December 11, 2018


“On the whole I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.”

(Annie Dillard, Teaching A Stone To Talk)

“Jesus seems to ask, ‘Haven’t I just gotten through saying that I myself, the Messiah, am going to be the biggest outsider and loser of all? Don’t you think it’s about time you stopped being scandalized by what you consider my lack of messianic respectability and just listen to me for a change?'”

(Robert Farrar Capon, The Parables Of Grace)

“It is not uncommon to hear, even in today’s evangelical churches, that God does not really care how we come to him, just as long as we come. However, there are a number of people in Scripture who would beg to differ, offering us testimonies of a decidedly different kind. They do not tell us of how they found God through their felt needs, but of how they met Someone they did not expect. These were close encounters of the very worst kind, and before we learn the delights, we must assess the dangers of intimacy with God.”

(Michael Horton, In The Face Of God)

“From the simplest lyric to the most complex novel and densest drama, literature is asking us to pay attention. Pay attention to the frog. Pay attention to the west wind. Pay attention to the boy on the raft, the lady in the tower, the old man on the train. In sum, pay attention to the world and all that dwells therein and thereby learn at last to pay attention to yourself and all that dwells therein.”

(Frederick Buechner, Whistling In The Dark)

“If you surrender to the fear of uncertainty, life can become a set of insurance policies. Your short time on this earth becomes small and self-protective, a kind of circling of the wagons around what you can be sure of and what you think you can control–even God. It provides you with the illusion that you are in the driver’s seat, navigating on safe, small roads, and usually in a single, predetermined direction that can take you only where you have already been. For far too many people, no life journey is necessary because we think we already have all our answers at the beginning. ‘The church says, the Bible says, etc.'”

(Richard, Rohr, The Naked Now)

“The Christian life is not guilt-ridden, backward-looking, sloganeering, bubble-gum, theological poster muck. The Christian life is full of enjoyment of God himself, those around us (saved or not), and their talents. The Christian life exhibits a deepening appreciation of all God has made, a growing longing to understand and enjoy what is around us, and the desire to stand for those godly principles of life, beauty, truth, enjoyment and justice so clearly given us in the Bible. May we struggle in our own areas to apply the broad and wonderful truth of Christianity to what we are doing, and not merely make ourselves ‘useful to the cause.'”

(Frank Schaeffer, Addicted To Mediocrity)

“It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression “As pretty as an airport.” Airports are ugly. Some are very ugly. Some attain a degree of ugliness that can only be the result of a special effort. This ugliness arises because airports are full of people who are tired, cross, and have just discovered that their luggage has landed in Murmansk (Murmansk airport is the only know exception to this otherwise infallible rule), and architects have on the whole tried to reflect this in their designs.

“They have sought to highlight the tiredness and crossness motif with brutal shapes and nerve-jangling colors, to make effortless the business of separating the traveler forever from his or her luggage or loved ones, to confuse the traveler with arrows that appear to point a the windows, distant tie racks, or the current position of Ursa Minor in the night sky, and wherever possible to expose the plumbing on the grounds that it is functional, and conceal the location of the departure gates, presumably on the grounds that they are not.”

(Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time Of The Soul)

“The result is that now at last the true human life is possible. Now at last consciences can be washed clean. It is ironic that, within what appears at first blush to be one of the most obscure books of the New Testament, we find the news that millions in our society are desperate to hear: the news that the things which trouble us most deeply can be washed away through the blood of Christ. Following Jesus appears hard because we feel we start off with a deficit to wipe off. Hebrews not only summons us to follow Jesus, it explains that the moral deficit is already dealt with. This book may be old, but that news in particular is as up-to-date as tomorrow morning’s newspaper.”

(N.T. Wright, Following Jesus)

“The danger of installing the self as the authoritative text for living, at the same time that we are honoring the Holy Scriptures by giving them a prominent place on the shelf, is both enormous and insidious. None of us is immune to the danger. That is why it is so urgent to revive the strong angel’s command to St. John. If we want to keep our identity, if we want a text to live by that keeps us in the company of God’s people, keeps us conversant with who he is and the way he works, we simply must eat this book.”

(Eugene Peterson, Eat This Book)

“A wedding. A handshake. A kiss. A coronation. A parade. A dance. A meal. A graduation. A Mass. A ritual is the performance of an intuition, the rehearsal of a dream, the playing of a game. A sacrament is the breaking through of the sacred into the profane: a ritual is the ceremonial acting out of the profane in order to show forth its sacredness. A sacrament is God offering his holiness to men; a ritual is men raising up the holiness of their humanity to God.”

(Frederick Buechner, Listening To Your Life)

“No matter what prayer has secured, attained or achieved for us, boundless possibilities still lie before us. It may be doubted whether we have yet touched more than the fringe of the garment of a prayer-hearing God. We come timid and trembling when we ought to come boldly and confidently. We ask but little, where we should honor God by making large demands.”

(Arthur T. Pierson)

“There is no way of tying the kingdom of heaven to anything we do. It comes because the King makes it come, not because we give it a helping hand.”

(Robert Farrar Capon, Between Noon And Three)

“Your brightness is my darkness. I know nothing of you and, by myself, I cannot even imagine how to go about knowing you. If I imagine you, I am mistaken. If I understand you, I am deluded. If I am conscious and certain I know you, I am crazy. The darkness is enough.”

(Thomas Merton, Dialogues With Silence)

“Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason. Poets do not go mad, but chess-players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom … The general fact is simple. Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and to make it finite. To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything is a strain. The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It it the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.”

(G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy)


  1. Buford Hollis says:


    Here’s a Christian comic, drawn by a Bible-believing American politician:

    • He gets two chances to use “pedophile” and he misspells the word both times – among other misspellings in the comic book.

      We have too many instances of misplaced decimal points resulting in wasted millions of dollars to vote to entrust budgets to persons who can’t spell properly.

      I guess the voters in the primary agreed. 🙂

    • Wow, that was just painful

    • That is just so horrendous on so many levels: badly drawn, badly written, badly laid out, politically naive and theologically questionable (at best). It looks like something his enemies would put out to damage his reputation — a Jack Chick tract only with worse graphics and no desire to reach the lost.

      Well, now that he’s out of office (voted out in ’08), he’ll have time to improve his artwork. Provided he’s not too busy paying the fines for his 2009 conviction for receiving illegal campaign contributions. (Wonder if he claimed that “the angel made him do it” …)

    • I didn’t realize the Boy Scouts had new uniforms…I’d love to know if his campaign approved that. It’s amazing what passes for campaigning…

    • Crimes against nature are offenses still on the books in Oklahoma law. So is blasphemy against Jesus Christ.

  2. I like the first and last ones the best.

  3. Two thoughts:

    -There’s a book called “The Naked Now” with quotes like that? I would pick that sort of title for my autobiography right now. Crazy.

    -There is too much good content on this site right now to sift through. I can’t keep up. That’s a wonderful thing. You’re all blessings.

    • Yes, in this day of not-getting-your-money’s-worth, it’s odd to hear someone say, “Wait, that’s too much good stuff.”

      But sometimes I agree. With work, and school, and life, I stay so busy that it is hard to even read all the “good content” presented here on imonk, much less have time to digest, meditate, consider, apply…. Like a good feast, I want to savor it all, and there is just too much!

      Not a complaint.
      Thanks for bringing that up, Sean.
      Truly, I do appreciate this ministry.

    • David Cornwell says:

      Sean, if you think your life is crazy now, at your young age, wait till you are 70 or so, and as you continue to follow Christ, you can say “crazy, crazy, crazy.” By the way you are a very good writer. Keep it up, don’t stop.

      • Thanks David, for the insight and encouragement. I’m in already in a yearly cycle of saying “Boy, was I stupid ____ years ago. I had no idea what was going on.” I look forward to saying that about this present day quite soon.

        Actually, I do already. It just takes time to make sense of it in hindsight. I love hearing guys like you talking about life in that way, so I hope you bless people around you with your story often.

  4. Thanks, Jeff. Alot to savor here!

  5. Great quotations, Jeff. One of my favorites is Chesterton’s, particularly this part: “To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything is a strain. The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It it the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.”

    I love Annie Dillard’s writings. I have two of her books.

    • I ain’t buying. There are tons of depressed, suicidal poets out there. In fact, when I was heavily depressed in college, I wrote some pretty decent poetry. About death.

  6. I was wondering about that Douglas Adams quote, Jeff — why is it here? it doesn’t seem to match — until I remembered your recent transatlantic trip. All is clear.

    = = =

    If I may throw a few more quotes into the mix …

    “I think the big problem is that as Christians we have forgotten that our identity is wrapped up in Christ. And, for a long time we bought into the illusion that the will of the masses would be more generous and more benevolent than the will of one dictator. But, democracy is not necessarily bad politics, it’s just bad math. A thousand corrupt minds is just as evil as one corrupt mind.” – Rich Mullins

    “We must not identify the gospel with any political system, nor make Christianity to be synonymous with any form of government… . Christ stands alone, above and outside every ideology devised by man. He does not join any of our parties nor take sides with any of our great men except as they may come over on His side and try to follow Hm in righteousness and true holiness.” – A.W. Tozer

    “Science has given the fact that the earth is 2.5 billion years old, Oh, to think my Savior loved me before that!” – Charles Haddon Spurgeon

    • Love the Spurgeon and Tozer quotations.
      Tozer’s is so timely with the looming elections.
      Think I will FB status that one.
      Will rub some of my party-loyalist God and Country brethren, however.

    • I second what Wanda says.

      Thanks for the reading, Jeff — I needed some good stuff today!

    • yeah, thanks for the Tozer quote. Definitely going on facebook.

    • Ray, I included Douglas Adams because he is so danged funny. Nothing too deep there–I just like his writing.

      • He was quoted as saying, “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

        yes, you would have LOVED being Bop Ad’s editor….. there would have been a homicide, not sure who would have been the chalk outline……

        GREG R

      • Okay — as a happy owner of The Complete Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, that makes perfect sense to me.

        And if you want funny quotes, here’s one right in your wheelhouse, Jeff:
        “You’re not officially a writer until someone interrupts you while you’re typing, and you try to be nice about it, but you secretly want to start screaming like Nicholson in ‘The Shining’.” – Bill Simmons

        (I got a million of ’em … well, okay, a couple dozen.)

      • One can never have too many Douglas Adam’s quotes. The man had profound insight and a completely disarming way of expressing them. Many hidden gems in his to brief career. Babelfish ring a bell to anyone?

  7. @Jeff D.: your “quotes” thread gave me wry, or perhaps rye, smile….Richard Rohr, Ann Dillard, Frank Schaeffer….. your authors are a rogue’s gallery of theologically “shadey types” to the discernment police.

    Like Jesus, you seem to hang with the hooligans and outcasts… let me know when you are throwing a party and/or writer’s circle in KC.


    • I’d be in for a KC iMonk party too…

      • Then it’s on. You two email me so we can plan something. I’m thinking Oklahoma Joe’s…

        • Oklahoma Joe’s ??? Wow, the LORD just told me you are my bishop/pit boss……. that’s some ORTHODOX bar-b-que there, your smokiness…….

          GREG R

          • Oh no…he just thinks he likes Oklahoma Joe’s best because he hasn’t been able to try LC’s…

        • So, has GATES & SONS lost its luster? (We left KC in 1990.)

          (What I miss is Dixon’s Chili. Used to eat at their downtown KCMO restaurant in the ’70’s and maybe ’80’s.)

          • Gates has its place, but it’s just not my personal favorite. To be honest I think locals think of it as a “touristy” place that out-of-towners go to, but the locals go to the REAL places no one has heard of. Not that I think that’s deserved…I just personally never found getting shouted at all that charming…

          • They didn’t used to shout. They’d say, “May I he’p you?” and then take your order. We liked the one on Paseo and 47th or thereabouts.

            Never did like Arthur Bryant’s. One time was enough.

            KC BBQ beats the pants off what we’ve found here in Texas, but we haven’t driven to the faraway places that get rave reviews.

          • If any of you are ever in northern New England for any reason, check out The Yankee Smokehouse in Ossipee, New Hampshire. It’s about 3 hours from where I am in Maine, so we don’t go often, but it’s our favorite BBQ place. Fun atmosphere, great food. Yummy.


  8. “Poets do not mad, but chess-players do.” G.K. Chesterton

    At first I thought, that was a great insight, until I considered:

    Sylvia Plath
    Anne Sexton
    John Berryman
    Theodore Roethke
    Ezra Pound
    Robert Lowell

    Oh well. Still, it’s pretty to think so.

    • Art, I thought about some of these poets killing themselves too, but then I decided that Chesterton can be referring to the “non-famous” poets among us. I think people can have a poetical “bent” to them without even being officially a poet. So, poets can be the people who love reading psalms because of their sound, their poetic quality. And the mathematicians can be the folks who argue endlessly about whether a word in the Bible should be “in” or “within” or something like that. I don’t even know that he is correct about any of this. But it sounds good!

  9. Great quotes all, including Douglas Adams :). Thanks for this food for thought. I really like Buechner and Chesterton’s wisdom, and a friend has recently been directing me to some really good insights from Rohr.

    Yup some of these authors names alone might raise the hackles of the doctrinal watchdogs (including some in my own family!) but the older I get the less nitpicky I get on doctrine and the more I think what’s really important iw the oreintation of the heart. Peace.

  10. What happened to :
    “Science has given the fact that the earth is 2.5 billion years old, Oh, to think my Savior loved me before that!” – Charles Haddon Spurgeon
    It was here, wasn’t it? Could it not be verified? I love his perspective!

    • Sorry I’m replying to my own!
      Just realised the Spurgeon quote wasn’t in the orginal, but in one of the comments. Sorry. I still love the quote.