Quote Lists

Food For The Soul – Quote Machine (Walter Wink, John Howard Yoder, Shadia Drury, William Ury)

These quotes are mostly from these books:

Because of their combination of brevity and potency, I particularly recommend the two books by Walter Wink. The following are mostly from his Jesus and Nonviolence: A Third Way and When the Powers Fall: Reconciliation and the Healing of Nations.

Violence … changes only the rulers, but not the rules.

There is no one, and surely no entire people, in whom the image of God has been utterly extinguished.

I cannot really be open to the call of God in a situation of oppression if the one thing I have excluded as an option is my own suffering and death.

God has high standards. Divinity will not put up forever with exploitation, corruption, and mediocrity.

Since our hate is usually a direct response to an evil done to us, our hate almost invariably causes us to respond in the terms laid down by the enemy.

God at one and the same time UPHOLDS a given political or economic system, since some such system is required to support human life; CONDEMNS that system insofar as it is destructive of fully human life; and PRESSES FOR ITS TRANSFORMATION into a more humane order.

Evil is not just personal, but structural and spiritual.

The Biblical understanding is that no institution exists as an end in itself, but only to serve the common good.

Neutrality in a situation of oppression merely supports the status quo.

The issue is not “What must I do in order to secure my salvation?” but rather, “What does God require of me in response to the needs of others?” … Otherwise our nonviolence is premised on self-justifying attempts to establish our own purity in the eyes of God, others, and ourselves, and that is nothing less than a satanic temptation to die with clean hands and a dirty heart.

Jesus did NOT tell his oppressed hearers not to resist evil. That would have been absurd. His entire ministry is utterly at odds with such a preposterous idea.

Jesus abhors both passivity and violence as responses to evil.

The Powers That Be literally stand on their dignity. Nothing depotentiates them faster than deft lampooning.

It is one of the rules of the power game that the oppressor always uses the maximum force possible within existing political and military constraints.

[Jesus’] teaching does not presuppose a threshold of decency, but something of God in everyone.

A society recovering from the trauma of state violence needs as much truth as possible. Truth is medicine. Without it, a society remains infected with past evils that will inevitably break out in the future.

Domination cannot exist without the Big Lie that persuades the many to offer their lives for the protection of the privileges of the few.

In significant ways, democracy is nonviolence institutionalized.

I recently spoke by telephone to a friend in South Africa. “Everyone is in meetings, all the time. We are being meetinged to death.” What a nice change.

Business interests overwhelm parliaments, people do not bother to vote, corruption is rife, and oligarchies of the rich run the show from backstage.

After all these centuries, it is time to consider the implications of Jesus’ teachings on nonviolence and egalitarianism for the workplace.

The democratization of businesses, government agencies, and churches not only complies with democratic ideals, it is economically more sound, organizationally more effective, and humanly more benevolent.

This is a time crying out for innovation and experimentation in making societies more democratic.

No political system can ever fully institutionalize Jesus’ values of equality, nonviolence, and the rejection of domination in all its forms. Some, however, have done considerably better than others.

There is something fitting in the church publishing the names of torturers as a basis for forgiveness.

Get all the truth and justice that you can as soon as you can.

Here’s the John Howard Yoder section, mostly taken from his The Politics of Jesus: Vicit Agnus Noster [Our Lamb Has Conquered]

The believer’s cross is, like that of Jesus, the price of social nonconformity.

The biblical mandate …. must not only explain that it is our duty to respect the powers that be, but also provide leverage for formulating the limits of that respect, and for articulating our resistance when those limits are overrun.

The great reversal is not only the Lord’s unseating of the mighty and raising the humble; it is also our own repentance.

Renouncing as [Jesus] did the legitimate use of violence and the accrediting of the existing authorities; renouncing as well the ritual purity of noninvolvement, his people will encounter in ways analogous to his own the hostility of the old order.

Which facts we perceive and how we weight them are matters of theological insight; history does not read itself.

In Jesus we have a clue to which kinds of causation, which kinds of community-building, which kinds of conflict management, go with the grain of the cosmos.

We know, as Caesar does not, that Jesus is both the Word (the inner logic of things) and the Lord (“sitting at the right hand”).

When read carefully, none of the biblical apocalypses, from Ezekiel through … John of Patmos, is about either pie in the sky or the Russians in Mesopotamia.

The crucified Jesus is a more adequate key to understanding what God is about in the real world of empires and armies and markets than is the ruler in Rome, with all his supporting military, commercial, and sacerdotal networks.

How inappropriate and preposterous was the prevailing assumption, from the time of Constantine until yesterday, that the fundamental responsibliity of the church for society is to manage it.

What we are now doing is what leads to where we are going.

Our readiness to renounce our legitimate ends whenever they cannot be attained by legitimate means itself constitutes our participation in the triumphant suffering of the Lamb.

Here’s one from Jim Wallis, from God’s Politics

How did the faith of Jesus come to be known as pro-rich, pro-war, and pro-American?

Shadia Drury has a lot to say to us. These are mostly from her Leo Strauss and the American Right and Terror and Civlization: Christianity, Politics, and the American Psyche.

A liberal state is an achievement that has a long history — a history that allowed the West to transcend the murderous grip of warring Christian factions.

The reason for resisting efforts to re-empower the Churches is that people who believe much of what Jesus believed are not likely to behave well in positions of power — unless they are willing to keep their religion out of politics as Jesus did.

What is disturbing about the new conservatism, or neoconservatism, is not so much that it is elitist, but that it cultivates an elite that is self-righteous, an elite that deludes itself into thinking that it is a natural aristocracy, that all its privileges are deserved, and that it has no obligation to the have-nots of society.

Nothing could gladden the heart of a neoconservative government more than the prospect of endless war.

The political prominence of the religious right within the Republican Party is likely to make American politics resemble the politics of the Middle East — a politics of extremism fueled by religious hatred.

Insofar as the disestablishment of religion is the bedrock of the American founding, the neoconservative rejection of this principle sows the seeds of the American un-founding.

Politics is no longer seen as the domain of judicious lying. Politics has become an arena of creative lying. Lying has become synonymous with politics: it is now considered an art. . . .After all, a great lie, one that is believed, gives form to the void, imposes order on chaos, and creates the world ex nihilo.

Neoconservatism combines capitalist economics with conservative social policies. It aims to keep the government out of the economy, but not out of the bedrooms, the schools, the arts, publishing, and broadcasting.

William Ury has done some excellent work on conflict. These are mostly from his The Third Side: Why We Fight and How We Can Stop, also published as Getting to Peace.

Getting along does not mean harmony, after all, but rather a great cooperative struggle to resolve our differences with a minimum of harmful strife.

Getting along is not the absence of conflict, but the strenuous processing of conflicting needs and interests.

The peace we can aspire to is not a harmonious peace of the grave, nor a submissive peace of the slave, but a hardworking peace of the brave.

What if all those innocent children, women, and men dying from a stray bullet on our streets, from a terrorist bomb or an air raid – what if they were dying needlessly from a disease as preventable as smallpox or tuberculosis? What if destructive conflict were preventable – and we simply did not know it?

Most of the time, most people get along…. Peace is the norm.

Some fighting can be salutary. In democratic politics, fair fighting can ensure that injustices are addressed, abuses stopped, and excesses kept in check.

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  • Interesting misspelling seeped in. Walter Wink ..:

    The issue is not “What must I do in order to secure my slavation?� but rather, “What does God require of me in response to the needs of others?� … Otherwise our nonviolence is premised on self-justifying attempts to establish our own purity in the eyes of God, others, and ourselves, and that is nothing less than a satanic temptation to die with clean hands and a dirty heart.

    I propose to just let it stand. For I suppose this is just the reading which Metanoia would spontaneously detect in such a misguided question.

    Quite generally speaking, this is a highly relevant quotation; – and a trying one for me most certainly. It shows us that spiritual grace (trust and hope, faith and expectancy) and morality (living thankfully, the obedience of love), i.e. that fear and love of God on the one hand, and the thrilling sense of fulfillment in humility or the serenity of an easy conscience in effacing oneself for the sake of others on the other hand, must either come (and evolve) together or will not truly exist (in us) at all.