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I don’t make New Year resolutions because I am never in sync with the calendar. I make January 7th resolutions.

— CowPi  <link>

Our weakness is the key to our salvation, not our strength (talents, etc.). In my weakness, God’s strength is made perfect. In my weakness, I can learn to pray like the Publican, while in my strength, I invariably pray like the Pharisee. Blessed are the meek.

— Fr. Stephen Freeman (via)  <link>

Evil Is Always Small

I think evil is always small, and that good is infinite. Evil closes itself to God and thus becomes even smaller; Good opens itself to God and thus becomes infinite. Evil cannot become so large as to fill even the universe. God became so small that He could fill Hell and then burst it asunder because it could not contain Him. Every good deed will have eternal remembrance, but even the largest deeds of the evil will be forgotten.

— Fr. Stephen Freeman (via)  <link>

A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely re-arranging their prejudices.

— William James  <link>

Many lives have a mystical sense, but not everyone reads it aright. More often than not it is given to us in cryptic form, and when we fail to decipher it, we despair because our lives seem meaningless. The secret of a great life is often a man’s success in deciphering the mysterious symbols vouchsafed to him, understanding them and so learning to walk in the true path.

— Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn  <link>

No Blame, Be Kind, Love Everything

The three active virtues that are the source of joy resonate like bell sounds carried on the wind. I can no longer tell from which direction they emanate—for it is from every direction—with no exception no blame, always without hesitation be kind, and regardless of conditions love everything unconditionally.

— Terrance Keenan, St. Nadie in Winter  <link>

I’ve never seen a monument erected to a pessimist.

— Paul Harvey  <link>

Think you have a hard job? What about the guy whose job it is to put the whoop-ass INTO the can in the first place??

— Author unknown  <link>

The Greeks tell the story of the minotaur, the bull-headed flesh eating man who lived in the center of the labyrinth. He was a threatening beast, and yet his name was Asterion-Star. I often think of this paradox as I sit with someone with tears in her eyes, searching for some way to deal with a death, a divorce, or a depression. It is a beast, this thing that stirs in the core of her being, but it is also the star of her innermost nature.

— Thomas More, Care of the Soul  <link>

Nothing is more pleasant, nothing more suitable to flatter our egos as a freedom without restrictions. “Freedom” is the word with which our enlightened century wants to replace religion. One condemns the whole past as a time of ignorance and prejudice, while knowing nothing of that past and very little of the present.

— Maria Theresa of Austria, 18th century (via)  <link>

If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.

— St. Augustine, Contra Faustum 17,3 (via)  <link>

Hope is a step ahead of you.

— Author unknown  <link>


Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.

Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

— Carol Ann Duffy (via)  <link>

There is so much baggage we burden ourselves with over the years that keeps us from seeing things the way they are. Some baggage we carry with us for a single thought, some for years, and some for lifetimes. But there isn’t one piece that isn’t our own creation.

— Bill Porter, Zen Baggage (via)  <link>

Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!
What a task
to ask
of anything, or anyone,
yet it is ours,
and not by the century or the year, but by the hours.

— Mary Oliver, from “Snow Geese”, Why I Wake Early (via)  <link>

Unembarrassed Joy

Something I constantly notice is that unembarrassed joy has become rarer. Joy today is increasingly saddled with moral and ideological burdens, so to speak. When someone rejoices, he is afraid of offending against solidarity with the many people who suffer. I don’t have any right to rejoice, people think, in a world where there is so much misery, so much injustice.

I can understand that. There is a moral attitude at work here. But this attitude is nonetheless wrong. The loss of joy does not make the world better—and, conversely, refusing joy for the sake of suffering does not help those who suffer. The contrary is true. The world needs people who discover the good, who rejoice in it and thereby derive the impetus and courage to do good. …

— Josef Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), Salt of the Earth: Christianity and the Catholic Church at the End  <link>

Virtual: Something that you think you have, but you don’t.
Transparent: Something that you don’t know you have, but you do.

— Tony Karp, from his post (via)  <link>

Do not feel overwhelmed by the length of this journey. All you ever need do is focus on one thing, what you are doing. Stay on the path and put one foot in front of the other—that is all. There is joy in the struggle.

— Philip Toshio Sudo, Zen Guitar (via)  <link>

Temptation is not a game of manipulation or rationalization.

— Author unknown  <link>

Mystery isn’t something that is gradually evaporating. It grows along with knowledge.

— Flannery O’Connor (via)  <link>

The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected.

— G.K. Chesterton  <link>

…by virtue of the Creation and, still more, of the Incarnation,
nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see.

— Pierre Teilhard de Chardin  <link>

So every day
I was surrounded by the beautiful crying forth
of the ideas of God,
one of which was you.

— Mary Oliver, poem from Red Bird  <link>

A wise man once told me that we are all God in drag. I like that. Sometimes when I’m in a public place or sitting at a stop light, I’ll watch people walking by and I’ll silently say to myself, “He’s God. She’s God. He’s God. She’s God.” Before long I always find myself feeling a warm sense of affinity for these strangers. The experience is even more powerful when I do this while observing a person who is clearly suffering. On occasion I’ll test my little spiritual practice by turning on Fox News. Within minutes I become an atheist.

— Chuck Lorre, Vanity Card #240  <link>

What people don’t realise is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross. It is much harder to believe than not to believe.

— Flannery O’Connor (via)  <link>

…the only thing that’s capital-T True is that you get to decide how you’re gonna try to see it. This, I submit, is the freedom of a real education, of learning how to be well-adjusted. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. You get to decide what to worship.

— David Foster Wallace (via)  <link>

Important Kind of Freedom

And the so-called real world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the so-called real world of men and money and power hums merrily along in a pool of fear and anger and frustration and craving and worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom all to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about much in the great outside world of wanting and achieving.

The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day. That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.

— David Foster Wallace (via)  <link>

The Catholic writer, in so far as he has the mind of the Church, will feel life from the standpoint of the central Christian mystery: that it has, for all its horror, been found by God to be worth dying for.

— Flannery O’Connor, “The Church and the Fiction Writer”, 1957  <link>

Two Questions

The ancient Egyptians had a beautiful belief about death. When their souls reached the entrance to heaven, the gods asked them two questions. Their answers determined whether they were admitted or not.
     Have you found joy in your life?
     Has your life brought joy to others?

— Carter Chambers, from the movie The Bucket List  <link>

Our lives are streams flowing into the same river towards whatever heaven lies in the mist beyond the falls.

— Carter Chambers, from the movie The Bucket List  <link>

Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.

— Thich Nhat Hanh  <link>

Trust Allah, but tether your camel.

— Arab proverb  <link>

Why Is Fire Hot?

One winter evening, when the innovative engineer R. Buckminster Fuller was drinking tea by the fireplace of Prof. Hugh Kenner, three-year-old Lisa Kenner prolonged her bedtime farewell with the question: “Bucky, why is the fire hot?” Kenner writes: Some instinct told Lisa he was the man to ask. His answer, as he took her on his lap, began, like most of his answers, some distance away from the question. “You remember, darling, when the tree was growing in the sunlight?” On arms like upgroping branches, his hands became clusters of leaves as he described their collecting the sunlight, processing its energies into sugars, drawing them down into a stocky trunk. “Then the men cut it down. and and sawed it into logs. And what you see now”—he pointed to the crackling hearth—“is the sunlight, unwinding from the log.”

— Author unknown, reference is to New York Times Magazine via Readers’ Digest  <link>

Us vs. Them

And then he realized why he was thinking like this.

It was because he wanted there to be conspirators. It was much better to imagine men in some smoky room somewhere, made mad and cynical by privilege and power, plotting over the brandy. You had to cling to this sort of image, because if you didn’t then you might have to face the fact that bad things happened because ordinary people, the kind who brushed the dog and told their children bedtime stories, were capable of going out and doing horrible things to other ordinary people. It was so much easier to blame it on Them. It was bleakly depressing to think that They were Us. If it was Them, then nothing was anyone’s fault. If it was Us, what did that make Me? After all, I’m one of Us. I must be. I’ve certainly never thought of myself as one of Them. No one ever thinks of themselves as one of Them. We’re always one of Us. It’s Them that do the bad things.

— Terry Pratchett, Jingo  <link>

A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.

— William James  <link>

The God of the Bible is both a God of justice and mercy, of righteousness and compassion, of love and lordship, of order and creativity, of hierarchy and equality. Unless you can hold these antinomies in tension, you cannot paint a full picture of the Biblical God.

— Ben Witherington, from review of The Shack  <link>

No matter how sophisticated you may be, a large granite mountain cannot be denied—it speaks in silence to the very core of your being.

— Ansel Adams  <link>

Sadness is a wall between two gardens.

— Kahlil Gibran  <link>

Transform, Not Bypass

…some people live in such a way that it is impossible to have any kind of happiness in their home, but then they go to church and sing songs and pray ‘in the spirit,’ hoping that God will somehow give them an infusion of joy to make it through the day. They are looking for some kind of heavenly transfusion that will bypass the misery of their daily lives and give them joy. But God’s desire is to transform their misery, not to bypass it.

— Richard Foster, Celebration of Disciplines (via)  <link>

Inside yourself or outside, you never have to change what you see, only the way you see it.

— Thaddeus Golas  <link>

When one tugs on a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.

— John Muir (via)  <link>

It is the grimmest of ironies…

It is the grimmest of ironies that one of the most savage, barbaric acts of evil in history began in one of the most modernized societies of its time, where so many markers of human progress became tools of human depravity: science that can heal, used to kill; education that can enlighten, used to rationalize away basic moral impulses; the bureaucracy that sustains modern life, used as the machinery of mass death, a ruthless, chillingly efficient system where many were responsible for the killing, but few got actual blood on their hands.

— Barack Obama, 44th President of the US, from speech given at Holocaust Rememberance Day ceremony in Capitol Rotunda, April 23, 2009

(The same could be said of the United States and abortion.)  <link>

Americans are getting stronger. Twenty years ago, it took two people to carry ten dollars worth of groceries. Today, a five-year-old can do it.

— Henny Youngman, 1906-1998, comedian  <link>

Three Rules of Work:
     out of clutter find simplicity;
     from discord find harmony;
     in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.

— Albert Einstein  <link>

Ever notice when someone says to you, “be careful,” they are really saying, “I love you”?

— Mark Woodward  <link>

Beginning of Sin

“There is a very interesting debate raging at the moment about the nature of sin, for example,” said Oats.

“And what do they think? Against it, are they?” said Granny Weatherwax.

“It’s not as simple as that. It’s not a black and white issue. There are so many shades of gray.”



“There’s no grays, only white that’s got grubby. I’m surprised you don’t know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.

“It’s a lot more complicated than that—”

“No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.”

“Oh, I’m sure there are worse crimes—”

“But they starts with thinking about people as things…”

— Terry Pratchett, Carpe Jugulum (via)  <link>

A Little Motivation

Pain doesn’t tell you when you ought to stop. Pain is the little voice in your head that tries to hold you back because it knows if you continue, you will change. Don’t let it stop you from being who you can be. Exhaustion tells you when you ought to stop. You only reach your limit when you can go no further.

— Daryl Furuyama (via)  <link>

Hell begins with a grumbling mood, always complaining, always blaming others…but you are still distinct from it. You may even criticize it in yourself and wish you could stop it. But there may come a day when you can no longer. Then there will be no you left to criticize the mood or even to enjoy it, but just the grumble itself, going on forever like a machine. It is not a question of God ‘sending us’ to hell. In each of us there is something growing, which will BE Hell unless it is nipped in the bud.

— C.S. Lewis (via)  <link>

If I break down the walls, I will be surrounded by the garden.

— Deng Ming-Dao (via)  <link>

Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.

— Steven Wright  <link>

I am not altogether on anybody’s side, because nobody is altogether on my side, if you understand me… And there are some things, of course, whose side I’m altogether not on; I am against them altogether.

— J.R.R. Tolkien, spoken by Treebeard in The Lord of the Rings  <link>

There is no path. Paths are made by walking.

— Antonio Machado (via)  <link>

Thus, the state of our whole life is estrangement from others and ourselves, because we are estranged from the Ground of our being, because we are estranged from the origin and aim of our life. And we do not know where we have come from, or where we are going. We are separated from the mystery, the depth, and the greatness of our existence.

We hear the voice of that depth: but our ears are closed. We feel that something radical, total, and unconditional is demanded of us: but we rebel against it, try to escape its urgency, or will not accept its promise.

— Paul Tillich, from “You are accepted” in The Essential Tillich (via)  <link>

Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire.

— Thomas Merton  <link>

Quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it? That’s what it is to be a slave.

— Batty the replicant (android), from Blade Runner  <link>

Remember that every single word you say to someone will either curse them or bless them.

— Mother Antonia (Mary Clarke) (via)  <link>

Don’t think of them as “Customers” or “Patrons”, think of them as “Users”. Whatever thing you’re selling, it’s not what it does that’s interesting; it’s how people use it that’s interesting. “People Matter. Objects Don’t.” Exactly.

— Hugh MacLeod paraphrasing Kathy Sierra (via)  <link>

I can’t help you; I can only give you a road.

— Chen Si, suicide watcher on Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge (via from source)  <link>

It’s laughing with your friend at a time when you shouldn’t. It’s the sweat in your palms wanting to know someone you see and the pit in your stomach when they actually see you. It’s being touched by hands that aren’t your own. It’s the thrill of an escape that almost wasn’t. It’s the embarrassment you feel, naked for the first time. It’s helping a friend find something they lost. It’s a smile, a joke, a song. It’s what someone does that they like doing. It’s what someone does that they like remembering. It’s the thinking of things you may never do and the doing of things you may never have thought. It’s the road ahead and the road behind. It’s the first step and the last and every one in between, because they all make up the good life.

— character Jason Prayer, movie quote from The Good Life (via)  <link>

Because If You Can Convince Me

Because if you can convince me, then suddenly your beliefs become more real. Right? The more people you can get to jump on your … train, the more your mission is made. So until you get me to swallow your world and believe what you believe, you’ll never have the kind of faith you want to have. You’ll always have a little bit of doubt. You’ll never know if you’re quite right. You’ll always kind of be wondering if it’s real.

— Henry, movie quote from Henry Poole Is Here  <link>

To Be Converted

“To be converted” means to follow Jesus, to walk with him, on his way. But let us again insist on the fact that God “brings us back,” converts us. Conversion is not human self-realization, and man is not the architect of his own life. Conversion consists essentially in that decision by which man ceases to be his own creator, ceases to seek his own self and his self-realization, but accepts his dependence on the true Creator, on creative love, accepts that his dependence is true freedom and that the freedom of autonomy emancipated from the Creator is not freedom but illusion, deception.

— Pope Benedict XVI, from book Journey to Easter  <link>

Each of us can say to the tempter, “Unlike you, I have not yet become an outcast from heaven through my pride. By my baptism I have become one with him. It is you that should fall prostrate before me.”

— St. Gregory Nazianzen (via)  <link>

Ideas create idols; only wonder leads to knowing.

— St. Gregory of Nyssa (via)  <link>

For a long time, when driving by a cemetery, I have had the distinct and unshakable sense that those dwelling under the tombstones are watching and waiting and maybe chuckling a little, laughing at the living and their frantic and petty preoccupations. Sometimes, I can’t help but laugh, too.

This idea of the connectedness of the living and the dead runs deep in the human heart, and is confirmed in the doctrine of the Communion of Saints, which is just the Church expounding on the teaching of the Lord that “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” (Luke 20:38).

— Tim Jones (via)  <link>

My sense is that God likes artful coincidences since they bolster the faith of those already with faith without compelling or forcing it on those who don’t. (Then it wouldn’t be faith, after all, but knowledge.)

— TS (via)  <link>

…love is irrational to the self-protective. What is rational, after all, about creating creatures who you know ahead of time will literally crucify you? Ah but it is rational if rationality is defined as throwing away your life in order to save it. God defines rationality, and love.

— TS (via)  <link>

Faith is not born from miracles, but miracles from faith.

— Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, Book 1, Chapter 5, “Elders”  <link>

Unless you are in a vacuum, this glass of which you speak will always be full, half of liquid, half of air, no matter your level of ignorance.

— Author unknown  <link>

Accustomed to the veneer of noise, to the shibboleths of promotion, public relations, and market research, society is suspicious of those who value silence.

— John Lahr  <link>

The universe is made up of stories, not of atoms.

— Muriel Rukeyser  <link>

Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation… tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster his ego. His anxiety subsides. His inhuman void spreads monstrously like a gray vegetation.

— Jean Arp  <link>


The writer Umberto Eco belongs to that small class of scholars who are encyclopedic, insightful, and nondull. He is the owner of a large personal library (containing thirty thousand books), and separates visitors into two categories: those who react with ‘Wow! Signore professore dottore Eco, what a library you have! How many of these books have you read?’ and others—a very small minority—who get the point that a private library is not an ego boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates, and the currently tight real estate market allow you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call the collection of unread books an antilibrary.

— Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable  <link>

No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, because his interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity.

— James Madison (via)  <link>

The great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances as though they were realities.

— Machiavelli (via)  <link>

When you come to know God, the initiative lies on His side. If He does not show Himself, nothing you can do will enable you to find Him. And, in fact, He shows much more of Himself to some people than to others—not because He has favourites, but because it is impossible for Him to show Himself to a man whose whole mind and character are in the wrong condition. Just as sunlight, though it has no favourites, cannot be reflected in a dusty mirror as clearly as in a clean one.

— C.S. Lewis (via)  <link>

When everything that loved someone finally found it’s way…

— Keith Urban, from the song, “Somebody Like You”  <link>

He could have placed streetlamps along all the pathways of wisdom, but then there would be no journey. Who would discover the secret passages, the hidden treasures, if all of us homed in straight for our destination?

— Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson (via)  <link>

Forgiveness is the answer to the child’s dream of a miracle by which what is broken is made whole again, what is soiled is made clean again.

— Dag Hammarskjöld (via)  <link>

that there is no finality of vision,
that I have perceived nothing completely,
that tomorrow a new walk is a new walk.

— A.R. Ammons, ending to the poem, “Corsons Inlet”  <link>

The door itself
makes no promises.
It is only a door.

— Adrienne Rich  <link>

A Question of Experience

To me, the God issue is a question of experience. For example, I want people I love not to die; I want friendships that are not betrayed; I want justice—desires that seem to make no sense, that appear in fact to be irrational…. There is, I admit, a certain uselessness to this, in terms of the fact that nothing in the world seems to correspond with or answer these desires. All that I ask of myself, and I think it is reasonable to ask everybody else, is to be faithful to that experience and to explore the implications of it. And if something is found that explains it, so that the question disappears, then fine, that’s the answer, and that’s that.

— Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete, from discussion panel “Faith & Science” from World Science Festival, 2008  <link>

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy.
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sun rise.

— William Blake  <link>

When you do good, do it quietly, as if you were tossing a pebble into the sea.

— Drana Bojaxhiu, mother of Mother Teresa (Blessed Teresa of Calcutta)  <link>

We all agree on the necessity of compromise. We just can’t agree on when it’s necessary to compromise.

— Larry Wall (via)  <link>

Real theology is always rather shocking to people who already think they know what they think.

— Larry Wall  <link>

Image and Likeness

Is “image and likeness” a redundant phrase, or does it mark a distinction? Arguably the latter. To be created in God’s image is to be granted the potentiality for sharing in the divine life, a potentiality that may or may not be actualized and is shared in equally by all human beings without their consent. Likeness, however, results from man’s free actualization of that potentiality. Whereas the image of God is imposed on man, likeness to God is not, but requires the free cooperation of the creature.

— Bill Vallicella (via)  <link>

No God, No Meaning

…our reason naturally aspires to encompass the totality of being; and our will for order and our need to make sense of existence lead us instinctively to seek that which is both the root and the keystone of existence, and gives it its meaning. Even atheists, Nietzsche among them, knew this: order and meaning come from God, and if God really is dead, then we delude ourselves in thinking that meaning can be saved. If God is dead, nothing remains but an indifferent void which engulfs and annihilates us. No trace remains of our lives and our labours, there is only the meaningless dance of protons and electrons. The universe wants nothing and cares for nothing; it strives toward no goal; it neither rewards nor punishes. Whoever says that there is no God and all is well deceives himself.

— Leszek Kolakowski, Freedom, Fame, Lying, and Betrayal: Essays on Everyday Life (via)  <link>

How to Avoid God

Avoid silence, avoid solitude, avoid any train of thought that leads off the beaten track. Concentrate on money, sex, status, health and (above all) on your own grievances. Keep the radio on. Live in a crowd. Use plenty of sedation. If you must read books, select them very carefully. But you’d be safer to stick to the papers. You’ll find the advertisements helpful; especially those with a sexy or a snobbish appeal.

— C.S. Lewis  <link>

He who is contented always has enough.

— Lao Tzu  <link>

Do you have doubts about life? Are you unsure if it is really worth the trouble? Look at the sky: that is for you. Look at each person’s face as you pass them on the street: those faces are for you. And the street itself, and the ground under the street, and the ball of fire underneath the ground: all these things are for you. They are as much for you as they are for other people. Remember this when you wake up in the morning and think you have nothing. Stand up and face the east. Now praise the sky and praise the light within each person under the sky. It’s okay to be unsure. But praise, praise, praise.

— Miranda July, No One Belongs Here More Than You: Stories (via)  <link>