Saturday, June 27, 2015

Who decides?

We have to consider that hate propaganda, and the consistent heckling of one government by another, has always inevitably led to violent conflict. We have to recognize the implications of voting for extremist politicians who promote policies of hate. We must consider the dire effect of fanaticism and witch-hunting within our own nation. We must never forget that our most ordinary decisions may have terrible consequences. It is no longer reasonable or right to leave all decisions to a largely anonymous power elite that is driving us all, in our passivity, towards ruin. We have to make ourselves heard.

Thomas Merton

Monday, June 22, 2015

Being happy

The problem of reconciling human suffering with the existence of a God who loves, is only insoluble so long as we attach a trivial meaning to the word ‘love’, and look on things as if man were the centre of them. Man is not the centre. God does not exist for the sake of man. Man does not exist for his own sake. ‘Thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created’ [Revelation 4:11]. We were made not primarily that we may love God (though we were made for that too) but that God may love us, that we may become objects in which the Divine love may rest ‘well pleased’.

To ask that God’s love should be content with us as we are is to ask that God should cease to be God: because He is what He is, His love must, in the nature of things, be impeded and repelled, by certain stains in our present character, and because He already loves us He must labour to make us lovable.

We cannot even wish, in our better moments, that He could reconcile Himself to our present impurities—no more than the beggar maid could wish that King Cophetua should be content with her rags and dirt, or a dog, once having learned to love man, could wish that man were such as to tolerate in his house the snapping, verminous, polluting creature of the wild pack.

What we would here and now call our ‘happiness’ is not the end God chiefly has in view: but when we are such as He can love without impediment, we shall in fact be happy.

From The Problem of Pain by C S Lewis

Sunday, June 21, 2015


...we are reminded by how far today we are afflicted by a certain kind of provinciality of mind, a reductivist mentality that can conceive of a question's being worth asking only if we know in advance some routine procedures guaranteed to provide intelligible answers to it. It is indeed an exceedingly curious reversal of commonsense intellectual priorities that a pre-formed procedure for answering questions should be allowed to dictate the legitimacy of the questions that may be asked. Thomas is intellectually braver, even perhaps more irresponsible: there are for him questions that have to be asked, but cannot be answered. He is prepared to ask the question: Could everything's being like the daffodil—“contingent” is his word for the fragility of existence—be just a fact, a sort of brute fact, requiring no further explanation? Or must everything's being like that demand an explanation, a cause, whose hold on existence does not need to be accounted for?—his word for such a mode of existence being “necessary.” Thomas's answer to that last question is in the affirmative: it has to be the case that some necessary being exists, otherwise the existence of all the contingent beings that there are is impossible to account for.

From Thomas Aquinas: a Portrait, by Denys Turner

Friday, June 19, 2015


What is the meaning of democracy, freedom, human dignity, standard of living, self-realisation, fulfillment? Is it a matter of goods, or of people? Of course it is a matter of people. But people can be themselves only in small comprehensible groups. Therefore we must learn to think in terms of an articulated structure that can cope with a multiplicity of small-scale units. If economic thinking cannot grasp this it is useless. If it cannot get beyond its vast abstractions, the national income, the rate of growth, capital/output ratio, input-output analysis, labour mobility, capital accumulation; if it cannot get beyond all this and make contact with the human realities of poverty, frustration, alienation, despair, breakdown, crime, escapism, stress, congestion, ugliness, and spiritual death, then let us scrap economics and start afresh.

E.F. Schumacher

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Exercising yourself

"Thou art weighed in the balances and art found wanting."
Daniel 5:27

It is well frequently to weigh ourselves in the scale of God's Word. You will find it a holy exercise to read some psalm of David, and, as you meditate upon each verse, to ask yourself, "Can I say this? Have I felt as David felt? Has my heart ever been broken on account of sin, as his was when he penned his penitential psalms? Has my soul been full of true confidence in the hour of difficulty as his was when he sang of God's mercies in the cave of Adullam, or in the holds of Engedi? Do I take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord?"

Then turn to the life of Christ, and as you read, ask yourselves how far you are conformed to his likeness. Endeavour to discover whether you have the meekness, the humility, the lovely spirit which he constantly inculcated and displayed. Take, then, the epistles, and see whether you can go with the apostle in what he said of his experience. Have you ever cried out as he did--"O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Have you ever felt his self-abasement? Have you seemed to yourself the chief of sinners, and less than the least of all saints? Have you known anything of his devotion? Could you join with him and say, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain"?

If we thus read God's Word as a test of our spiritual condition, we shall have good reason to stop many a time and say, "Lord, I feel I have never yet been here, O bring me here! give me true penitence, such as this I read of. Give me real faith; give me warmer zeal; inflame me with more fervent love; grant me the grace of meekness; make me more like Jesus. Let me no longer be found wanting,' when weighed in the balances of the sanctuary, lest I be found wanting in the scales of judgment." "Judge yourselves that ye be not judged."

Charles Spurgeon' Morning and Evening Devotionals (June 12)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

It's not all about guns...

A police officer will have an admirable career if he or she never uses a gun -- except if that officer is a character on a television drama or movie. Given the popularity of violence, we might ask, "Doesn't the police officer's work depend upon the threat of force?" The answer is plainly no. If the officer's authority depends upon the use of a gun, then we are truly an uncivilized people who are in a constant state of civil war. In a world of strife and violence, additional use of force actually undermines police work (although television and movies claim the contrary). Undoubtedly, the peaceable officer will be dependent, not self-sufficient and invulnerable. He or she will not be a hero in Hollywood, but this peaceful officer will be an integral part of community life.... Communities are sustained not by the imposition of force but by cooperative, nonviolent means of confrontation and hope. Violence is a response to hopelessness. Christians are called to live with hope.

David Matzko McCarthy

Wednesday, June 03, 2015


It is quite right that you should feel that “something terrific” has happened to you (It has) and be “all glowy.” Accept these sensations with thankfulness as birthday cards from God, but remember that they are only greetings, not the real gift. I mean, it is not the sensations that are the real thing. The real thing is the gift of the Holy Spirit which can’t usually be—perhaps not ever—experienced as a sensation or emotion. The sensations are merely the response of your nervous system. Don’t depend on them. Otherwise when they go and you are once more emotionally flat (as you certainly will be quite soon), you might think that the real thing had gone too. But it won’t. It will be there when you can’t feel it. May even be most operative when you can feel it least.

From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

PC imploding? Finally?

Conservatives have long argued to leftists who were indifferent to the plight of campus conservatives and Christians that PC would prove hard to contain, that the PC police would one day turn on their own. Well, now it’s happening, and many on the left are suddenly realizing once again that free speech has some value, especially when their speech is under attack. The bottom line is that the current wave of intolerance is too self-righteous, too joyless, and too malicious to survive in an otherwise open society. But as the wave breaks, it’s exacting a dreadful cultural and professional toll — stifling debate, ending careers, and eroding the intellectual foundations of liberty. 

Political correctness will fail, but it will fail in the way that leftist revolutions always do — at great cost, with high casualties, and with the revolutionaries themselves largely unrepentant and unbowed, ready to try again the instant the culture forgets their last failure.
David French, in Laura Kipnis' incredible ordeal and the beginning of the end of PC

Cast all your cares upon Him...

Cast all your care upon the Lord, and He will sustain you. Psalm 55:22

Care, even though exercised upon legitimate objects, if carried to excess, has in it the nature of sin. The precept to avoid anxious care is earnestly inculcated by our Saviour, again and again; it is reiterated by the apostles; and it is one which cannot be neglected without involving transgression: for the very essence of anxious care is the imagining that we are wiser than God, and the thrusting ourselves into his place to do for him that which he has undertaken to do for us. We attempt to think of that which we fancy he will forget; we labour to take upon ourselves our weary burden, as if he were unable or unwilling to take it for us.

Now this disobedience to his plain precept, this unbelief in his Word, this presumption in intruding upon his province, is all sinful. Yet more than this, anxious care often leads to acts of sin. He who cannot calmly leave his affairs in God's hand, but will carry his own burden, is very likely to be tempted to use wrong means to help himself. This sin leads to a forsaking of God as our counsellor, and resorting instead to human wisdom. This is going to the "broken cistern" instead of to the "fountain;" a sin which was laid against Israel of old.

Anxiety makes us doubt God's lovingkindness, and thus our love to him grows cold; we feel mistrust, and thus grieve the Spirit of God, so that our prayers become hindered, our consistent example marred, and our life one of self-seeking. Thus want of confidence in God leads us to wander far from him; but if through simple faith in his promise, we cast each burden as it comes upon him, and are "careful for nothing" because he undertakes to care for us, it will keep us close to him, and strengthen us against much temptation. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee."

Charles Spurgeon in his Morning and Evening Devotional, for May 26.