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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>

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>

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>

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>

The Mystery of Personality in God

The Feast of the Sacred Heart was for me a day of grace and seriousness. Twenty years ago I was uncomfortable with this concept. Now I see the real meaning of it (quite apart from the externals). It is the center, the “heart” of the whole Christian mystery.

There is one thing more—I may be interested in Oriental religions, etc., but there can be no obscuring the essential difference—this personal communion with Christ at the center and heart of all reality, as a source of grace and life. “God is love” may perhaps be clarified if one says that “God is void” and if the void one finds absolute indetermination and hence absolute freedom. (With freedom, the void becomes fulness and 0 = infinity). All that is “interesting” but none of it touches on the mystery of personality in God, and His personal love for me. Again, I am void too—and I have freedom, or am a kind of freedom, meaningless unless oriented to Him.

— Thomas Merton, Dancing in the Water of Life  <link>

Walk around feeling like a leaf
Know you could tumble any second
Then decide what to do with your time

— Naomi Shihab Nye [via]  <link>

When someone is seeking, it happens quite easily that he only sees the thing that he is seeking; that he is unable to find anything, unable to absorb anything, because he is only thinking of the thing he is seeking, because he has a goal, because he is obsessed with his goal. Seeking means: to have a goal; but finding means: to be free, to be receptive, to have no goal. You, O worthy one are perhaps indeed a seeker, for in striving towards your goal, you do not see many things that are under your nose.

— Siddhartha to Govinda (Hermann Hesse), Siddhartha  <link>

Two Kinds of Freedom

Freedom is about choice, and there are two kinds of freedom. There is a freedom to choose to do whatever you want, and another kind of freedom to choose to live for others. One freedom leads in, the other out. One freedom is living with responsibility, the other with disregard except for self. One freedom is full of meaning and purpose, the other is ultimately empty and worthless. One freedom leads to heaven, the other to hell.

— Mark Woodward  <link>