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Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

[T]he dinner party is a true proclamation of the abundance of being—a rebuke to the thrifty little idolatries by which we lose sight of the lavish hand that made us. It is precisely because no one needs soup, fish, meat, salad, cheese, and dessert at one meal that we so badly need to sit down to them from time to time. It was largesse that made us all; we were not created to fast forever. The unnecessary is the taproot of our being and the last key to the door of delight. Enter here, therefore, as a sovereign remedy for the narrowness of our minds and the stinginess of our souls, the formal dinner for six, eight or ten chosen guests, the true convivium—the long Session that brings us nearly home.

— Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection

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To see where they lead

What the seed is to the fruit, the premise is to the conclusion. Many of us might never be able to distinguish one variety of seed from another, but we have no trouble in telling an apple from a pear or a cauliflower from a cabbage.

The same is true of presuppositions and conclusions. Find out what people in doubt are believing wrongly and help them follow the logic of these presuppositions to their necessary conclusion. Challenge them to check the full-blown consequences of their ideas to see where they lead.

— Os Guinness, God in the Dark

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For better or worse, we have made romance the basis for marriage. Falling in love is supposed to be the reason why people end up in matrimony. (The Church, you will recall, doesn’t commit herself on the subject. Romance or family arrangement, it’s all the same to her, provided they know what they’re doing and are willing to stick with it till they die.) Romance as the justification for marriage is pretty much a folk invention of less than eight hundred years’ standing. On the whole, it’s not a bad one at all. It’s mostly better than worse. For if marriage itself is the mystery written small —if it is indeed the earthly image of the union of Christ and his Church—then it would be hard to find a better starting point than the glimpsing of that same mystery in the Beloved. Dante never married Beatrice, but we feel obliged to; all in all, it is rather a good idea. As a matter of fact, the only thing wrong with it is the lies about it.

One of them I’ve already mentioned. It’s the “You are my destiny” bit. Only God can be that, and any attempt to put so large a demand on a mere creature always comes a cropper. Besides, in marriage it’s hard to keep up the appearance of being somebody’s destiny; it’s even hard to look like a halfway decent agent of destiny. Beatrice burning the toast, or leaving the socks unmended, is practically unrecognizable.

— Robert Farrar Capon, Bed and Board

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[Post-Enlightenment] people now believed we were not created primarily to serve God for his benefit. Rather, God had made the world for our benefit. But, Taylor goes on, it was this deistic concept of God—not so much the traditional Christian view—that the Lisbon earthquake threw into crisis. He wrote:

Once we claim to understand the universe and how it works; once we even try to explain how it works by invoking its being created for our benefit, then this explanation is open to clear challenge. . . . In Lisbon, 1755, it seems clearly not to have [worked for our benefit]. So the immanent order ups the ante.

If you believe that the world was made for our benefit by God, then horrendous suffering and evil will shake your understanding of life. Horrendous evil is now a much bigger problem for those with a residue of Christianity—with a belief in a distant God who exists for our benefit—than it was for a full-blown orthodox faith not weakened by the immanent frame. In other words, suffering and evil disprove God’s existence only if you have a particular view of God that is already a departure from the more traditional, orthodox view. The skeptical conclusion is largely inherent in the premises. You could argue that, within the immanent frame, the game is rigged against the God of the Bible when we come to evil and suffering.

— Timothy Keller, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering

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[Some] people have a concept of God so fundamentally false that it would be better for them to doubt than to remain devout. The more devout they are, the uglier their faith will become since it is based on a lie. Doubt in such a case is not only highly understandable, it is even a mark of spiritual and intellectual sensitivity to error, for their picture is not of God but an idol.

— Os Guinness, God in the Dark

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Looking back on [the great Lisbon earthquake] from deep within a secular culture, we might think that the “problem of evil”—questioning God in the face of disaster—was completely normal. Today, every new major tragedy evokes the same kind of public questions and challenges to faith in the divine.

But Taylor points out that the “problem of evil” discourse about the Lisbon earthquake was actually a new thing. Of course people have questioned the ways and justice of God in human affairs since the book of Job and earlier. But virtually no one on record had previously argued that evil made the existence of God impossible. The assertion that evil disproves God’s existence was something that could arise only if immanent frame assumptions about God were already in place. Taylor writes that when Western society believed in a world that was mysterious and unknowable by reason—and in a God who was glorious and ineffable—the problem of evil was “less acute.” In that view, inexplicable evil was to be expected. But the secularity of Deism made the problem of evil much worse, for two reasons.

In earlier times, when suffering occurred, just because we couldn’t think within our own mind of good reasons for it didn’t mean there couldn’t be any. We were humbler about our ability to understand the world. But by the eighteenth century, we believed that with our minds and reason, we could eventually understand everything. We became confident in our powers of exhaustive observation, and this conviction changed the way human beings regarded suffering. Evil now became a much bigger problem.

— Timothy Keller, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering 

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One more thing

You have given so much to me.
Give me one thing more—a grateful heart.

— George Herbert

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