Thursday, May 28, 2009

My Choice

I want my breakfast served at eight
With ham and eggs upon the plate
A well-broiled steak I'll eat at one
And dine again when day is done.

I want an ultramodern home
And in each room a telephone;
Soft carpets, too, upon the floors
And pretty drapes to grace the doors.
A cozy place of lovely things,
Like easy chairs with inner springs,

And then, I'll get a nice T.V.
- Of course, I'm careful what I see.

I want my wardrobe, too, to be
Of neatest, finest quality,
With latest style in suit and vest
Why should not Christians have the best?

But then the Master I can hear
In no uncertain voice, so clear:
"I bid you come and follow Me,
The lowly Man of Galilee."

"Birds of the air have made their nest
And foxes in their holes find rest,
But I can offer you no bed;
No place have I to lay my head."

In shame I hung my head and cried,
How could I spurn the Crucified?
Could I forget the way He went,
The sleepless nights in prayer He spent?

For forty days without a bite,
Alone He fasted day and night;
Despised, rejected - on He went,
and did not stop till veil He rent!

A man of sorrows and of grief
No earthly friend to bring relief;
"Smitten of God," the prophet said
Mocked, beaten, bruised, His blood ran red.

If He be God, and died for me,
No sacrifice too great can be
For me; a mortal man, to make;
I'll do it all for Jesus' sake.

Yes, I will tread the path He trod,
No other way will please my God,
So, henceforth, this my choice shall be,
My choice for all eternity.

William McChesney - Martyred missionary to the Congo

C.T. Studd: If Jesus Christ be God, and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.

Corey Ten Boom: I'd learn to clutch the things of this world very very gently so it doesn't hurt when He pries it out of my hand.

Monday, May 25, 2009

GK Chesterton's quotes

Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it has a God who knows the way out of the grave.

You are free in our time to say that God does not exist; you are free to say that He exists and is evil; you are free to say like Renan that He would like to exist if He could. You may talk of God as a metaphor or a mystification; you may water Him down with gallons of long words, or boil Him to the rags of metaphysics; and it is not merely that nobody punishes, but nobody protests. But if you speak of God as a fact, as a thing like a tiger, as a reason for changing one’s conduct, then the modern world will stop you somehow if it can. We are long past talking about whether an unbeliever should be punished for being irreverent. It is now thought irreverent to be a believer.

For under the smooth legal surface of our society there are already moving very lawless things. We are always near the breaking- point when we care only for what is legal and nothing for what is lawful. Unless we have a moral principle about such delicate matters as marriage and murder, the whole world will become a welter of exceptions with no rules. There will be so many hard cases that everything will go soft.I do not insist on my suggestion of a benevolent millionaire paying off those people who seem naturally designed to be murdered. But I do insist that they will be murdered, sooner or later, if we accept in every department the principle of the easiest way out.

Misers get up early in the morning; and burglars, I am informed, get up the night before.

A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.

Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.

An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered.

What embitters the world is not excess of criticism, but an absence of self-criticism.

Among the rich you will never find a really generous man even by accident. They may give their money away, but they will never give themselves away; they are egotistic, secretive, dry as old bones. To be smart enough to get all that money you must be dull enough to want it.

Moderate strength is shown in violence, supreme strength is shown in levity.

The simplification of anything is always sensational.

Complaint always comes back in an echo from the ends of the world; but silence strengthens us.

I believe what really happens in history is this: the old man is always wrong; and the young people are always wrong about what is wrong with him. The practical form it takes is this: that, while the old man may stand by some stupid custom, the young man always attacks it with some theory that turns out to be equally stupid

To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.

The free man owns himself. He can damage himself with either eating or drinking; he can ruin himself with gambling. If he does he is certainly a damn fool, and he might possibly be a damned soul; but if he may not, he is not a free man any more than a dog.
Aesthetes never do anything but what they are told.

The aesthete aims at harmony rather than beauty. If his hair does not match the mauve sunset against which he is standing, he hurriedly dyes his hair another shade of mauve. If his wife does not go with the wall-paper, he gets a divorce.

The reformer is always right about what is wrong. He is generally wrong about what is right.

Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather than the heart, however pallid and polite, are necessarily men of violence. We speak of 'touching' a man's heart, but we can do nothing to his head but hit it.

Man is always something worse or something better than an animal; and a mere argument from animal perfection never touches him at all. Thus, in sex no animal is either chivalrous or obscene. And thus no animal invented anything so bad as drunkeness - or so good as drink.

When we step into the family, by the act of being born, we do step into a world which is incalculable, into a world which has its own strange laws, into a world which could do without us, into a world we have not made. In other words, when we step into the family we step into a fairy-tale.

A thing may be too sad to be believed or too wicked to be believed or too good to be believed; but it cannot be too absurd to be believed in this planet of frogs and elephants, of crocodiles and cuttlefish.

Do not enjoy yourself. Enjoy dances and theaters and joy-rides and champagne and oysters; enjoy jazz and cocktails and night-clubs if you can enjoy nothing better; enjoy bigamy and burglary and any crime in the calendar, in preference to the other alternative; but never learn to enjoy yourself.

Do not look at the faces in the illustrated papers. Look at the faces in the street.

When giving treats to friends or children, give them what they like, emphatically not what is good for them.

Progress should mean that we are always changing the world to fit the vision, instead we are always changing the vision.

My attitude toward progress has passed from antagonism to boredom. I have long ceased to argue with people who prefer Thursday to Wednesday because it is Thursday.

Men invent new ideals because they dare not attempt old ideals.

They look forward with enthusiasm, because they are afraid to look back.

Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead.

Tradition refuses to submit to that arrogant oligarchy who merely happen to be walking around.

The modern world is a crowd of very rapid racing cars all brought to a standstill and stuck in a block of traffic.

Comforts that were rare among our forefathers are now multiplied in factories and handed out wholesale; and indeed, nobody nowadays, so long as he is content to go without air, space, quiet, decency and good manners, need be without anything whatever that he wants; or at least a reasonably cheap imitation of it.

The whole curse of the last century has been what is called the Swing of the Pendulum; that is, the idea that Man must go alternately from one extreme to the other. It is a shameful and even shocking fancy; it is the denial of the whole dignity of the mankind.

When Man is alive he stands still. It is only when he is dead that he swings.

To hurry through one's leisure is the most unbusiness-like of actions.

This is the age in which thin and theoretic minorities can cover and conquer unconscious and untheoretic majorities The past is not what it was.

The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.

Once abolish the God, and the government becomes the God. The Declaration of Independence dogmatically bases all rights on the fact that God created all men equal; and it is right; for if they were not created equal, they were certainly evolved unequal. There is no basis for democracy except in a dogma about the divine origin of man.

The unconscious democracy of America is a very fine thing. It is a true and deep and instinctive assumption of the equality of citizens, which even voting and elections have not destroyed.

When you break the big laws, you do not get freedom; you do not even get anarchy. You get the small laws.

Men are ruled, at this minute by the clock, by liars who refuse them news, and by fools who cannot govern.

If you attempt an actual argument with a modern paper of opposite politics, you will have no answer except slanging or silence.

He is a very shallow critic who cannot see an eternal rebel in the heart of a conservative.

You can never have a revolution in order to establish a democracy. You must have a democracy in order to have a revolution.

It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged.

There cannot be a nation of millionaires, and there never has been a nation of Utopian comrades; but there have been any number of nations of tolerably contented peasants.

All government is an ugly necessity. It is a good sign in a nation when things are done badly.

It shows that all the people are doing them. And it is bad sign in a nation when such things are done very well, for it shows that only a few experts and eccentrics are doing them, and that the nation is merely looking on.

It is true that I am of an older fashion; much that I love has been destroyed or sent into exile.

I think the oddest thing about the advanced people is that, while they are always talking about things as problems, they have hardly any notion of what a real problem is.

The modern city is ugly not because it is a city but because it is not enough of a city, because it is a jungle, because it is confused and anarchic, and surging with selfish and materialistic energies.

Love means loving the unlovable - or it is no virtue at all.

One of the chief uses of religion is that it makes us remember our coming from darkness, the simple fact that we are created.

The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people.

If there were no God, there would be no atheists.

There are those who hate Christianity and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions.

The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man.

It has been often said, very truely, that religion is the thing that makes the ordinary man feel extraordinary; it is an equally important truth that religion is the thing that makes the extraordinary man feel ordinary.

The truth is, of course, that the curtness of the Ten Commandments is an evidence, not of the gloom and narrowness of a religion, but, on the contrary, of its liberality and humanity. It is shorter to state the things forbidden than the things permitted: precisely because most things are permitted, and only a few things are forbidden.

These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own.

If a man called Christmas Day a mere hypocritical excuse for drunkeness and gluttony, that would be false, but it would have a fact hidden in it somewhere. But when Bernard Shaw says that Christmas Day is only a conspiracy kept up by Poulterers and wine merchants from strictly business motives, then he says something which is not so much false as startling and arrestingly foolish. He might as well say that the two sexes were invented by jewellers who wanted to sell wedding rings.

Any one thinking of the Holy Child as born in December would mean by it exactly what we mean by it; that Christ is not merely a summer sun of the prosperous but a winter fire for the unfortunate.

The more we are proud that the Bethlehem story is plain enough to be understood by the shepherds, and almost by the sheep, the more do we let ourselves go, in dark and gorgeous imaginative frescoes or pageants about the mystery and majesty of the Three Magian Kings.

The great majority of people will go on observing forms that cannot be explained; they will keep Christmas Day with Christmas gifts and Christmas benedictions; they will continue to do it; and some day suddenly wake up and discover why.

Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable.

It's not that we don't have enough scoundrels to curse; it's that we don't have enough good men to curse them.

There is a case for telling the truth; there is a case for avoiding the scandal; but there is no possible defense for the man who tells the scandal, but does not tell the truth.

The whole truth is generally the ally of virtue; a half-truth is always the ally of some vice.

Truth is sacred; and if you tell the truth too often nobody will believe it.

Civilization has run on ahead of the soul of man, and is producing faster than he can think and give thanks.

It is not bigotry to be certain we are right; but it is bigotry to be unable to imagine how we might possibly have gone wrong.

There'd be a lot less scandal if people didn't idealize sin and pose as sinners.

All men thirst to confess their crimes more than tired beasts thirst for water; but they naturally object to confessing them while other people, who have also committed the same crimes, sit by and laugh at them.

Idolatry is committed, not merely by setting up false gods, but also by setting up false devils; by making men afraid of war or alcohol, or economic law, when they should be afraid of spiritual corruption and cowardice.

I say that a man must be certain of his morality for the simple reason that he has to suffer for it.

Great truths can only be forgotten and can never be falsified.

All science, even the divine science, is a sublime detective story. Only it is not set to detect why a man is dead; but the darker secret of why he is alive.

There are some desires that are not desirable.

In the struggle for existence, it is only on those who hang on for ten minutes after all is hopeless, that hope begins to dawn.

Modern broad-mindedness benefits the rich; and benefits nobody else.

It is the main earthly business of a human being to make his home, and the immediate surroundings of his home, as symbolic and significant to his own imagination as he can.

Too much capitalism does not mean too many capitalists, but too few capitalists.

Price is a crazy and incalculable thing, while Value is an intrinsic and indestructible thing.

All but the hard hearted man must be torn with pity for this pathetic dilemma of the rich man, who has to keep the poor man just stout enough to do the work and just thin enough to have to do it.

Our society is so abnormal that the normal man never dreams of having the normal occupation of looking after his own property. When he chooses a trade, he chooses one of the ten thousand trades that involve looking after other people's property.

Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere.

The decay of society is praised by artists as the decay of a corpse is praised by worms.

The artistic temperament is a disease that afflicts amateurs.

Our materialistic masters could, and probably will, put Birth Control into an immediate practical programme while we are all discussing the dreadful danger of somebody else putting it into a distant Utopia.

The purpose of Compulsory Education is to deprive the common people of their commonsense.

Though the academic authorities are actually proud of conducting everything by means of Examinations, they seldom indulge in what religious people used to describe as Self-Examination.

The consequence is that the modern State has educated its citizens in a series of ephemeral fads.

How can we contrive to be at once astonished at the world and yet at home in it?

From time to time, as we all know, a sect appears in our midst announcing that the world will very soon come to an end. Generally, by some slight confusion or miscalculation, it is the sect that comes to an end.

The position we have now reached is this: starting from the State, we try to remedy the failures of all the families, all the nurseries, all the schools, all the workshops, all the secondary institutions that once had some authority of their own. Everything is ultimately brought into the Law Courts. We are trying to stop the leak at the other end.

The ultimate effect of the great science of Fingerprints is this: that whereas a gentleman was expected to put on gloves to dance with a lady, he may now be expected to put on gloves in order to strangle her.

Religious liberty might be supposed to mean that everybody is free to discuss religion. In practice it means that hardly anybody is allowed to mention it.

A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.

An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered.

>An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.

Don't ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.

I believe in getting into hot water; it keeps you clean.

I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.

Journalism largely consists of saying 'Lord Jones is Dead' to people who never knew that Lord Jones was alive

Man seems to be capable of great virtues but not of small virtues; capable of defying his torturer but not of keeping his temper.

The thing I hate about an argument is that it always interrupts a discussion.

There is a great deal of difference between an eager man who wants to read a book and the tired man who wants a book to read.

You can only find truth with logic if you have already found truth without it.

There are no wise few. Every aristocracy that has ever existed has behaved, in all essential points, exactly like a small mob.

The rich are the scum of the earth in every country.

There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person.

The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.

The men who really believe in themselves are all in lunatic asylums.

It isn't that they can't see the solution. It is that they can't see the problem.

He may be mad, but there's method in his madness. There nearly always is method in madness. It's what drives men mad, being methodical.

But a somewhat more liberal and sympathetic examination of mankind will convince us that the cross is even older than the gibbet, that voluntary suffering was before and independent of compulsory; and in short that in most important matters a man has always been free to ruin himself if he chose.

A businessman is the only man who is forever apologizing for his occupation.

A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.

A man does not know what he is saying until he knows what he is not saying.

A man who says that no patriot should attack the war until it is over... is saying no good son should warn his mother of a cliff until she has fallen.

A new philosophy generally means in practice the praise of some old vice.

A puritan is a person who pours righteous indignation into the wrong things.

A radical generally meant a man who thought he could somehow pull up the root without affecting the flower. A conservative generally meant a man who wanted to conserve everything except his own reason for conserving anything.

A room without books is like a body without a soul.

A stiff apology is a second insult... The injured party does not want to be compensated because he has been wronged; he wants to be healed because he has been hurt.

A woman uses her intelligence to find reasons to support her intuition.

A yawn is a silent shout.

All architecture is great architecture after sunset; perhaps architecture is really a nocturnal art, like the art of fireworks.

All conservatism is based upon the idea that if you leave things alone you leave them as they are. But you do not. If you leave a thing alone you leave it to a torrent of change.

An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.

An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.

And they that rule in England, in stately conclaves met, alas, alas for England they have no graves as yet.

And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.

Being "contented" ought to mean in English, as it does in French, being pleased. Being content with an attic ought not to mean being unable to move from it and resigned to living in it; it ought to mean appreciating all there is in such a position.

Brave men are all vertebrates; they have their softness on the surface and their toughness in the middle.

Buddhism is not a creed, it is a doubt.<

Chastity does not mean abstention from sexual wrong; it means something flaming, like Joan of Arc.

Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.

Coincidences are spiritual puns.

Compromise used to mean that half a loaf was better than no bread. Among modern statesmen it really seems to mean that half a loaf; is better than a whole loaf.

Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die.

Cruelty is, perhaps, the worst kid of sin. Intellectual cruelty is certainly the worst kind of cruelty.

Democracy means government by the uneducated, while aristocracy means government by the badly educated.

Do not free a camel of the burden of his hump; you may be freeing him from being a camel.

Drink because you are happy, but never because you are miserable.

Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.

Education is the period during which you are being instructed by somebody you do not know, about something you do not want to know.

Experience which was once claimed by the aged is now claimed exclusively by the young.

Fable is more historical than fact, because fact tells us about one man and fable tells us about a million men.

Half a truth is better than no politics.

Happiness is a mystery, like religion, and should never be rationalised.

Happy is he who still loves something he loved in the nursery: He has not been broken in two by time; he is not two men, but one, and he has saved not only his soul but his life.

How you think when you lose determines how long it will be until you win.

I do not believe in a fate that falls on men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act.

I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.

I regard golf as an expensive way of playing marbles.

I was planning to go into architecture. But when I arrived, architecture was filled up. Acting was right next to it, so I signed up for acting instead.

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.

I've searched all the parks in all the cities and found no statues of committees.

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

If I can put one touch of rosy sunset into the life of any man or woman, I shall feel that I have worked with God.

If I had only one sermon to preach it would be a sermon against pride.

If you do not understand a man you cannot crush him. And if you do understand him, very probably you will not

In matters of truth the fact that you don't want to publish something is, nine times out of ten, a proof that you ought to publish it.<

It is as healthy to enjoy sentiment as to enjoy jam.

It is not funny that anything else should fall down; only that a man should fall down. Why do we laugh? Because it is a gravely religious matter: it is the Fall of Man. Only man can be absurd: for only man can be dignified.

It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it.

Journalism is popular, but it is popular mainly as fiction. Life is one world, and life seen in the newspapers is another.

Large organization is loose organization. Nay, it would be almost as true to say that organization is always disorganization. Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.

Lying in bed would be an altogether perfect and supreme experience if only one had a colored pencil long enough to draw on the ceiling.

Man does not live by soap alone; and hygiene, or even health, is not much good unless you can take a healthy view of it or, better still, feel a healthy indifference to it.

Man is an exception, whatever else he is. If he is not the image of God, then he is a disease of the dust. If it is not true that a divine being fell, then we can only say that one of the animals went entirely off its head.

Marriage is an adventure, like going to war.

Men always talk about the most important things to perfect strangers. In the perfect stranger we perceive man himself; the image of a God is not disguised by resemblances to an uncle or doubts of wisdom of a mustache.

Men feel that cruelty to the poor is a kind of cruelty to animals. They never feel that it is an injustice to equals; nay it is treachery to comrades.

Music with dinner is an insult both to the cook and the violinist.

Never invoke the gods unless you really want them to appear. It annoys them very much.

New roads; new ruts.

No man who worships education has got the best out of education... Without a gentle contempt for education no man's education is complete.

Nothing is poetical if plain daylight is not poetical; and no monster should amaze us if the normal man does not amaze.

Once I planned to write a book of poems entirely about the things in my pocket. But I found it would be too long; and the age of the great epics is past.

One may understand the cosmos, but never the ego; the self is more distant than any star.

One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak.

People generally quarrel because they cannot argue.

People who make history know nothing about history. You can see that in the sort of history they make.

Ritual will always mean throwing away something: destroying our corn or wine upon the altar of our gods.

Science in the modern world has many uses; its chief use, however, is to provide long words to cover the errors of the rich.

Some men never feel small, but these are the few men who are.

The aim of life is appreciation; there is no sense in not appreciating things; and there is no sense in having more of them if you have less appreciation of them.

The cosmos is about the smallest hole that a man can hide his head in.

The family is the test of freedom; because the family is the only thing that the free man makes for himself and by himself.

The fatal metaphor of progress, which means leaving things behind us, has utterly obscured the real idea of growth, which means leaving things inside us.

The greenhorn is the ultimate victor in everything; it is he that gets the most out of life.

The honest poor can sometimes forget poverty. The honest rich can never forget it.

The mere brute pleasure of reading the sort of pleasure a cow must have in grazing.

The most dangerous criminal now is the entirely lawless modern philosopher. Compared to him, burglars and bigamists are essentially moral men.

The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.

The only way of catching a train I have ever discovered is to miss the train before.

The ordinary scientific man is strictly a sentimentalist.He is a sentimentalist in this essential sense, that he is soaked and swept away by mere associations.

The paradox of courage is that a man must be a little careless of his life even in order to keep it.

The perplexity of life arises from there being too many interesting things in it for us to be interested properly in any of them.

The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.

The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all.

T he present condition of fame is merely fashion.

The simplification of anything is always sensational.

The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.

The trouble with always trying to preserve the health of the body is that it is so difficult to do without destroying the health of the mind.

The true object of all human life is play. Earth is a task garden; heaven is a playground.

The vulgar man is always the most distinguished, for the very desire to be distinguished is vulgar.

The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost.

The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one's own country as a foreign land.

The whole order of things is as outrageous as any miracle which could presume to violate it.

The word "good" has many meanings. For example, if a man were to shoot his grandmother at a range of five hundred yards, I should call him a good shot, but not necessarily a good man.

Their is a road from the eye to heart that does not go through the intellect.

There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds.

There is but an inch of difference between a cushioned chamber and a padded cell.

Thieves respect property. They merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it.

To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.

Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.

True contentment is a thing as active as agriculture. It is the power of getting out of any situation all that there is in it. It is arduous and it is rare.

We are justified in enforcing good morals, for they belong to all mankind; but we are not justified in enforcing good manners, for good manners always mean our own manners.

We call a man a bigot or a slave of dogma because he is a thinker who has thought thoroughly and to a definite end.

We make our friends; we make our enemies; but God makes our next door neighbour.

What affects men sharply about a foreign nation is not so much finding or not finding familiar things; it is rather not finding them in the familiar place.

What people call impartiality may simply mean indifference, and what people call partiality may simply mean mental activity.

When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.

When we really worship anything, we love not only its clearness but its obscurity. We exult in its very invisibility.

When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?

White... is not a mere absence of colour; it is a shining and affirmative thing, as fierce as red, as definite as black... God paints in many colours; but He never paints so gorgeously, I had almost said so gaudily, as when He paints in white.

Youth is the period in which a man can be hopeless. The end of every episode is the end of the world. But the power of hoping through everything, the knowledge that the soul survives its adventures, that great inspiration comes to the middle-aged.

For under the smooth legal surface of our society, there are already moving, very lawless things. We are always near the breaking point, when we care for only what is legal, and nothing for what is lawful. Unless we have a moral principle about such delicate matters as marriage and murder, the whole world will become a welter of exceptions with no rules. There will be so many hard cases that everything will go soft.

The Christian pities men because they are dying, and the Buddhist pities them because they are living. The Christian is sorry for what damages the life of a man; but the Buddhist is sorry for him because he is alive.

For pantheism implies in its nature that one thing is as good as another; whereas action implies in its nature that one thing is greatly preferably to another.

Paganism is free to imagine divinities, while pantheism is forced to pretend, in a priggish way, that all things are equally divine.

There is only one reason an intelligent man does not believe in miracles. He or she believe in materialism.

God is like the sun; you cannot look at it, but without it, you cannot look at anything else.

A Paragon Rising Above The Madness

On Tuesday the best man I know will do what he always does on the 21st of the month. He'll sit down and pen a love letter to his best girl. He'll say how much he misses her and loves her and can't wait to see her again. Then he'll fold it once, slide it in a little envelope and walk into his bedroom. He'll go to the stack of love letters sitting there on her pillow, untie the yellow ribbon, place the new one on top and tie the ribbon again.

The stack will be 180 letters high then, because Tuesday is 15 years to the day since Nellie, his beloved wife of 53 years, died. In her memory, he sleeps only on his half of the bed, only on his pillow, only on top of the sheets, never between, with just the old bedspread they shared to keep him warm.

There's never been a finer man in American sports than John Wooden, or a finer coach. He won 10 NCAA basketball championships at UCLA, the last in 1975. Nobody has ever come within six of him. He won 88 straight games between Jan. 30, 1971, and Jan. 17, 1974. Nobody has come within 42 since.

So, sometimes, when the Madness of March gets to be too much—too many players trying to make SportsCenter, too few players trying to make assists, too many coaches trying to be homeys, too few coaches willing to be mentors, too many freshmen with out-of-wedlock kids, too few freshmen who will stay in school long enough to become men—I like to go see Coach Wooden. I visit him in his little condo in Encino, 20 minutes northwest of L.A., and hear him say things like "Gracious sakes alive!" and tell stories about teaching "Lewis" the hook shot. Lewis Alcindor, that is. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

There has never been another coach like Wooden, quiet as an April snow and square as a game of checkers; loyal to one woman, one school, one way; walking around campus in his sensible shoes and Jimmy Stewart morals. He'd spend a half hour the first day of practice teaching his men how to put on a sock. "Wrinkles can lead to blisters," he'd warn. These huge players would sneak looks at one another and roll their eyes. Eventually, they'd do it right. "Good," he'd say. "And now for the other foot."

Of the 180 players who played for him, Wooden knows the whereabouts of 172. Of course, it's not hard when most of them call, checking on his health, secretly hoping to hear some of his simple life lessons so that they can write them on the lunch bags of their kids, who will roll their eyes. "Discipline yourself, and others won't need to," Coach would say. "Never lie, never cheat, never steal," Coach would say. "Earn the right to be proud and confident."

You played for him, you played by his rules: Never score without acknowledging a teammate. One word of profanity, and you're done for the day. Treat your opponent with respect.

He believed in hopelessly out-of-date stuff that never did anything but win championships. No dribbling behind the back or through the legs. "There's no need," he'd say. No UCLA basketball number was retired under his watch. "What about the fellows who wore that number before? Didn't they contribute to the team?" he'd say. No long hair, no facial hair. "They take too long to dry, and you could catch cold leaving the gym," he'd say.

That one drove his players bonkers. One day, All-America center Bill Walton showed up with a full beard. "It's my right," he insisted. Wooden asked if he believed that strongly. Walton said he did. "That's good, Bill," Coach said. "I admire people who have strong beliefs and stick by them, I really do. We're going to miss you." Walton shaved it right then and there. Now Walton calls once a week to tell Coach he loves him.

It's always too soon when you have to leave the condo and go back out into the real world, where the rules are so much grayer and the teams so much worse. As Wooden shows you to the door, you take one last look around. The framed report cards of the great-grandkids. The boxes of jelly beans peeking out from under the favorite wooden chair. The dozens of pictures of Nellie.

He's almost 90 now, you think. A little more hunched over than last time. Steps a little smaller. You hope it's not the last time you see him. He smiles. "I'm not afraid to die," he says. "Death is my only chance to be with her again."

Problem is, we still need him here.

Rick Reilly - Sports illustrated Vault 20 March 2000


There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative. If this belief is put to the test, one can count on the students' reaction: they will be uncomprehending. That anyone should regard the proposition as not self-evident astonishes them, as though he were calling into question 2+2 = 4. These are things you don't think about. The students' backgrounds are as various as America can provide. Some are religious, some atheists; some are to the Left, some to the Right; some intend to be scientists, some humanists or professionals or businessmen; some are poor, some rich. They are unified only in their relativism and in their allegiance to equality. And the two are related in a moral inten­tion. The relativity of truth is not a theoretical insight but a moral postulate, the condition of a free society, or so they see it. They have all been equipped with this framework early on, and it is the modem replace­ment for the inalienable natural rights that used to be the traditional American grounds for a free society. That it is a moral issue for students is revealed by the character of their response when challenged-a combi­nation of disbelief and indignation: "Are you an absolutist?," the only alternative they know, uttered in the same tone as "Are you a monar­chist?" or "Do you really believe in witches?" This latter leads into the indignation, for someone who believes in witches might well be a witch­hunter or a Salem judge. The danger they have been taught to fear from absolutism is not error but intolerance. Relativism is necessary to openness; and this is the virtue, the only virtue, which all primary education for ore than fifty years has dedicated itself to inculcating. Openness­ and the relativism that makes it the only plausible stance in the face of various claims to truth and various ways of life and kinds of human beings -is the great insight of our times. The true believer is the real danger. The study of history and of culture teaches that all the world was mad in the past; men always thought they were right, and that led to wars, persecutions, slavery, xenophobia, racism, and chauvinism. The point is not to correct the mistakes and really be right; rather it is not to think you are right at all.

The students, of course, cannot defend their opinion. It is something with which they have been indoctrinated. The best they can do is point out all the opinions and cultures there are and have been. What right, they ask, do I or anyone else have to say one is better than the others? If I pose the routine questions designed to confute them and make them think, such as, "If you had been a British administrator in India, would you have let the natives under your governance burn the widow at the funeral of a man who had died?," they either remain silent or reply that the British should never have been there in the first place. It is not that they know very much about other nations, or about their own. The purpose of their education is not to make them scholars but to provide them with a moral virtue-openness.

Extracted from Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind


Men-In-Covenant (MiC) is the men's ministry of Covenant EFC.
Our vision is men-in-covenant towards Authentic Manhood.
"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" (Prov 27 v 17).

We provide a platform for every man to grow in authentic manhood to glorify God through loving leadership of his family, effective witness at his workplace and humble service to His church.

MiC organizes the following Periodic Men's Retreats for Life Transformation !
These retreats, called Breakthrough Weekends (BTW), enable men to experience spiritual breakthroughs. Testimony

"Through the BTW, it gives me a chance to repent and also to set my new goal for life. I know I have messed up my life for so long and it's got to stop now. I need to move on and this time I have to move on together with God:"

Our next Breakthrough Weekend is on 27 to 29 Nov 2009. Please contact Adrian Chan at

What Is IDT?
IDT is two years of intentional Discipleship Training. On Fridays, we meet for a plenary session followed by group time. The 4 modules covered are:
  • Getting Into The Word
  • Personal Leadership
  • Roots and Wings
  • Mentoring From The Inside Out

Besides this, we also train to develop the daily spiritual disciplines of Bible reading, journaling, Scripture memory and evangelism, as well as growing, learning and serving in a small group community.

Who Is IDT For?
IDT is for every believer in Christ (Col 1:28). It's not just for "super Christians". If you have a desire to grow spiritually, IDT is for you! IDT helps you to grow In biblical discipleship and in the spiritual disciplines on a daily basis.

What If I Don't Have Time?
Make the time. We all have 168 hours a week. We make time for what's important in life. IDT shapes our Inner core values so that we know how to give our time to what really matters in fife!

Doesn't Two Years Seem Too Long?
Not at all for a lifetime investment! And discipleship training is a very worthwhile investment that pays great spiritual dividends! Moreover, you can use what you have learnt to mentor others!

What If I Can't Memorize Verses? What If I Fail?
IDT doesn't stand for "I Die Trying". Rather, for many, IDT has become "I Daily Train" and "I'm Daily Transformed". In other words, IDT helps you to accomplish what you think you can't. We don't TRY to be disciples, we TRAIN to be disciples!

Can I Sign Up Later?
Life is short. Don't procrastinate! Find a friend and sign up together. Or else, join IDT and find kindred friends there! For us in IDT, it's "Intentional Discipleship Together!"

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

When we are gods and other thoughts

We have all had a moment when all of a sudden we looked around and thought: The world is changing, I am seeing it change. This is for me the moment when the new America began: I was at a graduation ceremony at a public high school in New Jersey. It was 1971 or 1972. One by one a stream of black-robed students walked across the stage and received their diplomas. And a pretty young girl with red hair, big under her graduation gown, walked up to receive hers. The auditorium stood up and applauded. I looked at my sister: “She’s going to have a baby.”

The girl was eight months pregnant and had had the courage to go through with her pregnancy and take her finals and finish school despite society’s disapproval.

But: Society wasn’t disapproving. It was applauding. Applause is a right and generous response for a young girl with grit and heart. And yet, in the sound of that applause I heard a wall falling, a thousand-year wall, a wall of sanctions that said: We as a society do not approve of teenaged unwed motherhood because it is not good for the child, not good for the mother and not good for us.

The old America had a delicate sense of the difference between the general (“We disapprove”) and the particular (Let’s go help her”). We had the moral self-confidence to sustain the paradox, to sustain the distance between “official” disapproval and “unofficial” succor. The old America would not have applauded the girl in the big graduation gown, but some of its individuals would have helped her not only materially but with some measure of emotional support. We don’t so much anymore. For all our tolerance and talk we don’t show much love to what used to be called girls in trouble. As we’ve gotten more open-minded we’ve gotten more closed-hearted.

Message to society: What you applaud, you encourage. And: Watch out what you celebrate.

Peggy Noonan Forbes Magazine: September 14, 1992

The frightful thing…is that they are telling me mathematics is real; therefore, my brain is real. Food is real; therefore, my stomach is real. But the absolute moral order is not real. It is purely within me. If I take these men in their arguments, they will produce a generation of men with brains, men with stomachs, men with no heart, men without chests. CS Lewis

There is, in truth, a terror in the world, and the arts have heard it as they always do. Under the hum of the miraculous machines and the ceaseless publications of the brilliant physicists a silence waits and listens and is heard. It is the silence of apprehension. We do not trust our time, and the reason we do not trust our time is because it is we who have made the time, and we do not trust ourselves. We have played the hero’s part, mastered the monsters, accomplished the labors, become gods–and we do not trust ourselves as gods. We know what we are. In the old days when the gods were someone else, the knowledge of what we are did not frighten us . . . But now that we are gods ourselves we bear the knowledge for ourselves. Like that old Greek hero who learned when all the labors had been accomplished that it was he himself who had killed his son. ( “When We Are Gods,” Saturday Review, 14 October 1967.) Archibald McLeish

You are free in our time to say that God does not exist; you are free to say that He exists and is evil; you are free to say like Renan that He would like to exist if He could. You may talk of God as a metaphor or a mystification; you may water Him down with gallons of long words, or boil Him to the rags of metaphysics; and it is not merely that nobody punishes, but nobody protests. But if you speak of God as a fact, as a thing like a tiger, as a reason for changing one’s conduct, then the modern world will stop you somehow if it can. We are long past talking about whether an unbeliever should be punished for being irreverent. It is now thought irreverent to be a believer. GK Chesterton

What is largely missing in American life today is a sense of context, of saying or doing anything that is intended or even expected to live beyond the moment. There is no culture in the world that is so obsessed as ours with immediacy... We have become so obsessed with facts that we have lost all touch with truth (Ted Koppel in a speech to the International Radio and Television Society, quoted in Harper's, Jan. 1986).

We will be told: What can literature do against the pitiless onslaught of naked violence? Let us not forget that violence does not and cannot flourish by itself; it is inevitably intertwined with LYING. Between them there is the closest, the most profound and natural bond: nothing screens violence except lies, and the only way lies can hold out is by violence. Whoever has once announced violence as his METHOD must inexorably choose lying as his PRINCIPLE. At birth, violence behaves openly and even proudly. But as soon as it becomes stronger and firmly established, it senses the thinning of the air around it and cannot go on without befogging itself in lies, coating itself with lying's sugary oratory. It does not always or necessarily go straight for the gullet; usually it demands of its victims only allegiance to the lie, only complicity in the lie. - Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Is God Dead? April 8, 1966 - Time Magazine

THEOLOGY Toward a Hidden God (See Cover)

Is God dead? It is a question that tantalizes both believers, who perhaps secretly fear that he is, and atheists, who possibly suspect that the answer is no.

Is God dead? The three words represent a summons to reflect on the meaning of existence. No longer is the question the taunting jest of skeptics for whom unbelief is the test of wisdom and for whom Nietzsche is the prophet who gave the right answer a century ago. Even within Christianity, now confidently renewing itself in spirit as well as form, a small band of radical theologians has seriously argued that the churches must accept the fact of God's death, and get along without him. How does the issue differ from the age-old assertion that God does not and never did exist? Nietzsche's thesis was that striving, self-centered man had killed God, and that settled that. The current death-of-God group* believes that God is indeed absolutely dead, but proposes to carry on and write a theology without theos, without God. Less radical Christian thinkers hold that at the very least God in the image of man, God sitting in heaven, is dead, and—in the central task of religion today—they seek to imagine and define a God who can touch men's emotions and engage men's minds.

If nothing else, the Christian atheists are waking the churches to the brutal reality that the basic premise of faith—the existence of a personal God, who created the world and sustains it with his love—is now subject to profound attack. "What is in question is God himself," warns German Theologian Heinz Zahrnt, "and the churches are fighting a hard defensive battle, fighting for every inch." "The basic theological problem today," says one thinker who has helped define it, Langdon Gilkey of the University of Chicago Divinity School, "is the reality of God."

A Time of No Religion. Some Christians, of course, have long held that Nietzsche was not just a voice crying in the wilderness. Even before Nietzsche, SÖren Kierkegaard warned that "the day when Christianity and the world become friends, Christianity is done away with." During World War II, the anti-Nazi Lutheran martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote prophetically to a friend from his Berlin prison cell: "We are proceeding toward a time of no religion at all."

For many, that time has arrived. Nearly one of every two men on earth lives in thralldom to a brand of totalitarianism that condemns religion as the opiate of the masses—which has stirred some to heroic defense of their faith but has also driven millions from any sense of God's existence. Millions more, in Africa, Asia and South America, seem destined to be born without any expectation of being summoned to the knowledge of the one God.

Princeton Theologian Paul Ramsey observes that "ours is the first attempt in recorded history to build a culture upon the premise that God is dead." In the traditional citadels of Christendom, grey Gothic cathedrals stand empty, mute witnesses to a rejected faith. From the scrofulous hobos of Samuel Beckett to Antonioni's tired-blooded aristocrats, the anti-heroes of modern art endlessly suggest that waiting for God is futile, since life is without meaning.

For some, this thought is a source of existential anguish: the Jew who lost his faith in a providential God at Auschwitz, the Simone de Beauvoir who writes:

"It was easier for me to think of a world without a creator than of a creator loaded with all the contradictions of the world." But for others, the God issue—including whether or not he is dead—has been put aside as irrelevant. "Personally, I've never been confronted with the question of God," says one such politely indifferent atheist, Dr. Claude Lévi-Strauss, professor of social anthropology at the Collège de France. "I find it's perfectly possible to spend my life knowing that we will never explain the universe." Jesuit Theologian John Courtney Murray points to another variety of unbelief: the atheism of distraction, people who are just "too damn busy" to worry about God at all.

Johannine Spirit. Yet, along with the new atheism has come a new reformation The open-window spirit of Pope John XXIII and Vatican II have re vitalized the Roman Catholic Church.

Less spectacularly but not less decisively, Protestantism has been stirred by a flurry of experimentation in liturgy, church structure, ministry. In this new Christianity, the watchword is witness: Protestant faith now means not intellectual acceptance of an ancient confession, but open commitment—perhaps best symbolized in the U.S. by the civil rights movement—to eradicating the evil and inequality that beset the world.

The institutional strength of the churches is nowhere more apparent than in the U.S., a country where public faith in God seems to be as secure as it was in medieval France. According to a survey by Pollster Lou Harris last year, 97% of the American people say they believe in God. Although clergymen agree that the postwar religious revival is over, a big majority of believers continue to display their faith by joining churches. In 1964, reports the National Council of Churches, denominational allegiance rose about 2%, compared with a population gain of less than 1.5%. More than 120 million Americans now claim a religious affiliation; and a recent Gallup survey indicated that 44% of them report that they attend church services weekly.

For uncounted millions, faith remains as rock-solid as Gibraltar. Evangelist Billy Graham is one of them. "I know that God exists because of my personal experience," he says. "I know that I know him. I've talked with him and walked with him. He cares about me and acts in my everyday life." Still another is Roman Catholic Playwright William Alfred, whose off-Broadway hit, Hogan's Goat, melodramatically plots a turn-of-the-century Irish immigrant's struggle to achieve the American dream. "People who tell me there is no God," he says, "are like a six-year-old boy saying that there is no such thing as passionate love—they just haven't experienced it."

Practical Atheists. Plenty of clergymen, nonetheless, have qualms about the quality and character of contemporary belief. Lutheran Church Historian Martin Marty argues that all too many pews are filled on Sunday with practical atheists—disguised nonbelievers who behave during the rest of the week as if God did not exist. Jesuit Murray qualifies his conviction that the U.S. is basically a God-fearing nation by adding: "The great American proposition is 'religion is good for the kids, though I'm not religious myself.' " Pollster Harris bears him out: of the 97% who said they believed in God, only 27% declared themselves deeply religious.

Christianity and Judaism have always had more than their share of men of little faith or none. "The fool says in his heart, 'there is no God,' " wrote the Psalmist, implying that there were plenty of such fools to be found in ancient Judea. But it is not faintness of spirit that the churches worry about now: it is doubt and bewilderment assailing committed believers.

Particularly among the young, there is an acute feeling that the churches on Sunday are preaching the existence of a God who is nowhere visible in their daily lives. "I love God," cries one anguished teenager, "but I hate the church." Theologian Gilkey says that "belief is the area in the modern Protestant church where one finds blankness, silence, people not knowing what to say or merely repeating what their preachers say." Part of the Christian mood today, suggests Christian Atheist William Hamilton, is that faith has become not a possession but a hope.

Anonymous Christianity. In search of meaning, some believers have desperately turned to psychiatry, Zen or drugs. Thousands of others have quietly abandoned all but token allegiance to the churches, surrendering themselves to a life of "anonymous Christianity" dedicated to civil rights or the Peace Corps. Speaking for a generation of young Roman Catholics for whom the dogmas of the church have lost much of their power, Philosopher Michael Novak of Stanford writes: "I do not understand God, nor the way in which he works. If, occasionally, I raise my heart in prayer, it is to no God I can see, or hear, or feel. It is to a God in as cold and obscure a polar night as any non-believer has known."

Even clergymen seem to be uncertain. "I'm confused as to what God is," says no less a person than Francis B. Sayre, the Episcopal dean of Washington's National Cathedral, "but so is the rest of America." Says Marty's colleague at the Chicago Divinity School, the Rev. Nathan Scott, who is also rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Hyde Park: "I look out at the faces of my people, and I'm not sure what meaning these words, gestures and rituals have for them."

Hydrogen & Carbon. To those who do formulate a God, he seems to be everything from a celestial gas to a kind of invisible honorary president "out there" in space, well beyond range of the astronauts. A young Washington scientist suggests that "God, if anything, is hydrogen and carbon. Then again, he might be thermonuclear fission, since that's what makes life on this planet possible." To a streetwalker in Tel Aviv,

"God will get me out of this filth one day. He is a God of mercy, dressed all in white and sitting on a golden throne." A Dutch charwoman says: "God is a ghost floating in space." Screenwriter Edward Anhalt (Becket) says that "God is an infantile fantasy, which was necessary when men did not understand what lightning was. God is a cop-out." A Greek janitor thinks that God is "like a fiery flame, so white that it can blind you." "God is all that I cannot understand," says a Roman seminarian. A Boston scientist describes God as "the totality of harmony in the universe." Playwright Alfred muses: "It is the voice which says, 'It's not good enough' —that's what God is."

Even though they know better, plenty of Christians find it hard to do away with ideas of God as a white-bearded father figure. William McCleary of Philadelphia, a Roman Catholic civil servant, sees God "a lot like he was explained to us as children. As an older man, who is just and who can get angry at us. I know this isn't the true picture, but it's the only one I've got."

Invisible Supermen. Why has God become so hard to believe in, so easy to dismiss as a nonbeing? The search for an answer begins in the complex—and still unfinished—history of man's effort to comprehend the idea that he might have a personal creator.

No one knows when the idea of a single god became part of mankind's spiritual heritage. It does seem certain that the earliest humans were religious. Believing the cosmos to be governed by some divine power, they worshiped every manifestation of it: trees, animals, earth and sky. To the more sophisticated societies of the ancient world, cosmological mystery was proof that there were many gods. Ancient Babylonia, for example, worshiped at least 700 deities. Yet even those who ranked highest in the divine hierarchies were hardly more than invisible supermen. The Zeus of ancient Greece, although supreme on Olympus, was himself subject to the whims of fate—and besides that was so afflicted by fits of lust that he was as much the butt of dirty jokes as an object of worship.

Much closer to the deity of modern monotheism was the Egyptian sun god Aten, which the Pharaoh Amenophis IV forced on his polytheistic people as "the only god, beside whom there is no other." But the Pharaoh's heresy died out after his death, and the message to the world that there was but one true God came from Egypt's tiny neighbor, Israel. It was not a sudden revelation. Some scholars believe that Yahweh was originally a tribal deity—a god whom the Hebrews worshiped and considered superior to the pagan gods adored by other nations. It is even questionable to some whether Moses understood Yahweh to be mankind's only God, the supreme lord of all creation. Even after the emergence of Israel's faith, there is plenty of Biblical evidence that the Hebrews were tempted to abandon it: the prophets constantly excoriate the chosen people for whoring after strange gods.

The God of Israel was so utterly beyond human comprehension that devout Jews neither uttered nor wrote his sacred name.* At the same time, Judaism has a unique sense of God's personal presence. Scripture records that he walked in the Garden of Eden with Adam, spoke familiarly on Mount Sinai with Moses, expressed an almost human anger and joy. Christianity added an even more mystifying dimension to the belief that the infinitely distant was infinitely near: the doctrine that God came down to earth in the person of a Jewish carpenter named Jesus, who died at Jerusalem around 26 A.D.

It was not an easy faith to define or defend, and the early church, struggling to rid itself of heresy, turned to an intellectual weapon already forged and near at hand: the metaphysical language of Greece. The alliance of Biblical faith and Hellenic reason culminated in the Middle Ages. Although they acknowledged that God was ultimately unknowable, the medieval scholastics devoted page after learned page of their summas to discussions of the divine attributes—his omnipotence, immutability, perfection, eternity. Although infinitely above men, God was seen as the apex of a great pyramid of being that extended downward to the tiniest stone, the ultimate ruler of an ordered cosmos cooperatively governed by Christian church and Christian state.

Undermining Faith. Christians are sometimes inclined to look back nostalgically at the medieval world as the great age of faith. In his book, The Death of God, Gabriel Vahanian of Syracuse University suggests that actually it was the beginning of the divine demise. Christianity, by imposing its faith on the art, politics and even economics of a culture, unconsciously made God part of that culture—and when the world changed, belief in this God was undermined. Now "God has disappeared because of the image of him that the church used for many, many ages," says Dominican Theologian Edward Schillebeeckx.

At its worst, the image that the church gave of God was that of a wonder worker who explained the world's mysteries and seemed to have somewhat more interest in punishing men than rewarding them. Life was a vale of tears, said the church; men were urged to shun the pleasure of life if they would serve God, and to avoid any false step or suffer everlasting punishment in hell. It did little to establish the credibility of this "God" that medieval theologians categorized his qualities as confidently as they spelled out different kinds of sin, and that churchmen spoke about him as if they had just finished having lunch with him.

The Secular Rebellion. The rebellion against this God of faith is best summed up by the word secularization. In The Secular City, Harvey Cox of the Harvard Divinity School defines the term as "the loosing of the world from religious and quasi-religious understandings of itself, the dispelling of all closed world views, the breaking of all supernatural myths and sacred symbols." Slowly but surely, it dawned on men that they did not need God to explain, govern or justify certain areas of life.

The development of capitalism, for example, freed economics from church control and made it subject only to marketplace supply and demand. Political theorists of the Enlightenment proved that law and government were not institutions handed down from on high, but things that men had created themselves. The 18th century deists argued that man as a rational animal was capable of developing an ethical system that made as much sense as one based on revelation. Casting a cold eye on the complacency of Christianity before such evils as slavery, poverty and the factory system, such 19th century atheists as Karl Marx and Pierre Joseph Proudhon declared that the churches and their God would have to go if ever man was to be free to shape and improve his destiny.

But the most important agent in the secularizing process was science. The Copernican revolution was a shattering blow to faith in a Bible that assumed the sun went round the earth and could be stopped in its tracks by divine intervention, as Joshua claimed. And while many of the pioneers of modern science —Newton and Descartes, for example —were devout men, they assiduously explained much of nature that previously seemed godly mysteries. Others saw no need for such reverential lip service. When he was asked by Napoleon why there was no mention of God in his new book about the stars, the French astronomer Laplace coolly answered: "I had no need of the hypothesis." Neither did Charles Darwin, in uncovering the evidence of evolution.

Prestige of Science. Faith in God survived scientific attack only when the churches came to realize that the reli gious language of the Bible is what Theologian Krister Stendahl calls "poetry-plus, rather than science-minus." Nowadays not even fundamentalists are upset by the latest cosmological theories of astronomers. Quasars, everyone agrees, neither prove nor disprove divine creation; by pushing back the boundaries of knowledge 8 billion light years without finding a definite answer, they do, in a way, admit its possibility. Nonetheless, science still presents a challenge to faith—in a new and perhaps more dangerous way.

Anglican Theologian David Jenkins points out that the prestige of science is so great that its standards have seeped into other areas of life; in effect, knowledge has become that which can be known by scientific study—and what cannot be known that way somehow seems uninteresting, unreal. In previous ages, the man of ideas, the priest or the philosopher was regarded as the font of wisdom. Now, says Jenkins, the sage is more likely to be an authority "trained in scientific methods of observing phenomena, who bases what he says on a corpus of knowledge built up by observation and experiment and constantly verified by further processes of practice and observation." The prestige of science has been helped along by the analytic tradition of philosophy, which tends to limit "meaningful" ideas and statements to those that can be verified. It is no wonder, then, that even devout believers are empirical in outlook, and find themselves more at home with vis ible facts than unseen abstractions.

Socialization has immunized man against the wonder and mystery of existence, argues Oxford Theologian Ian Ramsey. "We are now sheltered from all the great crises of life. Birth is a kind of discontinuity between the prenatal and post-natal clinics, while death just takes somebody out of the community, possibly to the tune of prerecorded hymns at the funeral parlor." John Courtney Murray suggests that man has lost touch with the transcendent dimension in the transition from a rural agricultural society to an urbanized, technological world. The effect has been to veil man from what he calls natural symbols—the seasonal pattern of growth—that in the past reminded men of their own finiteness. The question is, says Murray, "whether or not a contemporary industrial civilization can construct symbols that can help us understand God."

Teach-in for God. Secularization, science, urbanization—all have made it comparatively easy for the modern man to ask where God is, and hard for the man of faith to give a convincing answer, even to himself. It is precisely to this problem—how do men talk of God in the context of a culture that rejects the transcendent, the beyond?—that theologians today are turning. In part, this reflects popular demand and pastoral need. "God is the question that interests laymen the most," says David Edwards, editor of the Anglican SCM Press. Last month the University of Colorado sponsored a teach-in on God, featuring William Hamilton and Dr. George Forell of the University of Iowa's School of Religion; more than 1,700 people showed up for the seven-hour session—a greater turnout than for a recent similar talkfest on Viet Nam. At the University of California at Santa Barbara, students and faculty jammed two lecture halls to hear Harvey Cox talk on "The 'Death of God' and the Future of Theology."

"If you want to have a well-attended lecture," says Rabbi Abraham Heschel, a visiting professor at Manhattan's Union Theological Seminary, "discuss God and faith." Ministers have found that currently there is no easier way to boost Sunday attendance than to post "Is God Dead?" as the topic of their next sermon.

The new theological approach to the problem of God is not that of the ages when solid faith could be assumed. No serious theologian today would attempt to describe the qualities of God as the medieval scholastic did with such assurance. Gone, too, is any attempt to prove God by reason alone.* For one thing, every proof seems to have a plausible refutation; for another, only a committed Thomist is likely to be spiritually moved by the realization that there is a self-existent Prime Mover. "Faith in God is more than an intellectual belief," says Dr. John Macquarrie of Union Theological Seminary. "It is a total attitude of the self."

Four Options. What unites the various contemporary approaches to the problem of God is the conviction that the primary question has become not what God is, but how men are justified in using the word. There is no unanimity about how to solve this problem, although theologians seem to have four main options: stop talking about God for awhile, stick to what the Bible says, formulate a new image and concept of God using contemporary thought categories, or simply point the way to areas of human experience that indicate the presence of something beyond man in life.

It is not only the Christian Atheists who think it pointless to talk about God. Some contemporary ministers and theologians, who have no doubts that he is alive, suggest that the church should stop using the word for awhile, since it is freighted with unfortunate meanings. They take their clue from Bonhoeffer, whose prison-cell attempt to work out a "nonreligious interpretation of Biblical concepts" focused on Jesus as "the man for others." By talking almost exclusively about Christ, the argument goes, the church would be preaching a spiritual hero whom even non-believers can admire. Yale's Protestant Chaplain William Sloane Coffin reports that "a girl said to me the other day, 'I don't know whether I'll ever believe in God, but Jesus is my kind of guy.' "

In a sense, no Christian doctrine of God is possible without Jesus, since the suffering redeemer of Calvary is the only certain glimpse of the divine that churches have. But a Christ-centered theology that skirts the question of God raises more questions than it answers. Does it not run the risk of slipping into a variety of ethical humanism? And if Jesus is not clearly related in some way to God, why is he a better focus of faith than Buddha, Socrates or even Albert Camus? Rather than accept this alternative, a majority of Christians would presumably prefer to stay with the traditional language of revelation at any cost. And it is not merely conservative evangelists who believe that the words and ideas of Scripture have lost neither relevance nor meaning. Suich a modern novelist as John Updike begins his poem Seven Stanzas at Easter:

Make no mistake: if He rose at all it was as His body; if the cells' dissolution did not reverse, the molecules reknit, the amino acids rekindle, the Church will fall.

The century's greatest Protestant theologian, Karl Barth of Switzerland, has consistently warned his fellow churchmen that God is a "wholly other" being, whom man can only know by God's self-revelation in the person of Christ, as witnessed by Scripture. Any search for God that starts with human experience, Barth warns, is a vain quest that will discover only an idol, not the true God at all.

Holy Being. The word of God, naked and unadorned, may be fine for the true believer, but some theologians argue that Biblical terminology has ceased to be part of the world's vocabulary, and is in danger of becoming a special jargon as incomprehensible to some as the equations of physicists. To bridge this communications gap, they have tried to reinterpret the concept of God into contemporary philosophical terms. Union Seminary's John Macquarrie, for example, proposes a description of God based on Martin Heidegger's existential philosophy, which is primarily concerned with explaining the nature of "being" as such. To Heidegger, "being" is an incomparable, transcendental mystery, something that confers existence on individual, particular beings. Macquarrie calls Heidegger's mystery "Holy Being," since it represents what Christians have traditionally considered God.

Other philosophical theologians, such as Schubert Ogden of Southern Methodist University and John Cobb of the Southern California School of Theology, have been working out a theism based on the process thinking of Alfred North Whitehead. In their view, God is changing with the universe. Instead of thinking of God as the immutable Prime Mover of the universe, argues Ogden, it makes more sense to describe him as "the ultimate effect" and as "the eminently relative One, whose openness to change contingently on the actions of others is literally boundless." In brief, the world is creating God as much as he is creating it.

Perhaps the most enthusiastic propagandists for a new image of God are the Tweedledum and Tweedledee of Anglican theology, Bishop Robinson of Woolwich, England, and Bishop James A. Pike of California. Both endorse the late Paul Tillich's concept of God as "the ground of being." Pike, who thinks that the church should have fewer but better dogmas, also suggests that the church should abandon the Trinity, on the ground that it really seems to be preaching three Gods instead of one. Christianity, in his view, should stop attributing specific actions to persons of the Trinity—creation to the Father, redemption to the Son, inspiration to the Holy Spirit—and just say that they were all the work of God.

Discernment Situations. The contem porary world appears so biased against metaphysics that any attempt to find philosophical equivalents for God may well be doomed to failure. "God," says Jerry Handspicker of the World Council of Churches, "has suffered from too many attempts to define the indefinable." Leaving unanswered the question of what to say God is, some theologians are instead concentrating on an exploration of the ultimate and unconditional in modern life. Their basic point is that while modern men have rejected God as a solution to life, they cannot evade a questioning anxiety about its meaning. The apparent eclipse of God is merely a sign that the world is experiencing what Jesuit Theologian Karl Rahner calls "the anonymous presence" of God, whose word comes to man not on tablets of stone but in the inner murmurings of the heart.

Following Tillich, Langdon Gilkey argues that the area of life dealing with the ultimate and with mystery points the way toward God. "When we ask, 'Why am I?' 'What should I become and be?', 'What is the meaning of my life?'—then we are exploring or encountering that region of experience where language about the ultimate becomes useful and intelligible." That is not to say that God is necessarily found in the depths of anxiety. "Rather we are in the region of our experience where God may be known, and so where the meaningful usage of this word can be found." To Ian Ramsey of Oxford, this area of ultimate concern offers what he calls "discernment situations"—events that can be the occasion for insight, for awareness of something beyond man. It is during these insight situations, Ramsey says, that the universe "comes alive, declares some transcendence, and to which we respond by ourselves coming alive and finding another dimension."

A discernment situation could be fall ing in love, suffering cancer, reading a book. But it need not be a private experience. The Rev. Stephen Rose, editor of Chicago's Renewal magazine, argues that "whenever the prophetic word breaks in, either as judgment or as premise, that's when the historical God acts." One such situation, he suggests, was Watts—an outburst of violence that served to chide men for lack of brotherhood. Harvard's Harvey Cox sees God's hand in history, but in a different way. The one area where empirical man is open to transcendence, he argues, is the future: man can be defined as the creature who hopes, who has taken responsibility for the world. Cox proposes a new theology based on the premise that God is the source and ground of this hope—a God "ahead" of man in history rather than "out there"in space.

German Theologian Gerhard Ebeling of Tubingen University finds an arrow pointing the way to God in the problem in language. A word, he suggests, is not merely a means of conveying information; it is also a symbol of man's power over nature and of his basic impotence: one man cannot speak except to another, and language itself possesses a power that eludes his mastery of it. God, he proposes, is the source of the mystery hidden in language, or, as he obscurely puts it, "the basic situation of man as word-situation."

"The Kingdom Within You." For those with a faith that can move mountains, all this tentative groping for God in human experience may seem unnecessary. The man-centered approach to God runs against Earth's warning that a "God" found in human depths may be an imagined idol—or a neurosis that could be dissolved on the psychiatrist's couch. Rudolf Bultmann answers that these human situations of anxiety and discernment represent "transformations of God," and are the only way that secular man is likely to experience any sense of the eternal and unconditional.

This theological approach is not without scriptural roots. A God who writes straight with crooked lines in human history is highly Biblical in outlook. The quest for God in the depths of experience echoes Jesus' words to his Apostles, "The kingdom of God is within you." And the idea of God's anonymous presence suggests Matthew's account of the Last Judgment, when Jesus will separate the nations, telling those on his right: "I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink." But when? they ask. "And the King will answer them, Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.' "

The theological conviction that God is acting anonymously in human history is not likely to turn many atheists toward him. Secular man may be anxious, but he is also convinced that anxiety can be explained away. As always, faith is something of an irrational leap in the dark, a gift of God. And unlike in earlier centuries, there is no way today for churches to threaten or compel men to face that leap; after Dachau's mass sadism and Hiroshima's instant death, there are all too many real possibilities of hell on earth.

The new approaches to the problem of God, then, will have their greatest impact within the church community. They may help shore up the faith of many believers and, possibly, weaken that of others. They may also lead to a more realistic, and somewhat more abstract, conception of God. "God will be seen as the order in which life takes on meaning, as being, as the source of creativity," suggests Langdon Gilkey. "The old-fashioned personal God who merely judges, gives grace and speaks to us in prayer, is, after all, a pretty feeble God." Gilkey does not deny the omnipotence of God, nor undervalue personal language about God as a means of prayer and worship. But he argues that Christianity must go on escaping from its too-strictly anthropomorphic past, and still needs to learn that talk of God is largely symbolic.

No More Infallibilities. The new quest for God, which respects no church boundaries, should also contribute to ecumenism. "These changes make many of the old disputes seem pointless, or at least secondary," says Jesuit Theologian Avery Dulles. The churches, moreover, will also have to accept the empiricism of the modern outlook and become more secular themselves, recognizing that God is not the property of the church, and is acting in history as he wills, in encounters for which man is forever unprepared.

To some, this suggests that the church might well need to take a position of reverent agnosticism regarding some doctrines that it had previously proclaimed with excessive conviction.

Many of the theologians attempting to work out a new doctrine of God admit that they are uncertain as to the impact of their ultimate findings on other Christian truths; but they agree that such God-related issues as personal salvation in the afterlife and immortality will need considerable re-study. But Christian history allows the possibility of development in doctrine, and even an admission of ignorance in the face of the divine mystery is part of tradition. St. Thomas Aquinas declared that "we cannot know what God is, but rather what he is not."

Gabriel Vahanian suggests that there may well be no true faith without a measure of doubt, and thus contemporary Christian worry about God could be a necessary and healthy antidote to centuries in which faith was too con fident and sure. Perhaps today, the Christian can do no better than echo the prayer of the worried father who pleaded with Christ to heal his spirit-possessed son: "I believe; help my unbelief."

*Principally Thomas J. J. Altizer of Emory University, William Hamilton of Colgate Rochester Divinity School, and Paul Van Buren of Temple University. Satirizing the basic premise of their new non-theology, the Methodist student magazine motive recently ran an obituary of God in newspaper style: "ATLANTA, Ga., Nov. 9—God, creator of the universe, principal deity of the world's Jews, ultimate reality of Christians, and most eminent of all divinities, died late yesterday during major surgery undertaken to correct a massive diminishing influence. "Reaction from the world's great and from the man in the street was uniformly incredulous . . . From Independence, Mo., former President Harry S. Truman, who received the news in his Kansas City barbershop, said 'I'm always sorry to hear somebody is dead. It's a damn shame." *Almost impossible to translate, the name Yahweh means roughly "I am who I am" or "He causes to be." *Probably the most famous proofs for God's existence are the five ways of St. Thomas Aquinas, all drawn from the nature of the universe, that he sets out in his Summa Theologiae. Aquinas' first proof, for example, is that certain things in the world are seen to be in a state of motion or change. But something cannot be changed or moved except by another, and yet there cannot be an infinite series of movers. Therefore, there must be a first, or prime mover that is not moved or changed by anything else—and this is God.