The book proposal is taking up most of my time right now. But I am reading some good stuff both for that project, and in the book I’m using for my devotions: Disciplines for the Inner Life (see the What I’m Reading Page). For the rest of this week I thought I would share quotes that popped out at me and made me think. The first is from one of my favorite authors, Madeline L’Engle.

When we are self-conscious, we cannot be wholly aware; we must throw ourselves out first. This throwing ourselves away is the act of creativity. So, when we wholly concentrate, like a child in play, or an artist at work, then we share in the act of creating. We not only escape time, we also escape our self-conscious selves.

The Greeks had a word for ultimate self-consciousness which I find illuminating: hubris: pride: pride in the sense of putting oneself in the center of the universe. the strange and terrible thing is that this kind of total self-consciousness invariably ends in self-annihilation. The great tragedians have always understood this, from Sophocles to Shakespeare. We witness it in history in such people as Tiberius, Eva Peron, Hitler.

I was timid about putting forth most of these thoughts, but this kind of timidity is itself a form of pride. The moment that humiluty becomes self-consciousness, it becomes hubris. One cannot be humble and aware of oneself at the same time. Therefore, the art of creating—painting a picture, singing a song, writing a story—is a humble act? This is a new thought to me. Humility is throwing oneself away in complete concentration on something or someone else.

So what are you reading? What’s making you stop and think?