Buechner Quotes, Part 2
Okay, so I was disappointed in the amount of comments and eprops that the last post containing Buechner quotes illicited. However, I feel they are worth sharing. So, here is part two. Unlike part one, some of these entries will be in their entirity. They're that good.
If there is suffering life in Hell, there must also be hope in Hell, because where there is life there is the Lord and giver of life, and where there is suffering he is there too because the suffering of the ones he loves is also his suffering.
The real turning point in human history is less apt to be the day the wheel is invented or Rome falls than the day a boy is born to a couple of hick Jews.
It is the capacity for being no more and no less pleased when you play your own hand well than when your opponents do.
The idea of the immortality of the soul is based on the experience of man's indomitable spirit. The idea of the resurrection of the body is based on the experience of God's unspeakable love.
The justice and mercy of the judge are ultimately one.
Have you wept at anything during the past year?
Has your heart beat faster at the sight of young beauty?
Have you thought seriously about the fact that someday you are going to die?
More often than not do you really listen when people are speaking to you instead of just waiting for your turn to speak?
Is there anybody you know in whose place, if one of you had to suffer great pain, you would volunteer yourself?
If your answer to all or most of these questions is No, the chances are that you're dead.
The first stage is to believe that there is only one kind of love. The middle stage is to believe that there are many kinds of love and that the Greeks had a different word for each of them. The last stage is to believe that there is only one kind of love.
Lust (in full)
...is the craving of salt of a man who is dying of thirst.
If security's what you're after, try magic. If adventure is what you're after, try religion. The line between them is notoriously fuzzy.
The thinker and the thought become one in much the same way that if you concentrate long enough on watching a fire burn, after a while the distinction between you as teh one that is watching and the fire as the one that is being watched disappears, and you yourself burst into flames.
Memory (in full)
There are two ways of remembering. One is to make an excursion from the living present back into the dead past. The old sock remembers how things used to be when you and I wer young, Maggie. The faraway look in his eyes is partly the beer and partly that he's really far away.
The other way is to summon the dead past back into the living present. The young widow remembers her husband, and he is there beside her.
When Jesus said, "Do this in rememberance of me," (1 Corinthians 11:24) he was not prescribing a periodic slug of nostalgia.
When Jesus sent the twelve out into the word... He told them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal (Luke 9:2), with the implication that to do either right was in effect to do both... To do them in the name of Christ is to be a minister.
Faith in God is less apt to proceed from miracles than miracles from faith in God.
To say that God is a mystery is to say that you can never nail him down. Even on Christ the nails proved ultimately ineffective.
We are all more mystics than we choose to let on, even to ourselves. Life is complicated enough as it is.
In popular usage, a myth has come to mean a story that is not true. Historically speaking that may well be so. Humanly speaking, a myth is a story that is always true.
A parable is a small story with a large point... With parables and jokes both, if you've got to have it explained, don't bother.
...for Jesus peace seems to have meant not the absence of struggle but the presence of love.
...even if he does not bring you the answer you want, he will bring you himself. And maybe at the secret heart of all our prayers that is what we are really praying for.
The fact that I know you so well that I know what you're going to do before you do it does not mean that you are not free to do whatever you damn well please.
Like Robert Frost's, a prophet's quarrel with the world is deep-down a lover's quarrel. If they didn't love the world, they probably wouldn't bother to tell it that it's going to Hell. They'd just let it go. Their quarrel is God's quarrel.
Religion (in full)
The word religion points to that area of human experience where one way or another man comes upon Mystery as a summons to pilgrimage; where he senses beyond and beneath the realities of every day a Reality no less real because it can only be hinted at in myths and rituals; where he glimpses a destination that he can never fully know until he reaches it.
Since the Reality that religion claims to deal with is beyond space and time, man cannot use normal space-and-time language (i.e. nouns and verbs) to describe it directly. He must fall back on the language of metaphor and resign himself to describing it at best indirectly.
It is obvious that this is what he is doing when he says Jesus is "the son of God," or the Lord is his "shepherd," or the kingdom of God is "within you." It is not so obvious that his is what he is doint - but he is doing it no less - when he says "God exists." This does not mean that God "exists" literally as you and I do, i.e., exists now and not then, here and not there, and stand out of (ex + sistere) some prior reality. It is at best a crude metaphor.
To say that God "does not exist" may be a better metaphor to suggest the nature of God's reality. But since it also is bound to be taken literally, it is better not to say it.
To repent is to come to your senses.
Righteousness (in full)
"You haven't got it right!" says the exasperated piano teacher. Junior is holding his hands the way he's been told. his fingering is unexceptionalbe. He has memorized the piece perfectly. He has hit all the proper notes with deadly accuracy. But his heart's not in it, only his fingers. What he's playins is a sort of mustic but nothing that will start voices singing or feet tapping. He has succeeded in boring everybody to death including himself.
Jesus said to his disciples, "Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven." (Matthew 5:20) The scribes and Pharisees were playing it by the Book. They didn't slip up on a single do or don't. But they were gitting it all wrong.
Righteousness is getting it all right. If you play it the way it's supposed to be played, there shouldn't be a still foot in the house.
A sacrament is God offering his holiness to men; a ritual is men raising up the holiness of their humanity to God.
Sacrament (in full)
A sacrament is when something holy happens. It is transparent time, time which you can see through to something deep inside time.
Generally speaking, Protestants have two official sacraments (the Lord's Supper, Baptism) and Roman Catholics these two plus five others (Confirmation, Penance, Extreme Unction, Ordination, and Matrimony). In other words, at such milestone moments as seeing a baby baptized or being baptized yourself, confessing your sins, getting married, dying, you are apt to catch a glimpse of the almost unbearable preciousness and mystery of life.
Needless to say, church isn't the only place where the holy happens. Sacramental moments can occur at any moment, any place, and to anybody. Watching something get born. Making love. A high-school graduation. Somebody coming to see you when you're sick. A meal with people you love. Looking into a stanger's eyes and finding out he's not a stranger.
If we weren't blind as bats, we might see that life itself is sacramental.
Sacrifice (in full)
To sacrifice something is to make it holy by giving it away for love.
Saint (in full)
In his holy flirtation with the world, God occasionally drops a handkerchief. These handkerchiefs are called saints.
It is an experience first and a doctrine second... It is a process, not an event.
Science (in full)
Science is the investigation of the physical universe and its ways and consists largely of weighing, measuring, and putting things in test tubes. To assume that this kind of investigation can unearth solutions to all man's problems is a form of religious faith whose bankruptcy has only in recent years started to become apparent.
There is a tendency in many people to suspect that anything that can't be weighed, measured, or put in a test tube is either not zeal or not worth talking about. That is like a blind man's suspecting that anything that can't be smelled, tasted, touched, or heard is probably a figment of the imagination.
A scientist's views on such subjects as God, morality, life after death, are apt to be about as enlightening as a theologian's views on the structure of the atom or the cause and cure of the common cold.
The conflict between science and religion, which reached its peak toward the end of the last century, is like the conflict between a podiatrist and a poet. One says that Susie Smith has fallen arches. The other says she walks in beauty like the night. In his own way each is speaking the truth. What is at issue is the kind of truth you're after.
Like nitroglycerin, it can be used either to blow up bridges or heal hearts.
When Peter and his friends were caught up in it at Jerusalem on Pentecost, everybody thought they were drunk even though the sun wasn't yet over the yardarm (Acts 2). They were.
Theology (in full)
Theology is the study of God and his ways. For all we know, dung beetles may study man and his ways and call it humanology. If so, we would probably be more touched and amused than irritated. One hopes that God feels likewise.
...is often just Indifference in disguise.
If the idea of God as both Three and One seems far-fetched and obfuscating, look in the mirror someday.
There is (a) the interior life known only to yourself and those you choose to communicate it to (the Father). There is (b) the visible face which in some measure reflects that inner life (the Son). And there is (c) the invisible power you have in order to communicate that interior life in such a way that others do not merely know about it, but know it in the sense of its becoming part of who they are (the Holy Spirit). Yet what you are looking at in the mirror is clearly and indivisibly the one and only You.
When Jesus says that he has come to bear witness to the truth, Pilate asks, "What is truth?" (John 18:38)... Jesus doesn't answer Pilate's question. He just stands there. Stands, and stands there.
Vocation (in full for the benefit of all those struggling with this)
It comes from the Latin vocare, to call, and means the work a man is called to by God.
There are all different kinds of voices calling you to all different kinds of work, and the problem is to find out which is the voice of God rather than of Society, say, or the Superego, or Self-Interest.
By and large a good rule for finding out is this. The kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work (a) that you need most to do and (b) that the world most needs to have done. If you really get a kick out of your work, you've presumably met requirement (a), but if your work is writing TV deodorant commercials, the chances are you've missed requirement (b). On the other hand, if your work is being a doctor in a leper colony, you have probably met requirement (b), but if most of the time you're bored and depressed by it, the chances are you have not only bypassed (a) but probably aren't helping your patients much either.
Neither the hair shirt nor the soft berth will do. The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.
Wine (in full)
Unfermented grape juice is a bland and pleasant drink, especially on a warm afternoon mixed half-and-half with ginger ale. It is a ghastly symbol of the life blood of Jesus Christ, especially when served in individual antiseptic, thimble-sized glasses.
Wine is booze, which means it is dangerous and drunk-making. It makes the timid brave and the reserved amorous. It loosens the tongue and breaks the ice especially when served in a loving cup. It kills germs. As symbols go, it is a rather splendid one.
In Hebrew the term dabar means both "word" and "deed." Thus to say something is to do something.
Sorry so long. But I think it's worth it. So actually, I'm not sorry at all.