"The reformer well knows that, if he travel the road, he must pay the toll. … If, to be everywhere spoken against, be a blessing, most blessed are they. … Let no reformer look for justice at the hands of his generation; few are preposterous enough to expect it. He may draw on the future for it, but will realize nothing from his drafts. No rate of discount can bribe the present to cash them. If paid at all, it will be only to his posterity. To them sometimes, the whole amount is handed over with compound interest, by the children of those who hunted down their fathers."

— Theodore Dwight Weld, “The Cost of Reform.” An unpublished manuscript in the Weld-Grimké Papers at the Ciements Library, Ann Arbor, MI

"That man has lived to little purpose, who has not learned that what the great world pities, and its teachers disallow, even though mixed with tokens of weakness, is many times deepest in truth, and closest to the real sublimities of life and religion."

Horace Bushnell, Nature and the Supernatural: As Together Constituting the One System of God,p. 491

"What marvelous strength love has! The most powerful words spoken, indeed, they are God’s creator-words, are “Let there be.” But the most powerful words any human being has spoken are “I abide” when said by one who loves. Reconciled with himself and his conscience, God’s friend…the one who loves, goes defenseless into the most dangerous battle saying only “I abide.” As truly as he is the one who loves, he will certainly be victorious…there is no misunderstanding that sooner or later will not be overcome…no hate that finally will not be obliged to give up and yield…"

Soren Kierkegaard, Works of Love, 1847.

Friends are people who send you pictures like this. #lettherockingcontinue

Friends are people who send you pictures like this. #lettherockingcontinue

"The present state of our divinity is as follows: the most vigorous, the clearest, the most fertile minds, have through God’s mercy been employed in the service of our Church: minds too as reverential and holy, and as fully imbued with Ancient Truth, and as well versed in the writings of the Fathers, as they were intellectually gifted. This is God’s great mercy indeed, for which we must ever be thankful. Primitive doctrine has been explored for us in every direction, and the original principles of the Gospel and the Church patiently brought to light. But one thing is still wanting: our champions and teachers have lived in stormy times: political and other influences have acted upon them variously in their day, and have since obstructed a careful consolidation of their judgments. We have a vast inheritance, but no inventory of our treasures. All is given us in profusion; it remains for us to catalogue, sort, distribute, select, harmonize, and complete. We have more than we know how to use; stores of learning, but little that is precise and serviceable; Catholic truth and individual opinion, first principles and the guesses of genius, all mingled in the same works, and requiring to be discriminated. We meet with truths overstated or misdirected, matters of detail variously taken, facts incompletely proved or applied, and rules inconsistently urged or discordantly interpreted. Such indeed is the state of every deep philosophy in its first stages, and therefore of theological knowledge. What we need at present for our Church’s well-being, is not invention, nor originality, nor sagacity, nor even learning in our divines, at least in the first place, though all gifts of God are in a measure needed, and never can be unseasonable when used religiously, but we need peculiarly a sound judgment, patient thought, discrimination, a comprehensive mind, an abstinence from all private fancies and caprices and personal tastes,—in a word, Divine Wisdom."

John Henry Newman  Apologia Pro Vita Sua, 1864 (Norton Critical Edition, p. 63-4)

The way that Newman both commends theology done on the run, or as he puts it “in stormy times,” while also insisting on the necessity of a synthetic, synoptic interpretation in the interest of wisdom is most striking. It is also super-interesting to see that he doesn’t rate “genius” very highly in the long scheme of things. Perhaps he’s more for genealogy than for Great Men.

"

What if good institutions were in fact the product of good intentions? What if the cynicism that is supposed to be rigor and the acquisitiveness that is supposed to be realism are making us forget the origins of the greatness we lay claim to—power and wealth as secondary consequences of the progress of freedom, or, as Whitman would prefer, Democracy?

After all, these things rose together. The air is thick now with “the people,” a phrase that is meant to give authority to the claims and the grievances of those who use it. That it is often invoked in good faith one may doubt, but the fact that resort is had to it so insistently means that we are still good enough democrats to feel that ultimately authority and reason do and should lie with the people. Then the old impulse that lay behind the dissemination of information and learning, the will to ensure that the public will be competent to make the weightiest decisions and to conform society to its best sense of the possible should be as powerful as it has ever been, and more powerful because of the fragility of the contemporary world. Instead we have slack and underfinanced journalism and the ebbing away of resources from our universities, libraries, and schools. The liberation of the human individual as a social value required optimism, which it also amply justified. This loyalty to democracy is the American value I fear we are gravely in danger of losing.

"

Excerpted from Marilynne Robinson’s preface to her new collection of essays When I Was A Child I Read Books. Her questions, and the ideas that undergird them, are by turns elegant, beautiful, and pugilistic — invoking a way of life we have known, one that we seem to be forgetting, and one that we must learn how to fight for. 

Check out Michael Robbins’s review here

http://www.amazon.com/When-Was-Child-Read-Books/dp/0374298785

"Not long ago, in Kuntsevo, I suddenly crossed myself when I saw an oak. Evidently the source of prayer is not fear, but delight."

Marina Tsvetaeva, 1919-1920, in Poetry, March 2012, p. 559.

You should probably subscribe to this magazine. A student subscription is $17.50 USD and…well…you get lots and lots of poetry. 

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/

"It was forbidden for the bourgeoisie to use horses for removing snow from the streets. So the bourgeoisie, without a second thought, hired themselves a camel. And the camel hauled the snow. And the soldiers laughed out loud. (I saw this with my own eyes, on Arbat Street.)"

Marina Tsvetaeva, 1919-1920, in Poetry, March 2012, p. 555.

You should probably subscribe to this magazine. A student subscription is $17.50 USD and…well…you get lots and lots of poetry. 

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/

You know its Christmastime when you get new Fluevogs! 

You know its Christmastime when you get new Fluevogs! 

"The symmetry of form attainable in pure fiction cannot so readily be achieved in a narration essentially having less to do with fable than with fact. Truth uncompromisingly told will always have its ragged edges…"

— Herman Melville, Billy Budd, Chapter 28.