austin farrer



(John Light as Oberon and Matthew Tennyson as Puck, 2013 Globe Theatre production, directed by Dominic Dromgoole)

Ten Books that have stayed with me (in the order that I encountered them):

(This sets aside the Bible and The Book of Common Prayer —and OK I cheated, so sue me):

  1. The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius (really! — I was all of 12 at the time)

  2. Shakespeare,  A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, and The Tempest

  3. Pascal, Pensées

  4. George Herbert, The Temple

  5. T. S. Eliot, The Wasteland, Ash Wednesday, The Four Quartets

  6. Dostoevsky, Brothers Karamazov (or Karamazov Brothers, pace Ignat Avsey)

  7. Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling, and The Sickness Unto Death

  8. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

  9. Simone Weil, Forms of the Implicit Love of God

  10. Austin Farrer, Reflective Faith: Essays on Philosophical Theology

  11. Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited

  12. Flannery O’Connor, The Complete Stories (especially “Revelation” and “Parker’s Back”)

  13. Marilynne Robinson, Gilead

The love of God is never words, never sound and breath. His love is Jesus, sent bodily among us, bodily living and dying, bodily risen. And this embodied love of God meets a rejection and hatred which does not stop at words either. No sooner has hatred pronounced the sentence than hatred lays the lashes on. The lashes bring the hatred home and hatred sharpens the sting of the lash. This, he knows with every stripe, this is what they think of me. But love, however lashed, is not driven out. The more it is defenceless, the more it shows itself almighty. He has us at his mercy, having disarmed our rebels hands, now that all our arrows are in his heart.
—  Austin Farrer, “The Lash,” reflection for the second Mystery of Grief, in Lord I Believe: Suggestions for Turning the Creed Into Prayer (Cambridge, Mass.: Cowley, 1989): 92. 
Saving Belief

Every sparrow is an individual, unlike every other; and the special thing God makes in that sparrow is the product of all the special circumstances concurrent in her production. Most of us have little insight into the singularity of sparrows. We can do better with the human case. For you to be what you are involves a universe; and if your being what you are is the work of God, then an infinity of events was under his hand. It was his skill to draw you out of the genetic pattern of your ancestry, the culture of your time, and the complex of relationships surrounding you. This is not to deny that had your ancestors been more temperate, your parents wiser, your teachers more conscientious and your school-fellows not such little beasts, you would have been a better person than you are. Yet, such as you are, God made you; and the supreme prerogative of the divine art is to draw good even from evil. Not a greater good, no; we do not help God to produce better things by offering him worse materials. But what he makes is always a unique good. You are you, and no one just like you. The defects, as well as the advantages, of your background have gone into the composition of the mixture. 

-Austin Farrer (1904-1968)

Taken from- From the library of C.S. Lewis: Selections from writers who influenced his spiritual journey.