Worldliness

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Worldliness is a theological concept of connection to the imperfect material world.

Quotes[edit]

  • Withdrawal from the world does not mean bodily removal from it, but the severance of the soul from sympathy with the body, and the giving up city, home, personal possessions, love of friends, property, means of subsistence, business, social relations, and knowledge derived from human teaching.
    • Basil of Caesarea, Letter to Gregory, Saint Basil: The Letters, R. Deferrari, trans. (1926), vol. 1, p. 11.
  • Freedom from the world is, in principle, not asceticism, but rather a distance from the world for which all participation in things worldly takes place in the attitude of “as if not.” (1 Cor. 7:29-31)
    • Rudolf Bultmann, New Testament and Mythology and Other Basic Writings (1984), p. 18.
  • Facts witness to the reality that [Christians] have abandoned God, that they have entered the world and become one with the world. Whatever the world considers praiseworthy ... vanity, comfort, wealth, fancy notions, blasphemies — the Christians, too, praise with one accord, quite blatantly without shame and without conscience. We can find with difficulty one man in a thousand who does not conform himself to the world. For this reason authority is necessary for the pagan world, since a man of weak faith will not be better than a pagan. A world contrary to God must be kept within bounds by the world’s sword.
  • Every day that we allow some little physical infirmity or worldly worry to come between us and our obstinate, indignant, defiant exultation, we are weakening our genius for life.
  • The worldly man lives in society, marries, establishes a family; Yoga prescribes absolute solitude and chastity. The worldly man is “possessed” by his own life; the yogin refuses to “let himself live”; to continual movement, he opposes his static posture, the immobility of āsana; to agitated, unrhythmical, changing respiration, he opposes prānāyāma, and even dreams of holding his breath indefinitely; to the chaotic flux of psychomental life, he replies by “fixing thought on a single point,” the first step to that final withdrawal from the phenomenal world which he will obtain through pratyāhāra. All of the yogic techniques invite to one and the same gesture—to do exactly the opposite of what human nature forces one to do. From solitude and chastity to samyama, there is no solution of continuity. The orientation always remains the same—to react against the “normal,” “secular,” and finally “human” inclination.
    • Mircea Eliade, Yoga: Immortality and Freedom, W. Trask, trans. (Princeton: 1969), pp. 95–96.
  • The habit which many have got into must be as far as possible corrected; those, I mean, who while they fight strenuously against the baser pleasures, yet still go on hunting for pleasure in the shape of worldly honour and positions which will gratify their love of power. They act like some domestic who longed for liberty, but instead of exerting himself to get away from slavery proceeded only to change his masters, and thought liberty consisted in that change. But all alike are slaves, even though they should not all go on being ruled by the same masters, as long as a dominion of any sort, with power to enforce it, is set over them.
  • The victorious course of Christianity since Nicaea and especially since Augustine, which was not unlike the expansion of Buddhism since the reign of Asoka, sealed its pact with that worldly wisdom which it had originally professed to renounce. Its readiness for fanaticism, without which its ascendancy would have been unstable, testified to a secret and indomitable hatred for that attitude of mind for which its founder had earlier been put to death.
    • Max Horkheimer, “Theism and Atheism” (1963), in Critique of Instrumental Reason (1974).
  • What we call worldliness simply consists of such people who, if one may so express it, pawn themselves to the world.
  • ...the world and Christianity have completely opposite conceptions. The world says of the apostles, of the Apostle Peter as their spokesman, "He is drunk,"-and the Apostle Peter admonishes, "Become sober." Consequently the secular mentality considers Christianity to be drunkenness, and Christianity considers the secular mentality to be drunkenness. "Do become reasonable, come to your senses, try to become sober"-thus does the secular mentality taunt the Christian. And the Christian says to the secular mentality, "Do become reasonable, come to your senses, become sober." The difference between secularity and Christianity is not that one has one view and the other another-no, the difference is always that they have the very opposite views, that what one calls good the other calls evil, what the one calls love the other calls selfishness, what the one calls piety the other calls impiety, what the one calls being drunk the other calls being sober. it is precisely the drunken man, the apostle, who finds it necessary to bring home to the sober (I assume) world the admonition: "Become sober!" This very admonition may, as intended, most severely wound the callous secular mentality, which as a rule cannot be wounded very easily or disconcerted.
  • The civilized classes and nations are swept away by the grand rush for contemptible wealth. Never was the world worldlier, never was it emptier of love and goodness.
  • A dim consciousness of infinite mystery and grandeur lies beneath all the commonplace of life. There is an awfulness and a majesty around us, in all our little worldliness.
    • Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (1871), Ch. XXII : Grand Master Architect, p. 190.
  • By constantly repeating, 'I am free, I am free', a man verily becomes free. On the other hand, by constantly repeating, 'I am bound, I am bound', he certainly becomes bound to worldliness. The fool who says only, 'I am a sinner, I am a sinner', verily drowns himself in worldliness. One should rather say: 'I have chanted the name of God. How can I be a sinner? How can I be bound?'
    • Ramakrishna, Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita, translated in The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna (1942), p. 274.
  • I liked Charentz straight off, but more important than this was the feeling that I had that he was a truly great man. Human greatness is a rather difficult thing to account for, and more often than not one is mistaken in one's hunches about somebody one has met. Charentz seemed great to me, I think, because he was made of a mixture of proud virtues and amusing flaws. On the one hand, his independence of spirit was balanced by a humorous worldliness, his acute intelligence by a curiosity that frequently made him seem naive, his profoundly gentle manners by a kind of mocking mischievousness which might easily be mistaken for rudeness. But he was never rude, he was witty, and the purpose of his wit was to keep himself from the terrible condition of pomposity.
    • William Saroyan, I Used to Believe I Had Forever — Now I'm Not So Sure (1968); on Armenian poet Yegishe Charentz, whom Saroyan met in Moscow in June, 1935.
  • The idea underlying such endless discussion and dreaming about the physical act is that sexual expertise confers worldliness and is therefore part of becoming an affirmed individual. This is a curious suggestion... Sex is many things — a need, a desire, an emotion, a release — but it has nothing to do with worldly sophistication, character building or even existential action. Sex, in general, is more of an obstacle than anything else for those who wish to free themselves and act as individuals... [W]e aren't dealing with a successful affirmation of responsible individualism in the real world. We are creating private dreams which compensate for the fracturing of the individual and the castration of his or her power in public life.
  • There is no more mistaken path to happiness than worldliness, revelry, high life.
  • I, thus neglecting worldly ends, all dedicated
To closeness and the bettering of my mind.
  • Do we have all the hatred and all the aversion for the world which Our Lord requires, and which his example must inspire in us?
Have we regarded it as the greatest enemy of Christianity, an enemy that can not abide that Jesus Christ reigns over the faithful, crying ceaselessly through the mouth of its fans, “We do not want this man to reign over us” (Saint Anthony).
Have we raised ourselves up to that outlook opposed to the world, and have we tried to destroy the esteem and love for it in all hearts?
Have we referred to it with indignation, distance and contempt; and have we made it clear that it is filled only with corruption, vanity and falsehood?
Have we condemned the world's sentiments? Are we opposed to its maxims? And have we made all our efforts to abolish its laws and overturn its accursed customs?
Have we despised what the world esteems and esteemed what it despises? Have we fled what it wants and wanted what it flees? Have we loved what it hates and hated what it loves?
Have we had the colossal aversion to the world's public assemblies, to its spectacles and all its pomp? ...
Have we fled the company of worldly persons, whom the saints, especially the Ecclesiastics, advise us to avoid like the plague, whom one should see only by necessity, and from whom we should separate ourselves as vigilantly as we can?
Have we wanted, in order to render our separation from the world as perfect as the sanctity of our state demands, that the world have aversion to us, as we have aversion to the world, following the example the apostle has given us, “The world is crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14).
  • Louis Tronson, Examens particuliers sur divers sujets, pp. 321-322.
  • The Buddha Is Nearer to Us You see clearly a man, simple, devout, lonely, battling for light, a vivid human personality, not a myth. Beneath a mass of miraculous fable I feel that there also was a man. He too, gave a message to mankind universal in its character. Many of our best modern ideas are in closest harmony with it. All the miseries and discontents of life are due, he taught, to selfishness. Selfishness takes three forms — one, the desire to satisfy the senses; second, the craving for immortality; and the third the desire for prosperity and worldliness. Before a man can become serene he must cease to live for his senses or himself. Then he merges into a greater being. Buddha in a different language called men to self-forgetfulness five hundred years before Christ. In some ways he was near to us and our needs. Buddha was more lucid upon our individual importance in service than Christ, and less ambiguous upon the question of personal immortality.

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)[edit]

Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).

  • Faith is the inspiration of nobleness, it is the strength of integrity; it is the life of love, and is everlasting growth for it; it is courage of soul, and bridges over for our crossing the gulf between worldliness and heavenly-mindedness; and it is the sense of the unseen, without which we could not feel God nor hope for heaven.
    • P. 220.
  • Day and night, and every moment, there are voices about us. All the hours speak as they pass; and in every event there is a message to us; and all our circumstances talk with us; but it is in Divine language, that worldliness misunderstands, that selfishness is frightened at, and that only the children of God hear rightly and happily.
    • P. 266.
  • Set not your heart upon the world, since God hath not made it your portion.
  • Lift thyself up, look. around, and see something higher and brighter than earth, earthworms, and earthly darkness.
  • O my God! close my eyes, that I may see Thee; separate me from the world, that I may enjoy Thy company.
  • Unworldliness is this — to hold things from God in the perpetual conviction that they will not last; to have the world, and not let the world have us; to be the world's masters, and not the world's slaves.
  • There is such a thing as a worldly spirit, and there is such a thing as an unworldly spirit — and according as we partake of the one or the other, the savor of the sacrifice of our lives is ordinary, common-place, poor, and base; or elevating, invigorating, useful, noble, and holy.
  • Conformity to the world has in all ages proved the ruin of the church. It is utterly impossible to live in nearness to God, and in friendship with the world.
  • Show me the men who imbibe the spirit of the world, who choose the company of the world, who imitate the example of the world, conform to the maxims of the world, are swallowed up in the gayety, fashions, and amusements of the world; — behold, these are the ungodly, who are brought into desolation as in a moment.
  • There is no surer evidence of an unconverted state than to have the things of the world uppermost in our aim, love, and estimation.
  • Not by empty protestations against the pleasures of the world, and cynical denunciations of its enjoyments, but by our superiority to its perishing greatness, to its fading beauties, and its impotent antagonisms, are we to express our redemption from its power.
  • We wonder why a certain church-member is so lax in his devotions and loose in his practices. The reason is that, while his trunk and his branches are over on the church side of the wall, his roots run under the wall and dwell in the bad soil on the other side.
  • Christians should live in the world, but not be filled with it. A ship lives in the water; but if the water gets into the ship, she goes to the bottom. So Christians may live in the world; but if the world gets into them, they sink.
  • The only true method of action in this world is to be in it, but not of it.
  • A Christian making money fast is just a man in a cloud of dust, it will fill his eyes if he be not careful.
  • Christianity does not condemn traffic, commerce, material activities of any kind. Its highest development is possible with the busiest life. To be a first-rate business man does not involve being a fourth-rate Christian. Buying, possessing, accumulating — this is not worldliness. But doing this in the love of it, with no love of God paramount — doing it so that thoughts of eternity and God are an intrusion — doing it so that one's spirit is secularized in the process; this is worldliness.
  • I had as lief preach humanity to a battle of eagles, as to urge honesty and integrity upon those who have determined to be rich, and to gain it by gambling stakes, and madmen's ventures.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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