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William Law, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life [1728]

‘create a sense of delight in God, they awaken holy desires, they teach you how to ask, and they prevail with God to give. They kindle a holy flame, they turn your heart into an altar, your prayers into incense, and carry them as a sweet-smelling savour to the throne of grace’ - William Law, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life [1728]

William Law, 'Of Chanting, or Singing of Psalms in Our Private Devotions’ from A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life (1728)

the committed believer should ideally sing or chant a psalm ‘as a necessary beginning of your devotions, as something that is to awaken all that is good and holy within you, that is to call your spirits to their proper duty, to set you in your best posture towards heaven, and tune all the powers of your soul to worship and adoration’

William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

As I was walking among the fires of hell, delighted with the enjoyments of Genius, which to Angels look like torment and insanity, I collected some of their Proverbs: thinking that as the sayings used in a nation, mark its character, so the Proverbs of Hell, shew the nature of Infernal wisdom better than any description of buildings or garments.

When I came home, I saw a mighty Devil folded in black clouds [and] with corroding fires he wrote: ‘How do you know but ev'ry Bird that cuts the airy way, / Is an immense world of delight, clos'd by your senses five?

Allen Ginsberg, Notebooks

So anyway, what I had been doing that week—I’d been in a very solitary state, dark night of the soul sort of, reading Saint John of the Cross, maybe on account of that everybody’d gone away that I knew. I was graduating from school and had nowhere to go and the difficulty of getting a job. So finally there was nothing for me to do except to eat vegetables and live in Harlem.

So, in that state therefore, of hopelessness, or dead-end, change of phase, you know—growing up—I came with a Blake book on my lap—and suddenly, heard a very deep earthen grave voice in the room, which I immediately assumed, I didn’t think twice, was Blake’s voice; What I was seeing was a visionary thing, it was a lightness in my body . . . my body suddenly felt light, and a sense of cosmic consciousness, vibrations, understanding, awe, and wonder and surprise.

And it was a sudden awakening into a totally deeper real universe that I'd been existing in. So anyway—there I was in my bed in Harlem … jacking off. With my pants open, lying around on a bed by the window sill, looking out into the cornices of Harlem and the sky above. And there was a couple of girls living next door and I crawled out on the fire escape and tapped on their window and said, “I’ve seen God!” and they banged the window shut.

Oh, what tales I could have told them if they’d let me in!

Sufjan Stevens, interview (2004)

'My music is just about story telling. I don’t have much to say, and I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind.

Christianity is a faith that has no interest in power or no meaning in an environment of power or wealth. The moral imperative is a delusion, and [in terms of the election] I think it’s a distraction; [Christianity] is not a faith of morals or principles; it’s about a relationship, service in love to God and other people. If it were about morals and virtues, I don’t think Jesus would have pissed off so many Jews; he was doing things that were considered obscene. He was doing work on the Sabbath, he was a messy angry person. He definitely wasn’t guided by principles.

Morals, principles and laws are when faith is reduced to standards and those standards basically just bind us, and we become prejudicial, racist, self-serving when we’re guided by these laws... When a developed country uses Christianity in its policies, in government, in maintaining corporate wealth, that’s a bastardized rendering of a faith.'

Sufjan Stevens, interview (2010)

The church is an institution and it’s incredibly corrupt obviously, but that’s because it’s full of dysfunctional people and people who are hurt and battered and abused. It’s very normal in any institution to have that kind of level of dysfunction. That’s unfortunate. I find it very difficult, I find church culture very difficult you know; I think a lot of churches now are just fundamentally flawed. But that’s true for any institution you know, that’s true for education, universities and it’s definitely true for corporations because of greed, and I think part of faith is having to be reconciled with a flawed community. But the principles, I don’t think the principles have changed. They can get skewed and they can get abused and dogma can reign supreme, but I think the fundamentals, it’s really just about love. Loving God and loving your neighbour and giving up everything for God. The principles of that, the basis of that is very pure and life changing.