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Peter Rollins Quotes

Peter Rollins

Peter Rollins quotes: mind-bending thoughts by the Irish writer.

“To believe is human; to doubt is divine.”

“Truly embracing the fragility and tensions of life brings with it the possibility of true joy.”

“The point then is to help break the false distinction between the idea that there are those who are whole and those who have a lack. For the true distinction is between those who hide their lack under the fiction of wholeness and those who are able to embrace it.”

“Whatever you believe, be open to being wrong.”

“Our real beliefs are generally not to be found at the level of ego.”

“The excessive pleasure we imagine receiving from what we want most of all is fleeting at best.”

“It is natural for us to think that our present discontent arises as a result of something we currently do not have. We imagine there might be a way of abolishing the feeling if only we had the money, fame, job, or health that currently evades us. But people from all walks of life seem to experience the same kind of dissatisfaction that we do, even when they have the very things we believe would make our lives whole. And on the occasions when we gain the thing we believe will make us happy, we find that the satisfaction we experience is at best partial and at worst utterly unfulfilling.”

“When we are highly driven to achieve, what happens to us when we get what we have longed for? What happens to us the day after? And the day after that? In this way Wiley Coyote ends up in a similar place to where he would be if he had given up his pursuit of the Roadrunner. In this situation he would retain the dream of catching him and thus never really be happy with anything else. He would yearn for the chase and imagine, over and over, catching the elusive bird. Nothing else he ever pursued would match up to the goal he had renounced. Does this mean that the only solution for Wiley Coyote is to keep up the pursuit, secretly sabotaging his own efforts (using defective equipment, old ropes etc.), so that he never catches the Roadrunner? This would seem to be a depressing answer and one that would be hard to keep up for long. So are these our only options? Getting what we want and despairing, not getting what we want and despairing, constantly chasing what we want and despairing?”

“How easy to be driven solely by achievement in our social-Darwinian-lite meritocracy, both individually and in our organizations. It is no light task to stand against the tide of defining ourselves by what we do, or perhaps more accurately, what we have done; I personally battle with this daily. Achievement is of course no evil thing.”

“Perhaps there is another possibility, if we are lucky enough to find it. And that is in finding and being with the one we love. In being with the one we love we gain what we desire while remaining at a distance from it. When we love someone they are present to us as a mystery. They are the opening to, and encounter with, otherness itself. They are a vast and endless ocean.”

“In love we find an infinite and evolving depth of experience and acceptance that brings meaning to life. It goes beyond what I do; it is inclusive of who I am and who I am becoming. It goes even beyond this, since ‘who I am’ is parochially individualistic—love includes who we are, who we are becoming, what our life looks like.”

“When we encounter someone who is different than ourselves, we generally have one of four responses. First, we find differences, but then we try to make these others like us. We try to fit what they are thinking into the way we think. We assume that we are right so we find a way to consume them.”

“For when we genuinely look at how the other sees us, we are confronted with a distance that exists between the image we have of ourselves and the reality of our actions.”

“For just as one person’s idol is another’s icon, so one person’s fable is another’s parable.”

“That which we cannot speak of is the one thing about whom and to whom we must never stop speaking.”

“It’s not that you can be happy and whole, but rather that life is crap and you don’t know the answers. It’s good news to be freed from the oppression that there’s something that’s going to make it all better. When you’re free from that and begin to work through your brokenness and suffering with a set of rituals, practices and sacraments that help us encounter our humanity, I think we become more loving, more beautiful, more grace-filled people.”

“Let’s at least try to be honest with each other. Let’s start there. If we are willing to admit that we’re broken and we have doubts already, right now, then this new honesty will help a lot of people to find real freedom.”

“If you cannot speak your brokenness, your brokenness will speak for you.”

“Love is the crazy, mad, and perhaps ridiculous gesture of saying yes to life, of seeing it as worthy of our embrace and even worthy of our total sacrifice.”

“Genuine faith is not some weapon that shields us from the storms of life while pronouncing judgement upon others, but neither is it wholly self-destructive. Rather, it is a weapon that both shields and lacerates the one who wields it, offering comfort to the distressed and distress to the comforted. To advocate this kingdom of love, mercy and truth involves self-sacrifice and self-critique.”

“We have discovered happiness, we know the way.”

“My life is an open book that anyone can read, though I don’t know how interesting it is. I started my faith journey at age 17, when I was converted through street evangelism.”

“If I had to give a three-minute introduction to the core of my work, I would say basically: my argument is that we’re all seeking certainty and satisfaction in our lives. We want something that makes us feel whole and that makes us feel right—and that assures us that the people on the other side of the river are wrong. We’re looking for certainty and satisfaction in a lot of questions we face in daily life. What car should we drive? Who should we marry? What beliefs are going to make us happiest? My argument is that the world has become like a huge vending machine and everybody’s trying to sell their products to satisfy these questions. The church has come along and has placed yet another product in a slot in the vending machine next to all the others. That big vending machine is really an idol. I’m arguing that religion isn’t in the business of holding up the sacred to be grasped like a product that pops out of a machine. Religion helps us see the depth and beauty of creation, even in our brokenness.”

“The practice of theological reflection is a real passion of mine. I did my education in philosophy and found the reflective process deeply powerful. I see it also as being deeply connected with activism. If we don’t think critically, we often end up trying to do good but just making a mess.”

“I often speak about faith in ways that sound like a psychoanalyst. I’m less interested in getting people to think a certain way. I’m much more interested in getting them to ask questions about why they believe things—and to explore how these beliefs function in their lives. Are their beliefs helping them to function as better human beings? Or are these beliefs actually crutches that prop them up in negative ways?”

“What then does it mean to be a Christian? It means entering into a journey of becoming one. It does not mean accepting a worldview but rather entering into a healing journey of life. To be a Christian also means that one is committed to exploring this life—wrestling with it, learning from it, and being transformed by it. Being a Christian means learning how to be the opening of life into the world.”

“Life is what allows us to experience. Just as one does not see sight but it is sight that enables one to see. In other words I don’t think we experience the truth of Christianity but the truth of Christianity is hinted at in the renewed way we experience everything else. In this way the truth of faith is not one thing among other things but rather is that which brings us into new relationship with all things.”

“We must avoid confusion between remaining silent and saying nothing. For while the former is passive the latter is active. By saying nothing we endeavor to speak of that which manifests in our world as a no-thing, as an absolute mystery which infuses our world with light and life. To undergo and then speak of that which is not a thing but which transforms our relationship with all things… this is a sacred and subversive vocation.”

“I’m trying to help people see the wisdom of honesty. I hope people will see that Christianity is an invitation. I don’t go out and tell people that it’s an invitation to life after death. I find that question boring, because I don’t think it’s the fundamental question we face. The fundamental question is not life after death, it’s this: is life possible before we die? Can we truly live before we die. And, I’m hopeful that we can.”

“I find storytelling encouraging. The reason why I use storytelling and think it’s so important is that we cannot be confronted directly with truth, with the deepest parts of ourselves. So humor, storytelling, parables, and poetry: they go indirectly so that they can go more directly. Oscar Wilde said, ‘If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.’ That’s why I’m encouraged about storytelling. It can disarm us and help us see things that we might otherwise try to protect ourselves from at all costs. Funnily enough, I think the most powerful parts of ourselves can’t be captured in narratives or discourse. However, what stories do is revolve around the most important things; they point to them, they’re signs, they’re statues created in the aftermath of the most important experiences in our lives.”

“Your job is to take notes. My job is to make that impossible.”

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