“Without that intent, those same prayers become a shameful abomination, a petty and callous attempt to shrug off responsibility in the face of real human suffering.” (>>)
“We are the richest people ever to walk the face of the earth. Period. Yet, most of us live as though there is nothing terribly wrong in the world. We attend our kids’ soccer games, pursue our careers, and take beach vacations while 40 percent of the world’s inhabitants struggle just to eat every day. And in our own backyards, the homeless, those residing in ghettos, and a wave of immigrants live in a world outside the economic and social mainstream of North America.” (>>)
“In the early days of his career, Tucker had collected stories of musicians’ bad behavior as if they were baseball cards. They fascinated
him not because he wanted to emulate the musicians concerned, but because he was a moralist, and the stories were so unambiguously appalling that they served as a useful piloting guide: in his line of work, it didn’t take much to gain a reputation as a decent human being. As long as you didn’t hurl a girl out of a window when you’d finished with her, people thought you were Gandhi.
“He’d even gotten into fights a couple of times, in a pompous attempt to protect somebody’s honor — a girl, a roadie, a motel receptionist. Once, when he’d punched the obnoxious bassist of an indie-rock band that ended up filling stadiums, he was asked who’d died and made him fucking king.
“The question was rhetorical, of course, but he’d ended up thinking about it. Why couldn’t he let these young men behave like young men? Musicians had been assholes since the day the lute was invented, so what did he think he was going to achieve by pushing a couple around when they’d had a drink?
“For a while, he blamed the kind of novels he read, and he blamed the decency of his parents, and he blamed his brother, who had managed to kill himself by driving into a wall when he was drunk. Books and parents and a tragic fuckup brother, he felt, had given him a solid ethical grounding.
“He could see now that he’d always been heading for a fall. It turned out he was the kind of moralist who abhorred the behavior of others because he was so scared of his own weakness; the more he whipped himself into a frenzy of disapproval, the harder it would be to cave in without losing face.
“He was certainly right to be afraid. When he met Julie Beatty, he discovered there wasn’t very much to him aside from weakness.” (>>)
“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.” (>>)
“Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.” (>>)
“If you’re dating someone, what kind of man is he? Does he demonstrate that he’s the kind of man who would die for you? What is his posture toward the world? Does he serve, or is he waiting to be served? Does he believe that he’s owed something, that he’s been shortchanged, that he’s gotten the short end of the stick, that life owes him something? Or is he out to see what he can give? Does he see himself as being here to make the world a better place?
“These are the big questions that you need to ask yourself.
“Take him to a family reunion. Do some sort of service project with him. See how he interacts with people he doesn’t like.
“Does he have liquid agape running through his veins?
“A friend of mine was engaged to a man, and some of her friends were not excited about them getting married. As the wedding day approached, one of her friends decided to say something to her. He said, ‘When a woman is loved well, she opens up like a flower.’
“She broke off the engagement soon afterward. In one brilliant sentence, her friend taught her what agape is and what it isn’t.
“What does he expect of you? Does he expect you to sleep with him when he hasn’t committed to you forever? Does he want all of you without his having to give all of him?
“Can you tell him anything? Is he safe? Can he be trusted?
“Can you open up to him, allowing yourself to be vulnerable, knowing that he will protect, not exploit, that vulnerability?
“Are you opening like a flower?” (>>)
“That’s the ironic gesture, right? We’re absolutely concerned — “Oh, we’ve got to do something,” Right? And then, actually, […] it’s what you’re doing that’s creating the problem in the first place, and yet your concern, it masks that.
“How many of us sit in Starbucks and talk about the evils of corporations? How many of us drive fuel-consuming cars while listening to radio programs about the environment? We engage in this ironic gesture all the time, and we don’t experience it.
“Batman’s a perfect example. What does he do at night? He puts on this crazy rubber suit, and he goes out and he beats up criminals, right? Then, after he’s beaten up the criminals, the next day, he gets in his suit, and he goes and he works in Wayne Industries as Bruce Wayne. Now, what’s really interesting, is he’s doing this big stuff on Saturday night, you know, beating up on the bad guys, trying to to make Gothem City a better place. And yet during the day he’s working in an industry which makes so much money that he can fund a high-tech military campaign and nobody even notices.
“How much money is Wayne Industries making? Wayne Industries is making phenomenal amounts of money. And one has to ask, is it not industries like Wayne Industries, who are making such vast amounts of money without any social regard; is that not the reason that there are criminals that he has to beat up? He’s not made the connection that the very thing he’s doing on Monday to Friday is the very thing he’s fighting on Saturday night.
“He thinks the site of resistance is going out and beating up criminals, but he doesn’t realize that what’s he’s doing in his grounded daily activity is creating and generating the very conditions that means he has to do that.
“The very thing he thinks is the site of Resistance is the thing he has to do to in order to feel good about himself so he can get the suit on and go into work the next day.
“What you find out is that the very place you thought was the site of resistance […] is the very thing the system requires in order to continue to run smoothly.” (>>)
“They follow the news; they’re aware of what’s going on around the world- and of how terrible much of it is. But they’re also unwilling to stop working for these corporations, to give up their elitism and sports cars and fancy houses and $500 shoes. They are aware of their hypocrisy- painfully aware- and so they take small, baby steps to make up for the atrocities they are complicit in […]. They are aware, mindful, maybe, but ultimately will not radically change their way of living. They might even look down on the people who are eating fast food/processed food for not ‘being healthier,’ while deep down knowing these people cannot afford organic tomatoes and coconut water and fair-trade dark chocolate imported from some faraway place.” (>>)
“If we acquire knowledge before we are emotionally healthy, that is if we are insecure, we are going to use it to boost our own ego and compare ourselves to others. The desire for knowledge will be like a need for a drug, then, pacifying a wounded spirit through comparative associations. Entire theological camps have been built and bolstered by this needy, angry, gluttonous desire for knowledge. But if we have confidence, if we are secure, knowledge humbles us. We realize that we did not invent truth, we simply stumbled upon it like food on a long journey.” (>>)
“You know all the things you denied, donâ€™t you? Things that were true about you but you wouldn’t admit?” (>>)
“…and seek nothing from her.” (>>)
“[Avoid] performing Step 3 without the other steps.” (>>)
“If you watched a movie about a guy who wanted a Volvo and worked for years to get it, you probably wouldn’t cry at the end of the movie when he drove off the lot testing the windshield wipers. You wouldn’t tell your friends you saw a beautiful movie or go home and put a record on and sit in a chair to think about what you’d seen. The truth is you wouldn’t even remember that movie a week later, except to feel robbed and want your money back. Nobody cries at the end of a movie about a guy who got a Volvo. But we spend years living those kinds of stories and expect life to feel meaningful. Maybe that’s why we go to so many movies, because our real lives don’t feel meaningful anymore.” (>>) [PDF]
“There are plenty of liberals who talk about poverty and injustice but rarely encounter the poor, living detached lives of socially responsible but comfortable consumption. And there are plenty of Christians who talk about how much God loves the poor, but don’t know any poor folks. There is nothing more sickening than talking about poverty over a fancy dinner.” (>>)
“…or as Dr. Jonathan Edwards once put it, ‘When people say, “I can’t afford to give,” what they’re really saying is, “I can’t afford to give without burdening myself.” But the Bible says, ‘Bear one another’s burdens.’ And if you say, ‘I’m not going to help bear your burden without burdening myself’… How do you bear someone else’s burden’s without burdening yourself? You have to burden yourself to bear another burden. Look at the needs of the world, look at the needs of the church, look at the needs out there. You need to give until some of the burden other people are experiencing is falling on you, then there’ll be peace and justice in the world.” (>>) [MP3]
“And that’s when things get messy. When people begin moving beyond charity and towards justice and solidarity with the poor and oppressed, as Jesus did, they get in trouble. Once we are actually friends with folks in struggle, we start to ask why people are poor, which is never as popular as giving to charity. One of my friends has a shirt marked with the words of late Catholic bishop Dom Helder Camara: ‘When I fed the hungry, they called me a saint. When I asked why people are hungry, they called me a communist.’ Charity wins awards and applause, but joining the poor gets you killed. People do not get cruicfied for charity. People get crucified for living out a love that disrupts the social order, that calls forth a new world. People are not crucified for helping the poor. People are crucified for joining them.” (>>)
“The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obligated to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close.” (>>)
“Everybody wants to say they looove them some Jebus, but they’re sooooo mad at the Church for not being eschatologically perfect in the middle of history, which excuses them from actually practicing the Christian religion and living in community.” (>>)
“It just seems kind of crazy for us that a holiday that is supposed to [be] about Jesus has now forced him out of the picture and co-opted spending and consumption in his place. For us, the Jesus of Christmas is not just a fragile little baby in a manger. But the wild, subversive prophet who challenged an empire and practiced justice. It doesnâ€™t make much sense as followers of the Way for us to buy gifts made by people overseas in factories that treat them contrary to the way Jesus would. Or to buy gifts made by detached machines.” (>>)
“We say so much about the healing power of the body of Christ, but it seems like most of my friends in the body were too busy attending church choir or leading their small groups to check up on me.” (>>)
“True generosity is measured not by how much we give away but by how much we have left, especially when we look at the needs of our neighbors.” (>>)
“I loved the Church for Christ made visible. Not for itself, because it was so often a scandal to me. Romano Guardini said the Church is the Cross on which Christ was crucified; one could not separate Christ from His Cross, and one must live in a state of permanent dissatisfaction with the Church.
“The scandal of businesslike priests, of collective wealth, the lack of a sense of responsibility for the poor, the worker, the Negro, the Mexican, the Filipino, and even the oppression of these, and the consenting to the oppression of them by our industrial-capitalist-order–these made me feel often that priests were more like Cain than Abel. ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ they seemed to say in respect to the social order. There was plenty of charity but too little justice. And yet the priests were the dispenders of the Sacraments, bringing Christ to men, all enabling us to put on Christ and to achieve more nearly in the world a sense of peace and unity. ‘The worst enemies would be those of our own household,’ Christ had warned us.” (>>)
” ‘Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure–pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.’ ” (>>)
” ‘We live in the most affluent culture in the most affluent period of human history. If we can’t discipline ourselves to learn the joys of generous living, I think we’re an embarassment to the gospel.’ ” (>>)