"The cup of sorrow, inconceivable as it seems, is also the cup of joy. Only when we discover this in our own life can we consider drinking it." (38)
"J...more"The cup of sorrow, inconceivable as it seems, is also the cup of joy. Only when we discover this in our own life can we consider drinking it." (38)
"Jesus' unconditional yes to His Father had empowered him to drink his cup, not in passive resignation but with the full knowledge that the hour of his death would also be the hour of his glory. His yes made his surrender a creative act, an act that could bear much fruit. His yes took away the fatality of the interruption of his ministry. Instead of a final irrevocable end, his death became the beginning of a new life. Indeed, his yes enabled him to trust fully in the rich harvest the dying grain would yield." (50)
"Nothing is sweet or easy about community. Community is a fellowship of people who do not hide their joys and sorrows but make them visible to each other in a gesture of hope. In community we say: 'Life is full of gains and losses, joys and sorrows, ups and downs--but we do not have to live it alone. We want to drink our cup together and thus celebrate the truth that the wounds of our individual lives, which seem intolerable when lived alone, become sources of healing when we live them as part of a fellowship of mutual care.'" (57)
"The Eucharist is that sacred mystery through which what we lived as a curse, we now live as a blessing. Our suffering can no longer be a divine punishment. Jesus transformed it as the way to new life. His blood, and ours too, now can become martyr's blood--blood that witnesses to a new covenant, a new communion, a new community." (68)
"We need to be able to let our tears flow freely, tears of sorrow as well as tears of joy, tears that are as rain on dry ground. As we thus lift our lives for each other, we can truly say: 'To life,' because all we have lived now becomes the fertile soil for the future." (74)
"When we are committed to do God's will and not our own we soon discover that much of what we do doesn't need to be done by us." (100)
"Drinking the cup is an act of selfless love, an act of immense trust, an act of surrender to a God who will give what we need when we need it." (106)(less)
Obviously I read the English version. Not as amazing overall as Pyongyang (due primarily to its unique flow as a travel journal that at times seems a...moreObviously I read the English version. Not as amazing overall as Pyongyang (due primarily to its unique flow as a travel journal that at times seems a little disjointed). However, Delisle does a fascinating (and well done) job relating the complexities of the various religious, ethnic, political, social, cultural, etc. tensions at play in the country.
Read and judge for yourself. Pray for justice in Palestine. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.(less)
A fascinating and sobering portal into a country like none other on the face of the planet. Definitely a window to understand and a call to prayer for...moreA fascinating and sobering portal into a country like none other on the face of the planet. Definitely a window to understand and a call to prayer for this nation.(less)
It held my attention for 8 straight hours, start to finish.
There are some very mature themes that I would not feel comfortable having my adolescent da...moreIt held my attention for 8 straight hours, start to finish.
There are some very mature themes that I would not feel comfortable having my adolescent daughter or son have to deal with (e.g., the emotions of killing a human being).
However, there are some poignant issues that are well worth thinking about: the injustice of an dictatorial state, and the noble rebellion related to it; the abhorrence of violence in the lives of children; the complex love between human beings; the price(lessness) of loyalty; the numbing effects of entertainment when contrasted with the rawness of reality...
It certainly is a page-turner and with a little bit of preparation, an enjoyable and fast-paced read. It is not a book to extol for its inspirational feeling as much as its portrayal (warning) of what humans are really capable of. There is redemptive hope woven through, however.(less)
An exceedingly creative book, in a multi-media type of format (images, detail in spacing). A very engaging read; parts of the story were quite compell...moreAn exceedingly creative book, in a multi-media type of format (images, detail in spacing). A very engaging read; parts of the story were quite compelling. I think the entire chapter, "WHY I'M NOT WHERE YOU ARE 5/21/63" (pgs. 16-34) is one of the most intricate and moving pieces of contemporary writing I've ever read.
The only other quote I might leave here, since most of the book must be taken as a whole, not in units, would be this one:
"He wrote, 'Why would you want to do that?' I told him, 'Because it's the truth, and Dad loved the truth.' 'What truth?' 'That he's dead.'" pg. 321
Again, you have to take that in the context of the whole. It's like a moving dialogue; it's difficult to explain a part without explaining the whole (in literary terms, if you want the whole flavor).
Although quite whimsical at times, I would not recommend this to very young readers, although I am more sensitive to some violent/sexual scenes than others.
I would say 4 stars in creativity. 3 stars in overall take-aways. The world is sad. This story tells much about dealing with that sadness, with no gainful solution except...having and losing is better than not having at all. Saying "I love you" is always necessary. Grieving is part of living.(less)
An incredible novel. Once I got through the first 100 pages or so, it was a non-stop read. Many thanks to my boss, DB, for giving this translation to...moreAn incredible novel. Once I got through the first 100 pages or so, it was a non-stop read. Many thanks to my boss, DB, for giving this translation to me as my Christmas, 2010, gift. This particular translation was much easier to read than the first edition I attempted (one translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky).
What I enjoyed most was the exquisite way Dostoyevsky relates the human soul. He understands the diabolical pride, the warring in the spirit, the complexity (brokenness, desire, playfulness) of relationship. He ruthlessly yet artfully peels back the layers upon layers of values we have and we think we have in reflecting, speaking, communing. He sketches perception, both inward and outward, in 3D.
Favorite quotes (countless, but nonetheless partially related here):
"'I love humanity,' he said, 'but I wonder at myself. The more I love humanity in general, the less I love man in particular. In my dreams,' he said, 'I often make plans for the service of humanity, and perhaps I might actually face crucifixion if it were suddenly necessary. Yet I am incapable of living in the same room with anyone for two days together. I know from experience. As soon as anyone is near me, his personality disturbs me and restricts my freedom. In twenty-four hours I begin to hate the best of men: one because he's too long over his dinner, another because he has a cold and keeps on blowing his nose. I become hostile to people the moment they come close to me. But it has always happened that the more I hate men individually the more I love humanity.'" pg. 61
"Love in dreams is greedy for immediate action, rapidly performed and in the sight of all. Men will even give their lives if only the ordeal does not last long but is soon over, with all looking on and applauding as though on the stage. But active love is labor and fortitude, and for some people too perhaps, a complete science." pg. 62
"With old liars who have been acting all their lives there are moments when they enter so completely into their part that they tremble or shed real tears, although at that very moment or a second later, they are able to whisper to themselves, 'You know you are lying, you shameless old sinner! You're acting now, in spite of your 'holy' wrath.'" pg. 80
"The awful thing is that beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and the devil are fighting there and the battlefield is the heart of man." pg. 121
"Can you understand that one might kill oneself from pleasure? But I didn't stab myself. I only kissed my sword and put it back in the scabbard--which I didn't have to tell you, by the way. And I think that in telling you about my inner conflict I have laid it on in order to glorify myself. But let it pass, and to hell with all who pry into the human heart!" pg. 129
"'She loves her own virtue, not me.' The words broke involuntarily and almost maliciously from Dmitri. He laughed. But a minute later his eyes gleamed, he flushed crimson and struck the table with his fist." pg. 131
"He stands, as it were, lost in thought. Yet he is not thinking: he is 'contemplating.' If anyone touched him he would start and look bewildered. It's true he would come to himself immediately; but if he were asked what he had been thinking about, he would remember nothing. Yet probably he has hidden within himself, the impression which dominated him during the period of contemplation. Those impressions are dear to him and he probably hoards them imperceptibly, and even unconsciously. How and why, of course, he does not know. He may suddenly, after hoarding impressions for many years, abandon everything and go off to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage. Or he may suddenly set fire to his native village. Or he may do both." pg. 143
"And neither their subtlety nor the ardor of their hearts has been able to create a higher ideal of man and of virtue than the ideal given by Christ of old." pg. 193
"There was extraordinary impudence in his expression, and yet, strange to say, at the same time there was fear. He looked like a man who had long been kept in subjection and had submitted to it, and now had suddenly turned and was trying to assert himself. Or, better still, like a man who wants to hit you but is horribly afraid you will hit him. In his words and in the intonation of his shrill voice there was a sort of crazy humor, at times spiteful and at times cringing, and continually shifting from one tone to another." pg. 224
[When Helping Hurts (Corbett & Fikkert) in fiction, pg. 242]
"It's not a matter of intellect or logic, it's loving with one's inside, with one's stomach." pg. 260
"I have a Euclidian earthly mind and so how can I solve problems that are not of this world? [...] I believe that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidian mind of man. I believe that at the world's end, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood that has been shed. I believe that it will not only be possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened [...] the more stupid one is, the closer one is to reality. The more stupid one is, the clearer one is. Stupidity is brief and artless, while intelligence squirms and hides itself. Intelligence is unprincipled, but stupidity is honest and straightforward." pg. 265-267
"One can love one's neighbors in the abstract, or even at a distance, but at close quarters it's almost impossible. If it were as on the stage, in the ballet, where if beggars come in, they wear silken rags and tattered lace and beg for alms dancing gracefully, then one might enjoy looking at them. But even then we should not love them." pg. 268
"...a beast can never be so cruel as a man, so artistically cruel." pg. 269
"Thou didst crave for free love and not the base raptures of the slave before the might that has overawed him forever. But Thou didst think too highly of men therein, for they are slaves, of course, though rebellious by nature. Look round and judge; fifteen centuries have passed, look upon them. Whom hast Thou raised up to Thyself? I swear, man is weaker and baser by nature than Thou hast believed him! Can he, can he do what Thou didst? By showing him so much respect, Thou didst, as it were, cease to feel for him, for Thou didst ask far too much from him--Thou who has loved him more than Thyself! Respecting him less, Thou wouldst have asked less of him. That would have been more like love, for his burden would have been lighter. He is weak and vile. He is weak and vile though he is everywhere now rebelling against our power, and proud of his rebellion! It is the pride of a child and a schoolboy. They are little children rioting and barring out the teacher at school. But their childish delight will end; it will cost them dearly. They will cast down temples and drench the earth with blood. But they will see at last the foolish children, that, though they are rebels, they are impotent rebels, unable to keep up their own rebellion. Bathed in their foolish tears, they will recognize at last that He who created them rebels must have meant to mock at them. They will say this in despair, and their utterance will be a blasphemy which will make them more unhappy still, for man's nature cannot bear blasphemy, and in the end always avenges it on itself. And so unrest, confusion and unhappiness--that is the present lot of man after Thou didst bear so much for his freedom!" pg. 291
"At some thoughts one stands perplexed, especially at the sight of men's sin, and wonders whether one should use force or humble love. Always decide to use humble love. If you resolve on that once and for all, you may subdue the whole world. Loving humility is marvelously strong, the strongest of all things. There is nothing else like it." pg. 367
"'Don't think about that, don't think of it at all!' cried Alyosha. 'And what does ridiculous mean? Isn't everyone constantly being or seeming ridiculous? Besides, nearly all clever people are afraid of being ridiculous, and that makes them unhappy. I am surprised that you should feel ridiculous so early, though nowadays little children have begun to suffer from it. It's almost a sort of insanity. The devil has taken the form of that vanity and entered into the whole generation. It's the devil,' added Alyosha, without a trace of the smile that Kolya, staring at him expected to see. 'You are like everyone else,' said Alyosha, in conclusion. 'That is, like very many others. Only you must not be like everybody else, that's all.'" pg. 644
Ivan's "hymn" pg. 684 (spoilers)
The nature of Ivan's "illness" pg. 758-759 (spoilers)
"Why should we assume everything as we imagine it, as we make up our minds to imagine it? A thousand things may happen in reality which elude the keenest imagination." pg. 853
There are countless other resonant passages in this text. And probably more to be found in future rereads.(less)
Although the book addresses loneliness, I believe it speaks more to suffering and death (not just physical, but spiritual death). The content of this...moreAlthough the book addresses loneliness, I believe it speaks more to suffering and death (not just physical, but spiritual death). The content of this book kept drawing me back to believe in the God of all Love. The God who is in control; the God who is transforming my pain. I’m called back to faith, back to hope, back to Him, and who He said He really is. No longer to writhe, but to trust in pain, seeing Him create life out of death. He did it for His Son; watch Him do it in you. I am realizing as I walk with Him the kind of relationship He’s called me to—-not holding back anything. But He gave me all in His Son, so it’s an all-all exchange (60). It’s beyond me to do this. And yet, in the dying, it’s so full of grace…”first, last, and always” (63). I love how this book rehearses “distilled acts of faith and acceptance” (as Maud Monahan is quoted pg. 83). Look at Jesus—-look at how He learned obedience (92). Look at how He offered all, and now gives me something to offer, too, like a child a father has given money for which to buy a gift (95). Suffering, loneliness, death are all gifts. This is why the Gospel holds my soul's attention-—it is the reality of Jesus’ showing me God’s economy. Reversing EVERYTHING from suffering and death and rejection and shame and loss to “every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” Will I go with Him? That is the invitation of the book (112).
“Those who only watch and pray and try to put themselves in the place of the bereaved find it almost unendurable. Sometimes they weep uncontrollably, for their imaginations never include the grace.” pgs. 12-13
“But safety, as the Cross shows, does not exclude suffering…trust in those strong arms means that even our suffering is under control. We are not doomed to meaninglessness. A loving Purpose is behind it all, a great tenderness even in the fierceness.” pg. 18
“Jesus knew that His joy lay in only one direction: the will of the Father. And so does ours. […] We may be earnestly desiring to be obedient and holy. But we may be missing the fact that it is here, where we happen to be at this moment and not in another place or another time, that we may learn to love Him—here where it seems He is not at work, where His will seems obscure or frightening, where He is not doing what we expected Him to do, where He is most absent. Here and nowhere else is the appointed place. If faith does not go to work here, it will not go to work at all. pg. 22
“The power of the Cross is not exemption from suffering but the very transformation of suffering.” pg. 26
“The coming of this transcendent authority into one’s life is bound to be an active thing, an immense disruption at times.” pg. 36
“At the Cross of Jesus our crosses are changed into gifts.” pg. 37
“My joy is becoming less dependent upon my own immediate circumstances and more attached to what He is doing.” Bonnie’s letter, pg. 45
“Deeper and deeper must be the dying, for wider and fuller is the lifetide that it is to liberate—no longer limited by the narrow range of our own being, but with endless powers of multiplying in other souls. Death must reach the very springs of our nature to set it free: it is not this thing or that thing that must go now: it is blindly, helplessly, recklessly, our very selves. A dying must come upon all that would hinder God’s working through us—all interests, all impulses, all energies that are ‘born of the flesh’—all that is merely human and apart from His Spirit.” Lilias Trotter, Parables of the Cross, pgs. 54-55
“We have been shown the way of acceptance on every page of the life of Jesus. It sprang from love and from trust. He set His face like a flint toward Jerusalem. He took up the Cross of His own will. No one could take His life from Him. He deliberately laid it down. He calls us to take up our crosses. That is a different thing from capitulation or resignation. It is a glad and voluntary YES to the conditions we meet on our journey with Him, because these are the conditions He wants us to share with Him. Events are the sacraments of the Will of God—-that is, they are visible signs of an invisible Reality. These provide the very place where we may learn to love and trust.” pg. 82
“In circumstances for which there is no final answer in the world, we have two choices: accept them as God’s wise and loving choice for our blessing (this is called faith), or resent them as proof of His indifference, His carelessness, even His non-existence (this is unbelief).” pg. 89
“When a man or woman, a boy or girl, accepts the way of loneliness for Christ’s sake, there are cosmic ramifications. That person, in a secret transaction with God, actually does something for the life of the world. This seems almost inconceivable, yet it is true, for it is one part of the mystery of suffering which has been revealed to us. […] Each time my heart in love to Christ says YES when my human nature says NO, there the Cross is taken up. There I become a little more like my Master, there I live in Him, there I participate in His work of fulfilling the Father’s will on earth.” pg. 108
“…He knows that spiritual stamina cannot develop without conflict. We must take with both hands the thing given, submissively, humbly, sometimes courageously, or even, as one friend put it, ‘defiantly’—saying to ourselves, This is part of the story, the story of the love of God for me and of my love for Him. This is acceptance in the truest sense.” pg. 114
“My theme is oblation—the offering up of ourselves, all we are, have, do, and suffer. Sacrifice means something received and something offered.” pg. 117
“The heart which has no agenda but God’s is the heart at leisure from itself. Its emptiness is filled with the Love of God. Its solitude can be turned into prayer.” pg. 131
“When waiting is an act of obedience it is of course an invisible one. Only the One waited on sees it for what it is, but we must resist the temptation to defend and explain to our critics, and simply go on trusting.” pg. 133
“Take it honestly to Him…He will understand…Waiting on God is an act of faith—the greatest thing ever required of us humans. Not faith in the outcome we are dictating to God, but faith in His character, faith in Himself. It is resting in the perfect confidence that He will guide in the right way, at the right time. He will supply our need. He will fulfill His word. He will give us the very best if we trust Him.” pg. 139
“Waiting is an offering and a sacrifice. We may lift up our very waiting to Him as a daily oblation, in a spirit of expectancy—like Linda’s, who asks daily only for God’s agenda. Waiting on God in this way is true faith—no agenda of one’s own, no deadlines, no demands on what God must do. Simply an open heart and open hands ready to receive that which God shall choose, and a perfect confidence that what He chooses will be better than our best.” pg. 140(less)
A fun little book, written in a diary/journal style. It steadily drew me into the medieval, youthful world of Catherine, while also being humorous (at...moreA fun little book, written in a diary/journal style. It steadily drew me into the medieval, youthful world of Catherine, while also being humorous (at times riotous), authentic, and historically insightful. A great read, especially for those curious about the characteristics of the time. Some kernels of wisdom tastefully sown, as well. Overall, a whimsical and enjoyable book with some excellent character descriptions.
I found this book a quick and very gripping read. C.S. Lewis can be a truly fantastical writer; at times I found my mind stretched to really enjoy the...moreI found this book a quick and very gripping read. C.S. Lewis can be a truly fantastical writer; at times I found my mind stretched to really enjoy the ethereal creativity of it all (once I was reminded of his "Till We Have Faces," another distinct and enthralling work). Occasionally, the dialogue made me shudder (especially chapter 10), for I saw in all of these profiles my own apt to mimic the atrocity that was being tortuously laid bare in all of the "interviewed" characters.
Here are my favorite quotes:
"I believe, to be sure, that any man who reaches Heaven will find that what he abandoned (even in plucking out his right eye) has not been lost: that the kernel of what he was really seeking even in his most depraved wishes will be there, beyond expectation, waiting for him in 'the High Countries.'" - C.S. Lewis, Preface, IX, The Great Divorce
"'I am not trying to make any point,' said the Spirit. 'I am telling you to repent and believe.'" - pg. 39, the solid spirit to the "honest opinions, sincerely expressed" bishop ghost
"'No,' said the other. I can promise you none of these things. No sphere of usefulness: you are not needed there at all. No scope for your talents: only forgiveness for having perverted them. No atmosphere of inquiry, for I will bring you to the land not of questions but of answers, and you shall see the face of God." - pg. 40, the same spirit to the same bishop ghost
"There's something in natural affection which will lead it on to eternal love more easily than natural appetite could be led on. But there's also something in it which makes it easier to stop at the natural level and mistake it for the heavenly. Brass is mistaken for gold more easily than clay is. And if it finally refuses conversion its corruption will be worse than the corruption of what ye call the lower passions. It is a stronger angel, and therefore, when it falls, a fiercer devil.' [...:] 'Every natural love will rise again and live forever in this country: but none will rise again until it has been buried.'" - pg. 104-105, the Teacher (George MacDonald) to the narrator
"'Only the Greatest of all can make Himself small enough to enter Hell.'" - pg. 139, George McDonald to the narrator (less)
“The temptation for farandola or for man or for star is to stay an immature pleasure-seeker. When we seek our own pleasure as the ultimate good we pla...more“The temptation for farandola or for man or for star is to stay an immature pleasure-seeker. When we seek our own pleasure as the ultimate good we place ourselves as the center of the universe. A fara or a man or a star has his place in the universe, but nothing created is the center.” – Proginoskes to Mr Jenkins, pg. 172
Sometimes gripping, sometimes poignant in human feeling, sometimes metaphysical beyond sustainable interest and the stoking of my imagination (like a hot air balloon, colorful and interesting near the earth, but not very engaging when it floats a little too high). However, this book did help me appreciate how, as a created thing, I only exist, communicate, and relate as a created thing. The One who is the Creator is beyond my mental confines in ways I have never thought about.