Who is quoting who?

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.

Running out of raw material

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.

Mustering thoughts for more than one

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.

Pursuing mature religion

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!

The clues led me to exercise faith

From Reaching for the Invisible God:

…what finally brought me to God: not the Bible or Christian literature or anyone’s sermons. I turned to God primarily because of my discovery of goodness and grace in the world: through nature, through classical music, through romantic love. Enjoying the gifts, I began to seek the giver; full of gratitude, I needed Someone to thank…God had been there all the while, waiting to be noticed. Though I still had no proof, only clues, the clues led me to exercise faith. (p. 118)

I really loved this comment because I feel that it sheds insight into how the holy spirit actually works in our hearts and minds. I’ve always wondered at how God does it. How does he take our fallen selfish thoughts and turn them into humility? How exactly does he change us from being jerk to being deeply aware of Jesus’ sacrifice and to generating love for the people around us? The usual example we know of is when tragedy hits someones life. They almost die or they lose their family in some horrible accident and it really slaps them around. But that kind of thing only happens to some people. It didn’t happen to me or even most of the people I know. So how did we all come to faith? Being raised by Christian parents? You can have that and still turn out bad. Everyone knows our efforts come to nil without the work of the spirit.

I like this because it’s another way that he works in our hearts to draw us to himself. I couldn’t put my finger on it before, but Yancy’s description is one I can relate to a lot.

Sigh… the war in Iraq

Oh, I despise to talk politics, but I’m afraid I must throw in a comment since reading some more of Yeats. In 6 years, I’ve gone from supporting President Bush to not. Why? No elaboration, just this: Iraq was a bad idea (and still is), and the federal government continues to bloat. I was hoping it would shrink. As for striving to change the minds of politicians? I’m not up for it and I don’t envy their position either. I think this sums it up best:

On Being Asked for a War Poem
by William Butler Yeats

I think it better that in times like these
A poet’s mouth be silent, for in truth
We have no gift to set a statesman right;
He has had enough of meddling who can please
A young girl in the indolence of her youth,
Or an old man upon a winter’s night.

Spiritual Warfare

Mark Byron offers some keen insight into spiritual warfare:

The classic verse in the area comes from James 4:7 – “Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.”
Note that it doesn’t say “Whup the Devil’s ass, and he will flee from you.”

It’s a short post. Keep reading…

Liturgy and class

In the last couple years, I’ve been leaning toward, being attracted to, a higher church liturgy. Oh, it would be nice to say, “The spirit is leading me in this direction”, which is something I CAN say about some things in my life. However, in this area I must say it’s probably just a matter of personal taste. Without a doubt it’s partially a backlash against church services centered around personalities and rock band worship. Now, I don’t have any problem with rock bands, or even rock band worship per se, I think I’m just grown tired of hearing them.

My wife has also felt the pull of higher church liturgy. However, she’s very wary of “stuffed shirt” religious types, and not without good reason. We’re both small-town country folk. Now we have university degrees with honors, but that doesn’t make us high society. Not even close in fact. The social ladder is unavoidable in and out of church. I would prefer that it would pollute worship as little as possible.

A comment today from Doug Wilson sheds some light on the subject I think:

Over the course of our nation’s history, what denominations have attracted the doctors, lawyers, bankers, and so on? Right — the more liturgical, staid, and formal churches. What churches have attracted the loggers, cops, and contractors? Right — the more informal, lively, and anti-liturgical. We are currently living through a period of cultural churn, where no one exactly knows what is up. Megachurches have breezy, multi-media worship, and they have plenty of doctors and lawyers trying to clap along with the songs. My argument is that this kind of thing is an anomaly. Over time, it will have to go one way or the other.A couple of possible objections, and I am done. Someone might point out that the Roman Catholic church has plenty of “blue collar” parishioners, which is quite true. But they do this by reproducing the entire range of socio-economic strata within the church. In other words, they have plenty of such worshippers, but they do not constitute the leadership of the church. If you were to find a church with blue collar leadership, and they had that leadership over the course of a generation or more, I would be willing to bet good money that the liturgy would be quite low.

Another objection is that this analysis seems to give “doctors and lawyers” too much credit in authenticating what the Church is supposed to be doing. Yes, this is quite a danger, one that James pointed out in his epistle. When the rich guys start showing up for church, it is time to guard your hearts against evil motives. This problem has happened plenty in the history of the Church. But remember, I am not applauding anything here. I am just watching. I am not arguing for high liturgy at all; I am simply pointing out that in history high liturgy has tended toward a particular effect. Having a high view of liturgy (which I do have) is not the same thing as having a high view of high liturgy (which I don’t have). But for those brethren who do have a high view of high liturgy, this is an observation or caution that can be used in either direction. “If we crank the liturgy up another notch, we might get some more big tithers from the medical field!” Or . . . “We need to watch our step here. This stuff is banker bait.”

That about sums it up

A Drinking Song
by William Butler Yeats

Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That’s all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.

If they do not comprehend doctrines…

A quote from J.C. Ryle (1810-1900), first Anglican bishop of Oxford:

“Humility and love are precisely the graces which the men of the world can understand, if they do not comprehend doctrines…. [The poorest] Christian can every day find occasion for practicing love and humility.”

A fitting quote for where it was noticed, occasionally on the banner of the Boar’s Head Tavern.