Category Archives: quotes

“We must come down from our heights, and leave our straight paths, for the byways and low places of life, if we would learn truths by strong contrasts; and in hovels, in forecastles, and among our own outcasts in foreign lands, see what has been wrought upon our fellow-creatures by accident, hardship, or vice.”

~Richard Henry Dana, Jr.

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“In the Gospels, sickness is part of the understanding of what it is like to be a real person. For wherever the Savior appears, the sick come to light… They come out of the dark corners of cities and villages to which they have been banished, out of the wildernesses to which they have been relegated, and into the spotlight where they reveal themselves to Jesus. Thus Jesus sees the internal and external disabilities of the people. Jesus comprehends us, not from our sunny sides where we are strong and capable, but from our shadow sides, where our weaknesses lie.” ~Jürgen Moltmann

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There are more and more groups today oriented towards issues and causes. There are peace movements, ecological movements, movements for oppressed people, for the liberation of women, against torture, etc. Each movement is important and, if they are based in community life and in the growing consciousness that in each person there is a world of darkness, fear, and hate, they can then radiate truth and inner freedom, and work towards justice and peace in the world.

If not, they can become very aggressive and divide the world between oppressors and the oppressed, the good and the bad. There seems to be a need in human beings to see evil and combat it outside oneself, in order not to see it inside oneself.

“The difference between a community and a group that is only issue-oriented, is that the latter see the enemy outside the group. The struggle is an external one; and there will be a winner and a loser. The group knows it is right and has the truth, and wants to impose it.

The members of a community know that the struggle is inside of each person and inside the community; it is against all the powers of pride, elitism, hate and depression taht are there and which hurt and crush others, and which cause division and war of all sorts.The enemy is inside, not outside.

~Jean Vanier, Community and Growth, 29-30.

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The task of theology and theologians

Theological truth is the truth of God’s relationship with people and it is the fruit not of learning but of experience. In this sense all theology, properly so called, is written in blood. It is an attempt to communicate what has been discovered at great cost in the deepest places of the heart–by sorrow and joy, frustration and fulfilment, defeat and victory, agony and ecstasy, tragedy and triumph.

Theology, properly so called, is a record of a person’s wrestling with God. Wounded in some way or other by the struggle the person will certianly be, but in the end that person will obtain the blessing promised to those who endure.

The theologian in this respect is no different from the poet or dramatist. All of them must write in blood. Yet, what the theologian is called upon to do with his experience is different from what the poet or dramatist does. Obviously it is different in form — the theologian qua theologian does not write poems or plays. Their idiom is more abstract.

They have to translate their experiences into ideas and then arrange those ideas in as logically coherent a form as they can, so that reading their work is much more obviously a sustained intellectual effort than reading poetry appears to be or seeing a play.

It is not, however, only in form or idiom that the theologians’s work differs from that of a poet or dramatist. Its centre of interest is always different and in two ways.

First, the theologians’s primary concern must always be God’s relationship with humanity, and any relationship a person may have with other people or the world they live in must always be subsumed under that primary relationship with God.

Secondly, the theologian has been nurtured by a tradition of belief and practice and all the time they must relate their insights to the tradition which has nurtured them. However first hand, and in that sense original, those insights may be, they cannot be entirely out of the blue. They have to connect in some way with insights already achieved.

H.A. Williams, from the foreword of The Risk of Love by W.H. Vanstone

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Rivers and Love

After having said, “Whoever is thirsty, let him come to me and drink!” Jesus says, “From the breast of the one who believes in me, as Scripture says, rivers of living waters will flow.” Rivers of living water will flow from the heart of the one who has trust in Jesus and believes in him!

jean-vanierThis, of course, reminds us of what Jesus had said to the Samaritan woman: “The water that I will give will become in the person who drinks it a spring of water welling up to eternal life!” So, the water that Jesus gives us will become in us a wellspring or a fountain that gives life to others.

Through the Spirit we have received, we can transmit the Spirit. Waters will flow forth from each of us to give life, if we trust Jesus and thirst for the living waters that only he can give us.

The mission of Jesus is to announce the Good News to the poor, to help the poor discover their value, stand up, find their dignity, and grow in love.Jesus has chosen us to live his mission. He wants our hearts to be wellsprings of living water, loving people nad helping them achieve their goals.

Thus, when we announce the Good News to the poor, it is not to tell them, “Jesus loves you,” but rather to say, “I love you. I commit myself to you in the name of Jesus.”

~Jean Vanier, The Gospel of John, The Gospel of Relationship, pg 50-51.

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Christianity as Community

What does the community that corresponds to the triune God and lives in him look like? We find the classic text for this in Acts 4:32-37:

“The company of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had everything in common…There was not a needy person among them.”

This so-called early Christian communism was not a social programme; it was the expression of the new Trinitarian experience of sociality. These Christians put their community above the individual and above their individual private possessions.

They no longer needed these possessions in order to make their lives secure. In the spirit of the resurrection their fear of death disappeared, and with it the greed for life. And so they had enough, more than enough.

This community ends the competitive struggle which turns people into lonely individuals, and the social frigidity of a heartless world disappears. What comes to an end with this community is also ‘the strong hand’ of the state, which forcibly keeps people from becoming a ‘wolf’ for someone else. This community can settle its affairs by itself.

~Jurgen Moltmann, Sun of Righteousness Arise!, 162.

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“Raising is a historical event that has taken place in Jesus of Nazareth, but it is at the same time an eschatological happening, anticipating the raising of the dead in this one Person, and the new creation through that one Person. Consequently, the resurrection of Jesus is comprehended only if the Spirit of the resurrection lays hold of men and women and they experience a rebirth to the fullness of life. For them, resurrection is like a new birth and a new beginning of life. Through the transfomring power of divine love mortal life will come alive from within. The experience of God will become the experience of being loved and affirmed from all eternity. That is the fullness of life. This experience is a support beyond death, one’s own death and the death of others, beyond fear and beyond grief. The raising of Jesus and the fullness of life that has appeared in him and is accessible in him is the greatest experience of God’s love.”

Jürgen Moltmann, The Living God and the Fullness of Life, 146

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“The Spirit… is no redundant third, no hypostatized afterthought, no cooing ‘feminine’ adjunct to an established male household. Rather, experientially speaking, the Spirit is primary, just as Pentecost is primary for the Church; and leaving non-cluttered space for the Spirit is the absolute precondition for the unimpeded flowing of this divine exchange in us, the ‘breathing of the divine breath’, as John of the Cross put it.”

~Sarah Coakley, The New Asceticism: Sexuality, Gender, and the Quest for God, p91

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“We can be perfect here and now by being exactly as God wishes us to be here and now: perfection is not an aim to be realized in a dim and doubtful future, but it is for this minute”

~Dom John Chapman

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“As we have long ago pointed out, what we propose as our subject is not the discipline which obtains in each sect, but that which is really philosophy, strictly systematic wisdom, which furnishes acquaintance with the things that pertain to life. And we define wisdom to be certain knowledge, being a sure and irrefragable apprehension of things divine and human, comprehending the present, past, and future, which the Lord has taught us, both by his advent anClement alexandriad by the prophets.

And it is irrefragable by reason, inasmuch as it has been communicated. And so it is wholly true according to God’s intention, as being known through means of the Son. Ad in one aspect it is eternal, and in another it becomes useful in time. Partly it is one and the same, partly many and indifferent–partly without any movement of passion, partly with passionate desire–partly perfect, partly incomplete.

This wisdom, then–rectitude of soul and of reason, and purity of life–is the object of the desire of philosophy, which is kindly and lovingly disposed towards wisdom, and does everything to attain it.”

~Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, 7.7

I like the idea of “systematic wisdom”.  That seems a grand task and a noble goal.  A  long road to be sure.  I’d like to think that’s what I’m trying to accomplish in my present pursuits.  Is someone who pursues that a Systematic Wisdomian?

Also, I like the word ‘irrefragable’ and am going to try to use it in conversations this week.

I’ve been digging deeply into Clement’s work the last few weeks as I work on a new chapter. I’m very taken by him–once again.  I first read his work as an innocent pre-seminary student and it’s interesting to see how what I read then really shaped how I entered later study.  It’s always good to read an author before you know how you’re supposed to read them.

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