.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Worth taking the risk

There must be moments when God has beheld the nobility of His human creatures, their compassion and generosity to others; when God has looked at the integrity and courage of those who have stood up to tyrants, who have been willing to die for their faith. When God has looked at the exploits of a Francis of Assisi, a Mother Theresa, a Martin Luther King, Jr., an Albert Schweitzer, a Nelson Mandela, He has said, "No, it was worth taking the risk. They have vindicated my faith in them." And God has again rubbed His hands in divine self-satisfaction and said of what He has seen that it was not just good, but that it was all really very good.

Desmond Tutu

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Loving humility

At some thoughts a man stands perplexed, above all at the sight of human sin, and he wonders whether to combat it by force or by humble love. Always decide: “I will combat it by humble love.” If you resolve on that once for all, you can conquer the whole world. Loving humility is a terrible force: it is the strongest of all things, and there is nothing else like it.

Starets Zosima
in Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Screwtape and pleasure

[The demon Screwtape writes:] [God, the “Enemy,” is] a hedonist at heart. All those fasts and vigils and stakes and crosses are only a facade. Or only like foam on the sea shore. Out at sea, out in His sea, there is pleasure, and more pleasure. He makes no secret of it; at His right hand are “pleasures for evermore.” Ugh!

Don’t think He has the least inkling of that high and austere mystery to which we rise in the Miserific Vision. He’s vulgar, Wormwood. He has a bourgeois mind. He has filled His world full of pleasures. There are things for humans to do all day long without His minding in the least—sleeping, washing, eating, drinking, making love, playing, praying, working. Everything has to be twisted before it’s any use to us. We fight under cruel disadvantages. Nothing is naturally on our side.

From The Screwtape Letters

by C S Lewis

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Education through love

Christianity isn’t merely a delegation of moral decision-making. Christian prayer and practice is meant to properly calibrate the will and desires, so that, by relying on God, we become more like him, rather than being an eternal ignoramus. It’s an education through love.

Leah Libresco
"Personal Plato" in First Things

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

The common good

Our life together can be better. Ours is a shallow and selfish age, and we are in need of conversion -- from looking out just for ourselves to also looking out for one another. It's time to hear and heed a call to a different way of life, to reclaim a very old idea called the common good. Jesus issued that call and announced the kingdom of God -- a new order of living in sharp contrast to all the political and religious kingdoms of the world. That better way of life was meant to benefit not only his followers buy everybody else too. And that is the point of it.

Jim Wallis