I was typing notes down from a stack of books yesterday and realized how much time theologians spend quoting the people that came before them. Sometimes they have long stretches of their own original ideas, but most of the time is spent quoting someone else and then discussing it. That’s exactly what I’m doing on this blog. Maybe I’m in good company. Or maybe we ALL aren’t very original!
Anyway, I found it kind of funny.
In “Wild at Heart”, I’m amazed at how often author John Eldridge quotes Philip Yancey.
From what I’ve read of Philip Yancey, he likes to quote C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton.
Lewis and Chesterton in turn quote Augustine a lot.
Now we’re starting to get into some more meaty content. I feel like I’m traveling down a funnel…
Augustine quotes, hmmm, lets see, the New Testament quite a bit.
And in the New Testament, we have some really good fresh material from Jesus and Paul, but even they are quoting stuff all the time! From where? Well, the Old Testament! (Jude also quotes the Apocrypha a bit too. Apparently he didn’t get the memo.)
And now in the Old Testament, we’ve got the raw WORD OF GOD, in the law and the prophets. Along with some inspired hymns, poetry, wise sayings, and a lot of straight history.
I think this is why sometimes, we just need to skip all the middle men and read BIBLE.
From Reaching for the Invisible God:
Here, Yancy quotes Paul Tournier. Who, from what I can gather was a Swiss physician turned Christian psychotherapist. He lived mostly during the first half of the last century.
The most wonderful thing in this world is not the good that we accomplish, but the fact that good can come out of the evil that we do. I have been struck, for example, by the numbers of people who have been brought back to God under the influence of a person to whom they have had some imperfect attachment… Our vocation is, I believe, to build good out of evil. For if we try to build good out of good, we are in danger of running out of raw material.
I see this now goes to reinforce one of the major points he established earlier in the book:
The world is good.
The world is fallen.
The world can be redeemed.
Yancy calls this the story of the universe. I can’t help but think I’ve seen this same idea in other places, but worded differently.
I sure have felt like this the past few days…
Donald Miller in Blue Like Jazz quotes a poem by C.S. Lewis:
All this is flashy rhetoric about loving you.
I never had a selfless thought since I was born.
I am mercenary and self-seeking through and through;
I want God, you, all friends, merely to serve my turn.Peace, reassurance, pleasure, are the goals I seek,
I cannot crawl one inch outside my proper skin;
I talk of love – a scholar’s parrot may talk Greek –
But, self-imprisoned, always end where I begin.
And then comments:
I sat there above the city wondering if I was like the parrot in Lewis’s poem, swinging in my cage, reciting Homer, all the while having no idea what I was saying. I talk about love, forgiveness, social justice; I rage against American materialism in the name of altruism, but have I even controlled my own heart? The overwhelming majority of time I spend thinking about myself, pleasing myself, reassuring myself, and when I am done there is nothing to spare for the needy. Six billion people live in this world, and I can only muster thoughts for one. Me.
From Reaching for the Invisible God:
…People vary in beauty, family background, athletic skill, intelligence, health, and wealth, and anyone who expects perfect fairness in this world will end up bitterly disappointed. Likewise, a Christian who expects God to solve all family problems, heal all diseases, and thwart baldness, graying, wrinkling, presbyopia, osteoporosis, senility, and the other effects of aging is pursuing childish magic, not mature religion.
The prosperity gospel in it’s brazen and loud form does not hold much temptation to me. I’ve always been taught (and thought independently) that it was unreasonable. But I’ve often fallen for being discontent about the world not being fair. Wishing I was smarter, wishing I had more money, and so on. It’s frustrating that following Christ doesn’t get you that stuff. But following Christ has made me more content with what I DO have. More importantly, it has made me stop and realize the beauty of what is around me instead of wallowing in a despair of unreachable goals and thinking about all the beauty that was NOT around me. Oh well!
So I’ve learned to be happy with my career as a developer/coder/database monkey. I no longer have to bang my head against the wall to get into the Eastman School of Music or find a paying guitar job. I’m settled with music being a hobby. In the past year he broke me of my quest to find a “real house” for my family. Our fixed-up trailer will do just fine. I don’t think I made a real hard attempt to be content with these things. I doubt that would have produced any real change. I think he worked in my heart produce peace. I’ll try my best with the hand I’ve been dealt.
P.S. I just hope the other hand has a dang good cup of coffee in it. Doh!