Ninety-Nine Stories of God

A book of absurdities imbued with a sense of great depth.

Three conclusions from three of my favorite stories in the book:

“We can only know what God is not, not what God is. We can never speak about God rationally, but that does not mean we should give up thinking. We must push our minds to the limits, descending even deeper into the unknowing.”

We cannot ‘know’ God.

“You should have changed if you wanted to remain yourself, but you were afraid to change.” – Sarte to Camus

We cannot ‘know’ ourselves.

“The God who is with us is the God who forsakes is. Before God and with God, we live without God.” – Bonhoeffer

Even when we connect with God, we are without him.

Reminds me of: ‘Testament‘ by Nino Ricci, ‘The Prophet‘ by Khalil Gibran, ‘Illusions‘ by Richard Bach

Hurry Slowly – Austin Kleon

Pencil vs Computer‘, an interview with the author of ‘Steal Like an Artist

“It seems like constraints make work harder but they’re actually easier because we know what we can work with. The fun is seeing what we can get out of it.”

When I’m having a hard time making progress, I’ll pick a constraint. Paper is a great example.

“Every artist figures out pretty quickly: When you can do everything, you do nothing.”

(What a quote!)

“Pencils and paper are for the generative state. When it comes to conveying ideas to other people, they keyboard is the magical device.” – Clive Thompson

Figuring out when to use a pencil and paper versus a keyboard and screen is much more important than it seems. I’ve learned this through morning pages.

“When I copy a passage by hand, I slow down and really read it.”

How much do we really read, and how much do we simply skim? Did you read this article, truly, or did you just glance over it? You might be surprised at how often you give something only a cursory bit of attention.

Reminds me of: ‘The Artist’s Way‘ by Julia Camera

On the Birth of a Son

A dark-humored poem I have never forgotten:

Families when a child is born
Hope it will turn out intelligent.
I, through intelligence
Having wrecked my whole life,
Only hope that the baby will prove
Ignorant and stupid.
Then he’ll be happy all his days
And grow into a cabinet minister.

Reminds me of: Austin Kleon

Sicario

This film, though brutal, reminds me of the resilience of mankind. We push forward even when the odds are against us.

“You’re asking me how a watch works. For now, just keep an eye on the time.”

We often enter into situations demanding answers. Sometimes, it is better to realize that no answer will possibly satisfy the way that experience does.

“Nothing will make sense to your American ears, and you will doubt everything we do, but in the end you will understand.”

This movie gives definition to the phrase ‘the end justifies the means’, and reveals the terrible consequences of this logic.

“You are not a wolf, and this is a land of wolves now. ”

A critique of the war on drugs, Sicario has no resolution for you. The film ends with children playing soccer, with gunfire in the background temporarily pausing the game. Then? Life goes on.

Reminds me of: ‘Discipline Equals Freedom‘ by Jocko Willink, ‘Tribe‘ by Sebastian Junger

Hebrews 1:1-2

“Throughout our history, God has spoken to our ancestors by His prophets in many different ways. The revelation He gave them was only a fragment at a time, building one truth upon another. But to us living in these last days, God now speaks to us openly in the language of a Son, the appointed heir of everything, for through Him God created the panorama of all things to come.”

It used to be that God only spoke through a select few. Now he speaks freely. He does not need to speak audibly. The language of Jesus is within us, deeper than any form of communication.

We speak in English, God speaks in Son, for Jesus is the language of God. – Brian Simmons

We see only what’s in front of us, but Jesus (and his language) sees all things and all times. Perhaps this is why it’s so often hard to decipher or understand.