Category Archives: Worldliness

“A neighborhood of strangers and a world of fragments” by Neil Postman

“A book is an attempt to make thought permanent and to contribute to the great conversation conducted by authors of the past. Therefore, civilized people everywhere consider the burning of a book a vile form of anti-intellectualism.

But the telegraph demands that we burn its contents. The value of telegraphy is undermined by applying the tests of permanence, continuity or coherence.

The telegraph is suited only to the flashing of messages, each to be quickly replaced by a more up-to-date message. Facts push other facts into and then out of consciousness at speeds that neither permit nor require evaluation.

The telegraph introduced a kind of public conversation whose form had startling characteristics: Its language was the language of headlines–sensational, fragmented, impersonal. News took the form of slogans, to be noted with excitement, to be forgotten with dispatch.

Its language was also entirely discontinuous. One message had no connection to that which preceded or followed it. Each “headline” stood alone as its own context.

The receiver of the news had to provide a meaning if he could. the sender was under no obligation to do so. And because of all this, the world as depicted by the telegraph began to appear unmanageable, even undecipherable.

The line-by-line, sequential, continuous form of the printed page slowly began to lose its resonance as a metaphor of how knowledge was to be acquired and how the world was to be understood.

“Knowing” the facts took on a new meaning, for it did not imply that one understood implications, background, or connections. Telegraphic discourse permitted no time for historical perspectives and gave no priority to the qualitative.

To the telegraph, intelligence meant knowing of lots of things, not knowing about them.

Thus, to the reverent question posed by Morse–What hath God wrought?–a disturbing answer came back: a neighborhood of strangers and pointless quantity; a world of fragments and discontinuities.

God, of course, had nothing to do with it.”

–Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (New York: Penguin, 1985), 70.

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“Success without the gospel” by John Owen

“Success without the gospel is nothing but a prosperous conspiracy against Jesus Christ.”

–John Owen, “A Vision of Unchangeable, Free Mercy In Sending The Means of Grace to Undeserving Sinners,” in The Works of John Owen: Sermons to the Nation (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1967), 8: 30.

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Filed under Christian Theology, Ecclesiology, Jesus Christ, John Owen, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Church, The Gospel, Worldliness

“The great disease of our age” by Herman Bavinck

“Inconstancy is the great disease of our age— agitation, restlessness.

This is manifested in many forms:

in seeking distraction and diversion,

in chasing exciting pleasure,

in pursuing recreation over solitude,

in being bored with oneself.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Ethics: Created, Fallen, and Converted Humanity, Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2019), 1: 126.

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“Promoting self under the guise of promoting Christ” by A.W. Tozer

“To be specific, the self-sins are these: self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love, and a host of others like them. They dwell too deep within us and are too much a part of our natures to come to our attention until the light of God is focused upon them.

The grosser manifestations of these sins – egotism, exhibitionism, self-promotion – are strangely tolerated in Christian leaders, even in circles of impeccable orthodoxy. They are so much in evidence as actually, for many people, to become identified with the gospel.

I trust it is not a cynical observation to say that they appear these days to be a requisite for popularity in some sections of the church visible.

Promoting self under the guise of promoting Christ is currently so common as to excite little notice.”

–A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, in Three Spiritual Classics in One Volume (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1948), 253.

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“The grandest Spectacle ever devised” by Tony Reinke

“Into the spectacle-loving world, with all of its spectacle makers and spectacle-making industries, came the grandest Spectacle ever devised in the mind of God and brought about in world history—the cross of Christ. It is the hinge of history, the point of contact between BC and AD, where all time collides, where all human spectacles meet one unsurpassed, cosmic, divine spectacle.”

–Tony Reinke, Competing Spectacles: Treasuring Christ in the Media Age (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2019), 77.

#competingspectacles

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“A deluge of self” by Stephen Charnock

“The whole little world of man is so overflowed with a deluge of self.”

–Stephen Charnock, “On Practical Atheism,” in The Existence and Attributes of God, in The Works of Stephen Charnock, Vol. 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1681/2010), 1: 225.

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“What the world is” by Arthur Dent

“The world is a sea of glass: a pageant of fond delight, a theatre of vanity, a labyrinth of error, a gulf of grief, a sty of filthiness, a vale of misery, a spectacle of woe, a river of tears, a stage of deceit, a cage full of devils, a den of scorpions, a wilderness of wolves, a cabin of bears, a whirlwind of passions, a feigned comedy, a delectable frenzy, where there is false delight, assured grief, certain sorrow, uncertain pleasure, lasting woe, fickle wealth, long heaviness, and short joy.”

–Arthur Dent, “On Covetousness,” in The Plain Man’s Pathway to Heaven Wherein Every Man May Clearly See Whether He Shall Be Saved Or Damned, Set Forth Dialogue-Wise, For the Better Understanding of the Simple (Belfast: North of Ireland Book and Tract Depository, 1601/1859), 69-70.

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