Category Archives: Quotes

Thoughts on Creation arising out of my studies

Marc, in a recent post, mentions the whole controversy of evolution /creation. I’m really not up to arguing the validity of creation methods. In fact I think the controversy has diminished our understanding of the first few chapters of the Bible. As Christians, we hardly use these chapters for teaching because we are afraid to get into the various controversies regarding God’s methods of creation.

Recently my seminary studies have included this part of the Bible – the interpretation of the Old Testament, the Pentateuch, which Genesis introduces. One of my assignments involved comparing the Creation accounts in Genesis with the Babylonian and Egyptian creation stories. I’ve known for a long time that other creation stories existed but I have never read or studied them so the assignment to dig into them was interesting. (They are challenging reading though since the stories I read are translations of some old, old records.) You can find some of them here and here.

One of the authors of a text we are using likened the familiarity with these stories, which would have been passed down orally in the history of the ancient people of the near east, to the way in which most young people would be familiar with the accounts of evolution today.

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A couple of quotes

From Roxburgh and Romanuk (The Missional Leader) on the changes a congregation must undertake to move from church as we know it to becoming a church sent into the world:

God enters among people who don’t get it, who are often compromised beyond hope, and there God calls forth new imagination. Christian imagination is about announcing that God does a new thing by entering into the very real places where we are formed, to transform them. p31 

And this one:

Culture change happens in a congregation when God’s people shift their attention to elements such as listening to Scripture; dialoguing with one another; learning to listen; and becoming aware of and understanding what is happening in their neighbourhood, community, and the places of their everyday lives. Instead of seeing these places and relationships as potential for church growth, they come to be seen as the places where God’s Spirit is present and calling us to enter with listening love. This shift sees God at work in one’s context and seeks to name what God might be up to. It is about seeing the church in, with, and among the people and places where we live, rather than in a specific building with a certain kind of people. p 63,64

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I got this little bit of wisdom from Henri Nouwen this morning:

The Voice in the Garden of Solitude

Solitude is the garden for our hearts, which yearn for love. It is the place where our aloneness can bear fruit. It is the home for our restless bodies and anxious minds. Solitude, whether it is connected with a physical space or not, is essential for our spiritual lives. It is not an easy place to be, since we are so insecure and fearful that we are easily distracted by whatever promises immediate satisfaction. Solitude is not immediately satisfying, because in solitude we meet our demons, our addictions, our feelings of lust and anger, and our immense need for recognition and approval. But if we do not run away, we will meet there also the One who says, "Do not be afraid. I am with you, and I will guide you through the valley of darkness."
Let’s keep returning to our solitude.

This is where I am needing to go again.  Into solitude.

Just seems that no matter where I go these days I take a little Greek voice in my head that repeats constantly, “You should be studying” (subjunctive mood by the way)

I need to finish this course so it will be silenced.

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I have a book that is presently my before bedtime reading; Acedia and Me by Kathleen Norris. Great book, especially as I see that it is an affliction (or sin) that besets me too. Last night what I read was profound. I usually don’t read stuff out loud to Leo but this was good. Acedia is often called laziness or sloth but as the author understands it, it is much more than what those words mean to me. She describes the concept of sin as something given to us to encourage us to believe that we are made in the image of God and to act accordingly. (p.114) Then she quotes the words of preacher Fred Craddock which “define the sin of sloth so clearly that it stings like a slap in the face.”

What we casually dismiss as mere laziness, he says, is “the ability to look at a starving child…with a swollen stomach and say, “Well, it’s not my kid”…Or to see an old man sitting alone among the pigeons in the park and say, “Well…that’s not my dad.”  It is that capacity of the human spirit to look out upon the world and everything God made and say, I don’t care.

She goes on to describe some of the injustices that do happen in North America by people hardened to other’s suffering.  And then continues with this profound insight:

But even as such outrages are exposed, we are beset by a curious silence: the more that societies ills surface in such evil ways, the less able we are, it seems, to detect any evil within ourselves, let alone work effectively together to fix what is wrong.  The philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre finds that while our “present age is perhaps no more evil than a number of preceding periods…it is evil in one special way at least, namely the extent to which we have obliterated …[our] consciousness of evil.” … Acedia, which is known to foster excessive self-justification, as well as a casual yet implacable judgmentalism toward others, readily lends itself to this process.  (114-115)

I had never thought of Acedia in these terms before; never thought of it as that kind of profound indifference and callousness that sets in and keeps us from keeps us from acting as people changed by Jesus.


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A Quote

We cannot prove our love of God except by loving our fellow humans. Jesus Christ loved God precisely by loving his fellow men and women.

– Anthony Wilhelm,
Christ Among Us (1967)

Via Sojourners

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Quote from Eternal Echoes by John O’Donohue


Every day of your life joy is waiting for you, hidden at the heart of the significant things which happen to you or secretly around the corner of quieter things. If your heart loves delight, you will always be able to discover the quiet joy that awaits to shine forth in many situations. Prayer should help us develop the habit of delight. We weight the notion of prayer with burdens of duty, holiness and the struggle for perfection. Prayer should have the freedom of delight. It should arise from and bring us to humour, laughter, and joy. Religion often suffers from a great amnesia; it constantly insists on the seriousness of God and forgets the magic of the divine glory. Prayer should be the wild dance of the heart, too. In the silence of our prayer we should be able to sense the roguish smile of a joyful god who, despite all the chaos and imperfection, ultimately shelters everything.


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Seven Stanzas At Easter

In preparation for a class which I am taking this summer, The Theology of Caring and Health, I have been reading a book by Kenneth Bakken; The Journey In To God; Healing and Christian Faith. At the end of the first chapter he quotes a marvelous poem by John Updike. It seems right for this season and it stirred something deep in me. Poetry tends to do that for me and this one made me stop and catch my breath for the deep truths it was teaching me.

Seven Stanzas At Easter

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cell’s dissolution did not reverse,
the molecules reknit,
the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths
and fuddled eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that – pierced – died; withered paused, and then regathered
out of enduring might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence,
making of the event a parable,
a sign painted in the faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mâche,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality
that in the slow grinding of
time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen,
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour,
we are embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

John Updike

The formatting of the original is slightly different but the blog publisher does not seem to like words that are out of line. Each stanza has an indent that seems to add impact to the words.


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