Stout Wisdom

Looking for inspiration, perspective, or humor?

We invite you to read through our library of quotes.  Some are salty.  Some sweet.  Elegant or earthy.  Poetic.  Majestic.  We don’t do crude or cruel.  But all are stout.

America is suffering from a kind of autoimmune disorder where we’ve become allergic to our own civilization…We need the past like drivers need rearview mirrors. Get rid of the mirrors and, eventually, something terrible will happen. Similarly, if you concentrate on them too much, you’re sure to crash as well. Progress depends on knowing where you’ve been.

Jonah Goldberg

The universe isn’t divided into the Forces of Goodness and the Forces of Evil. That divide runs through every human heart and, therefore, every human institution. Recognizing this fact is the first step toward humility and decency in politics and life.

Jonah Goldberg

If it falls to your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep the streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, like Shakespeare wrote poetry, like Beethoven composed music; sweep the streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper, who swept his job well.’”

Martin Luther King

Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.

Nicholas Carr

Everyone wants to do better. Trust them. Leaders are everywhere. Find them. People achieve good things, big and small, every day. Celebrate them. Some people wish things were different. Listen to them. Everybody matters. Show them.

Bob Chapman and Raj Sisodia

People get caught up in grandeur, forgetting that the best times they ever had in their lives were in tiny spaces with low ceilings and the best things ever said to them were whispered. When I design a house, I start with the site to figure out exactly what elements you want to engage with emotionally and spiritually. Then I consider the communion of people and objects and create containment around them. My consideration is always what it’s going to feel like together. Only lastly do I concern myself with what a house looks like. The only real value of building a house is to increase the territory of your own heart. The only real truth is to create something that will settle your spirit.

Bobby McIntyre

We don’t believe something by merely saying we believe it, or even when we believe that we believe it. We believe something when we act as if it were true.

Dallas Willard

If we want to live a wholehearted life, we have to become intentional about cultivating rest and play, and we must work to let go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth.

Brené Brown

We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink.

Epicurus

…bullshit thrives because we, collectively, have become indifferent to the truth. Fake news thrives because there’s a market for it, willing consumers of bullshit. We believe any claim that suits our purposes. And when we’re confronted by inconvenient facts we treat them suspiciously and dismiss them as fake. Truth has become politicized. We’ll say and believe whatever helps us win.

Richard Beck

If you think free speech is assault but assault is free speech you’re a moron of world-historical proportions.

Jonah Goldberg

Selfishness is not living your life as you wish. It is asking others to live their lives as you wish.

Oscar Wilde

Transgenderism rests upon a metaphysics of personhood that will attempt to rewrite all of social reality as we know it (case in point: the Department of Defense’s Handbook)…We have now become whoever and whatever we happen to think we are, and the world needs to be remade in a manner that plays to our fantasies.

Carl Trueman

Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say ‘infinitely’ when you mean ‘very’; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.

C. S. Lewis

…both of our major parties are intensely nostalgic and backward looking. The Left wishes it was always 1965, the Right wishes it was always 1981, and they have both decided to just pretend that it is and so to treat every election as a choice about which era to return to. That makes for political debates that are disconnected from reality—they ignore how our country has changed over the decades, and so they ignore both our strengths and our weaknesses and they don’t speak to the problems people actually confront.

Yuval Levin

It’s not tolerance if you always agree with those you tolerate.

Jaci Lambert

We give them back to thee, dear Lord, who gavest them to us. Yet as thou didst not lose them in giving, so we have not lost them by their return. What thou gavest thou takest not away, O Lover of souls; for what is thine is ours also if we are thine. And life is eternal and love is immortal, and death is only an horizon, and an horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.

William Penn

Perhaps passing through the gates of death is like passing through the gate in a pasture fence. On the other side, you keep walking, without the need to look back. No shock, no drama, just the lifting of a plank or two in a simple wooden gate in a clearing. Neither pain, nor floods of light, nor great voices, but just the silent crossing of a meadow.

Mark Helprin, “A Soldier In The Great War”

Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.

Simon Sinek

If you understand too much, eternity passes you by.

Rainer Rilke

It is impossible to be grateful and hateful at the same time.

Denzel Washington

I really look with commiseration over the great body of my fellow citizens who, reading newspapers, live and die in the belief that they have known something of what has been passing in their time.

Harry Truman

The EU has a flag no one salutes, an anthem no one sings, a president no one can name, a parliament whose powers subtract from those of national legislatures, a bureaucracy no one admires or controls, and rules of fiscal rectitude that no member is penalized for ignoring.

George Will

When dealing with the finest lines in this or any other language, you should let Shakespeare do the talking. If you insist on interposing your ego, you ensure that all in the audience, wherever they sit, get an obstructed view.

When you stage Shakespeare, you are fashioning a setting for the most precious of jewels. The work demands all your artifice. The goldsmith’s craft may be creative, original, dazzling — but it must be deployed in the service of enhancing the gem, not smothering it.

Daniel Hannan

When media and the digital world become omnipresent, their influence can stop people from learning how to live wisely, to think deeply and to love generously.

Pope Francis

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver

…you don’t need a grand plan. Just take the next step, do the unglamorous tasks enthusiastically and expect the unexpected.

Kirsten Powers

The biggest problem we face as a culture…is that we use words like justice, rights, freedom and dignity without any commonly shared meaning. . . . Our most important debates boil out to who can deploy the best words in the best way to get power.

Archbishop Charles Chaput

We often wonder how people of the past, including the most revered and refined, could have universally engaged in conduct now considered unconscionable. Such as slavery. How could the Founders, so sublimely devoted to human liberty, have lived with — some participating in — human slavery? …While retrospective judgment tends to make us feel superior to our ancestors, it should really evoke humility. Surely some contemporary practices will be deemed equally abominable by succeeding generations. The only question is: Which ones?

Charles Krauthammer

Whatever you do in this world, you’ve got a responsibility and a privilege of doing it the very best way you can.

J. Erwin Miller

I’ve learned that style is the product of my limitations.

Emmylou Harris

I’ll believe it’s a crisis when the people who tell me it’s a crisis start acting like it’s a crisis.

Glenn Reynolds

The presidency of the United States is not some crown to be passed between two families.

Martin O’Malley

When someone isn’t willing or ready for spiritual oneness, emotional oneness, legal oneness, financial oneness — why let them steal physical and soul oneness from you?

Ann Voskamp

God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.

Vance Havner

The behavior of any bureaucratic organization can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies.

Robert Conquest

Science is never settled, because science is the craft of unsettling what we know at any given moment. If science could settle, man would never learn to fly or read by electric light.

Jonah Goldberg

A gentleman accepts the responsibility of his actions and bears the burden of their consequences. 

William Faulkner

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, does not go away.

Philip K. Dick

As a pastor I have stood at the bedside of literally thousands of people as they took their last breath.  I have never once had somebody at their dying moment say, ‘Bring me my bowling trophy, I want to see it one more time; bring me my certificate, my college degree so I can look at it one more time; bring me the nice gold watch I got for 30 years of service at my company.’  Nobody ever says that; they say, ‘Bring me the people that I love.’  In the closing moments of their life, what people want are those they love the most around them.

Rick Warren

[Laughter] allows us to step back from an event over which we have no control and deal with it and then move on with our lives. It helps distinguish us from animals. No matter what hyenas sound like, they are not actually laughing. It also helps define our sanity. The schizophrenic has no sense of humor. His world is a constantly daunting, unfriendly place. The rational man is able to find humor in his.

…People with a sense of humor tend to be less egocentric and more realistic in their view of the world and more humble in moments of success and less defeated in times of travail. I certainly don’t delude myself that there aren’t certainly more important things to do in life than make people laugh, but I can’t imagine anything that would bring me more joy.

Bob Newhart

Gentlemen, it is better to have died a small boy than to fumble this football.

John Heisman

Pleasure depends on where you are, who you are with, what you are eating. Happiness is different. Happiness does not depend on where you are. I live in prison. And I have not had a day of depression in 25 years. I have been upset, angry. I have been sad. But never depressed. I have a reason for my being.

Mother Antonia Brenner

When you break the big laws, you do not get freedom; you do not even get anarchy. You get the small laws.

G.K. Chesterton

Time is sequential – a thread spanning the distance between birth and death. Events, however, are more like a Persian carpet – thousands of richly colored threads woven into intricate patterns and images. Any attempt to place events into purely chronological order would be like pulling the threads loose and laying them end to end. It might be simpler, but you would lose the design.

Mosab Hassan Yousef

The old field of space, time, matter, and the senses is to be weeded, dug, and sown for a new crop. We may be tired of that old field: God is not.

C. S. Lewis

We live in a culture that has, for centuries now, cultivated the idea that the skeptical person is always smarter than one who believes. You can be almost as stupid as a cabbage, as long as you doubt. The fashion of the age has identified mental sharpness with a pose, not with genuine intellectual method and character.

Dallas Willard

Rand Paul…marched onto the stage in a suit jacket, tie and jeans. I wear jeans and you wear jeans and it’s not unusual for a man to wear jeans with a tie and jacket….could we not wear grown-up suits when we are running for high office? Additionally, do we have to talk so much about Tupac and Biggie, and how the former’s melodic inventiveness is almost equaled by the latter’s lyrical depth? Could we please not pose pumping iron in our gym shorts while wearing baseball caps backward on our heads? Could we not pose shirtless to show our abs?

Let me tell you why I hate this, and it isn’t only because I like the Gershwins, Johnny Mercer and slobs like Babe Ruth. I hate political figures looking at America and seeing demographic slivers with which a subtle connection must be made. I hate when they go for the demo—young voters, college-educated pre-advanced-degree, affluent suburban voters, older blue-collar peripheral urban ethnic voters. Yes, I know it’s the future, but I hate it

Peggy Noonan

People think sex is a good way to understand another person, but it’s like studying someone’s shadow to determine how reliable or smart or confident or sincere or knowing or dangerous they are.

Chloe Hooper

When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.

Donald Miller

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand: / Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

Edna St. Vincent Millay

I can explain it to you, but I can’t comprehend it for you.

Ed Koch

Build on failure…use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. Don’t try to forget the mistakes…but don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.

Johnny Cash

In my writing, as much as I could, I tried to find the good, and praise it.

Alex Haley

One can revere youth or wisdom, but not both.

Dennis Prager

Life is too short to have anything come out of your mouth that isn’t true.

Alison Krauss

“There seems to be an inverse relationship between written instruments of freedom, such as a Charter, and freedom itself. It’s as if freedom were too fragile to be put into words: If you write down your rights and freedoms, you lose them.”

George Jonas


“I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of a national emergency – even if I’m in a cabinet meeting.”

Ronald Reagan

A generation is a group of people who share a basic outlook on life shaped by their common age location in history, their common ‘generational setting…’ ‘Youth,’ on the other hand, is just an age bracket. It’s like an empty hotel room that different generations move into with their own baggage, and then soon leave. Sometimes that room swells with sweet music, sometimes it throbs with death metal, and sometimes it’s utterly silent. But it’s never the same.

Neil Howe
“Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich by promising to protect each from the other.”
Oscar Ameringer

Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

I spend the summers at a cottage on Cape Cod, and for decades I walked the same dunes that Thoreau once walked. Not too long ago, people walked with their heads up, looking at the water, the sky, the sand and at one another, talking. Now they often walk with their heads down, typing. Even when they are with friends, partners, children, everyone is on their own devices. So I say, look up, look at one another, and let’s start the conversation.

Sherry Turkle

The truth is like a lizard; it leaves its tail in your hands and runs away; it knows that it will shortly grow another one.

Ivan Turgenev

Once politics was about only a few things; today, it is about nearly everything.

James Q. Wilson

A sense of humor is incompatible with the complete acceptance of any dogma, any religious, political, or economic prescriptions for salvation.

Saul Alinsky

The gospel is an embodied announcement about this world: it is good, and we’re home, and the word took on flesh and moved into the neighborhood. Heaven and earth are, in fact, coming together. We’re home. Soil is good, and so is wine, and sex, and music, and muscle, and arranging things, and building things, and getting hungry people the food they need, and jobs that empower people to make better lives for themselves.

Rob Bell

Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.

Kurt Vonnegut

If it’s a-sagging, a-bagging, or a-dragging, I’m gonna get it sucked, tucked, or plucked…God didn’t make plastic surgeons so they can starve.

Dolly Parton

David Lean wouldn’t be allowed to make movies today, John Ford would be forced to turn John Wayne into a 30-something failure-to-launch hipster whose big moment is missing the toilet in the vomit scene in Hangover Ten. Our movie culture has descended into immaturity, deep and inhuman violence, a pervasive and flattened sexuality. It is an embarrassment.

Peggy Noonan

Washington is the place where one never writes if one can call, never calls if one can speak, never speaks if one can nod, and never nods if one can wink.

Congressman Barney Frank

If you’ve ever known anyone with a serious addiction, the easiest thing for friends and family to do is pretend it’s not a big deal. Who wants to have a confrontation? Far easier to let things slide and have a good time. “Let’s have a nice Thanksgiving without any arguments, OK?”

The tea party is like the cousin who’s been through AA and refuses to pretend anymore. As a result, he spoils everyone’s good time. For the enablers, and others in denial, he’s the guy ruining everything, not the drunk.

Uncle Sam is the drunk and the tea partiers are the annoyingly sober — and a bit self-righteous — cousin.

Jonah Goldberg

Weighing benefits against costs is the way most people make decisions — and the way most businesses make decisions, if they want to stay in business. Only in government is any benefit, however small, considered to be worth any cost, however large.

Thomas Sowell

The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.

Calvin Trillin
“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.”
Lao Tzu

Repentance is taking God’s position against our own.

Charles Simpson

If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence.

Bertrand Russell

Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.

E.L. Doctorow

We have accepted today the existence in perpetuity of a permanent underclass of scores of millions who cannot cope and must be carried by society -- fed, clothed, housed, tutored, medicated at taxpayer’s expense their entire lives. We have a dependent nation the size of Spain in our independent America. - Suicide of a Superpower (St. Martin's Press, 2011)

Patrick J. Buchanan

…leave out the parts that readers tend to skip….Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them. What the writer is doing, he’s writing, perpetrating hooptedoodle, perhaps taking another shot at the weather, or has gone into the character’s head, and the reader either knows what the guy’s thinking or doesn’t care. I’ll bet you don’t skip dialogue. My most important rule is one that sums up the 10. If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

Elmore Leonard

When you first start off trying to solve a problem, the first solutions you come up with are very complex, and most people stop there. But if you keep going, and live with the problem and peel more layers of the onion off, you can often times arrive at some very elegant and simple solutions.

Steve Jobs

Be yourself and your readers will follow you anywhere. Try to commit an act of writing and they will jump overboard to get away.

William Zinsser

…it’s rare to find a consistently creative or insightful person who is also an angry person. They can’t occupy the same space, and if your anger moves in, generosity and creativity often move out. It’s difficult to use revenge or animus to fuel great work.

Seth Godin

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as ‘bad luck.’

Robert Heinlein

“Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you.”

Wendell Berry

“An idol is a good thing made into an ultimate thing.”

Tim Keller

“Italians come to ruin most generally in three ways, women, gambling, and farming. My family chose the slowest one.”

Pope John XXIII

I grew up without a father around. I have certain memories of him taking me to my first jazz concert and giving me my first basketball as a Christmas present. But he left when I was two years old.

And even though my sister and I were lucky enough to be raised by a wonderful mother and caring grandparents, I always felt his absence and wondered what it would have been like if he had been a greater presence in my life. I still do.

Barack Obama

We avoid the reality of Christ’s power in a number of ways. For instance, we’re tempted to spiritualize his power, to reduce the elemental potency and energy to a moment of personal religious inspiration. The stilling of the storm is about psychologist storms in our lives. The healing of the lame is about solving emotional problems cripple us. Jesus bringing sight to the blind is about God’s ability to help us see our lives clearly. And so on and so forth. If we do that enough, we begin to think the Gospel stories are nothing but metaphors, and metaphors primarily about us.  

Mark Galli

“It is a form of vanity to imagine you are living in the worst of times—there have always been worse. In bad times and heavy seas, the natural fear is that things will get worse, and never better. It’s a jolt to a Western, instinctively progressive mind, trained to think of history as ascendant—like the stock market, like housing prices—to find trends running in the other direction.”

Lance Morrow

“The rabbi was talking about political civility, and he said it’s in the Judeo-Christian tradition that before you criticize someone you have to sit down with them and restate their position to them such that they’ll say, ‘Yes, that’s what I mean,’ and then they have to state your position to you so that you say, ‘Yes,’ so you both agree that you understand what the positions are, then you each introduce your facts.  So I wanted to… I took the advice to heart.  I said: ‘Well, as a good liberal I better be able to state the conservative position.’ So I started researching and I started reading, and it dawned on me that I was not a liberal, that although I could state the position of who I thought were my enemies, the conservatives, I could not rationally state the position of the liberals.”

David Mamet

“You will fail at some point in your life. Accept it. You will lose, you will embarrass yourself, you will suck at something—there’s no doubt about it. And I know that’s probably not a traditional message for a graduation ceremony, but hey, I’m telling you, embrace it, because it’s inevitable.” (U Penn graduation, 2011)

Denzel Washington

“Man sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” 

The Dalai Lama

“…since our technology is really just an extension of ourselves, we don’t have to have contempt for its manipulability in the way we might with actual people. It’s all one big endless loop. We like the mirror and the mirror likes us. To friend a person is merely to include the person in our private hall of flattering mirrors.”

Jonathan Franzen

“It is not merely the trivial that clutters our lives, but the important as well.”

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

“They say such nice things about people at their funerals that it makes me sad to realize that I’m going to miss mine by just a few days.”

Garrison Keillor

“…I think of my father Vernon and my mother Bonita, who were only together one time because she wore a poodle skirt that day. A sperm meets an egg and a life comes into being, but it is so much bigger than that. I am not here because Vernon and Bonita decided to stop on the way home from school one day. Nor are you. Your life is no accident; you were literally loved into being. You exist because God loves you.”

Oprah Winfrey

“Vocation is where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Frederick Buechner

Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.

Paul Theroux

He [Newt Gingrich] was the smartest guy in the room, who didn’t notice the rooms had gotten smaller.

Peggy Noonan

Buildings can hold the spirit of what happens in them, I think, for good or ill. I shot a movie in a prison once. It wasn’t even in use anymore, but every day walking into that place was very difficult. You just knew as you walked past each cell and each room and each back kitchen and each common room that, good Lord, there was a lot of unhappiness and anger there. And worse.

Larry Miller

The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.

Leo Tolstoy

What would you do with a friend who had lied to you as many times as your fears have lied to you?

Jack Hayford

All America lies at the end of the wilderness road, and our past is not a dead past, but still lives in us. Our forefathers had civilization inside themselves, the wild outside. We live in the civilization they created, but within us the wilderness still lingers. What they dreamed, we live, and what they lived, we dream.

T. K. Whipple

The graveyards are full of indispensable men.

Charles de Gaulle

Biden has a not unrare condition in which the gear box that normally regulates the speed of your mouth has been ground down to a nub and so his mouth can rev at great speeds heedless of where his brain intends to steer it. Those flashes from his enormous teeth are really the equivalent of flashing your brights; he’s saying “GET OUT OF THE WAY, I CAN’T STOP THIS THING!”

Jonah Goldberg

…the dreaded vuvuzelas, the yard-long plastic horns (voo-voo-zella) that South African fans blow all the time, without rhyme nor reason, when something is happening and when it’s not (it’s usually not), during timeouts and time ins, during halftime and at the breakfast table and while they’re on the bus and while doing their taxes, until you just want to stab two fondue forks deep into your ears and stir. They never stop…They sound like 80,000 yaks getting sick.
…All this running and vuvuzela-ing and pulling off shirts for that trophy? It looks like somebody soldered it together in their basement — after drinking a handle of Jack Daniel’s. It looks like something you’d use to prop open your Tuff Shed door during spring cleaning. It’s gold and small and looks like somebody accidentally melted it somewhere along the way. I mean, there IS chocolate in the middle of that thing, right? Maybe I just don’t get it.

Rick Reilly

Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.

Coach John Wooden

There is a tendency among Christians to get excited about ‘listening to God’ as if they are discovering a hidden way of communicating with God that will revolutionize their prayer lives… This subtly elevates an experience with God instead of God himself. Without realizing it, we can look at the windshield instead of through it.

Paul Miller

Kerosene helped wean America (and everyone else) off our “addiction” to whales. Oil and coal helped end our addiction to wood for, well, everything. Wood was not only a heating fuel, it was instrumental to railroads and all manner of construction. Ronald Bailey has noted that “Railroads, the 19th century’s ‘modern’ form of transportation, consumed nearly 25 percent of all the wood used in America, for both track ties and fuel.” In 1900, New York City alone supported over 120,000 horses who befouled the water and the air in the city, but also required vast amounts of land to supply the hay that fueled them.

Jonah Goldberg

The trouble with socialism is socialism. The trouble with capitalism is capitalists.

Willi Schlamm

We make our friends, we make our enemies, but God makes our next-door neighbor.

G. K. Chesterton

Complain as little as possible about the wrongs you suffer. Undoubtedly, a person who complains commits a sin by doing so, since self-love always feels that injuries are worse than they really are. Above all, do not complain to irascible or fault-finding persons. If you feel the need to correct an offense or restore your peace of mind by complaining to someone, do so to those who are even-tempered and really love God. Instead of calming your mind, the others will create worse difficulties, and rather than pulling out the thorn that is hurting you, they will drive it deeper into your foot.

St Francis de Sales

It’s like a law of nature, a law of aerodynamics, that anything that’s written or anything that’s created wants to be mediocre. The natural state of all writing is mediocrity. It’s all tending toward mediocrity in the same way that all atoms are sort of dissipating out toward the expanse of the universe. … So what it takes to make anything more than mediocre is such an act of will.

Ira Glass

To make an apple pie from scratch — really from scratch — you must first invent the universe.

Carl Sagan

Ever since I started covering politics, the Democratic ruling class has been driven by one fantasy: that voters will get so furious at people with M.B.A.’s that they will hand power to people with Ph.D.’s. The Republican ruling class has been driven by the fantasy that voters will get so furious at people with Ph.D.’s that they will hand power to people with M.B.A.’s. Members of the ruling class love populism because they think it will help their section of the elite gain power.

David Brooks

Just imagine if people began discovering their kitchens again, and if the average household instead of popping irradiated amalgamated prostituted reconstituted, adulterated, modified and artificially flavored extruded bar coded un-pronounceable things into the microwave, actually prepared whole foods for all-down-together family meals. It’s not normal for a culture to eat things it can’t pronounce and that it can’t make in its own kitchens. Ever try making corn syrup? Or red dye 29?

Joel Salatin

The church has become a business that sells Jesus—the culture of consumerism. Theology has become an analytical discipline that scientifically examines propositions—the culture of reason. Worship has become an entertaining program that presents Jesus in a winsome way—the culture of entertainment. Spirituality has become an experience of transcendence achieved through Christian technique—the New Age culture of generic spirituality. The church’s life in the world is to do good so people can see that Jesus is all about being nice and helpful—the culture of humanism.

Robert E. Webber

Superficiality is the curse of our age.  The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, of gifted people, but for deep people.

Richard Foster

Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing.

William James

If we can’t catch a Nigerian with a powerful explosive powder in his oddly feminine-looking underpants and a syringe full of acid, a man whose own father had alerted the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria, a traveler whose ticket was paid for in cash and who didn’t check bags, whose visa renewal had been denied by the British, who had studied Arabic in Al Qaeda sanctuary Yemen, whose name was on a counterterrorism watch list, who can we catch?

Maureen Dowd

One might have hoped that, with so gracious a creature as wine, even the most ardent religionists and secularists would have made an exception to their universal custom of missing the point of things.  But, alas, between teetotalism on the one hand and the habit of classifying it as an alcoholic beverage on the other, they have both lost the thread of delight.
Wine…the way it complements food and enhances conversation; and its sovereign power to turn evenings into occasions, to lift eating beyond nourishment to conviviality, and to bring the race, for a few hours at least, to that happy state where men are wise and women beautiful, and even one’s children begin to look promising.

Robert Farrar Capon

The best talkers are those who are devoted to keeping the conversation going… they view sociability as a form of musical composition — a string quartet or octet of the Baroque, perhaps … talk ought, like a winning musical composition, to have melody, harmony, and development; it ought also to take gently surprising turns and twists and end with everyone who has taken part glowing with pleasure and, as the conclusion nears, wanting more. Not easily achieved, such conversation, yet when it does come about, how light and free and fine life appears. And how richly rewarding friendship seems.

Joseph Epstein

I think relevance is a crock. I don’t think people care a whole lot about what kind of music you have or how you shape the service. They want a place where God is taken seriously, where they’re taken seriously, where there is no manipulation of their emotions or their consumer needs.

Eugene Peterson

I’m told that when the Warsaw Pact went belly up and the poor deprived Commies suddenly got the latest Hollywood flicks, they took the athletic couplings for cinéma-vérité — not only did the decadent West have bigger cars and houses but they got better sex, too — and made the mistake of trying it at home, greatly overburdening Soviet chiropractors and only adding to the strains on the fraying Russian health system.

Mark Steyn

I was just 13, but that Saturday morning is still vivid. I was playing down the street…when I saw my father drive by and give me a light wave. Somehow I knew that gesture meant he was going away forever. To this day, the memory’s a ghost that never seems to fade.

Gene Hackman

How small of all that human hearts endure, that part which laws or kings can cause or cure.

Samuel Johnson

In order to become the master, the politician poses as the servant.

Charles de Gaulle

The line between good and evil runs through every human heart.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

The adjective “planetary” describes a problem in such a way that it cannot be solved.  In fact, though we now have serious problems nearly everywhere on the planet, we have no problem which can be described as planetary.

The question that must be addressed, therefore, is not how to care for the planet, but how to care for each of the planet’s millions of human and natural neighborhoods, each of its millions of small pieces and parcels of land… Our understandable wish to preserve the planet must somehow be reduced to the scale of our competence.

Wendell Berry

Champions are made by risking more than others think is practical, and expecting more than others think is possible.

Jack Nicklaus

For most of human history, erotic images have been reflections of, or celebrations of, or substitutes for, real naked women. For the first time in human history, the images’ power and allure have supplanted that of real naked women. Today, real naked women are just bad porn.
Pornography works in the most basic of ways on the brain: It is Pavlovian. An orgasm is one of the biggest reinforcers imaginable. If you associate orgasm with your wife, a kiss, a scent, a body, that is what, over time, will turn you on; if you open your focus to an endless stream of ever-more-transgressive images of cybersex slaves, that is what it will take to turn you on. The ubiquity of sexual images does not free eros but dilutes it.
Other cultures know this: that the power and charge of sex are maintained when there is some sacredness to it, when it is not on tap all the time. In many more traditional cultures, it is not prudery that leads them to discourage men from looking at pornography. It is, rather, because these cultures understand male sexuality and what it takes to keep men and women turned on to one another over time to help men, in particular, to, as the Old Testament puts it, “rejoice with the wife of thy youth; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times.” These cultures urge men not to look at porn because they know that a powerful erotic bond between parents is a key element of a strong family.

Naomi Wolf

Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has: it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but—more frequently than not —struggles against the divine Word…

Martin Luther

I studied anthropology in college, and one of the things I learned was that certain human social structures always reappear. They can’t be eliminated from society. One of those structures is religion.

Today it is said we live in a secular society in which many people — the best people, the most enlightened people — do not believe in any religion. But I think that you cannot eliminate religion from the psyche of mankind. If you suppress it in one form, it merely re-emerges in another form. You can not believe in God, but you still have to believe in something that gives meaning to your life, and shapes your sense of the world. Such a belief is religious. Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists.

Why do I say it’s a religion? Well, just look at the beliefs. If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths. There’s an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there’s a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all.
We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment.

Just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe. Eden, the fall of man, the loss of grace, the coming doomsday – these are deeply held mythic structures. They are profoundly conservative beliefs. They may even be hard-wired in the brain, for all I know. I certainly don’t want to talk anybody out of them, as I don’t want to talk anybody out of a belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who rose from the dead. But the reason I don’t want to talk anybody out of these beliefs is that I know that I can’t talk anybody out of them. These are not facts that can be argued. These are issues of faith. And so it is, sadly, with environmentalism.
Increasingly it seems facts aren’t necessary, because the tenets of environmentalism are all about belief. It’s about whether you are going to be a sinner, or saved. Whether you are going to be one of the people on the side of salvation, or on the side of doom. Whether you are going to be one of us, or one of them.

Michael Crichton

The civil rights movement has not given us better communities. The women’s movement has not given us better marriages or better households.  The environmental movement has not changed our parasitic relationship to nature.

Wendell Berry

For all that has been, thanks. For all that will be, yes.

Dag Hammarskjold

Americans used to say they wanted their kids to be just like Lincoln: kind, principled, resolute. But what we’ve really wanted is for Lincoln to be like us.  Just in the last few years we’ve had books proving Lincoln was a socialist (written by a socialist), a manic depressive (written by a journalist who’s wrestled with depression), an evangelical Christian (written by an evangelical Christian), a religious skeptic (written by a religious skeptic), and so on.

Andrew Ferguson

School systems innovate as compulsively and as eagerly as factories. It is no wonder that, under these circumstances, “educators” tend to look upon the parents as bad influences and wish to take the children away from home as early as possible.

Wendell Berry

… fears are a matter of fashion. Worries are like clothing styles, they come and go, rise and fall, based on what the worry fashion leaders tell the herd of independent minds to fear this year.

Michael Crichton

The journalistic rule is that conservatives pander, liberals “grow.” When Al Gore, Dick Gephardt, Jesse Jackson and Dennis Kucinich changed from being pro-life to pro-abortion, their conversions, a price of admission into Democratic presidential politics, were often described as conscientious “growth.” But when McCain, who opposed President Bush’s tax cuts, concludes on the basis of the humming economy that they should be made permanent, it’s called pandering.

George Will

Someday, somebody will explain to me the motive of a newspaper. First, you scream, “Find the bastards.” Till we find them, you want to get us fired. When we find them, you accuse us of brutality. Before we go into court, you give them a trial by newspaper. When we finally get a conviction, you want to save them by proving they were crazy in the first place.

KBI Agent Al Dewey

The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value.

Thomas Paine

Two centuries ago when a great man appeared, people looked for God’s purpose in him; today we look for his press agent.

Daniel Boorstin

Man’s difficulties are caused by his inability to sit, quietly, in a room by himself.

Pascal

Most of them now sit until bedtime watching TV, submitting every few minutes to a sales talk. The message of both the TV programs and the sales talks is that the watchers should spend whatever is necessary to be like everybody else.

Wendell Berry

Pressure is something you feel only when you don’t know what you’re doing.

Chuck Noll

The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence.

Carl Sagan

The instrument through which you see God is your whole self. And if a man’s self is not kept clean and bright, his glimpse of God will be blurred—like the Moon seen through a dirty telescope. That is why horrible nations have horrible religions: they have been looking at God through a dirty lens.

C.S. Lewis

One of the marks of a certain type of bad man is that he cannot give up a thing himself without wanting every one else to give it up. That is not the Christian way. An individual Christian may see fit to give up all sorts of things for special reasons — marriage, or meat, or beer, or the cinema; but the moment he starts saying the things are bad in themselves, or looking down his nose at other people who do use them, he has taken the wrong turning.

C.S. Lewis

If I have shown men to be ridiculous or ludicrous, it was in no way out of any desire for comic effect, but rather to proclaim the truth — to show what man may become when he is cut off from all transcendence.

Eugene Ionesco

Community… aspires toward stability. It strives to balance change with constancy. That is why community life places such high value on neighborly love, marital fidelity, local loyalty, the integrity and continuity of family life, respect for the old, and instruction of the young. And a vital community draws its life, so far as possible, from local sources. It prefers to solve its problems, for example, by non-monetary exchanges of help, not by buying things.

Wendell Berry

I believe I have something more to say, insight for the next generation to help them on their journey of faith. But finding a place to say it and saying it in a way they can hear it is a wearying task. Because at the age of 58 I am coming to realize that many people look at me and others in my generation as “someone whose message or talent has run its course.” This is a very, very tough piece of information to swallow.

Dick Staub

Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away.

George Eliot

For anyone who wants to get out of poverty, the prescription is clear. Finish high school, at least. Wait until your 20’s before marrying, and wait until you’re married before having children. Once you’re in the work force, stay in: take any job, because building on the experience will prepare you for a better job. Any American who follows that prescription will be at almost no risk of falling into extreme poverty. Statistics show it.

Juan Williams

It is easier to love humanity as a whole than to love one’s neighbor. The capacity for getting along with our neighbor depends to a large extent on the capacity for getting along with ourselves. The self-respecting individual will try to be as tolerant of his neighbor’s shortcomings as he is of his own. Self-righteousness is a manifestation of self-contempt.

Eric Hoffer

You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Your story is not about you. The reason we love a redemptive story is because it is the Epic in which we live. That’s why our hearts respond. You need to step into the epic story God is telling.

Donald Miller

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined.

James Madison

Marriage is the very basis of society because it creates kinsmen out of strangers; it turns hostile outsiders into ‘in-laws.’ The Zulus have a saying, ‘They are our enemies, and so we marry them.’ By uniting with outsiders, marriage helps families multiply their economic capital and, perhaps even more important, their social capital. You and your wife’s uncle may not like each other very much, but marriage imposes a set of reciprocal obligations on you; you are at least partly responsible for looking out for each other’s well-being.

David Murray

You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.

Dr Seuss

At The Writing Table:

  • Morris Chapman is a widely respected and loved songwriter, worshiper, recording artist and minister.

    more
  • Ed Chinn Ed Chinn Proprietor,
    Cool River Pub

    As a Writer, Ed has been published in The Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and other newspapers, magazines, and websites. Ed and his wife, Joanne, live in Middle Tennessee.

    more
  • Glen Roachelle Glen Roachelle President,
    Gate Ministries

    Glen Roachelle, the President of Gate Ministries, is a widely respected pastor, conference speaker, and consultant. The Wind and the Whisper is his first book. Glen and Roberta live in Middle Tennessee.

    more
  • Ken Harvey Ken Harvey President and CEO,
    JAKA Consulting Group

    Now retired from professional football, Ken Harvey is also the author of numerous children’s books. Ken, his wife Janice, and their two children live in Northern Virginia.

    more

Overheard at the Pub…

When someone isn’t willing or ready for spiritual oneness, emotional oneness, legal oneness, financial oneness — why let them steal physical and soul oneness from you?

Ann Voskamp
site design by Subtle Monsters