Any fool can be happy. It takes a man with real heart to make beauty out of the stuff that makes us weep.
Contrary to what we may have been taught to think, unnecessary and unchosen suffering wounds us but need not scar us for life. It does mark us. What we allow the mark of our suffering to become is in our own hands.
In the end, it is our defiance that redeems us. If wolves had a religion – if there was a religion of the wolf – that it is what it would tell us.
Let's say that the consensus is that our species, being the higher primates, Homo Sapiens, has been on the planet for at least 100,000 years, maybe more. Francis Collins says maybe 100,000. Richard Dawkins thinks maybe a quarter-of-a-million. I'll take 100,000. In order to be a Christian, you have to believe that for 98,000 years, our species suffered and died, most of its children dying in childbirth, most other people having a life expectancy of about 25 years, dying of their teeth. Famine, struggle, bitterness, war, suffering, misery, all of that for 98,000 years.Heaven watches this with complete indifference. And then 2000 years ago, thinks 'That's enough of that. It's time to intervene,' and the best way to do this would be by condemning someone to a human sacrifice somewhere in the less literate parts of the Middle East. Don't lets appeal to the Chinese, for example, where people can read and study evidence and have a civilization. Let's go to the desert and have another revelation there. This is nonsense. It can't be believed by a thinking person.Why am I glad this is the case? To get to the point of the wrongness of Christianity, because I think the teachings of Christianity are immoral. The central one is the most immoral of all, and that is the one of vicarious redemption. You can throw your sins onto somebody else, vulgarly known as scapegoating. In fact, originating as scapegoating in the same area, the same desert. I can pay your debt if I love you. I can serve your term in prison if I love you very much. I can volunteer to do that. I can't take your sins away, because I can't abolish your responsibility, and I shouldn't offer to do so. Your responsibility has to stay with you. There's no vicarious redemption. There very probably, in fact, is no redemption at all. It's just a part of wish-thinking, and I don't think wish-thinking is good for people either.It even manages to pollute the central question, the word I just employed, the most important word of all: the word love, by making love compulsory, by saying you MUST love. You must love your neighbour as yourself, something you can't actually do. You'll always fall short, so you can always be found guilty. By saying you must love someone who you also must fear. That's to say a supreme being, an eternal father, someone of whom you must be afraid, but you must love him, too. If you fail in this duty, you're again a wretched sinner. This is not mentally or morally or intellectually healthy.And that brings me to the final objection - I'll condense it, Dr. Orlafsky - which is, this is a totalitarian system. If there was a God who could do these things and demand these things of us, and he was eternal and unchanging, we'd be living under a dictatorship from which there is no appeal, and one that can never change and one that knows our thoughts and can convict us of thought crime, and condemn us to eternal punishment for actions that we are condemned in advance to be taking. All this in the round, and I could say more, it's an excellent thing that we have absolutely no reason to believe any of it to be true.
Your dignity can be mocked, abused, compromised, toyed with, lowered and even badmouthed, but it can never be taken from you. You have the power today to reset your boundaries, restore your image, start fresh with renewed values and rebuild what has happened to you in the past.
God creates out of nothing. Wonderful you say. Yes, to be sure, but he does what is still more wonderful: he makes saints out of sinners.
We all long for Eden, and we are constantly glimpsing it: our whole nature at its best and least corrupted, its gentlest and most human, is still soaked with the sense of exile.
I take literally the statement in the Gospel of John that God loves the world. I believe that the world was created and approved by love, that it subsists, coheres, and endures by love, and that, insofar as it is redeemable, it can be redeemed only by love. I believe that divine love, incarnate and indwelling in the world, summons the world always toward wholeness, which ultimately is reconciliation and atonement with God.
My belief is that, morally, God and Satan are vaguely on the same page. According to the common understanding of Satan's origins, holiness must be in his blood: but a corrupted formula. The vital difference is that God is willing to offer grace for our sins; he delights in grace. God is the one and only holy and just punisher of sin, yes, but that is partly so because punishment for the sake of punishment is not something he loves. Whereas Satan, as the accuser, and as it is written, actually seeks God's permission to punish; he, being a seasoned legalist, delights in finding wrongs and will defy his own morality just to expose immorality. This is why both the anti-religious soul and the violently religious soul are, whether consciously or unconsciously, and sadly enough, glorifying their biggest hater: Satan is not only a lawless lover of punishing lawlessness, but also the greatest theologian of us all. He loves wickedness, but only because he loves punishing wickedness.
If Christ is God, He cannot sin, and if suffering was a sin in and by itself, He could not have suffered and died for us. However, since He took the most horrific death to redeem us, He showed us in fact that suffering and pain have great power.
The organist was almost at the end of the anthem’s long introduction, and as the crescendo increases the cathedral began to glitter before my eyes until I felt as if every stone in the building was vibrating in anticipation of the sweeping sword of sound from the Choir.The note exploded in our midst, and at that moment I knew our creator had touched not only me but all of us, just as Harriet had touched that sculpture with a loving hand long ago, and in that touch I sensed the indestructible fidelity, the indescribable devotion and the inexhaustible energy of the creator as he shaped his creation, bringing life out of dead matter, wresting form continually from chaos. Nothing was ever lost, Harriet had said, and nothing was ever wasted because always, when the work was finally completed, every article of the created process, seen or unseen, kept or discarded, broken or mended – EVERYTHING was justified, glorified and redeemed.
God's relationship with man does not work in a way in which man stumbles and then God has to drop what he is doing in order to lift him up; rather, man stumbles so that God can lift him up. Hence it is utterly impossible to truly diminish his glory.
I will take you home, his lord had said. Home. He held to that word, as a man holds to a rope in a raging sea.
For this reason, it is well said that misfortune is sometimes good for something, for it teaches at the same time that it hurts.
Inevitably, mistakes are going to happen, sin is going to win a round or two in the battle of life, but there is always, always, always a way back because Jesus Christ has our backs.
When someone you love dies, you are given the gift of second chances. Their eulogy is a reminder that the living can turn their lives around at any point. You’re not bound by the past; that is who you used to be. You’re reminded that your feelings are not who you are, but how you felt at that moment. Your bad choices defined you yesterday, but they are not who you are today. Your future doesn’t have to travel the same path with the same people. You can start over. You don’t have to apologize to people that won’t listen. You don’t have to justify your feelings or actions, during a difficult time in your life. You don’t have to put up with people that are insecure and want you to fail. All you have to do is walk forward with a positive outlook, and trust that God has a plan that is greater than the sorrow you left behind. The people of quality that were meant to be in your life won’t need you to explain the beauty of your heart. They already understand what being human is----a roller coaster ride of emotions during rainstorms and sunshine, sprinkled with moments when you can almost reach the stars.
Original sin and conscious awareness of human fallibility is the perpetual agent of transformation in human affairs. Humankind’s behavior is pathological; it is an admixture of instinct and reason, kindness and cruelty, immorality and seeking redemption.
Is it possible to love someone so completely, so intensely, they could never die? To give them more than just your heart or your soul? What if you could give then the miracle of immortality?
We believe because it gives us faith. It gives us the willingness to go through our day, to keep the existentialist threat of meaninglessness away. We believe because we crave to be seen, to be known, to be understood. We believe because that is the only thing we can do. If there is no one to judge us - to tell us that we are good, and that if we are bad, we can be redeemed - why bother living at all? Why bother being good at all? If there is no one to look after us, and we are truly alone in this universe, what purpose do we have? We have nothing but the present moment, and only temporariness.
What I want to tell you as you read these stories is that I both found and lost God a hundred times over. In fact, maybe I've never actually found God at all, but imagining that I have indeed found something so much larger and more beautiful than I can explain is more often enough for me.
I find something repulsive about the idea of vicarious redemption. I would not throw my numberless sins onto a scapegoat and expect them to pass from me; we rightly sneer at the barbaric societies that practice this unpleasantness in its literal form. There's no moral value in the vicarious gesture anyway. As Thomas Paine pointed out, you may if you wish take on a another man's debt, or even to take his place in prison. That would be self-sacrificing. But you may not assume his actual crimes as if they were your own; for one thing you did not commit them and might have died rather than do so; for another this impossible action would rob him of individual responsibility. So the whole apparatus of absolution and forgiveness strikes me as positively immoral, while the concept of revealed truth degrades the concept of free intelligence by purportedly relieving us of the hard task of working out the ethical principles for ourselves.
Doing what you love, with those you love, is an adventurous type of success. The kind that can not be taken away, often discovered by those who have had much taken away, and saw it as an opportunity to re-access their path, and reset from the crucible of shared and beneficial dreams.
You cannot mend the chromosome, quell the earthquake, or stanch the flood. You cannot atone for the dead tyrants’ murders and you alone cannot stop living tyrants. As Martin Buber saw it, the world of ordinary days “affords” us that precise association with god that redeems both us and our speck of world. God entrusts and allots to everyone an area to redeem: this creased and feeble life, “the world in which you live, just as it is, and not otherwise.” “Insofar as he cultivates and enjoys them in holiness, he frees their souls…he who prays and sings in holiness, eats and speaks in holiness…through him the sparks which have fallen will be uplifted, and the worlds which have fallen will be delivered and renewed.
The specific sufferings of Jesus do not amount to redemption: rather, redemption is wrought through the uniqueness of the person who suffered and the perfect charity for which, in which and by which he suffered. The uniqueness of the suffering of Christ, then, lies in the pro knobs, which is bound to the freedom through which the Son endures “every human suffering” on account of love. To say that Jesus endured “every human suffering” does not mean that he specifically suffered every thing that every person ever did or could suffer, but the he “sums up” in this Passion the suffering so fate world, mystically including them in his own suffering and recapitulating them in the form of perfect love. The whole weight of this psychological and physical dereliction of humanity is, in Christ, suffered and sorrowed now within God himself, in the sense that the human sufferings of Christ are “one” with the divine filial relation that constitutes his unity with the Father.
It is not true that everyone is special. It is true that everyone was once special and still possesses the ability to recover it.
We'd rather have a grand spectacle of retribution of the 'wicked', than their silent walk towards redemption that our wishes questions the depth and nature of our love and hearts.
Sometimes friends make mistakes. Grievous ones that cry out for us to stay and prove we are true friends.
Was it you or I who stumbled first? It does not matter. The one of us who finds the strength to get up first, must help the other.
We’ve made it private, contained it in family, when its audacity is in its potential to cross tribal lines. We’ve fetishized it as romance, when its true measure is a quality of sustained, practical care. We’ve lived it as a feeling, when it is a way of being. It is the elemental experience we all desire and seek, most of our days, to give and receive. The sliver of love’s potential that the Greeks separated out as eros is where we load so much of our desire, center so much of our imagination about delight and despair, define so much of our sense of completion. There is the love the Greeks called filia—the love of friendship. There is the love they called agape—love as embodied compassion, expressions of kindness that might be given to a neighbor or a stranger. The Metta of the root Buddhist Pali tongue, “lovingkindness,” carries the nuance of benevolent, active interest in others known and unknown, and its cultivation begins with compassion towards oneself.