We are capable of finding unending meaning in a world of constant, shimmering, sometimes threatening change. The task is to keep the question of life in question, and to find in it an unending source of joy and possibility, even in the darkest of times. It is within the constant overcoming of our own limitations and habits, and of the established views of our age, that passive happiness and unreflective contentment are lost, then to be replaced by joyful activity and a glimpse of a broader, more enriching, and more responsible awareness than we have been capable of before.
What makes a marriage is the consent of the partners, their serious intention to live together in some sense, however dimly perceived, as “one flesh,” a union of their two separate existences into still a third existence, the marriage itself… The question of external status is entirely and altogether unnecessary.
Modern secularity has offered another way of dealing with religious pluralism. As religious traditions lose their importance as means of self-understanding and community identification, their differences and mutual exclusiveness diminish in importance. Alienation from any particular religious faith tends to move the question of religious particularity into the realm of indifference, as life is determined by nonreligious values and institutions. Yet secularity has been no more successful in establishing human community than has the religious vision. The competing claims of nationalism, economic imperialism, and ideological triumphalism are also demonic forms of particularity that have not been able to establish a new universality in human community.
There's never been a true war that wasn't fought between two sets of people who were certain they were in the right. The really dangerous people believe they are doing whatever they are doing solely and only because it is without question the right thing to do. And that is what makes them dangerous.
The seeker after truth, however, is not a conqueror but a supplicant. Because there’s no one easier to deceive than ourselves, and no bigger credibility gap than that between our truth seeking and our truth twisting, our only path to truth (and its resultant freedom) is to be transformed by it rather than trying to conquer it… We must conform to truth –or, more accurately, become captive to it. Ultimately the question for each of us is not how thoroughly we’ve searched for the truth but how searchingly the truth has examined us.
Too much to live with, too little to live for… In our own day this question of life purpose is more urgent than ever. Three factors have converged to fuel a search for significance without precedent in human history. First, the search for the purpose of life is one of the deepest issues of our experiences as human beings. Second, the expectation that we can all live purposeful lives has been given a gigantic boost by modern society’s offer of the maximum opportunity for choice and change in all we do. Third, our fulfillment is thwarted by this stunning fact: Out of more than a score of great civilizations in human history, modern Western civilization is the very first to have a no agreed-on answer to the question of the purpose of life… Most of us in the midst of material plenty, have spiritual poverty.
Change | Choice | Civilization | Day | Expectation | Fulfillment | History | Life | Life | Little | Opportunity | Plenty | Poverty | Precedent | Purpose | Purpose | Question | Search | Society | Expectation |
How does time become holy? It becomes holy when a part of it is given to others, when we share and care and listen. Time is sanctified when we use it – to forgive and ask forgiveness; to remember things too long forgotten and to forget things too long remembered; to reclaim sacred things too casually abandoned and to abandon shabby things too highly cherished; to remember that life’s most crucial question is – how are we using time?
It is not enough for me to be able to say `I am’; I want to know who I am and in relation to whom I live. It is not enough for me to ask questions; I want to know how to answer the one question that seems to encompass everything I face: What am I here for?
If we do discover a complete [unified] theory [of the universe], it should be in time be understandable in broad principle by everyone, not just a few scientists. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists, and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason – for then we should know the mind of God.
A soldier is a man whose business it is to kill those who never offended him, and who are the innocent martyrs of other men’s iniquities. Whatever may become of the abstract question of the justifiableness of war, it seems impossible that the soldier should not be a depraved and unnatural thing.
There is not even one single thing we value when we restrict the question to ethical values. Instead, there is a plurality of different things we value, but in ethics and in life in general. In life we value pleasure, human interaction, achievement and contact with reality. In ethics we value human flourishing but also commitment and justice per se… No single set of rules seems adequate to the irreducible plurality of incommensurable things that we value.
The beginning of faith is not a feeling for the mystery of living or a sense of awe, wonder, or fear. The root of religion is the question what to do with the feeling for the mystery of living, what to do with awe, wonder, or fear. Religion, the end of isolation, begins with a consciousness that something is asked of us. It is in that tense, eternal asking in which the soul is caught and in which man’s answer is elicited.