touchstone archives


Piquant excerpts lifted from Touchstone editors' own reading & listening.

Issue: Nov/Dec 2019

Of both God and the world it must be said that they have their being in relation. . . . Redemption thus means the redirection of the particular to its own end and not a re-creation. The distinctive feature of created persons is their mediating function in the achievement of perfection by the rest of creation. They are called to the forms of action, in science, ethics and art—in a word, to culture—which enable to take place the sacrifice of praise, which is the free offering of all things, perfected, to their Creator. . . . The created world becomes truly itself—moves toward its completion—when through Christ and the Spirit, it is presented perfect before the throne of the Father. The sacrifice of praise, which is the due human response to both creation and redemption, takes the form of that culture which enables both personal and non-personal worlds to realize their true being.

Collin E. Gunton
The One, the Three and the Many: God, Creation and the Culture of Modernity (1993)

Christianity Commonplaces #26 Nov/Dec 2019

Pascal knew that Montaigne was cheating: to most humans, curiosity about higher things comes naturally; it's indifference to them that must be learned.

Mark Lilla
The Hidden Lesson of Montaigne (NYT review, March 2011)

Education Commonplaces #27 Nov/Dec 2019

My son once wrote to a friend saying something to this effect: that we are God's witnesses necessarily, because the world will not read the Bible, but they will read our lives. Their belief in the divine nature of the faith we possess will be influenced by our lives. We must present to the investigation of the critical minds of our age the realities of lives transformed by the mighty power of God. . . .

The standard of practical, holy living has been so low among Christians that the least degree of real devotedness of the higher Christian walk is looked upon with surprise and often even with disapproval by a large portion of the church. For the most part, the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ are satisfied with a life so conformed to the world in almost every respect that, to a casual observer, no difference is discernible.

Hannah Whitall Smith
The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life (1875)

Christianity Commonplaces #28 Nov/Dec 2019

The theological virtue of faith enables one not only to know the truth of what God has revealed but also to savor it, and thus to come to a deeper understanding of the relationship of the mysteries to one another and to their singular origin, the Blessed Trinity. This means, in addition, an ongoing adaptation of the mind to the mysteries as expressed in the traditional dogmatic formulas. Note well: it is not the mysteries that need to be adapted to the human mind (as the Modernists would have it), but rather the human mind that must conform itself to the mysteries, submitting to their demands, humbly bearing their yoke. This is the narrow path trodden by the saints in their pilgrimage to the beatific vision.

Peter Kwasniewski (April 2, 2019)

Christianity Commonplaces #29 Nov/Dec 2019

Therefore your end is on you,
Is on you and your kings,
Not for a fire in Ely fen,
Not that your gods are nine or ten,
But because it is only Christian men
Guard even heathen things.

G. K. Chesterton
The Ballad of the White Horse (1911)

Christianity Commonplaces #30 Nov/Dec 2019

But it may be that the truly "modern" thing about the modern age, the nineteenth century and the twentieth, its really diagnostic train, is the interest in beginnings, in origin, in aetiology: when we try to say what something is—witness Darwin, for example, and Freud—our way of doing it is to go back and talk about how it got to be the way it looks now. Or it might be said that with the eroding away of the assumptions of the first chapters of Genesis, other mythology had to be supplied, mythology in the fashionable scientific language, if only in order to fill up what began to appear as the dark backward and abysm of time.

Howard Nemerov
from the Introduction to Poetic Diction by Owen Barfield (1928)

Nature Commonplaces #31 Nov/Dec 2019

Sometimes the most dangerous thing you can be as a pastor (or priest) is to be a faithful example of what your church believes, teaches, and practices. We live in a world in which it is considered good to press even further the progressive edge of your church body but not so good to hold to what your church body has believed, taught, and confessed. This is true whether you are a Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, or Roman Catholic.

Rev. Larry A. Peters (March 25, 2019)

Christianity Commonplaces #32 Nov/Dec 2019

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