Wednesday, January 18, 2012


In keeping with time honored tradition, this three hundredth post commemorates the great quotes that have appeared here over the last hundred entries. Below are my personal top ten notable quotables, though you are welcome and encouraged to disagree.

10) The last hundred posts began with one of my first comparative series, this one examining points of contact between Christianity and absurdism. As a near rabid fan of Albert Camus, it was difficult to select only one quote. Nevertheless, here is a thought of his from The Absurd and Science:

And here are the trees and I know their gnarled surface, water and I feel its taste. These scents of grass and stars at night, certain evenings when the heart relaxes -how shall I negate this world whose power and strength I feel? Yet all the knowledge on earth will give me nothing to assure me that this world is mine. You describe it to me and you teach me to classify it. You enumerate its laws and in my thirst for knowledge I admit that they are true. You take apart its mechanisms and my hope increases. At the final stage you teach me that this wondrous and multicolored universe can be reduced to the atom and that the atom itself can be reduced to the electron. All this is good and I wait for you to continue. But you tell me of an invisible planetary system in which electrons gravitate around a nucleus. You explain this world to me with an image. I realize then that you have been reduced to poetry: I shall never know. Have I the time to become indignant? You have already changed theories. So that science that was to teach me everything ends up in a hypothesis, that lucidity founders in metaphor, that uncertainty is resolved in a work of art. What need had I of so many efforts? The soft lines of these hills and the hand of evening on this troubled heart teach me much more. I have returned to my beginning. I realize that if through science I can seize phenomena and enumerate them, I cannot, for all that, apprehend the world.

9) More recently, we find ourselves int he midst of a comparative examination of Christianity and Jain. While there are still many great quotes yet to come in this series, the following excellent excerpt could have easily been from any number of Byzantine Christian mystics but is in fact a saying of Mahavira, posted in Christ, Jain, and the Material World:

...there is no analogy whereby to know the transcendent; its essence is without form; there is no condition of the unconditioned. There is no sound, no color, no smell, no taste, not touch--nothing of that kind. Thus I say.

8) The past hundred posts has seen an unusual output of advice to parents, including from such notable figures as Stephen Prothero and the inimitable David Bentley Hart. Still, none left quite the impression as J. C. Ryle, who proved that some child-rearing wisdom is timeless. While there is much to commend the meat of his teaching, the most memorable quote came from The Wisdom of J. C. Ryle: An Appendix:

Never listen to those who tell you your children are good, and well brought up, and can be trusted.

7) I find the news deeply frustrating, as so many of us do. No story has so grated against my sensibilities for the last hundred posts than has the unceremonious dismissal of Joe Paterno. Still, the best quote here has come from the relatively minor Rep. Brad Drake, with this profoundly nonsensical, self-defeating comment posted in the Oct. 19th edition of In Other News:

I have no desire to humanely respect those that are inhumane.

6) I never seem to be lacking in pithy, inspirational thoughts from great pacifists. Last time around it was J. W. McGarvey. This time, let me offer one from J. D. Tant in The Wisdom of J. D. Tant:

I would as soon risk my chance of heaven to die drunk in a bawdy house as to die on the battlefield, with murder in my heart, trying to kill my fellow man.

5) Without a doubt, the past six months in the United States has been completely dominated by the American electoral process. More important than anything the candidates might be saying is this sentiment from Stephen Prothero offered in Knowledge and Franchise:

Few Americans are able to challenge claims made by politicians or pundits about Islam’s place in the war on terrorism or what the Bible says about homosexuality. This ignorance imperils our public life, putting citizens in the thrall of talking heads and effectively transferring power from the third estate (the people) to the fourth (the press).

4) Pope Benedict XVI has done more shocking things this year than kissing an imam. In addition to renewing the Catholic Church's stand against capital punishment, he had this to say about the Christian use of war in history, in Pope Shocks World by Doing the Right Thing:

"As a Christian I want to say at this point: yes, it is true, in the course of history, force has also been used in the name of the Christian faith," he said in his address to the delegations in an Assisi basilica.

"We acknowledge it with great shame. But it is utterly clear that this was an abuse of the Christian faith, one that evidently contradicts its true nature."

3) In a post which happened to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks which launched the world headlong into two prolonged multinational wars, I shared a Tentative Description of a Dinner Given to Promote the Impeachment of President Eisenhower, a poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti:

And after it became obvious that the strange rain would never stop and that Old Soldiers never drown and that roses in the rain had forgotten the word for bloom and that perverted pollen blown on sunless seas was eaten by irradiated fish who spawned up cloudleaf streams and fell on our dinnerplates

And after it became obvious that the President was doing everything in his power to make the world safe for nationalism his brilliant military mind never realized that nationalism itself was the idiotic superstition which would blow up the world

...The President himself came in

Took one look around and said

We Resign

2) On an anniversary which personally touched me a little more dearly, On the Anniversary of David Lipscomb's Death, I shared these thoughts of Price Billingsley on the great man who was so influential in his own day and continues to touch the hearts and minds of Christians who read his works:

I then got my first sight of the dear old Brother Lipscomb dead. I was amazed to see how fine looking and tall he was when straightened out in the casket. I saw him when he was dying, and a more abject object of decaying senility I never before beheld - body and soul distraught in the parting! But did I pity him? I pitied myself for not being as ready to die as he!

1) The recent past has had more than its fair share of high profile deaths, from entertainment stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Harry Morgan, to intellectual celebrities like Christopher Hitchens. The more important loss for many, however, was a completely overlooked Bible professor at a small Arkansas university. Before offering my own eulogy concurrent with his memorial service, I shared this quote from Amelia Burr on the day of his passing:

Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.

Here's looking forward to another eventful hundred posts with even more memorable thoughts to share in the months to come.

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