From My Reading Along The Way

“If Christians are people with an alternative history of judgments about what is true and good they cannot help but produce an alternative university.”

– Stanley Hauerwas

“The biggest long-term threat is that people are becoming and have become disheartened, that this condition is reaching critical mass, and that it afflicts most broadly and deeply those members of the American leadership class who are not in Washington . . . .”

– Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal

“Character outside of a lived community, the entanglements of complex social relationships, and their shared story, is impossible.”

– James Davison Hunter

“Part of Paul’s task, in teaching the Christian hope to puzzled converts, was precisely to educate their imagination, to lift their eyes beyond the small horizons of their previous worldviews.”

– N.T. Wright, Paul: In Fresh Perspective

“History is driven, over the long haul, by culture — by what men and women honor, cherish, and worship; by what societies deem to be true and good, and by the expressions they give to those convictions in language, literature, and the arts; by what individuals and societies are willing to stake their lives on.”

– George Weigel

“Education … is where we decide whether we love our children enough not to expel them from our world and leave them to their own devices, nor to strike from their hands their chance of undertaking something new, something unforeseen by us, but to prepare them in advance for the task of renewing a common world.”

– Hannah Arendt, Between Past And Future (1961).

“Why did they invent bad guys?”

– My 4-year-old grandson Elliot, as he watched a children’s movie.

“The poets of the Bible use a ‘shattering, evocative speech,’ the kind of speech ‘that breaks fixed conclusions and presses us always toward new, dangerous, imaginative possibilities.’”

“These poets not only discerned the new actions of God that others did not discern, but they wrought the new actions of God by the power of their imagination, their tongues, their words. New poetic imagination evoked new realities in the community.”

– Walter Brueggemann, Finally Comes the Poet: Daring Speech for Proclamation

“Gentle verses written in the midst of horror declare themselves for life.”

– Czeslaw Milosz

“People are in a kind of suspended alarm, waiting for the future to unspool and not expecting it to unspool happily. … People sense something slipping away, a world receding, not only an economic one but a world of old structures, old ways and assumptions … . [There is] a pervasive sense of anxiety, as though everyone feels they’re on thin ice.”

– Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal

“I just have this feelin we’re looking at somethin we really aint never even seen before.”

– Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men

“By the end of the nineteenth century, human authority has been put in the place of revelation; or rather human authority, now identified with the progressive illumination afforded by reason, has become the vehicle of revelation and of a religion that can do very nicely without any strong conception of personal deity.”

– Stanley Fish

“What did we do when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving now? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there any up or down left? Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing?”

– Friedrich Nietzsche

“A morally significant universe has a telos, an end, goal, and standard, by which one knows where one is and to where one is headed. It thus provides individuals the big script of a very real drama, in the sense both that the story is intensely dramatic and that the drama is reality. …”

– Christian Smith, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers

“We want decency without the authority to insist upon it; we want moral community without any limitations to personal freedom. In short we want what we cannot possibly have on the terms that we want it.”

– James Davidson Hunter, The Death of Character: Moral Education in an Age Without Good or Evil

“We assume that each person has to solve these questions alone (though few other societies in history have made this assumption). We assume that if adults try to offer moral instruction, it will just backfire, because our children will reject our sermonizing (though they don’t seem to reject any other part of our guidance and instruction). We assume that such questions have no correct answer that can be taught. Or maybe the simple truth is that adult institutions no longer try to talk about character and virtue because they simply wouldn’t know what to say.”

– David Brooks, “The Organization Kid,” Atlantic Monthly

“We live in a world of colliding maps.”

– Chaim Potok, comments on the SPU campus

“Knowing is always part of tradition. The mental activity involved in trying to make reliable contact with reality can function only by indwelling a tradition of language, concepts, models, images, and assumptions of many kinds which function as the lenses through which we try to find what is really there.”

– Lesslie Newbigin

“Structural and cultural realities of our society in this historical moment . . . make us doubt any kind of transcending narrative.”

– James Davidson Hunter, The Death of Character: Moral Education in an Age Without Good or Evil.

“Both [the church and the university] are caught today in the throes of a situation that is difficult to describe as anything but a crisis, a crisis of confidence. . . . still good places perhaps for the young to learn something about the past but definitely not the places to look for guidance about the real world and its future.”

– Jaroslav Pelikan, The Idea of the University: A Reexamination

“The topics we address are circumscribed by what I suspect are shrinking spheres of influence.”

– John T. Casteen III

“The chief driver of events right now is not only globalization — the integration of economies and peoples. It’s also the contest among cultures over the power of consecration — the power to define what is right and wrong.”

– David Brooks, The New York Times

“The world is full of all kinds of possibilities, namely all the possibilities of the God of hope. [We] see reality and mankind in the hand of him whose voice calls into history from its end, saying, ‘Behold, I make all things new,’ and from hearing this word of the promise it acquires the freedom to renew life here and to change the face of the world.”

– Jürgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope: On the Ground and the Implications of a Christian Eschatology

“A critical reexamination of the idea of the university — not simply of John Henry Newman’s idea of it, or of someone else’s idea of it, but of the idea itself — has become an urgent necessity… . A modern society is unthinkable without the university. But it does seem fair to say that … the university is in a state of crisis and is in danger of losing credibility.”

– Jaroslav Pelikan, The Idea of the University: A Reexamination

“Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone?”

– Matthew 7:9

“. . . there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts. There are only hints and guesses,
Hints followed by guesses; and the rest
Is prayer, observance, discipline, thought and action.
The hint half guessed, the gift half understood, is

– T. S. Eliot, “The Dry Salvages,” The Four Quartets

“From whence comes the voice that can challenge this culture on its own terms, a voice that speaks its own language and yet confronts it with the authentic figure of the crucified and living Christ so that it is stopped in its tracks and turned back from the way of death?”

– Lesslie Newbigin, Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel and Western Culture

“Living as we do on this side of the Enlightenment, we cannot escape the intellectual impact of the great ‘masters of suspicion’: Nietzsche, Marx, Freud, and more recently Foucault, along with other purveyors of ‘critical theory.’”

– Richard Hays, The Conversion of the Imagination: Paul As Interpreter of Israel’s Scripture.

“[Paul] employs Scripture as the source of the world story in which the community of Christ’s people is to find its identity. This scripturally grounded identity then shapes the community’s action in highly specific ways.”

– Richard Hays

“Our distinct impression is that very many religious congregations and communities of faith in the United States are failing rather badly in religiously engaging and educating their youth.”

– Christian Smith, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers

“We must entertain each other in brotherly affection. … We must delight in each other; make others’ condition our own; rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, as members of the same body. So shall we keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.”

– John Winthrop

“Let love of the Christian community show itself in mutual affection. Esteem others more highly than yourself. . . . With unflagging zeal, aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. Let hope keep you joyful; in trouble stand firm; persist in prayer; contribute to the needs of God’s people, and practice hospitality. . . . Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in agreement with one another. Do not be proud, but be ready to mix with humble people. Do not keep thinking how wise you are. . . . If possible, so far as it lies with you, live at peace with all.”

– Romans 12

“If Christians are people with an alternative history of judgments about what is true and good they cannot help but produce an alternative university.”

– Stanley Hauerwas, The State of the University: Academic Knowledges and the Knowledge of God

“I believe that part of the task of the church in our day is to pioneer a way through postmodernity and out the other side, not back to modernity in its various, even in its Christian, guises, but into a new world, a new culture, which nobody else is shaping and which we have a chance to.”

– N. T. Wright

“Stop dwelling on past events
and brooding over days gone by.
I am about to do something new;
this moment it will unfold.
Can you not perceive it?”

– Isaiah 43:18

“Always be ready to make your defense when anyone challenges you to justify the hope which is in you. But do so with courtesy and respect.”

– I Peter 3:14

“Enlarge the site of your tent,
and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out;
do not hold back; lengthen your cords
and strengthen your stakes.
For you will spread out to the right and to the left,
And your descendants will possess the nations
And will settle the desolate towns.

– Isaiah 54:2

“The whole dimension of the past has also been endangered. We are in danger of forgetting, [and in such] oblivion [we will lose the] dimension of depth in human existence.”

– Hannah Arendt

“Good philosophy must exist if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.”

– C. S. Lewis, “Learning in War-Time,” The Weight of Glory: And Other Addresses

“The world [is] tired of ideology [and] is opening itself to the truth. The time has come when the splendor of this truth has begun anew to illuminate the darkness of human existence.”

– Pope John Paul II

“Our task, as image-bearing, God-loving, Christ-shaped, Spirit-filled Christians, following Christ and shaping our world, is to announce redemption to the world that has discovered its fallenness, to announce healing to the world that has discovered its brokenness, to proclaim love and trust to the world that knows only exploitation, fear, and suspicion.”

“We live at a time of cultural crisis. At the moment I don’t hear anyone out there pointing a way forward out of the postmodern morass. … The gospel of Jesus points us and indeed urges us to be at the leading edge of the whole culture, articulating in story and music and art and philosophy and education and poetry and politics and theology and even, heaven help us, biblical studies, a worldview that will mount the historically rooted Christian challenge to both modernity and postmodernity, leading the way into the post-postmodern world with joy and humor and gentleness and good judgment and true wisdom.”

“I believe we face the question: If not now, then when? And if we are grasped by this vision, we may also hear the question: If not us, then who? And if the gospel of Jesus is not the key to this task, then what is?”

– N. T. Wright, The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is


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