2.26.2007


Thirsty hearts are those whose longings have been wakened by the touch of God within them. - A.W. Tozer

I recently finished reading The Sacred Romance (although the sidebar won't reflect that, or anything else I've read / watched / listened to in the last couple years). I have to say that this is the first book I've read in quite a while that either a) caused me to begin making some life changes from the rut I was in prior to reading it, or b) been quality enough that I plan to re-read it shortly.

One of the things I liked best about the book was the humility that was evident in the writers' style. This is a humility I see in what I consider to be the best of writers and orators: they are not afraid to rely heavily on the previous wisdom of others. They offer a unique and relevant point of view, however it is clear that their thoughts are heavily seasoned with what they have learned from those who went before them - and are quick to quote and cite these sources. C.S. Lewis is an excellent example of this, relying heavily on the ancient church fathers. I also like my pastor's style for this reason - of course it helps when the person employing this tactic is as well read as men like these.

Some examples, with related thoughts from the authors:

Power can do everything but the most important thing: it cannot control love.... In a concentration camp, the guards possess almost unlimited power. By applying force, they can make you renounce your God, curse your family, work without pay, eat human excrement, kill and then bury your closest friend or even your mother. All this is within their power. Only one thing is not: they cannot force you to love them. This fact may help explain why God sometimes seems shy to use his power. He created us to love him, but his most impressive displays of miracle - the kind we may secretly long for - do nothing to foster that love. As Douglas John Hall has put it, "God's problem is not that God is not able to do certain things. God's problem is that God loves. Love complicates the life of God as it complicates every life. - Phillip Yancey

Satan gets us to side with him by sowing the seed of doubt in our first parents' minds: "God's heart really isn't good. He's holding out on you. You've got to take things into your own hands." And Paradise was lost.

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We come into the world with a longing to be known and a deep-seated fear that we aren't what we should be. We are set up for a crisis of identity. And then, says Frederick Buechner, the world goes to work:

Starting with the rather too pretty young woman and the charming but rather unstable young man, who together know no more about being parents than they do the far side of the moon, the world sets in to making us what the world would like us to be, and because we have to survive after all, we try to make ourselves into something that we hope the world will like better than it apparently did the selves we originally were. That is the story of all our lives, needless to say, and in the process of living out that story, the original, shimmering self gets buried so deep that most of us hardly end up living out of it at all. Instead, we live out all the other selves which we are constantly putting on and taking off like coats and hats against the world's weather. (Telling Secrets)

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We have all read in scientific books, and indeed, in all romances, the story of the man who has forgotten his name. This man walks about the streets and can see and appreciate everything; only he cannot remember who he is. Well, every man is that man in the story. Every man has forgotten who he is.... We are all under the same mental calamity; we have all forgotten our names. We have all forgotten what we really are. (Orthodoxy) - G.K. Chesterton

Every woman is in some way searching for or running from her beauty and every man is looking for or avoiding his strength.

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It is impossible to live the spiritual life in the ontological lightness of doing because our hearts and minds have become enemies rather than allies. Neither are we free to love or serve.

All in all, the book had a powerful message which resonated thoroughly with me at the time that I read it. That, however, is a caveat in and of itself - I don't believe it is a book that's been aimed at people who aren't in that point in their life that they are ready to hear its message. And I think that I just barely got to that point before I finally cracked this book, in God's good timing. For the first time in a long time, I'm not quite so skeptical on hope.

1 comment:

ellen said...

Yeah, really good book. And I totally agree about writers who reference other authors. Thanks for reminding me that I've been meaning to read some of the works referenced in "The Sacred Romance."