Human need is always more apparent than God's presence for the same reason that the earth always looks flat. The human need is very visible in the sickness, the loneliness, the boredom, and the busyness, while all the signs and symbols of God's word and presence are several miles away in the church sanctuary. That is why so many of us perform more like psychological therapists than Christian priests when we are out of the pulpit. Our awareness of human need crowds out and then takes precedence over our attentiveness to God's presence.

-Eugene Peterson in

"Under the Unpredictable Plant"


Some years ago we often sang a hymn, "Take Time to Be Holy." I wish we sang it more in these days. It takes time to be holy; one cannot be holy in a hurry, and much of the time that it takes to be holy must go into secret prayer. Some people express surprise that professing Christians today are so little like their Lord, but when I stop to think how little time the average Christian today puts into secret prayer the thing that astonishes me is, not that we are so little like the Lord, but that we are as much like the Lord as we are.

-Reuben Archer Torrey in

"The Best of R. A. Torrey"


I was at a record store a few days ago. Whilst I was looking through classical recordings, the store's system droned on with the latest CD by Ms. Abdul. Every song sounded exactly the same. … Yet, reviewers have praised the album, citing its "depth" and "grittiness." … Apparently all it takes to qualify as "profound" nowadays are oblique references to bulimia or a painful divorce. This qualifies you as a successor to W. H. Auden or T. S. Eliot. This means that I have to take you seriously, even if you are dressed in an outfit that barely covers the middle third of your body. I don't think so. We have totally lost any sense of aesthetics. We are so clever that we convince ourselves that pop trash that will wind up in the bargain bin within two years is art in the sense that Bach or even Bernstein is. Please!

-Roberto Rivera in his

"Daily News Summary" (July 7, 1995)


There is a subject for song even in the judgments of God towards us. … Faith sees that in her worst sorrow there is nothing penal; there is not a drop of God's wrath in it; it is all sent in love. Faith discerns love gleaming like a jewel on the breast of an angry God. Faith says of her grief, "This is a badge of honour, for the child must feel the rod"; and then she sings of the sweet result of her sorrows, because they work her spiritual good.

-Charles H. Spurgeon in

"Morning and Evening"

Poor memory

The Yankee Christian virtues … have not been disqualified or proved inadequate; they have simply lost currency, which is to say they are no longer clearly understood and have fallen out of style.

-John Gardner in

"On Moral Fiction"


Few things in life are as inevitable as taxes. … But taxes aren't limited to the funds we pay the government to keep itself running. Sometimes we levy heavy taxes on ourselves. When we make ourselves keep paying and paying for some mistake, when we expect perfection, when we are unwilling to forgive our failures, we pay a higher tax for being human than anyone, even God, expects. We all have a price to pay for being human, but we don't have to become self-extortionists, expecting more of ourselves than we can possibly pay.

-Woodene Koenig-Bricker in

"365 Saints"


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