TODAY
Monday
ANALYSIS

Book Quote Analysis: Celebration of Disciplines

Simplicity begins in inward focus and unity. It means to live out of what Thomas Kelly calls “The Divine Center.” Kierkegaard captured the nucleus of Christian simplicity well in the profound title of his book, Purity of Heart Is to Will One Thing. Experiencing the inward reality liberates us outwardly. Speech becomes truthful and honest. The lust for status and position is gone because we no longer need status and position. We cease from showy extravagance not on the grounds of being unable to afford it, but on the grounds of principle. Our goods become available to others. We join the experience that Richard E. Byrd, after months alone in the barren Arctic, recorded in his journal, “I am learning . . . that a man can live profoundly without masses of things.” 1 Contemporary culture lacks both the inward reality and the outward life-style of simplicity. We must live in the modern world, and we are affected by its fractured and fragmented state. We are trapped in a maze of competing attachments. One moment we make decisions on the basis of sound reason and the next moment out of fear of what others will think of us. We have no unity or focus around which our lives are oriented. Because we lack a divine Center our need for security has led us into an insane attachment to things. We really must understand that the lust for affluence in contemporary society is psychotic. It is psychotic because it has completely lost touch with reality. We crave things we neither need nor enjoy. “We buy things we do not want to impress people we do not like.” 2 Where planned obsolescence leaves off, psychological obsolescence takes over. We are made to feel ashamed to wear clothes or drive cars until they are worn out. The mass media have convinced us that to be out of step with fashion is to be out of step with reality. It is time we awaken to the fact that conformity to a sick society is to be sick. Until we see how unbalanced our culture has become at this point, we will not be able to deal with the mammon spirit within ourselves nor will we desire Christian simplicity. This psychosis permeates even our mythology. The modern hero is the poor boy who purposefully becomes rich rather than the rich boy who voluntarily becomes poor. (We still find it hard to imagine that a girl could do either!) Covetousness we call ambition. Hoarding we call prudence. Greed we call industry. Further, it is important to understand that the modern counterculture is hardly an improvement. It is a superficial change in life-style without dealing seriously with the root problems of a consumer society. Because the counterculture has always lacked a positive center it has inevitably degenerated into trivia. Arthur Gish states, “Much of the counter culture is a mirror of the worst features of the old sick society. The revolution is not free dope, free sex, and abortions on demand. . . . The pseudo-libertarian eroticism, elements of sadomasochism, and sexist advertisements in much of the underground press is part of the perversion of the old order and an expression of death.” 3 Courageously, we need to articulate new, more human ways to live. We should take exception to the modern psychosis that defines people by how much they can produce or what they earn. We should experiment with bold new alternatives to the present death-giving system. The Spiritual Discipline of simplicity is not a lost dream, but a recurrent vision throughout history. It can be recaptured today. It must be.

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TODAY
Monday
ANALYSIS

Book Quote Analysis: And the Angels Were Silent

“Bedtime is a bad time for kids. No child understands the logic of going to bed while there is energy left in the body or hours left in the day. My children are no exception. A few nights ago, after many objections tions and countless groans, the girls were finally in their gowns, in their beds, and on their pillows. I slipped into the room to give them a final kiss. Andrea, the five-year-old, was still awake, just barely, but awake. After I kissed her, she lifted her eyelids one final time and said, “I can’t wait until I wake up.” Oh, for the attitude of a five-year-old! That simple uncluttered passion for living that can’t wait for tomorrow. A philosophy of life that reads, “Play hard, laugh hard, and leave the worries to your father.” A bottomless well of optimism flooded by a perpetual spring of faith. Is it any wonder Jesus said we must have the heart of a child before we can enter the kingdom of heaven? I like the way J. B. Phillips renders Jesus’ call to childlikeness: “Jesus called a little child to his side and set him on his feet in the middle of them all. Believe me,’ he said, unless you change your whole outlook and become like little children you will never enter the your whole outlook and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven.””Note the phrase “change your whole outlook.” No small command. mand. Quit looking at life like an adult and see it through the eyes of a child.”

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