Quotations: June 2009 Archives

A Worthwhile Quotation


Given me by a friend from a blog I don't personally visit (no animus, just indicating that I haven't seen this at the location sited below).

Notable and Quotable (II)
Posted by Kendall Harmon

...Sustained discussion of the human propensity towards self-deception has all but disappeared from twentieth-century analyses of the spiritual life. There are, of course, still specialists in philosophy and psychology working out the details. But, for most of us, self-deception simply doesn't jump immediately to mind as an explanation of our experience. We rarely think of it. Lots of people I talk to have never so much as considered the possibility that they've fallen prey to it in any significant way. One is reminded here of the haunting suggestion in Bishop Butler's tenth sermon that "those who have never had any suspicion of, who have never made allowances for this weakness in themselves, who have never (if I may be allowed such a manner of speaking) caught themselves in it, may almost take it for granted that they have been very much misled by it."

-- Gregg A. Ten Elshof, I Told Me So: The Role of Self-deception in Christian Living
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), p, 7

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Rejecting Religion

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from Finding Our Way Again
Brian McLaren

Those who reject religion are often rejecting a certain arid system of belief, or if not that, a set of trivial taboos or rules or rituals that have lost meaning for them--each a thing residue of a lost way of life.

One of the other passages reflects on the popularity of books on Buddhism.

He [Dr. Peter Senge] replied, "I think it is because Buddhism presents itself as a way of life, and christianity presents itself as a system of belief."

This seems so true. Whenever I hear discussion of Christianity, it is almost always with respect to some question of doctrine or ritual practice and almost never, within the Catholic Church, with respect to "How must we then live?"

While right doctrine is important--it informs actions and guides lives--right living is more important. Wasn't that really the point Jesus kept making to the Pharisees? They understood doctrine, they had interpreted it down to the finest possible thread. They had figured out how to calculate when the sabbath began and how to observe the sabbath in every detail. But they failed to live their faith, clinging instead to rule and ritual which, while important, are empty if lives are not lived according to what lay behind the rules and ritual.

Many Christians have become the new Pharisees, standing in judgment on others and enforcing their rules as right practice, whether or not they are guided by just principle. In the past I have seen frequent call for denying politicians Holy Communion because of their stand on abortion, and probably other issues. While it is important to uphold right doctrine, it is more important to show love--and while it is possible to show love while withholding communion, I don't believe that love is what drive most people to clamor for this action.

And that is only one of endless examples that could be trotted out.

So then, what are we to do? I think the answer lay in what McLaren says his book is to do--to help us revitalize Christianity not only as a system of belief but also as a way of life, profoundly lived. And each of us must come to terms with that ourselves.

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This page is a archive of entries in the Quotations category from June 2009.

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