Pause & Ponder // Reading in September

“If technical progress is not matched by corresponding progress in man’s ethical formation, in man’s inner growth… then it is not progress at all, but a threat for man and for the world.”

Pope Benedict XVI – Wyatt North

“Certain realities take us beyond language because that is their very purpose. They do what words cannot do.”

“The God of the Incarnation is as much about kitchen tables as ecclesial altars.”

“In essence, what God is telling Adam and Eve is this: “I am going to give you life. You may receive that life, but you may never take it. To take it is to ruin and destroy the gift that it is”.”

“If our Eucharists do not succeed in breaking down the barriers that separate us from each other, then we have little reason to hope that these barriers will break down in our world.”

Our One Great Act of Fidelity – Ronald Rolheiser

“Stegner argued that a wild place was worth much more than could ever be revealed by a cost-benefit analysis of its recreational economic value, or its minerals and resources. No, he explained, we need wild places because they remind us of a world beyond the human. Forests, plains, prairies, deserts, mountains: the experience of those landscapes can give people ‘a sense of bigness outside themselves that has now in some way been lost’.”

“Thought, like memory, inhabits external things as much as the inner regions of the human brain. When the physical correspondents of thought disappear, then thought, or its possibility, is also lost. When woods and trees are destroyed – incidentally, deliberately – imagination and memory go with them.”

“It is difficult, even now, to travel through the clearer glens of Scotland and miss the evidence of earlier calamity. Difficult, too, not to be disturbed by it, not to find one’s own relationship with the land changed by the knowledge of what once occurred here. The pasts of these places complicate and darken their present wildness; caution against romanticism and blitheness.”

The Wild Places – Robert Macfarlane

Pause & Ponder // Reading in August

“Kafka might have advocated tackling ‘only books that bite or sting us’ (or ‘wound and stab us’, depending on which translation you favour)… but he didn’t have to commute through the rush hour, holding on to a swinging strap with only the words in front of his eyes to take his mind off the armpit of the person standing two inches away.”

Reading the World – Ann Morgan

Pause & Ponder // Reading in July

“There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater.

But sometimes it doesn’t.

Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life.

That is the sort of bravery I must have now.”

Allegiant – Veronica Roth

“That’s his call. Show up.”

Starving Jesus – Craig Gross & J.R. Mahon

“Alec Motyer said, “Holiness is the most intimately divine word the Bible possesses.” And thus the call to be holy as he is holy is the call to the most intimate union with God. Imitation of God has intimacy with God as the goal.”

“Prayer is the language of intimacy. Prayer keeps communion. And prayer bears fruit, not simply in answered prayer, but in presenting us to a holy God to be transformed into his likeness.”

The Pursuit of the Holy – Simon Ponsonby

“In solitude we confront the forces that seek to shape us in their image and the alternative ways that we try to define ourselves, and we meet the God who offers us true identity and hear the voice that truly defines us and shapes us according to his image.”

“It’s important that we pay attention to the mundane as well as the sublime, as it’s the mundane that makes the sublime possible.”

“Because of these assumptions in many churches about what constitutes participation, we can become convinced that the faithful word in the Christian life is always yes. When we are asked to participate in an activity or group or sharing time, if we are really committed to community, if we truly trust God, we think we must answer “yes.” Conversely, no is the unfaithful word. No is the word that shuts us out of community, that doesn’t trust God and is closed to others and his work.”

Introverts in the Church – Adam S. McHugh

Reading in June

1 month. 12 books.

June was a fairly good month of reading for me; there were a few gems mixed in with the cheesy, switch-off lit.

My friend Bex Lewis’ book Raising Children in a Digital Age is well worth a read – perhaps particularly for parents, but I found it helpful as an ‘adoptive aunty’. I love the focus on learning how to do life online together, and not focusing on the false notion of ‘digital natives’.

A few ‘stop and think’ lines from last month:

Jesus turned “others” into “anothers.”

Don’t shortchange mystery.

Post-Modern Pilgrims – Leonard Sweet

People don’t really want to be cured. What they want is relief; a cure is painful.

Love Well – Jamie George

So, don’t just think that some time in the future when you’re older or wiser or can control your temper or you live somewhere else or you’re not single or you’re a better person, you’ll serve God or do what He wants. He wants all of you now, how you are.

Letting go is not giving up and admitting defeat; it’s choosing to move away from a thing that is actually defeating you already.

Speed Bumps & Roundabouts – Pip McCracken

Real criticism begins in the capacity to grieve because that is the most visceral announcement that things are not right.

We need to ask not whether it is realistic or practical or viable but whether it is imaginable. We need to ask if our consciousness and imagination have been so assaulted and co-opted by the royal consciousness that we have been robbed of the courage or power to think an alternative thought.

The Prophetic Imagination – Walter Brueggemann

The real work of prayer

‘I realise that, although I have a tendency to say many things to God, the real “work” of prayer is to become silent and listen to the voice that says good things about me. This might sound self-indulgent, but, in practice, it is a hard discipline. I am so afraid of being cursed, of hearing that I am no good or not good enough, that I quickly give in to the temptation to start talking and to keep talking in order to control my fears. To gently push aside and silence the many voices that question my goodness and to trust that I will hear a voice of blessing… that demands real effort.’

-Henri Nouwen, Life of the Beloved


For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is “I didn’t get enough sleep.” The next one is “I don’t have enough time.” Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don’t have enough of… Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something. And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds are racing with a litany of what we didn’t get, or didn’t get done, that day. We go to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to that reverie of lack… This internal condition of scarcity, this mind-set of scarcity, lives at the very heart of our jealousies, our greed, our prejudice, and our arguments with life…

Lynne Twist, The Soul of Money