Glen's Quotes Db (3165 total)

These are quotes which stood out to me, possibly for use in a sermon someday. Their presence here does not mean I agree with them, it merely shows that I might want to reference them later. The default view is five random selections. Use the tag list on the right to view all quotes relevant to that theme.

If you go to heaven, it's God's fault. If you go to hell, it's your fault. This is the Biblical picture, and if we go beyond we are wrong.

Amid a multitude of projects, no plan is devised.

THINKING ABOUT YAWNS In this excerpt, from the Introduction, I talk about what it means to think of the world in epidemic terms. A world that follows the rules of epidemics is a very different place from the world we think we live in now. Think, for a moment, about the concept of contagiousness. If I say that word to you, you think of colds and the flu or perhaps something very dangerous like H.I.V. or Ebola. We have, in our minds, a very specific, biological, notion of what contagiousness means. But if there can be epidemics of crime or epidemics of fashion, there must be all kinds of things just as contagious as viruses. Have you ever thought about yawning, for instance? Yawning is a surprisingly powerful act. Just by reading the two yawns in the previous two sentences--and the two additional yawns in this sentence--a good number of you will probably yawn within the next few minutes. Even as I'm writing this I've yawned twice. If you're reading this in a public place, and you've just yawned, chances are that a good proportion of everyone who saw you yawn is now yawning too, and a good proportion of the people watching the people who watched you yawn are now yawning as well, and on and on, in a ever-widening, yawning circle. Yawning is incredibly contagious. I made some of you reading this yawn simply by writing the word "yawn". The people who yawned when they saw you yawn, meanwhile, were infected by the sight of you yawning--which is a second kind of contagion. They might even have yawned if they only heard you yawn, because yawning is also aurally contagious: if you play an audio-tape of a yawn to blind people, they'll yawn too. And finally, if you yawned as you read this, did the thought cross your mind--however unconsciously and fleetingly--that you might be tired? I suspect that for some of you it did, which means that yawns can also be emotionally contagious. Simply by writing the word, I can plant a feeling in your mind. Can the flu virus do that? Contagiousness, in other words, is an unexpected property of all kinds of things, and we have to remember that if we are to recognize and diagnose epidemic change. The second of the principles of epidemics--that little changes can somehow have big effects and vice versa--is a also a fairly radical notion. We are, as humans, heavily socialized to make a kind of rough approximation between cause and effect. If we want to communicate a strong emotion, if we want to convince someone that, say, we love them, we realize that we need to speak passionate and forthrightly. If we want to break bad news to someone, we lower our voices and choose our words carefully. We are trained to think that what goes in to any transaction or relationship or system must be directly related, in intensity and dimension, to what comes out.. Consider, for example, the following puzzle. I give you a large piece of paper, 1/100th of a inch thick. (That's a typical thickness). I want you to fold it over once, and then take that folded paper and fold it over again, and then again, and again, until you have refolded the original paper 50 times. How tall do you think the final stack is going to be? If you ask people that question they'll fold the sheets in their mind's eye, and usually answer that the pile would be as thick as a phone book or, if they're really courageous, they'll say that it would be as tall as a refrigerator. But the real answer is that the height of the stack would approximate the distance to the sun. And if you folded it over one more time, the stack would be as high as the distance to the sun and back. This is an example of what in mathematics is called a geometric progression. Epidemics are another example of geometric progression: when a virus spreads through a population, it doubles and doubles again, until it has (figuratively) grown from a single sheet of paper all the way to the sun in fifty steps. As human beings we have a hard time with this kind of progression, because the end result--the effect--seems far out of proportion to the cause. To appreciate the power of epidemics, we have to abandon this expectation about proportionality. We need to prepare ourselves for the possibility that sometimes big changes follow from small events, and that sometimes these changes can happen very quickly.

There is not much risk that an executive will cut back too much. We usually tend to overrate rather than underrate our importance and to conclude that far too many things can be done only by ourselves. Even very effective executives still do a great many unnecessary, unproductive things. But the best proof that the danger of overpruning is a bugaboo is the extraordinary effectiveness so often attained by severely ill or severely handicapped people. A good example was Harry Hopkins, President Roosevelt’s confidential adviser in World War II. A dying, indeed almost a dead man for whom every step was a torment, he could only work a few hours every other day or so. This forced him to cut out everything but truly vital matters. He did not lose effectiveness thereby; on the contrary, he became, as Churchill called him once, ‘Lord Heart of the Matter’ and accomplished more than anyone else in wartime Washington." (I cannot count the number of times that illustration has come into my mind at critical moments. I determined to ruthlessly cut away whatever was not crucial to the task, asking myself repeatedly, "If I had two hours per day or ten hours per week to this job, what specific things would I do and what would I not do? As Drucker indicates in many books, no matter how much wise pruning one does, the information worker will always have much more to do than he can possibly get to. as much as possible must be delegated to others.)

It is difficult to be indifferent to a wide-awake Christian, a real live person of God. It is even more difficult to be indifferent to a whole body of Christians like this. You can hat them or you can love them, but one thing is certain. You can’t ignore them. There is something about them that won’t let you. It isn’t so much what they say or what they do. The thing that seems to haunt you is what they do. The thing that seems to haunt you is what they are. You can’t put them out of your mind any more than you can shake off your shadow. They confront you with an entirely different way of life -- a new way of thinking, a changed set of values, a higher standard of living. In short, they face you with the kingdom of God. There is no washing of hands. These people must be crowned or crucified, for they are either mighty right or mighty wrong.

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