Classic and contemporary excerpts.


The men who created the European ideal … believed it to mean a commitment to certain political values: social pluralism, political democracy, human rights, free markets. In the 1990s being European has declined into a matter of taste: for wine made in France, fashions made in Milan, cars made in Düsseldorf. Heaven forbid that style choices should commit you to believe in anything.

—Michael Ignatieff in “Can Russia Return to Europe?” (Harper’s, April 1992)

Using power aright

The great agony of the Christian statesman turns on the proper use of great power for moral ends.

—Edward L. R. Elson in a letter to President Dwight Eisenhower

A more shameful crucifixion

Not Herod, not Caiaphas, not Pilate, not Judas ever contrived to fasten upon Jesus Christ the reproach of insipidity; that final indignity was left for pious hands to inflict. To make of His story something that could neither startle, nor shock, nor terrify, nor excite, nor inspire a living soul is to crucify the Son of God afresh and put Him to an open shame.

—Dorothy L. Sayers in The Man Born to Be King

What direction are we growing?

The focus of health in the soul is humility, while the root of inward corruption is pride. In the spiritual life, nothing stands still. If we are not constantly growing downward into humility, we shall be steadily swelling up and running to seed under the influence of pride.

J. I. Packer in Rediscovering Holiness

Whatever happened to artistic integrity?

Decadence has bloomed.… [T]oday wallowing-in-animal-entrails art and self-inflicted-gunshot art can hardly stir up a yawn.

Not that the art wars are drawing to a close. Critics still act like forward observers searching for enemies of the avant garde, and dealers plot strategies. More than anyone else, however, it is artists, particularly the young ones, who learn art as a conquest and are giving corruption a bad name in the process. Thirty years ago artists struggled endlessly to keep their need to succeed—or just pay the rent—from [destroying] their integrity. These days the fledgling hip have no time for all that; they are too busy tailoring their art to meet the market.

—Cliff McReynolds in “Art and the Successful O.D.” (CIVA Newsletter, 1992, No. 2)

Made to stretch

God created man something on the order of a rubber band. A rubber band is made to stretch. When it is not being stretched, it is small and relaxed; but as long as it remains in that shape, it is not doing what it was made to do. When it stretches, it is enlarged; it becomes tense and dynamic, and it does what it was made to do. God created you to stretch.

—Charles Paul Conn in Making It Happen

Irreverent God Talk

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 … that He would like to exist if He could. You may talk of God as a metaphor or 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.

G. K. Chesterton in George Bernard Shaw

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