Hearts and Vines

14643744-autumn-ivyNo man can be without his god. If he have not the true God to bless and sustain him, he will have some false god to delude and to betray him. The Psalmist knew this, and therefore he joined so closely the forgetting the name of our God, and holding up our hands to some strange god. For every man has something in which he hopes, on which he leans, to which he retreats and retires, with which he fills up his thoughts in empty spaces of time, when he is alone, when he lies sleepless on his bed, when he is not pressed with other thoughts; to which he betakes himself in sorrow or trouble, as that from which he shall draw comfort and strength–his fortress, his citadel, his defence; and has not this a good right to be called his god? Man was made to lean on the Creator; but if not on Him, then he leans on the creature in one shape or another. The ivy cannot grow alone: it must twine round some support or other; if not the goodly oak, then the ragged thorn; round any dead stick whatever, rather than have no stay or support at all. It is even so with the heart and affections of man; if they do not twine around God, they must twine around some meaner thing.

—Richard Chenevix Trench

Facts cannot supply their own meaning

George ButtrickPeople are born to believe. They cannot live on questionings. For a man to say in honesty, “I do not believe that dogma” may be a virtue, provided he can add with radiant mind, “Yet I do believe this . . .” But without some positive avowal his negations become only darkness, for belief is as native as breathing. People cannot live on “facts.” Facts are not faith. Of late we have had a windfall of facts, in such multitude that man’s mind can hardly count them, let alone comprehend their meaning.

This inability is a portent that university education refuses to confront. It raises the whole problem of essential curriculum, and makes clear that a windfall of facts can be a famine of faith. Facts are like bricks. Modern man now spends his time analyzing the bricks to make sure they are sound. Thus the house is never built, and the spirit of man is left naked to the storm. Facts cannot supply their own meaning; only faith can give them meaning. A poor faith will give them a low meaning, atomic power will become H-bombs.

–George Arthur Buttrick