Tag Archives: identity


A few quotes from Karl Martin’s book “Stand.” (which reveals an extensive and well indexed reading history).

Today you are You, that is truer than true.  There is no alive who is Youer than you.  – Dr. Seuss, Happy Birthday to you.

‘But what about all the miracles?  The healints? Raising people from the dead?  Doesn’t that prove that Jesus was God?  You know, more than human?’

‘No, it proves that Jesus is truly human.’


(The Shack, William P Young).

…eye contact is the most intimacy two people can have = forget sex – because the optic nerve is technically an extension of the brain, and when tow people look ito each other’s eyes, it’s brain-to-brain.  (Douglas Coupland, Hey Nostradamus)

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Now and Then

Because the word that God speaks to us is always an incarnate word – a word spelled out to us no alphabetically, in syllables, but enigmatically, in events – page 3

Maybe the God who offered everything, at the same time, demanded everything – page 11

No particular religion matters.  Neither yours nor ours.  But I want to tell you something that happened that matters, something that judges you and me, your religion and my religion.  A New Creation has occurred, a New Being has appeared; and we are all asked to participate in it…Don’t compare your religion and our religion, your rites and our rites, your prophets and our prophets …All this is of no avail.  We want only to show you something we have seen and to tell you something we have heard… that here and there in the world and now and then in ourselves is a New Creation, usually hidden, but sometimes manifest, and certainly manifest in Jesus who is called the Christ. – page 14

The Shack

You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you – Frederick Buechner, Telling the Truth – page 209

An infinite God can give all of Himself to each of his children.  He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one he gives all of himself as fully as if there were no others – A.W. Tozer (page 218)

Earth has no sorry that heaven cannot heal – author unknown (page 231)

She lives where there is no impatience.  She does not mind waiting. (page 235)

Faith never knows where it is being led.  But it knows and loves the one who does the leading. – Oswald Chambers, page 239

Earth’s crammed with heaven

And every common bush afire with God

But only he who sees takes off his shoes

The rest sit around it and pluck blackberries – Elizabeth Berrett Browning

Risky Mission

By the mid-eighteenth century the Dutch were baffled and furious to find that there were more Catholics than members of the Dutch Reformed Church in Ceylon, despite all its official favour, and when Dutch rule ended, the Reformed Church there collapsed unlike Catholicism.  The initiative by an insider to the subcontinent showed how an indigenous foundation might survive when Christian missions begun and run by Europeans might rise and fall in step with the ability of Europeans to sustain them.


(page 704)


The boldest experiment in India was made  by an Italian Jesuit, Robert de Nobili (1577-1656).  He took the unprecedented step of living in southern India as if he were a high0caste Indian, adopting dress appropriate to Indian holy man.  Becoming fluent in the appropriate languages, he also took particular care to point out to those to whom he preached that he was not a Parangi (a Portugese).  Higher-caste Hindus still tended to ignore him, but his strategy did produce results in establishing his guru status among lower-caste people.  The Portuguese authorities fiercely opposed de Nobili, but finally lost their case against him in Rome in 1623l his reports back to Europe in the course of these disputes are among the earliest careful western European accounts of Hinduism and Buddhism.  Whatever success the Church had in the Tamil country of south India was entirely thanks to Nobili and his Italian successors, but their work suffered during the eighteenth century both from sever Muslim persecution and, as in South America, from the general suppression of the Society of Jesus.

(page 705)

Adam’s Return – Part 9 – Initiations

(page 124)

Now we need enlightend and transformed magicians, lovers of life and beauty, and strong nonviolent warrior to produce truly big-picture men – or kings.


(page 126)

Buy if you wish to know how things come about, desire not understanding: ask for grace not instruction, the groaning of prayer not diligent reading, the Spouse not the teacher, God not man, darkness not clarity, not light but the fire.  St. Bonaventure.


(page 126)

The uninitiated man stops with the accumulation of facts and information; he does not discipline it (warrior), taste it (lover) or integrate it with the big picture (king).


(page 128)

“Sell your cleverness and purchase bewilderment instead” – Viktor Frankl


Ever after all this time, the sun never say to the earth, “You owe me.”  Look what happens with a love like that, it lights up the whole sky. – Hafiz, Master and poet


Ours is the only religion in the world that dares to believe that God becomes flesh.  The only religion that chews on the flesh of God has a very sensuous, sexual symbol for the transformation of the lover; we call it the Eucharist.  Christianity says that God is Love but does not appear to really enjoy the lover.  Despite all the Bach Masses, Baroque churches, incense, vestments and luxuriant art, we still made our religion into a moralistic matter instead of a mystical joy.  Our operative God image was much more a banker, a judge, a timekeeper, or an accountant, but seldom a real lover – in any sense that the normal man understands.  Like Michal, the daughter of Saul, we despise David for dancing half-naked in Church (1 Samuel 6:16), we look away from Shakers, Pentecostals and holy rollers.  Religion should be a proper and dignified thing, we think.  The hot sins for Baptist and Catholics are always associated with the body.  This is no religion of incarnation. (page 130)


The most loving men I have met, the generous to society and to life, are usually men who also have a lusty sense of life, beauty, pleasure and sex – but they have very realistic expectations of them.  (page 131)


The Lower Classes Smell


Our civilisation, pace Chesterton, is founded on coal, more completely than one realises until one stops to thinking about it.  The machines that keep us alive, and the machines that make the machines, are all directly or indirectly dependent upon coal,  In the metabolism of the Western world the coal-miners is second in importance only to the man who ploughs the soil. He is a sort grimy caryatid upon whose shoulders nearly everything that is not grimy is supported.

Orwell captures the odious nature of this caste system by seizing upon an axionm that eludes simple propositional articulation.  As he puts it, “the real secret of class distinctions in the West”! can be “summed up in four frightful words” that are often left unuttered; The lower classes smell. Orwell’s points is that the root of class distinctions in England is not intellectual it’s olfactory,  The habits and rhythms of the system are not so much cerebral as visceral they are rooted in a bodily orientation to the world that eludes theoretical articulation, which is why theoretical tirades also fail to displace it.

Orwell later speaks of his education in the English public school system:

You forget your Greek and your Latin within a few months of leaving school = I studied Greek for eight or ten years, and now, at thirty-three, I cannot even repeat the Greek alphabet – but your snobbishness, unless you persistently root it out like the blindweed it is, sticks by you till your grave.

Smith then concludes

“This may help us picture what it means to talk about education as formation.  But it might also be an occasion to ask whether a Christian education could have the same odious effects as a public school education. Could we offer a Christian education that is loaded with all sorts of Christian ideas and information – and yet be offering a formation that runs counter to that vision?”

Old Year Sunday

The first was to imagine an edition of the X-Factor, and against the backdrop of this year’s show where viewers were urged to vote for Mary and save her from going back to Tesco.

So imagine the X-Factor, we have just had the theme, the sonerous voice-over, the reminder that the contestants will giving the performance of their lives, the portentous background music of Carmina Burana, Dermot appears, talks up the show, and then announces the arrival of the X-Factor judges.

The dry ice-pumps, the doors draw back, the fireworks descend from the ceiling, and the judges appear.

“Louis Walsh” says sonerous voice-over man – Louis grins inanely

“Danni Minogue” – Danni smiles, savouring the moment, she might not be here next year,

“Cheryl Cole” – Cheryl stands, salutes her an public

and “Simon Cowell” – the camera cuts to empty space on the stage, dry ice, sparklers but no Simon.

Dermot rushes onto stage, an envelope is thrust into his hand, Dermot opens the envelope, white with shock, reads out it’s contents.  Simon has left the show to spend the next thirty three years working on a checkout at Tesco.

The other illustration related to the news that 14,000 families had been displaced fleeing violence in the Ivory Coast.

I had shown my concern about the situation by making the effort to drag my mouse across other more frivolous stories on the BBC webstie to click on the headline.  Furthermore, in a remarkable demonstration of International solidarity, I had pressed paged down repeatedly to reach the end of the article.

If I wanted to demonstrate further commitment, I might endeavour to send some money.

I may even take out a direct debit, to ensure my giving was regular.

If I was even more commited I might undertake to pray on a regular basis for the people of the Ivory Coast.

If the depth of my love stretched to its limit, I might choose to leave my job, my family, my home; I might invest my remaining savings in a flight to Nigeria and then on to the Ivory Coast, and resolved to spend the remainder of life with the people of Sierra Leone.

As I left, people might comment, “See how much he cares for these people.”

What must the angels have said the day that the Word left the side of the Father to enter the womb of Mary.  “See how much he loves those people… see how much he loves.”

And nine months later they sang

“Glory God in the Highest and Peace to those on whom his favour rests.”

Ordinary Things

These I have loved:
White plates and cups, clean-gleaming,
Ringed with blue lines; and feathery, fairy dust;
Wet roofs, beneath the lamplight; the strong crust
Of friendly bread; and many-tasting food;

Rainbows; and the blue bitter smoke of wood;
And radiant raindrops couching in cool flowers;
And flowers themselves, that sway through sunny hours,
Dreaming of moths that drink them under the moon;

Then, the cool kindliness of sheets, that soon
Smooth away trouble; and the rough male kiss
Of blankets; grainy wood; live hair that is
Shining and free; blue-massing clouds; the keen
Unpassioned beauty of a great machine;

The benison of hot water;
The good smell of old clothes; and other such–
The comfortable smell of friendly fingers,
Hair’s fragrance, and the musty reek that lingers
About dead leaves and last year’s ferns. . . .

Dear names,
And thousand other throng to me! Royal flames;
Sweet water’s dimpling laugh from tap or spring;
Holes in the ground; and voices that do sing;
Voices in laughter, too; and body’s pain,
Soon turned to peace; and the deep-panting train;
Firm sands; the little dulling edge of foam
That browns and dwindles as the wave goes home;
And washen stones, gay for an hour; the cold
Graveness of iron; moist black earthen mould;
Sleep; and high places; footprints in the dew;
And oaks; and brown horse-chestnuts, glossy-new;
And new-peeled sticks; and shining pools on grass;–
All these have been my loves. And these shall pass,

Whatever passes not, in the great hour,
Nor all my passion, all my prayers, have power
To hold them with me through the gate of Death.
They’ll play deserter, turn with the traitor breath,
Break the high bond we made, and sell Love’s trust
And sacramented covenant to the dust.
—-Oh, never a doubt but, somewhere, I shall wake,
And give what’s left of love again, and make
New friends, now strangers. . . .

Becoming Less Human

Having become a neighbour through Jesus’ story, we find another neighbour to love at the every turn of the road. [the link with the Good Samaritan] (page 45)

So Luke, as he composes his Travel Narrative, recounts a Jesus story that does for a depersonalised God what the Samaritan story did for all our depersonalised neighbours.  Jesus immerses us in a way of language that keeps us thoroughly and absolutely personal in our approach to God, which is to say, in our prayers. (page 46)


Reveal who you are.

Set the world right

Keep us alive with three square meals.

Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.

Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil” (page 46)

This Is High Bible

The text commentary looks something like:

0 – 2:45 Going to a prison and meeting a man who death row who had become a Christian.  He wanted to talk about “our book” – “I love the fact that it is so long and that you never get to the bottom of it.”

2:45  John 1 is “High Bible”

3:45 Jesus is “The Word” in the same way that Frank Sinatra is the “The Voice”.  Riffs on Sinatra as the voice that filled American bedrooms as 10 million American bedrooms were conceived.

John 1:14 is a statement so profound that “none of us can touch it”

SlugC.S. Lewis said that if you want to know what this is like, you should imagine becoming a slug.

7 He tented amongst us.  This is a reference to the desert travels when God tented with the Israelites.  The meaning was that if God is in his tent then everything is going to be okay.

9  Riffs on the fleshiness of Jesus, that Jesus did not know, may have had hay fever and when he prayed for disciples he Judas as one of the answers to his prayers. He had thighs criss-crossed with nerve endings that stung when they were whipped.

Jesus was also God – he sent sins away, sent diseases away.

Word of God is also the Deed of God – the feet of God went to the Leper’s shack, and knees of God bent as he washed disciples’ feet.

The miracle of the water into wine is, according to Gregory the Great, nature speeded up.

It’s as if God couldn’t do the terrible work of atonement without being flesh.

12:55 The woman showed up at the tomb on Easter Sunday morning. So much of love is just about showing up.  Words don’t really have meaning until they have flesh.

13 Story of Lincoln with a soldier during the American Civil War.

We have seen his glory.  Glory is presence like the Shekinah.   Jesus shows his glory (chapter 12) by getting killed.  Only an evil heart would glory in the death of JFK, only a racist heart would glory in the death of Martin Luther King, but the glory of Jesus is in his death.

22 – The atonement is Jesus taking the whole evil of the world onto his soldiers and not giving it back, thus cutting the loop of vengeance that is passed down through the ages.  This is a howling wilderness event (brilliant reading of John 3:14 and John 12:32) where people are magnetically drawn to God’s speciality, that God saves.

23 Grace and Truth – Jesus is the only man who had both.  Some of us have grace but no truth; some of us truth but no grace.  It is hard to get these two programs up and running at the same time.  Who can warn you without offending you?  Who can praise you without flattering you?  Who can write an honest letter of recommendation?  Or refuse to write one?  Who can tell a friend what they need to hear, not what they want to hear, but what they need to hear, and do it so graciously that at the end of the day the friendship is stronger?  There are a lot of people who can’t be straightforward.  They can’t tell the truth.  They hedge and doge.  The write letters of recommendation that you can’t tell what they are trying to say.  “You will indeed be fortunate”, they write, “if you get can this person to work for you.”  “I can’t say too many good things about her.”