Thursday, February 04, 2016

When Children Raved

When children raved in warrior’s paint

and danced, like David, sans restraint

– when poets sailed from distant shores

– when lambs lay down to lions’ roars

– when old wounds healed and were no more

– when sinners turned at once to saints,

and hearts grew strong by growing faint

– in some miracle hour when the moon was mad,

hence insane men were growing sane –

I saw a sight sublime, a dream had:

A fairy queen danced forth cross a stormy plain

upon a single subtle drop of summer rain,

and stood before me with a curtsy and a smile.

Her form was beauty flawless: beauty without guile.

She stood there like a gift, defying explanation.

Her skin was lily like, and dyed with pink carnations.

Her eyes were colored oceans with depths for miles, and miles:

eyes soft kissed by gentle wind, misty, mysteriously mild.

With delight I gazed on she, like some astonished child;

with curiosity she answered, at first and for awhile:

as if I were a creature, new, and strange, and wild;

as if I were a riddle sent forth to beguile.

Midst curious conjecture, she made her decision:

at last, her face flushed red with recognition;

she tossed her hair in a manner kind and coy –

“If I am a girl,” she said with startled joy,

and held me like a vision,

“then you must be a boy.”


by CK

Which way to go? I don’t know.
I suppose I should wait, but, oh, how
I hate to go slow:
Now? Now -- Now… Now!

I used to contemplate late and leap first,
and make decisions and revisions
which a minute will reverse.
– no more! I have learned to    
stay up late and debate.
I have learned to ask 
and knock and seek:
to give it a day or two or week.

Decisions! Who knows if I am right?
–if this will be wise in the morning light,
in the dark of sleepless nights,
and in the years and years to come?
I fight and struggle, struggle and writhe
in my bed
with these questioners in my head.
Peace of mind I cannot find; I cannot
forge ahead.
There is such untidiness; there’s no
oracle at Delphi.
There’s just my mind, my Maker, and me,
and this decision.
and the years unfolding like the pages
of a book I cannot read,
with the weight of consequences,
like unpaid wages; consequences I can’t see.

Impetuous self! Sit still!
Wait for the cloud and pillar of fire  
to move your will.
Wait! – for peace of mind,
wait and take your time.
Wait! – and you will find
some direction and some rhyme
and reason.

Quotes On Atheism

Maybe the atheist cannot find God for the same reason a thief cannot find a 
policeman... If there were no God, there would be no atheists. 
=G.K. Chesterton

Atheists express their rage against God, although, in their view. He does not exist.
C.S. Lewis

You say, "If I if I had a little more, I should be very satisfied." You make a 
mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if
it were doubled.
 - Charles Spurgeon

A good question for an atheist: after taking him out to dinner, ask him if he  
believes there is a cook. 
- Author Unknown

God does not believe in atheists, therefore atheists do not exist.

A Personal Relationship?

"Do you have a personal relationship with God?"

This question implies a yes or no answer, and is likely to mislead.

"Do you have a personal relationship with God?"

Yes, you do. Whether we like it, or not, we do.

All our acts are related to God. We are all relating to God right now. We may be relating to him as Father, or as Judge, but we are relating to him.

We may not be concerned with him, but He is concerned with us.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

On Perseverance

“I do the very best I can, I mean to keep going. If the end brings me out all right, then what is said against me won’t matter. If I’m wrong, ten angels swearing I was right won’t make a difference.”
Bits & Pieces, April 29, 1993, p. 15-16

-- Abraham Lincoln

Blind To Celestial Wonders

Charles Spurgeon, soon after conversion:

I can get good religious conversations with Mr. Swindell, which is what I most need. Oh, how unprofitable has my past life been! Oh, that I should have been so long time blind to those celestial wonders, which now I can in a measure behold! Who can refrain from speaking of the marvellous love of Jesus which, I hope, has opened mine eyesl Now I see Him, I can firmly trust to Him for my eternal salvation. Yet soon I doubt again; then I am sorrowful; again faith appears, and I become confident of my interest in Him. I feel now as if I could do everything, and give up everything for Christ, and then I know it would be nothing in comparison with His love. I am hopeless of ever making anything like a return. How sweet is prayer! I would be always engaged in it. How beautiful is the Bible! I never loved it so before; it seems to me as necessary food. I feel that I have not one particle of spiritual life in me but what the Spirit placed there. I feel that I cannot live if He depart; I tremble and fear lest I should grieve Him. I dread lest sloth or pride should overcome me, and I should dishonor the gospel by neglect of prayer, or the Scriptures, or by sinning against God.

Historical Self-Righteousness

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Historical Self-Righteousness

Self-righteousness is the attitude of the man who says, "I thank God that I am not like other men. I do all the right stuff. I don't do the wrong stuff. I stand alone on the moral mountain. I look down, and pity everyone else below, mired as they are in the moral sewer (cf. Lk. 18.9-14)."

Self-righteous people tend to:
1) Judge others for their mistakes, "You should have... How could you... "
2) Complain of how they have been slighted, "Everyone has done me wrong. Poor me."
3) Walk around with a sense of stupefied moral outrage, "I can't believe those people did that. How dare they! How could they?"
4) Assume they are the last righteous person on a sea of moral shipwrecks, "All those Christians are hypocrites."
5) Have a very high view of their own moral abilities, and supreme confidence in their own judgment, "I will never compromise. Even if all others stray, I'll stand strong. They failed, but I would have done better."

Generally, we speak of self-righteous people as they relate to their contemporaries, especially their family, friends, fellow workers, and even Church.

However, I believe self-righteousness can also show itself as we relate to our forefathers. Let's call this historical self-righteousness. This is the attitude of the person who looks back in history, condemns all who went before, and concludes that the present generation is the first (and only) morally clean seed of Adam.

Historical self-righteousness seems to be on the rise. Note, for example, how many scathing biographies have come out in recent years. The targets have included  men like George Washington, George Whitfield, Francis Schaeffer, and C.S. Lewis. The sole purpose of these biographies seems to be tearing down these lofty figures for all their supposed faults. The authors pride themselves on having a superior moral position.

I want to make a few simple points in response to this trend:

First -- I doubt you (Mr. Biographer) or I would have done better under similar circumstances. Remember, when we consider the great men of history, we are considering men that are gifted above most people who ever lived (including YOU and ME). Thus, I doubt we would have done better in their circumstances. I'm sure we would have done worse.

Second -- don't forget that we ourselves have our own generational sins. Our great-great grand children will look back, 100 years from now, and say, "How could those people have been so blind about .... Why didn't they do more to stop it... Did they really believe...?"

Third -- historical self-righteousness is as dangerous as any other self-righteousness. It separates you from past humanity because you are 'so superior.' It shuts your ears to what you might learn from previous generations. It cuts you off from the ability to see your own sins (or those of your own generation). It blinds you to your own need of God's grace.

So, as we look back on our forefathers, let us not have the basic attitude of self-righteousness. Instead, let us pray, "We are not worthy even to look up to heaven. God have mercy on us."

Finally, a word to biographers. Aren't we all biographers? Aren't we all engaged in processing the figures of history?  We 'write' the lives of those who went before us whenever we speak about them. This includes 'writing' about our grandparents and parents. This includes 'writing' about the heroes of history: Socrates, Julius Caeser, George Washington, et. al. This also includes 'writing' about the heroes of the faith: Augustine, Chrysostom, Francis of Assisi, Martin Luther, John Calvin, C.S. Lewis, et. al., and all who comprise the cloud of witnesses who went before us. All who, even now, are with Christ in glory.

My final word is a word of warning to all us biographers. This is from Michael Jose's review of A.N. Wilson's bitterly critical and self-righteous biography of C.S. Lewis:

"I am strongly reminded of the position in which John Betjeman's biographer, Bevis Hillier found himself. He tells us that he decided to avoid producing a 'critical biography', which is an illegitimate art-form, as it 'yokes together historical narrative and literary criticism'. This is Wilson's error, and he compounds it with his own repetitious and subjective brand of psychoanalysis. It is as if he cannot restrict himself to any one role, or even a coherent set of roles. He wants to be an honest broker, iconoclast, Devil's Advocate, psychoanalyst, literary critic, and historian by turns. He fails."

Bad Dreams, and The Good Fight

Bad Dreams and the Good Fight
I sometimes feel like I am waking up from a bad dream. 

The sensation is like this... I see things, shocking things, before my eyes."It can't be this bad," I mumble, in sleepy daze.

I rub my eyes, and listen for a moment. I'm aware that I am half asleep, half awake. As I'm waking, I look at the world around me with puzzlement. I see figures like ghosts. I see the lips of the ghosts moving, and I hear distant voices. They are muttering indistinct words about wealth, happiness, and personal peace. The ghosts are moving quickly, and stumbling recklessly. They are bent on cruelty. The cruelty is outlandish, almost too cruel to be real. 

Faced with such cruelty, I comfort myself, "Thankfully, I dreamed this. I must have dreamed this. It can't be this bad."

Then, I realize -- I have been awake the whole time. It was worse than a bad dream. It was a bad reality. I only thought I was dreaming so I might, for a moment, escape from the stern world of reality.

I get this sensation every so often when someone does something truly cruel. I got this sensation almost daily when my mom was in ICU. I could hardly believe the way medical professionals treated my mother. Can people be this uncaring, this careless, this unprofessional? Again and again, I would rub my eyes, and hope it was a bad dream. It wasn't. That uncaring, that careless, that unprofessional? Yes, they can. Jesus wasn't kidding when he said beware of men. 

Looking bad, this bad dream sensation is a recurring nightmare. Over the years, fairly frequently, I meet someone, and I walk away thinking, "Really? Could a person have that little love? That little sense of common humanity? Could a person be that blind?"

I rub my eyes, and try to focus. Perhaps my vision is skewed. People aren't capable of that kind of cruelty, really. I must be having a bad dream. Then, upon refocus, I get the picture perfectly clear. I see the facts. It wasn't a dream. It was reality. Yes, people can be that cruel. Paul wasn't kidding when he quoted David, who also wasn't kidding, 

"Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.There is no fear of God before their eyes."

For me, this kind of 'reality' is hard to take in. Maybe that is why I try and refocus. Maybe that is why I hope, for a moment, that it really is just a bad dream. Or perhaps -- I have wondered this of late -- I don't take seriously the doctrine of total depravity. 

You and I can day-dream about all the 'good' people. We can shrink back when the Bible says, "the heart is desperately wicked." But, facts are facts. The fact is, the sons of Adam are capable of astounding cruelty. The fact is, as Charles Spurgeon put it, you can't slander humanity. 

So, the sons of Adam are morally broken, and terribly twisted. This is reality. This is bad news, but news we must honestly face. You may, however, be surprised at what this news does to us. It makes us soldiers.

One consequence of really facing evil is -- one which may not be immediately clear -- is that when we see evil, we become ready to fight it. If we honestly face evil, then we stop making silly excuses like, 'people are really good... they have good motives... they really mean the best.' 

I'm convinced that a basic understanding of total depravity is the foundation for 'fighting the good fight.' Real evil calls us forth to battle. If, however, evil is only a 'bad dream,' we too easily excuse ourselves for going back to sleep.

My favorite example of a man who chose to fight evil is Al Pacino as the mayor in City Hall. I would encourage you to check out the whole speech here, but this is my favorite excerpt. 

There was a palace that was a city. It was a palace! It was a palace and it can be a palace again! A palace in which there is no king or queen or dukes or earls or princes, but subjects all -- subjects beholden to each other, to make a better place to live. Is that too much to ask? Are we asking too much for this? Is it beyond our reach?! Because if it is, then we are nothing but sheep being herded to the final slaughterhouse! I will not go down that way! I choose to fight back! I choose to rise, not fall! I choose to live, not die!!

Now, if you know the movie City Hall, then you know that Pacino has to eventually face the corruption in his own heart. I won't ruin the ending for you, but I will say that he -- and the city he served -- would have been better off had he started the fight against evil in his own heart. So, I'm reminded that the fight against evil begins with myself. It begins, not by waging war 'out there,' but by waging 'the war within.' 

The battle begins by knowing that we ourselves are capable of astounding cruelty. Facts are facts. There are many things in our hearts that belong on hell's bookshelf. We know this, we face it, and we confess that it is not a bad dream. It's the reality of a bad heart. When we face evil in our hearts with realism, it is at that moment that we are able to call it what it is, and start fighting. We face evil. We rub our eyes. We see it really is that bad. Then, we fight. Before, when we didn't think we were that bad, when we thought we were only dreaming -- we could have been excused for simply going back to sleep. Now, having seen the enemy within to be a real bad bad guy -- now, we fight. 

Men fall asleep easily enough when they don't sense the presence of a real enemy. Men, however, who know for a fact that evil is near -- these men stay awake. They arm themselves, and "watch, and pray." And, when they see the enemy coming, they say, 

"I will not go down that way! I choose to fight back!"

Revelation V. Humanism

The existence of God is really a cognition of the human soul, like the cognition of matter or of ourselves. It is so inseparable from the development of reason that wherever we find a man, we find one who is not a stranger to the existence of God. The real problem of Theology is not to prove that a God exists, as if she were instructing the ignorant or imparting a new truth to the mind, but to show the grounds upon which we are already in possession of the truth. It is to vindicate an existing faith, and not to create a new one. The belief itself is universal - as universal as the belief in the soul. However men may differ on other points, they agree in this.

- James Henry Thornwell

We seek to attain our way to God by right thinking. This is wrong. Why? Our thinking, our very best thinking, cannot reveal God -- but, good news! - God has already revealed himself (Romans 1:18ff.)!

Our main problem is not possession of the truth, but suppression of the truth (Romans 1:18).

To see how easily we go astray, consider the fundamentalist v. liberal confrontation in the 1930 in America. The liberals, based on their presuppositions about the world, began to question the Bible: Is this really true? The word of God? Especially trouble to the liberal was the miraculous. It didn't seem possible, based on how they viewed reality, that a baby could be born of a virgin. In response, the fundamentalist, sought to defend the word of God. This is true, they said, and we will prove it. And so, they marched out a litany of reasoned essays and books about the trustworthiness and reliability of the Bible. The fundamentalist mindset continues to our day with all manner of books seeking to prove various things about the character of the Bible (The Bible is infallible), or about the character of Jesus (He is either Lord, or Lunatic), or the events in the Bible (Evidence That Demands A Verdict!). 

However, the fundamentalist doctrine of revelation is rationalistic. It is based on human reason, and therefore, just another form of Humanism. The fundamentalist was concerned at every point to “prove” the Bible is the revelation of God.

There are problems with this.

First, the fundamentalist definition of the word of God, and the whole concept of revelation, was way too limited. The fundamentalist put himself in the corner of autodidactic inspiration of the individual words of scripture, and confined the whole idea of revelation to this. Certainly, God's revelation includes scripture, but not only scripture. The the truth is: God is not shy. God is a revealing God; God delights to manifest himself: he delights to let the glories of his Person sparkle. The truth is, God is constantly talking. Even in his wrath, he is revelatory (Romans 1:18, "The wrath of God is being revealed...). 

His distance is a certain kind of closeness. 

His silence is a certain kind of speaking.

We don't have to do a manhunt for God; He is constantly in our face. 

The second problem? The fundamentalist presumed that the speech of God depended on man, i.e. man must, before believing or bowing, PROVE that God speaks. As if, God's words needed the validation of the word of man. The fundamentalist tried to speak for God; as if, God couldn't speak for himself. The fundamentalist sought, by human reason, to defend God. As if, God couldn't defend himself. The fundamentalist, ironically, leaves God out of the picture, and even shrinks God. The fundamentalist had a limited sense of God’s revelation because they defined it as, "what man has received."

They defined it, in other words, in Humanist terms.

The fact is: God has revealed himself, whether we receive it or not.

Revelation is NOT what God gives to some men to give to other men. Revelation does not depend on man AT ALL.Revelation is, instead, what God has given, all by his lonesome, apart from human aid. Revelation is, not what man has merited by his reason, but what God his GIVEN, freely, and graciously, even to (especially to) his worst and least deserving enemies.

Revelation is not what man does; it is, instead, what God does.  Something, God has always been doing; something God is still doing, at present, via “what has been made (Romans 1:20)." Revelation is what God does; it is not, therefore, uncertain, unreliable, dubious, or murky.What God does, he does surely. God has made sure that it is utterly clear and obvious that he is there SO THAT man would be without excuse (Romans 1:20).

Revelation is not what man seeks, but what man suppresses; not what man runs to, but what man runs from (Romans 1:18, 20).

The letters of revelation are written in the sky in huge blinking neon letters, in PLAIN sight (Romans 1:19). We look at the sky every day and miss it – not because it is missing – but because we are blind as bats.

The truth that man is naturally BLIND is related to doctrine of revelation: the problem is not – as fundamentalist and modernist assumed – with revelation. The problem is with us. The problem is: we are blind.

This problem is not scientific; it is not rational; it is MORAL: we suppress the truth. This problem is WITH US, and it is a willful aggressive rebellion against the plain truth. This has to do with our sinful will. We believe what we want to believe. We harbor pride, and press on, in rebellion against God, in spite of revelation.

The fundamentalist fought for the truth, “God has revealed himself,” as if this truth were in doubt. As if, it needed to be proven. As if. its proof depended on man. The fundamentalist said, "I know God has spoken because I KNOW," i.e. I reasoned it out. The modernist higher critic fought against this. He said, "I don't know what, if anything, God has spoken because I DON'T KNOW." They both depended on human reason. They fought against each other without realizing they were on the same side, both FIGHTING against God. The fundamentalist and the modernist were enemies, in theory -- but, not in reality. There war was a Civil War. They used the same method (rationalism), and they fought for the same side (humanism).

When the fundamentalist entered the fray, he’d conceded, at the beginning, “Perhaps God has not revealed himself.” He conceded this when he presumed to prove God had spoken. He was, in his heart of hearts, no different from the modernist. He questioned the reliability of God's revelation. Only, he came up on the side of "reliable." The fundamentalist, therefore, gave the only ground that was ever worth defending: he measured God's reason by human reasons. When, in fact, human reason is worthless.

God’s revelation cannot, and never will be, proved by human logic or theorems. A man tryin to prove God exists is akin (on an infinite scale) to a flea trying to prove a man exists. We humans are not qualified to prove God. We are not qualified to judge the Bible as "inspired," or not. We are not qualified to judge God's word as true, or not. When we approach the Bible, standing above it, talking about how we can "prove it," we are acting as if we were God. Who are we to judge God? Our words do not prove God's; no, but God's words, by grace, prove ours. 

How can I put this? God doesn't need you (or me). He is not dependent on us. He is not quivering in the heavens, hoping with all his might, that we will rise up and save him from the atheists and doubters. God isn't served by human hands (Acts 17:25); God is the one who gives us life and breath and everything else. God is not teetering, leaning wearily on human hands; He is the one who created our hands. Do you really think he needs them to prop him up? God is, similarly, not dependent on human reason. He is the one who gives us everything, including our reason. How ridiculous, then, that we would try to use our gift of reason to prove/disprove the GIVER. 

God’s revelation is as plain as the sun in the sky. It is madness and irreverence to question it. To question it (like the Fundamentalist) is to deny  it, and continue to suppress it. The fundamentalist made the same mistake as the modernist of his day. He used the same means (human reason), but only declared a different result.

The same ridiculous method is employed constantly. I've often heard,“Prove that God exists by the scientific method, and then I'll believe.” My first answer is: Fine, but first, I want you to prove the scientific method BY the scientific method. If truth can only be ascertained through the scientific method, then the scientific method is, itself, unverifiable. The scientific method can't even prove itself, much less God.

Seriously? Prove God by the scientific method? That's folly. God stands above the scientific method, and whatever is true of that method is only true because of the existence of a TRUE God. 

God doesn't need the scientific method. He doesn't need the fundamentalist. He doesn't need ANYONE to prove He is there. He doesn't need you. He doesn't need me. On the contrary, WE NEED HIM. God isn't a question in a human debate; God IS. And, that's all there is to it. 

Our situation as human being is not a life of perplexity about the questionable existence of a possible God. Our situation is being confronted with the definite certain reality of living God.

The dilemma is NOT: is God there? But, rather, Will I bow?

The dilemma is NOT: has God spoken? But, rather, Will I listen?


Room, to breathe,
think, feel, grieve.
Room to stay,
– or else, to leave.
Room to say, to play, to pray.
Room to doubt, and to believe.
Room to take, and to receive.

Room, to lie quietly in the grass, 
and not think about the past;
Room, also, to remember; and room, to forget.
Room, to count losses; to regret.
Room to be forgive; to cancel, and to pay, debts.

Room to set aside demands,
and slumber in the shade.
Room, to escape hard hasty aches
for worlds of sleepy dreams.
Room, bursting at the seams.

There's room there;
room to lay aside your cares.
Room, there, room up to the sky:
room to laugh, and room to cry.
Room there, where travelers walk on waves,
skip on stormy lakes,
and recline upon the breaks.
Room there, where, every savior's saved
who died for other's sakes.
Room there, where, like everwhere,
the ogres marches make
-- but there, the sleepers never wake.

Room, a room is free at last.
Room to think
about the future and the past.
Room to plan my days,
or scan my ways,
praise my wins,
confess my sins.

Room: the space for grace.
There is room, if you will.
Room to feel
the joy and the pain.
To count my losses and my gains.
Room, to exult in hope;
Room, to cut losses, and and cope.

Room, a thousand miles across.
Room to grieve;
room; reprieve for loss.
Room to weep, and moan, and tear
my clothes all into tatters.
Room to be now, and beware.
Room to feel frightened,
but not scared.
Room now –
room to care, or not to care.

Room falls through my hands
like a sieve.
So much room.
Enough to grow, to know,
to live.

1-2 Kings and Romans 1:18-32: A Comparative Outline

1-2 Kings and Romans 1:18-32: A Comparative Outline

I. Israel has forsaken the true King; thus, they replace him with a king (Idolatry) (1 Sam. 8.4-5, 7; Romans 1.23)

* The root sin is ALWAYS idolatry, “…feared other gods (2 Kgs 17.7).”

II. Israel suppresses the knowledge of God (for example, killing prophets) (1 Kgs. 18.4, 22; Romans 1.18)

III. Knowledge now suppressed, God seems more and more distant (Romans 1.18; The seeming absence of God in 2 Kings)

*God is distanced by his people via idolatry; He is still present, but not in familiar way; He is present in wrath.

III. The Consequence of Forsaking God = Being God Forsaken (Romans 1.24, 26, 28)

IV. Thus, now more and more God-forsaken, Israel descends into immorality (1 Kgs 14.24; Romans 1.24)

V. The knowledge of God, now suppressed, is yet present by His WORD of judgment and merciful calls to repent (Elijah and Elisha)

VI. God’s people, now mired in immorality, provoke God’s anger and incur just judgment

(cf. 2 Kgs. 17.11, “The Anger of the Lord,” with Romans 1.18, “The Wrath of God.”)

*Judgments, according to Deuteronomy, grow increasingly severe (Dt. 28.15ff): siege, drought, famine (2 Kings 6:25), locusts, military humiliation, etc., until the final judgment: Exile (2 Kgs 17.7).

What is Exile, really? Being cast out of the good (Dt. 3.25, 8.7) promised land? Cast away from God? Exile is a picture and preview of Hell: literally, Hell on Earth. Hell is the place where rebels are forever exiled the promised land of a new Earth, and from God who is Good, "Depart from me, workers of iniquity (Mt. 7.23)."

Note: the reason the land was Good had to do with the closeness of the Good God.

* The root sin is STILL idolatry (2 Kgs 17.7)

VII. Thus, the WORD and presence of God is primarily present to JUDGE (ex. 1 Kgs 17.1)

*I am indebted to Dr. Brian Aucker for his insight into the relevance of this question.

God's Law And The Law Gravity

Prophets predicted the future, not like our goofy end-of-days fanatics. They predicted a coming grief; they said: IF you don't repent, this WILL happen. But, this may not happen; this NEED not happen; you can still repent.

Unlike contemporary "prophets," they hoped their predictions would not come to pass. Their predictions were warnings: If you continue in sin, then judgment will arrive. That judgment is certain; unbreakable. That judgment is deserved; it will be just. They predicted the future in the sense of warning, like a man warns his friend when he sees a snake in his path. They predicted, like a man who sees his neighbor plant turnip seeds, and predicts a full crop of turnips. Their prediction were prescriptive more so than predictive. "If this, then this." You will reap what you sow.

They saw God's law as warp and woof of the universe. To break it is to break yourself. To abandon it is to abandon health and happiness. God's law = not to silly rules. God's law isn't akin to arbitrary dictates, some kind of meaningless test set down by God to see how we "score."

God's law = the law of gravity. You can try to break it if you want; the result of such a venture will not be, no matter what you think, indifferent.If you try to break the law of gravity, you'll end up breaking your bones; if you break the law of God, you'll end up breaking yourself.

Favorite Latin Phrases

My translation of my favorite Latin phrases.

Vipera in verpecula est.

Vipers are in violets.
i..e. Don't go by looks alone. A thing may look lovely, and still contain danger.


Vincit qui patitur.
The perseverer prevails.


Veritatem dies aperit.
Time tells the truth.


Varitatio delectat
Variation vivifies.
i.e. change is pleasing.

Ut sementem feceris, ita metes
Whatever you sow, that exactly, and that exactly, shall you reap.


Ubi bene, ibi patria
Where well, welcome home.
i.e. The place where you feel well is your natural home.


Tolle, lege; Tolle, lege!
(from Augustine's Confessions)
Take; read! Take; read!
Note: it's hard to capture the loveliness of the sound. The latin is poetic: To-lay-le-gay; to-lay-le-gay, cf. a similar poetic phrase, "Cellar door."


Sunt facta verbis difficiliora
Work is worth more than words.


Si vis pacem, para bellum.
Prize peace? Then, for war, prepare.


Roma die uno non aedificata est
Rome rose not in one day.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Who watches watchmen?


Qui tacet consentire
Silence is consent.


Qui non proficit, deficit.
Where no profit, deficit.
i.e. go forward, or you are going backward.


Praemonitus, praemunitus
Forewarned; forearmed.


Potius sero quam numquam
Better now than never.
 i.e. the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; second best time, today
Periculum in mora

Delay = Danger.

Otia dant vitia.
Ease leads to vice
i.e. Spurgeon, "The peril of prosperity."


Optimi natatores saepius submerguntur.
The best swimmers often drown
i.e., beware your strength


Adde parvum parvo magnus acervus erit
Add little to little and there will be a lot

 — Ovid.


Aeque pars ligni curvi ac recti valet igni.
Crooked logs make straight fires.

Obscuris vera involvens

Obscurity envelopes truth.

- Virgil
  • English equivalent: Truth gives a short straight answer; lies go round about.

Non quia difficilia sunt non audemus, sed quia non audemus, difficilia sunt. 

Most reason: because things are difficult, we do not dare -- but, the truth is: because we do not dare, things are difficult.

(Seneca, Letter to Lucilius, letter 104, section 26, line 5)

You can never have too much protection: only, too little.


Nocere facile est, prodesse difficile
To hurt is easy; to benefit, difficult.


Age quod agis.

Do what you do.

Aliis si licet, tibi non licet.

Good for one is not good for all.
i.e. what is good for another may be bad for you.

Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur.

The world desires to be deceived; therefore it is.

-Attributed to Petronius


Memento mori

Remember mortality.


Malum consilium quod mutari non potest.

Only a bad plan cannot be changed.


Iucundum est narrare sua mala.

Problems shared are problems halved.
i.e. A burden shared weighs less.


Interdum stultus bene loquitur.

A fool may give a wise man counsel.

*Learn what you can from all.


Inimicum quamvis humilem docti est metuere
Experience teaches us to dread every enemy, no matter how small.
Shakespeare: Better to weigh an enemy more might than he seems.


Improbe Neptunum accusat, qui iterum naufragiam facit.

Don't complain about the sea on your second shipwreck.


Imperare sibi maximum imperium est.

Self-control is the ultimate control.
i.e. better to be king of yourself than king of the world.


Hostium munera, non munera.

Gifts of enemies are no gifts.


Honor sequitir fugientem.

Honor follows the fleeing.


Homines quod volunt credunt.

Men believe what they want to.
-Julius Caesar


Fortes fortuna iuvat
  • Fortune favors the brave.
Factis ut credam facis.
  • Translation: Deeds, then I may believe you.

Dum vita est, spes est.
  • Translation: While there is life, there is hope.
Dum spiro, spero.
  • Translation: "As long as I breathe, I hope." 
  • Translated as "While I breathe, I hope" the motto of the State of South Carolina
Diem vesper commendat.
  • Translation: Celebrate the day when the day is over (lit. when it is evening).
  • Meaning: Don't celebrate until you are 100 % sure there is a reason to do so

Deus quem punire vult dementat.
  • Whom Gods will destroy, they first make mad.

Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges
  • A more corrupt republic leads to more laws (Tacitus)

Consuetudo altera natura est
  • Habit is second nature.

Consilio, quod respuitur, nullum subest auxilium.
  • He who won't be advised, cannot be helped

Cogitationes posteriores sunt saniores.
  • Second thoughts are sounder.

Cedens in uno cedet in pluribus.
  • Yielding in one place results in yielding in many places.
  • In for a penny; in for a pound.
  • Virtue that parleys is near to surrender.

Cave ab homine unius libri.
  • Fear the man of one book.

Bene diagnoscitur, bene curatur.
  • Good diagnoses lead to good cures.

Aut viam inveniam aut faciam.
  • Translation: I'll either find, or make, a way

Abbati, medico, patrono que intima pande.
  • There's two people you should always tell the truth: your doctor, and your lawyer.

Abyssus abyssum invocat.
  • Deep, to deep, calls.

Acta Non Verba.
  • Acts, not words.