I gotta have my orange juice.

Jesu, Juva

Archive for the ‘Quotations’ Category

Not at all an enchanting smell

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“Come, all of you. Put away these childish tricks. I have work for you all in the real world. There is no Narnia, no Overworld, no sky, no sun, no Aslan. And now, to bed all. And let us begin a wiser life tomorrow. But, first, to bed; to sleep; deep sleep, soft pillows, sleep without foolish dreams.”

The Prince and the two children were standing with their heads hung down, their cheeks flushed, their eyes half closed; the strength all gone from them; the enchantment almost complete. But Puddleglum, desperately gathering all his strength, walked over to the fire. Then he did a very brave thing. He knew it wouldn’t hurt him quite as much as it would hurt a human; for his feet (which were bare) were webbed and hard and cold-blooded like a duck’s. But he knew it would hurt him badly enough; and so it did. With his bare foot he stamped on the fire, grinding a large part of it into ashes on the flat hearth. And three things happened at once.

First, the sweet, heavy smell grew very much less. For though the whole fire had not been put out, a good bit of it had, and what remained smelled very largely of burnt Marsh-wiggle, which is not at all an enchanting smell. This instantly made everyone’s brain far clearer. The Prince and the children held up their heads again and opened their eyes.

Secondly, the Witch, in a loud, terrible voice, utterly different from all the sweet tones she had been using up till now, called out, “What are you doing? Dare to touch my fire again, mud-filth, and I’ll turn the blood to fire inside your veins.”

Thirdly, the pain itself made Puddleglum’s head for a moment perfectly clear and he knew exactly what he really thought. There is nothing like a good shock of pain for dissolving certain kinds of magic.

“One word, Ma’am,” he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. “One word. All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder. I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things—trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for your supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say.”

C. S. Lewis, The Silver Chair, 189-191

Written by Scott Moonen

August 3, 2020 at 8:46 pm

Difficult

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Interviewer: Then is writing easy for you? Or do you find it difficult?

Chinua Achebe: The honest answer is, it’s difficult. But the word difficult doesn’t really express what I mean. It is like wrestling; you are wrestling with ideas and with the story. There is a lot of energy required. At the same time, it is exciting. So it is both difficult and easy. What you must accept is that your life is not going to be the same while you are writing. I have said in the kind of exaggerated manner of writers and prophets that writing, for me, is like receiving a term of imprisonment—you know that’s what you’re in for, for whatever time it takes. So it is both pleasurable and difficult.

The Paris Review, Chinua Achebe, The Art of Fiction No. 139

Written by Scott Moonen

August 2, 2020 at 4:44 pm

Posted in Quotations, Vocation

Metábasis eis állo génos

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Desiring God is faring better than TGC at being sons of Issachar. As an essayist at least, Greg Morse is a more admirable man than Shai Linne. Greg’s insight is applicable in so many other contexts too; do not assume why someone is not . . . or is . . . wearing a mask. Speaking of masks, some helpful thoughts from Toby Sumpter on being cheerfully difficult, and likewise from Doug Wilson. Meanwhile, Alex Berenson continues to go to bat for Team Reality.

This week was the first time that AAA did not bother to ask us if we were in a safe place (after a long hold, I must add). Instead they asked us if they were in a safe place if we or anyone we knew had symptoms.

Food for thought:

Doesn’t Vincent Cassel remind you of Joel Osteen? And Philip Sasser?

Mark Horne is thinking about hereditary guilt and the character of God:

I quoted this passage in full because there’s no way to summarize its passion. It is one of the most moving declarations in all Scripture.

To just mention one point in case it is relevant: notice how keenly God’s mind is set on not finding a reason to punish people. The idea that he would remember a person’s ancestors so that he could punish a descendant who had not continued in the sinful behavior is abhorrent to him.

Go and do likewise. You should abhor such slanders against God’s character as well.

I spoke recently of our time in Egypt. We should think of the history of Israel as our history. This is true because we have been grafted into a tree while other branches have been broken off (Romans 11). Abraham is now our father (Romans 4:11–12). The church is the actual continuation of this history; what remains in modern Judaism is just that: a modern–gnostic corruption of the true faith.

Alan Jacobs reflects on the humanities:

Here’s how we’ll know that things have gotten really bad in our society: People will start turning to Homer and Dante and Bach and Mozart. Czeslaw Milosz—like Kołakowski, a Pole, perhaps not a trivial correspondence—wrote that “when an entire community is struck by misfortune, for instance, the Nazi occupation of Poland, the ‘schism between the poet and the great human family’ disappears and poetry becomes as essential as bread.”

I’m still reflecting on what a treasure of spiritual formation the Psalms are to us. The Psalms present us with a grand category including the wicked, sinner, scoffer, enemy, evildoer, boastful, liar, rebel, fool. This category stands over against the righteous, godly, innocent. These categories are overwhelmingly used by David and his great host, yet they are virtually absent from our speech and prayer and song. Why?

I’ve also been reflecting on the role of the prophet in ushering in a transformation, a new creation. Rich Bledsoe has some helpful thoughts on this. As James Jordan says, the prophet’s main role is not merely to speak God’s words to the people; that is an essentially priestly role (c.f., Ezra–Nehemiah). Rather, the prophet’s role is to stand in the heavenly council and speak, pray, or even wrestle with God as in the case of Abraham, Moses, and Habakkuk. Out of this, the prophet sees and speaks into existence a new creation. The future that prophets speak into existence is an inevitable one; the repentance and faithfulness that prophets often call us to is not the way to avoid a future (in some cases it is delayed), but the way to pass into it as through death and resurrection.

The connection to Kuhn is insightful. Is the prophet ever anything other than a Cassandra? Maybe, but only if it is the king himself who heeds the prophet, often after a bad dream, eating grass, or reading an old book (but: Nineveh’s king simply heeds the prophet!).

More often, the gestalt shift requires the passing of a generation. Thus: spiritual formation! Three cheers for thoroughgoing covenant renewal worship, weekly and robust communion, Psalm singing, and baptized babies!

Written by Scott Moonen

July 9, 2020 at 10:02 pm

Posted in Miscellany, Quotations

Truth (3)

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See also: Truth (1), Truth (2), Creed

Written by Scott Moonen

July 7, 2020 at 7:38 am

Posted in Quotations

Turmoil

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We have to remind our readers once again that this chapter does not attempt by any means to list all the waves which fertilized Gulag—but only those which had a political coloration. And just as, in a course in physiology, after a detailed description of the circulation of the blood, one can begin over again and describe in detail the lymphatic system, one could begin again and describe the waves of nonpolitical offenders and habitual criminals from 1918 to 1953. And this description, too, would run long. It would bring to light many famous decrees, now in part forgotten (even though they have never been repealed), which supplied abundant human material for the insatiable Archipelago. One was the Decree on Absenteeism. One was the Decree on Production of Bad Quality Goods. Another was on samogon [moonshine] distilling. Its peak period was 1922—but arrests for this were constant throughout the twenties. And the Decree on the Punishment of Collective Farmers for Failure to Fulfill the Obligatory Norm of Labor Days. And the Decree on the Introduction of Military Discipline on Railroads, issued in April, 1943—not at the beginning of the war, but when it had already taken a turn for the better.

In accordance with the ancient Petrine tradition, these decrees always put in an appearance as the most important element in all our legislation, but without any comprehension of or reference to the whole of our previous legislation. Learned jurists were supposed to coordinate the branches of the law, but they were not particularly energetic at it, nor particularly successful either.

This steady pulse of decrees led to a curious national pattern of violations and crimes. One could easily recognize that neither burglary, nor murder, nor samogon distilling, nor rape ever seemed to occur at random intervals or in random places throughout the country as a result of human weakness, lust, or failure to control one’s passions. By no means! One detected, instead, a surprising unanimity and monotony in the crimes committed. The entire Soviet Union would be in a turmoil of rape alone, or murder alone, or samogon distilling alone, each in its turn—in sensitive reaction to the latest government decree. Each particular crime or violation seemed somehow to be playing into the hands of the latest decree so that it would disappear from the scene that much faster! At that precise moment, the particular crime which had just been foreseen, and for which wise new legislation had just provided stricter punishment, would explode simultaneously everywhere.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago Volume 1, 86–87

Written by Scott Moonen

July 5, 2020 at 4:45 pm

Posted in Quotations

A confusion of terms

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Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.

We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.

Frederic Bastiat, The Law

Written by Scott Moonen

June 20, 2020 at 10:01 pm

Posted in Quotations

You will recognize them by their fruits

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In my preceding pamphlet I had no occasion to condemn the peasants, because they promised to yield to law and better instruction, as Christ also demands (Matt. 7:1). But before I can turn around, they go out and appeal to force, in spite of their promises, and rob and pillage and act like mad dogs. From this it is quite apparent what they had in their false minds, and that what they put forth under the name of the gospel in the Twelve Articles was all vain pretense. In short, they practice mere devil’s work, and it is the arch-devil himself who reigns at Mühlhausen [a reference to Münzer], indulging in nothing but robbery, murder, and bloodshed; as Christ says of the devil in John 8:44, “he was a murderer from the beginning.” Since, therefore, those peasants and miserable wretches allow themselves to be led astray and act differently from what they declared, I likewise must write differently concerning them; and first bring their sins before their eyes, as God commands (Isa. 58:1; Ezek. 2:7), whether perchance some of them may come to their senses; and, further, I would instruct those in authority how to conduct themselves in this matter.

Luther, Against the Robbing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants

Written by Scott Moonen

June 1, 2020 at 7:02 am

Scruples

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Returning to the question from my earlier post:

As a practical example, I can show love for my brother Tom by standing six feet away from him and being charitable and gracious towards his reasons for wanting to exercise caution. But is there any situation whatsoever where my brotherly love for Tom restrains me from hugging Joe?

The late R. C. Sproul has an interesting lecture that he entitled The Tyranny of the Weaker Brother. He says:

No, as soon as the weaker brother tried to enforce his weakness as the law of the church, the gospel was threatened. And now rather than deny his own Christian liberty, the Apostle Paul fought tooth and nail against the tyranny of the weaker brother. As soon as somebody has that scruple by which their conscience bound to themselves tries to go beyond themselves and make it the rule of the church, they must be resisted. They must not be allowed to establish laws where God has left us free. . . . Ask yourself, do you impose rules and regulations in your church where God has left people free?

Sproul’s approach is weakened (ha!) by treating this as a case of a stronger and weaker brother, rather than treating it as a case of two strong brothers. Thus, I would rather speak of the tyranny of the legalist, or of the anxious. However, we are accustomed to using “weak” in this way and, terminology aside, this is still a good framework for processing such cases. Consistent with Paul’s entire teaching and behavior, Christian brothers, in love, are to give deference to one another, up to the point where a brother (or his advocate) seeks to use this “weakness” (actual or otherwise) as a means of “strength” to bind another brother’s conscience. It is love, too, that resists such binding.

Fortunately, my social distancing brothers are neither weak nor legalistic nor tyrannical. So I am hugging and handshaking a bunch of people now, and not hugging or handshaking another bunch of people. I love them all dearly.

Written by Scott Moonen

May 20, 2020 at 10:54 pm

Posted in Miscellany, Quotations

Keep my commandments

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God’s laws aren’t at war with each other. God never puts us in a position where we have to break a commandment to love our neighbor. The commandments of God define love for our neighbor. God’s commandments tell us what love looks like.

Duane Garner, If You Love Me

Written by Scott Moonen

May 19, 2020 at 1:25 pm

Never again

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Then one of the demons answered: “Lords, we have been ruined by what we thought would benefit us most. Remember the words of the prophets, who said that the son of God would come down to earth to save the sinners descended from Adam and Eve. And we went and seized those who said that the man who would come to earth would deliver them from the torments of Hell. Everything the prophets said has now come true. He has taken away all those that we had taken hold of, and we are powerless against him. He has taken away from us all those who believe in his special birth, who believe he was born of woman in such a way that we had no part in the event and were not even aware that it was going to happen.”

“Don’t you know, then,” said another, “that he has them washed in water in his name? They are washed in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, so that we can never again have them as we used to. We have now lost them all through this washing, so that we have no power over them unless they choose to come back to us. Thus the man who has taken them away has reduced our power. Moreover he has left ministers on earth who will save them, no matter how great a part they have had in our works; they have but to repent and renounce our works and do as the ministers say. We have thus lost them all. Our Lord has offered them a great spiritual gift: to save mankind, he came to earth and deigned to be born of woman and suffer all the torments of the world; and he was born of woman unbeknownst to us and without committing any sin of the flesh. When at last we came along, we tried and tested him in every way we knew, but he resisted all our efforts and chose instead to die in order to save mankind. He must surely love all men, if he was willing to suffer such great pain to take them away from us. We now have to seek a way to win them back so that they cannot repent or even speak to the ministers who could grant them the pardon that he paid for with his death.”

Then all together they said: “We have lost everything, since he can pardon sinners up to the last moment. Whoever embrace him will be saved. Even someone who has always performed our works is now lost to us if he repents. We have now lost them all.”

From The Prose Merlin, in The Romance of Arthur: An Anthology of Medieval Texts in Translation, p. 307

I find it especially interesting that the author has the demons call Jesus Our Lord.

Written by Scott Moonen

May 16, 2020 at 3:48 pm