Os Guiness


Chinese-born American Author, Social Critic and Senior Fellow with the EastWest Institute in New York

Author Quotes

The [golden] triangle is this: freedom requires virtue, virtue requires faith of some sort, and faith of any sort requires freedom. And like the recycling triangle, it goes round and round -- freedom requires virtue which requires faith which requires freedom which requires virtue, and so on. You can break down each of those three legs in great depth, as the framers did. For example, freedom requires virtue: virtue was one word that covers things like honesty, loyalty, patriotism, character, and in many ways their discussion was very profound, but we've ignored it. For example, the president said today, they often don't look for character they look for competence, and yet the framers said that character would be decisive. Or you take the second leg, that virtue of any sort requires faith, the framers are very, very clear that the strongest inspiration, content and sanction for virtue comes from faiths, and, therefore, religion is very important. So they certainly granted freedom of conscience to atheists because they granted it to everyone. But they were not sanguine, for example if you read John Adams, about a society of atheists because they wouldn't have sufficient virtue.

The truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion and dynamism lived out as a response to his summons and service.

What is undeniable is that when comforts and convenience sap our energies and idealism, inactivity secretes sloth in to our minds like a poison in the blood.

In terms of distance, the prodigal's pigsty is the farthest point from home; in terms of time, the pigsty is the shortest distance to the father's house.

The ability to read is widespread, but the inability to read any but the shallowest texts is equally widespread. Recent estimates put the literacy of more than half the population of the United States at the level of twelve-year-olds. Such semi- or sub-literacy is not being eradicated by mass-schooling: it is being made politically and psychologically acceptable.

The ultimate threat to the American public will be Americans. The problem is not wolves at the door but termites in the floor.

What the framers believed should complement and reinforce the Constitution and its separation of powers is the distinctive moral ecology that is at the heart of ordered liberty.

In the sorry ranks of the revisionists, the loss of anything identifiably Christian is now almost complete.

The aim is to truly reach the gatekeepers, those who are astride the doorways of influence and power,

There are lots of people depending on the government who are good, honest citizens who have worked all their lives.

When something more that human seeking is needed if seeking is to be satisfied, then calling means that seekers themselves are sought.

Isaiah Berlin said philosophers are just adults who've gone on asking the questions that children ask and haven't stopped.

The alternative application of the golden rule would be to say, ?One out, all out,? and to conclude?I think rightly, for religious even more than constitutional reasons?that public schools are not the place to have official teacher-led prayer, Christian or otherwise. A moment of silence, perhaps; and free to pray alone at any time; and freedom to pray in student-initiated groups after school hours, certainly; but not official prayer in public schools when contemporary levels of the social fact of pluralism mean that the principle of religious liberty for all is contravened.

There are three huge challenges to the Christian church in the US: First is the challenge of regaining the integrity and effectiveness of faith in the modern world, over against the widespread worldliness of liberal and evangelical varieties of faith succumbing to the spirit of the age at point after point. Second is the challenge of persuading and winning back the educated classes, who are leading the country in a secular and European direction, and are almost impervious to the simplicities of present evangelistic methods. Third is the challenge of restoring a civil public square, without which the American republic will decline; and more importantly, Christians will not be free to enter and engage public life. At stake in all three issues is the character of faith in the modern world and the survival of Western civilization itself.

Knowledge is power but truth is freedom.

The American 'unum' has been lost since the Sixties. If this continues, there will soon be no unifying American identity and vision to balance the 'pluribus,' and the days of the Republic will be numbered.

There is a deep irony in play today. Many educated people who scorn religious fundamentalism are hard at work creating a constitutional fundamentalism, though with lawyers and judges instead of rabbis, priests and pastors. Constitutional and unconstitutional have replaced orthodox and heretical.

Like a precious family heirloom, freedom is not just ours to enjoy, but to treasure, protect, and pass on to future generations.

The Catholic Distortion: Calling has often been distorted to become a form of dualism that elevates the spiritual at the expense of the secular.

There is joy... in fulfilling a calling that fits who we are and, like the pillar of cloud and fire, goes ahead of our lives to lead us... Our gifts and destiny do not lie expressly in our parents' wishes, our boss's plans, our peer group's pressures, our generation's prospects, or our society's demands. Rather, we each need to know our own unique design, which is God's design for us.

Making the world safe for diversity, is one of the greatest tasks we face in the global era.

The challenge of modern church growth is the problem of modern discipleship writ large-how to engage in the world freely but faithfully. Clearly, a tough blend of attributes is required: integrity and effectiveness, enterprise with humility, spiritual devotion along with common sense. To that end, here are two concluding reminders and two cautions to ponder. The first reminder concerns the paradox surrounding change and relevance. On the one hand, no one and nothing stays the same unless it is willing to change. On the other hand, no one and nothing becomes truly timely unless it is in touch with the eternal. The second reminder concerns the paradox surrounding success. On the one hand, in matters of the spirit, nothing fails like success. On the other hand, in matters of the spirit, nothing succeeds like failure.

There is no problem with the wider culture that you cannot see in the spades in the Christian Church. The rot is in us, and not simple out there. And Christians are making a great mistake by turning everything into culture wars. It's a much deeper crisis.

Modern life assaults us with an infinite range of things we could do, we would love to do, or some people tell us we should do. But we are not God and we are neither infinite nor eternal. We are quite simply finite. We have only so many years, so much energy, so many gray cells, and so many bank notes in our wallets. 'Life is too short to...' eventually shortens to 'life is too short.

The dilemma for man is not who he is but what he has done. His predicament is not that he is small, but that he is sinful.

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Chinese-born American Author, Social Critic and Senior Fellow with the EastWest Institute in New York