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2.24.2010

People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says, "If you keep a lot of rules, I'll reward you, and if you don't I'll do the other thing." I do not think that is the best way of looking at it. I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a Heaven creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is Heaven: that is joy, and peace, and knowledge, and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.

-C. S. Lewis, taken from The Joyful Christian

As a side note, I'd like to add that the progress toward either rarely looks like much of an epic battle of decisions. 'The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.' It's an unremarkable line with remarkable consequences. Let no one fool you; the progress toward hellishness is a gently sloping downhill ride in the calm of mid-afternoon. The progress toward Heaven is narrow and riddled with innumerable annoyances and seemingly unnecessary sacrifices. It will seem irrational and inconsequential, but take the harder way.

2.23.2010

The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death - we over our lives to death. Thus is begins; the cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise godfearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
For those who like to spend their Tuesday mornings listening to Sunday's missed sermons. That might just be me...
I am not sure if I have any thoughts or feelings on Wheaton's new presidential selection. I guess we'll just see how these things go. I hope the kids transition well. Not the students (they'll be just fine), but his own brood.

2.20.2010

'There is nothing I want more in my life than what Jesus bled to obtain.'
- John Piper

2.19.2010

'One must really be brave to choose love or writing as one's guides, because they may lead one to the space in which the meaning of our life is hidden - and who can say that this space may not be the land of death.'

- Demetrios Capetenakis

2.17.2010

Thou hast made me, and shall thy work decay?
Repair me now, for now mine end doth haste;
I run to death, and death meets me as fast,
And all my pleasures are like yesterday.
I dare not move my dim eyes any way,
Despair behind and death behind doth cast
Such terror and my feeble flesh doth waste
By sin in it, which it toward hell doth weigh.
Only thou art above, and when towards thee
By thy leave I can look, I rise again;
But our old subtle foe so tempteth me
That not one hour myself I can sustain.
Thy grace may wing me to prevent his art,
And thou like adamant draw mine iron heart.

-John Donne, I. from Holy Sonnets
Only the devil has an answer for our moral difficulties, and he says: 'Keep on posing problems, and you will escape the necessity of obedience.' But Jesus is not interested in the young man's problems; he is interested in the young man himself. He refuses to take those difficulties as seriously as the young man does. There is one thing only which Jesus takes seriously, and that is, that it is high time the young man began to hear the commandment and obey it.

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

Ash Wednesday

Today we remember that we are dust. I was thinking about that in the shower today, thinking of these arms in the earth, shuddering silently into aimless molecules. We are but dust, until he makes us more. Thanks be to the God of our salvation who does not forget us in our death but retrieves us for himself. And in giving ourselves to him, we find our true nature, the one that persists in strength and dignity and honour.

This is the season when we rescind everything we have acquired to discover what we were meant to keep all along. Whether it be something abstract (like confidence) or something concrete (like meat on Fridays), we know by the giving-up which are the things we have been given in the generosity of our Father and which are the things we have stolen from under his grace. Personally, I'm rather miserable about it all. But then, there has been an undercurrent of misery beneath all of my license for a while now, and I would trade much for a clean heart. I would trade all I have to know that there is nothing standing between me and my God.

And so I take this day, though I missed all the morning services and will miss all the evening ones as well, to pray this Psalm:

Have mercy on my, O God, according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.

Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins and blot out my iniquity.

Create in my a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.

...You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

(51)

2.16.2010

Remembering icons and more Lenten preparations. I DO read other blogs, but who needs a link to Apartment Therapy? Most essentially, Amanda sent out a new post from Madagascar! It's a few weeks old, but it's still news to many!
Shannon Hale is going to be at the Huntington Beach store on Friday!!! Incidentally, I'll probably be there, too. :)

2.15.2010

Lent is coming soon. What are we rescinding? I've a few ideas, but nothing concrete yet. Mostly there are things I want to do. Like finish Bonhoeffer and re-read Neuhaus's Death on a Friday Afternoon. Anyone else giving up anything?

2.08.2010

Emma did not disappoint. Not remotely. I am, in fact, wondering if she isn't suddenly my favorite of Austen's heroines. How, oh Romola, did you do it?

2.05.2010

i would beat the dust from her

like a rug at noon--

like a rug in the yard

against the sun hanging.

i would beat her with

racket or with rod

and, like the dust from a mummy,

all that is not-her

will fly like so much sand

into the forgiving air,

the breeze like balm

breathing the not-me away.

this is my mercy--

(what i really want to do is touch

her forehead with the gentle tip of

a finger, gently push, and from her

skin see blow these particles, as

though this small gesture were an

unforeseen gust.)


250905

2.02.2010

'...love is not just something that happens to you: it is a certain special way of being alive.'
- Thomas Merton, Love and Living

2.01.2010

Someday you will grow tired of me always linking to First Things. But I cannot help it! This is such a good article! It's actually not an article, but a transcription of a speech given a few days ago in Rome by the Archbishop of Denver. Somehow it draws together everything from Rilke's poetry to the nature of Satan. I know! Crazy, huh?!

Okay, I'm sure I can come up with more intelligent commentary than that. ...maybe later.
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