Os Guiness


Chinese-born American Author, Social Critic and Senior Fellow with the EastWest Institute in New York

Author Quotes

If everything is endlessly up for question and open for change, then everything is permitted and nothing is forbidden? nothing is unthinkable.

Sometimes when I listen to people who say they have lost their faith, I am far less surprised than they expect. If their view of God is what they say, then it is only surprising that they did not reject it much earlier.

The Protestant Distortion: ?is a secular form of dualism, elevating the secular at the expense of the spiritual?and reduces vocation to an alternative word for work.

We are not wise enough, pure enough, or strong enough to aim and sustain such a single motive over a lifetime. That way lies fanaticism or failure. But if the single motive is the master motivation of God's calling, the answer is yes. In any and all situations, both today and tomorrow's tomorrow, God's call to us is the unchanging and ultimate whence, what, why, and whither of our lives. Calling is a 'yes' to God that carries a 'no' to the chaos of modern demands. Calling is the key to tracing the story line of our lives and unriddling the meaning of our existence in a chaotic world.

If liberty is to endure, the twin bulwarks of the Constitution and the golden triangle of freedom must both play their part. To replace virtue alone with no virtue at all is madness, and what the Wall Street crisis showed about unfettered capitalism could soon be America's crisis played out on an even more gigantic screen.

Supporters of school prayer have found themselves on the horns of a dilemma of their own choosing. Insisting on official Christian prayer in such pluralistic settings, they either ignore the diversity and pray as if everyone shared their faith?thus scandalizing those who do not; or they respect the diversity and pray in an inoffensive way that tries to appeal to as many faiths as possible?thus secularizing their own faith while still offending those who reject public prayer of any kind.

The rewards of freedom are always sweet, but its demands are stern, for at its heart is the paradox that the greatest enemy of freedom is freedom.

We betray our modern arrogance and forget the place of mystery in God's dealing with us.

In many intellectual circles in this country you don?t have the philosophical or cultural climate in which the Framer?s understanding could even get a hearing, let alone could be carried on.

Surrender to the spirit of the age,

The tea party movement, dangering on things like the massive deficit, is really referring to the crisis of the republic, as the framers set it up. Whereas, the Occupy Wall Street movement, with its stress on the savage inequities between the rich and the poor, or the one-percenters and the 99 percenters, is focusing on the crisis of democracy. American democracy in the past has always been known for its large middle class and its relatively few very wealthy people and very few very poor people, but that is gone to today and the middle class is shrinking. You can see that the extremely wealthy are at a distance from most Americans like you've never seen in American history before. So I think both of the movements, with all their failures and flaws, are incredibly revealing.

We cannot find God without God. We cannot reach God without God. We cannot satisfy God without God ? which is another way of saying that all our seeking will fall short unless God starts and finishes the search. The decisive part of our seeking is not our human ascent to God, but his descent to us. Without God?s descent there is no human ascent. The secret of the quest lies not in our brilliance but in his grace.

In other words, we are never freer than when we become most ourselves, most human, most just, most excellent, and the like.

The [golden] triangle is this: freedom requires virtue, virtue requires faith of some sort, and faith of any sort requires freedom. And like the recycling triangle, it goes round and round -- freedom requires virtue which requires faith which requires freedom which requires virtue, and so on. You can break down each of those three legs in great depth, as the framers did. For example, freedom requires virtue: virtue was one word that covers things like honesty, loyalty, patriotism, character, and in many ways their discussion was very profound, but we've ignored it. For example, the president said today, they often don't look for character they look for competence, and yet the framers said that character would be decisive. Or you take the second leg, that virtue of any sort requires faith, the framers are very, very clear that the strongest inspiration, content and sanction for virtue comes from faiths, and, therefore, religion is very important. So they certainly granted freedom of conscience to atheists because they granted it to everyone. But they were not sanguine, for example if you read John Adams, about a society of atheists because they wouldn't have sufficient virtue.

The truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion and dynamism lived out as a response to his summons and service.

What is undeniable is that when comforts and convenience sap our energies and idealism, inactivity secretes sloth in to our minds like a poison in the blood.

In terms of distance, the prodigal's pigsty is the farthest point from home; in terms of time, the pigsty is the shortest distance to the father's house.

The ability to read is widespread, but the inability to read any but the shallowest texts is equally widespread. Recent estimates put the literacy of more than half the population of the United States at the level of twelve-year-olds. Such semi- or sub-literacy is not being eradicated by mass-schooling: it is being made politically and psychologically acceptable.

The ultimate threat to the American public will be Americans. The problem is not wolves at the door but termites in the floor.

What the framers believed should complement and reinforce the Constitution and its separation of powers is the distinctive moral ecology that is at the heart of ordered liberty.

In the sorry ranks of the revisionists, the loss of anything identifiably Christian is now almost complete.

The aim is to truly reach the gatekeepers, those who are astride the doorways of influence and power,

There are lots of people depending on the government who are good, honest citizens who have worked all their lives.

When something more that human seeking is needed if seeking is to be satisfied, then calling means that seekers themselves are sought.

Isaiah Berlin said philosophers are just adults who've gone on asking the questions that children ask and haven't stopped.

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Chinese-born American Author, Social Critic and Senior Fellow with the EastWest Institute in New York