Pithy quotes from our current reading which give us pause to reflect

Not sure how pithy it is, but this made me stop and think a moment:

“Courage is rarely found at the bottom of a bottle of Scotch, but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to go looking.”

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While listening to Dr. Heiser talk about Exodus, I decided to do some work on my avatar image–


That’s an interesting and beautiful design! I imagine all the numbers, patterns, and paths of things probably each carry significance.


Here is the conclusion of a poem shared by Brian Zahnd in his “Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God.”
(Thanks for referencing that work, Randy - I’m finding it very insightful, and a needed call back to Christ. Though I’m not done reading it yet, I’ll be curious what sorts of things in it provoked concern for you.)

…So understand the medium, and don’t try so hard to miss the point

Try to learn what matters and what doesn’t

It’s not where and when Job lived But what Job learned
In his painful odyssey and poetic theodicy

It’s not how many cubits of water you need to put Everest under a flood
But why the world was so dirty that it needed such a big bath

Trying to find Noah’s ark Instead of trying to rid the world of violence
Really is an exercise in missing the point

Speaking of missing the point— It’s not did a snake talk? But what the d*mn thing said!

Because even though I’ve never met a talking snake I’ve sure had serpentine thoughts crawl through my head

Literalism is a kind of escapism By which you move out of the crosshairs of the probing question
But parable and metaphor have a way of knocking us to the floor

Prose-flattened literalism makes the story small, time-confined, and irrelevant
But poetry and allegory travel through time and space to get in our face

Inert facts are easy enough to set on the shelf
But the Story well-told will haunt you

Ah, the Story well-told
That’s what is needed It’s time for the Story to bust out of the cage and take the stage
And demand a hearing once again It’s a STORY, I tell you!
And if you allow the Story to seep into your life
So that THE STORY begins to weave into your story
That’s when, at last, you’re reading the Bible right

Zahnd, Brian. Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God: The Scandalous Truth of the Very Good News (p. 75). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.


Merv, thanks for another inspired book. I’ve checked it out and am enjoying what I’m reading. Here is a highly condensed excerpt from pp 10-12 from the book:

… I also discovered a number of things abut my Christian tradition that had not been apparent to me while I was busy upholding it.

Chief among these is the way [it] thrives on dividing reality into opposing pairs: good/evil, church/world; spirit/flesh, sacred/profane, light/dark. Even if you are not Christian it should be easy to tell which half of each pair is “higher” and which “lower”. In every case, the language of oppositions works by placing half of reality closer to God and the other half farther away. This not only simplifies life for people who do not want to spend a lot of time thinking about whether the divisions really hold; it also offers them a strong sense of purpose by giving them daily battles to engage in. The more they win out over the world of the flesh, the better. …

After years of using this language to pray, teach, preach, and celebrate the sacraments, I fell out of love with it - not just the words themselves but also the vision of reality they represent. …

…Of course, my language evolved through the years as I became more mature in faith, but the essential worldview did not change. Even after I found a church that affirms the goodness of creation as much as any I know, Sunday worship still turned on the axis of blood sacrifice, which made the death of the body the way of eternal life. …

…It was not until much later, after I had resigned from saying these words on a regular basis, that they began to sound lame. Their explanation for what was wrong with me was no longer a relief but an ongoing source of injury. Their description of divine reality no longer struck with the force of revelation but resounded with the clang of a truth claim that bore closer inspection. Saying them over and over again in a sacred place, it had been possible to overlook the way they divided people in two, teaching us over and over again that we had two minds, two natures, two sets of loyalties, two homes - and that only one was close to God. Too much of this made a person crazy.


"Jesus teaches the paradox that self-denial is self-affirmation. (Matt. 16:25). It’s just that the “self” and the “affirmation” are defined by God, not by our fallible human whims. Who we are (children of God) and what it means for us to be fulfilled (union with Christ) isn’t up to us. To be with Christ is to be without our selfish desires.

So we must ask: what does it mean to deny ourselves? It means that we turn from sin. All sin is the act of choosing our own path against God’s will for us. It is a perverse affirmation of the self which puts its desires ahead of our neighbor and even God.

– from a Christianity Today newsletter

I was reminded of a situation when I was running cross-country in high school: I’d just made the JV team, and coach was correcting the way I ran, and I commented that the way he wanted me to put down my feet hurt. He said something to the effect of “That may be, but you’ll run faster”.

Changing habits to do something more correctly or better – or at all, sometimes! – can involve pain, but it will help us “run faster”.

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That states exactly what I’ve done a weak job of trying to say a number of times here when I’ve noted that YEC throws away the actual messages of the opening Creation story. Awesome quote.

BTW, I just bought the book.

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I think you won’t be disappointed. Several times as far as I’ve read so far … he commends the wisdom for things the Eastern church has stood for.

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Screenshot 2024-03-02 at 11-27-59 “The past is a foreign country they do things differently there.” ― L.P. Hartley The Go-Between 1920x1080 r_QuotesPorn


“Cheerfulness, without humor, is a very trying thing.”

–Father Brown, in GK Chesterton, “The Three Tools of Death.”

I think that this refers to how becoming too wrapped up in a given cause, without the humility and temperance from humor, can be dictatorial and unmerciful.
In the story, a teetotaler evangelical became depressed. His own fundamentalism took away others’ joy, and finally caused his own depression.
It’s a great reflection for me to consider, too. How much does humility and laughing at ourselves remind us of God’s grace!


Listening to the Holy Post has resulted in more book purchases (by me personally) than any other influencers I can think of! And my latest intended purchase now, will be “The Gift of Disillusionment” [“Land of My Sojourn”] by Mike Cosper, as a result of hearing him interviewed on the Holy Post. I was particularly impressed by what he said, around 1:38 - 1:40 or so in, which I will attempt to replicate below …

…You create this fantasy world that you’re living in when you’re in ministry … It’s the grandiose story … “we’re gonna change the city … we’re gonna reach the nations…” and all those kinds of things. And what you do when you tell yourself that story over and over again is “here’s the destination … here’s what it’s all for” and no matter how bad it gets, you have that idealized vision of what you’re gonna achieve on the other side of it. And so it’s like ‘yeah, this is really hard! … It hurts that those relationships got severed … what happened to that person who was serving in ministry next to you was really unfortunate … but ultimately we’re all going after this same thing and we’re all on the same page - everyone’s well-intended, and it’s all gonna be good when we get there." When you reach this place where you start to go ‘well wait a minute! Maybe we’re not actually gonna get to that place and maybe we’re not all well-intended, and maybe we’re not all on the same page and on the same journey!’ … the most terrifying thing in the world is to accept that reality! Because then, you have all these stories you’ve told yourself. I can live with this collateral damage and that collateral damage and this wound and that personal sacrifice or whatever because the destination made all of those difficult choices worth it. But if you have to sort of accept the reality that the destination itself wasn’t real … that the dream in a sense was not achievable, … so for instance in the book I liken this to the life of Peter and Peter’s vision for what the Kingdom of God was going to be, vs. Jesus’ vision for what the Kingdom of God was gonna be. And the gap between those realities … like … I have spent a few years trying to write this book … I still don’t think I can fully comprehend how wide that gap was! But I think it’s a good metaphor for the kinds of gaps that we all eventually encounter with the idealized thing that we think we’re gonna become and we think our ministries are gonna become or whatever … and then the reality of like ‘Oh - we’re just a church!’ … ‘Oh - we’re just a bunch of people … you know’ … some of us are really jacked up! Some of us have really hurt each other. Some of us have done a lot of damage. So there’s not this utopia on the other side of that! Now you’ve gotta clean up a lot of stuff. And you’ve gotta start dealing with all those other wounds, including your own.

And later they go on to discuss Peter’s story and how he handled the destruction of his illusions.

All of that is direly needed reality-speak to those of us in ministry/service professions. But the line that really captivates me above was his confession (which speaks for me too) that even with his eyes fully on this problem, and even having written a book about it - he knows that he’s still struggling to even just grasp for himself the wideness of the gap between Peter’s initial vision and Jesus’ vision for what the Kindom of God is to be!

Yes! That.

The only line of Cosper’s I would dispute was his following thought that … ‘this gap (between Peter and Jesus) is a good metaphor for the kinds of gaps we face…’ I respond instead that I don’t think it’s a metaphor at all! Mike is being too modestly understated here. That gap is literally the thing itself that we all are facing. Nothing metaphorical about it.

I’d say cheerfulness without joy is nigh unto impossible. I once went a good half year without laughing or being able to laugh and was unable to be cheerful, but it was a moment of joy that brought those back (that moment being the first time in a couple of years that I could speak the word “home” with any content to it).

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And yet when I’ve cracked under the pressure from holding to ‘the destination’ I end up, when I’m on my feet again, just shifting the destination . . . and cracking again.

I have to keep reminding myself, now that I’m doing conservation work, that there is no way to reach my imagined destination, that I can’t even make sure that every tree I plant will make it through its first summer, or I get so discouraged I just stare at whatever I should be doing and can’t make decisions at all.

I’m working on a bibliography at work related to R. J. Oppenheimer and the bomb - to go with the Oscars. I get to use things like the International Guide to Periodical Literature (annual indexes like some of us will remember) and the printed pers that go with them.

I took this photo of Lewis’s poem in The Spectator (London) December 28, 1945.

I saw the first end of the Cold War, like many of us here. I am not glad to see it revived. I read this after supper with The Youngest, and I appreciated Lewis’s perspective.


Thank you! I really like this…his cadence, too. I never knew of this poem. It is thoughtful.

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I’m glad it speaks to you, too.

It reads very well out loud. Lewis understood how to use meter as a structure without making it a prison.


Ooh–I like that description. I’m going to have to think on that as I read poetry. Thanks.


It reminds me of a letter to the editor Lewis wrote during WWII in response to an assertion that the death rate was abominably high: he pointed out that the death rate remained one per person, with a certain exception about 30 A.D.

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Sometimes, fewer words cut quickest. CS Lewis verse on bombs at the start of WWII:

She was delicately, beautifully made,
So small, so unafraid,
Till the bomb came
Bombs are the same,
Delicately, beautifully made.

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Perhaps a ‘direct’ approach may also use poetry.

Once man disobeys the Divine Will
He is impure, therein dwells sin,
No longer to commune with God
Mankind stands alone.
He who felt that the choice was his
Now looks with longing at the gifts
Wonders how it was all lost;
Perhaps offence comes before repentance.


That’s kind of chilling.

Did you know he was the second most-recognized voice on British radio in WWII? He had a show that blew people away because he was a ‘theologian’ who talked about ordinary things with insight. That little poem alone would be enough for me to believe that.