Happy Birthday, Jonathan Edwards


Today is Jonathan Edwards’s birthday. He turns 313.

At age 19, Edwards drafted a list of 70 “Resolutions” by which he hoped to live the rest of his days. They were written over a period of several months, beginning in late 1722. His plan was to review the list each week and evaluate his progress. Resolution number six is a great one for birthday anniversaries.

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Quotations: On Poetry


Emily Dickinson Script

Emily Dickinson Script

“. . . you can’t force a poem.” —Elizabeth Jennings, quoted in The Poetry of Piety, edited by Ben Witherington III and Christopher Mead Armitage

“It takes a grateful audience to keep a poem alive.” —Ted Kooser, The Poetry Home Repair Manual

“Another note to tack up over your desk: Too much cleverness in poetry can be a real killer.” —Ted Kooser, The Poetry Home Repair Manual

“Poetry, even the poetry of humor and delight, is an agent of the imagination pressing back, in Wallace Stevens’s phrase, against the pressure of reality.” —David Lehman, Forward to The Best American Poetry 2006, edited by Billy Collins

On Christology


John Donne

John Donne

“Twas much that man was made like God before;/But that God should be made like man—much more.” —John Donne

“The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation. . . . If the thing happened, it was the central event in the history of the Earth—the very thing that the whole story has been about.” —C. S. Lewis, Miracles (chapter xiv)

Quotations: The Intellectual Life


“. . . the history of thought is the laboratory of the thinker . . . .”

—Eugene R. Fairweather

“So I’m not educated. I learned my stuff. I’m a heart surgeon, sure, but I’m just a mechanic.”

—Character named Mel, in Raymond Carver’s short story “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” in What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

“The history of my stupidity would fill many volumes./. . . . The history of my stupidity will not be written./For one thing, it’s late. And the truth is laborious.”

—From Czeslaw Milosz’s poem, “Account,” in New and Collected Poems, 1931-2001

“Most of us hate to think. Five minutes of thought can be more terrifying, more energy-draining than days and days of routine or habitual activity. Your mind is intrinsically thrifty, and prefers to do things the way it has done them before. It sees its primary business as establishing effective channels for action, and resists altering a channel that has become established, to say nothing of constructing a new one that causes anxiety.”

—Kenneth Atchity, A Writer’s Time

“I’m a stenographer of my mind.”

—Allen Ginsberg, poet (1926-1997)

“Your best thought is imbedded [sic] in chunks of your worst thought.”

—Mark Levy, Accidental Genius

“Friends of the human race and of what is holiest to it! Accept what appears to you most worthy of belief after careful and sincere examination, whether of facts or rational grounds; only do not dispute that prerogative of reason which makes it the highest good on earth, the prerogative of being the final touchstone of truth.”

—Immanuel Kant, “What Does It Mean to Orient Oneself in Thinking?”

“Most evidently, we cannot give up on the principle of non-contradiction, bold but wayward logicians notwithstanding.”

—Sandra Menssen and Thomas D. Sullivan, The Agnostic Inquirer: Revelation from a Philosophical Standpoint

Quotations: On Writing


“If you don’t feel like writing, you can always read about it.”

—Doug Geivett (title of my post here)

“All the valuable writing I’ve done in the last ten years has been done in the first twenty minutes after the first time I’ve wanted to leave the room.”

—Ron Carlson, Ron Carlson Writes a Story

“The process of writing is an adventure; you never know how things are going to configure themselves. When I begin a book, I know it’s going to transform my life.”

—Charles Johnson, in his interview with Diane Osen for The Book That Changed My Life

“Writers write for two reasons. One is that they have something they want to say. The other, equally compelling motive is that they have something they want to find out. Writing is a mode of exploration.”

—Margaret Lucke, Writing Great Short Stories Read more of this post

Quotations: On Pain and Suffering


“No, God does not give us explanations; we do not comprehend the world, and we are not going to. It is, and it remains for us, a confused mystery of bright and dark. God does not give us explanations; he gives us a Son. . . . A Son is better than an explanation.”

—Austin Farrer, “The Country Doctor”

“Every war movie, good or bad, is an antiwar movie.” —Steven Spielberg, “Of Guts and Glory”

“. . . after all, the manner in which a person dies, the little details of an autopsy, say, whether the corpse has spots on its liver or lungs, doesn’t in any way cancel the loss.”

—Ted Kooser, The Poetry Home Repair Manual

A high station in life is earned by the gallantry with which appalling experiences are survived with grace.”

—Tennessee Williams

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