Classic and contemporary excerpts

“Good” People?

Most of the evil in this world does not come from evil people. It comes from people who consider themselves good.

—Reinhold Neibuhr

Too Different

In recent years I have become increasingly aware of the dangerous possibility of making the Word of God sensational. Just as people can watch spellbound a circus artist tumbling through the air in a phosphorized costume, so they can listen to a preacher who uses the Word of God to draw attention to himself. But a sensational preacher stimulates the senses and leaves the spirit untouched. Instead of being the way to God, his “being different” gets in the way.

—Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Genesee Diary

Theology And Tractor Mechanics

Theologian as occupation holds no exalted place in my hierarchy of paying jobs. I am not a theologian for the same reason I am not a tractor mechanic—occupational choice.

Yet I am a tractor mechanic. Yesterday I took the distributor cap off the old machine I had left in the snow and dried the condenser. The tractor still would not start, but in that act I became a mechanic. In the same fashion I have a neighbor, an electrician by occupation, who is a theologian. He told me he would not teach his child to pray “Now I lay me down to sleep …” because, he said, the words could be a reminder to God to put her on His agenda that night. That is a theological statement because it is a statement about the kind of God God is. My neighbor is a “little theologian,” as Barth put it. And I am a little tractor mechanic.

—Will Campbell, writing in Christianity and Crisis (Feb. 20, 1984)

My Log, Your Speck

I can truthfully say that I am slow to see the blemishes of fellow beings, being myself full of them. And, therefore, being in need ...

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