Theodore Roosevelt—“the Tom Sawyer of the political world of the twentieth century,” Clemens called him—had impetuously decided to abolish the motto “In God We Trust,” because coins “carried the name of God into improper places.” …It was a beautiful motto, Clemens said. “It is simple, direct, gracefully phrased; it sounds well—In God We Trust. I don’t believe it would sound any better if it were true.”….What the country trusted in was not God but “the Republican party and the dollar—mainly the dollar.” And as for the United States being a Christian country….Clemens said…“so is hell.” From Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain by Justin Kaplan
“The Russian Church…prohibited conjugal relations during Lent; …a counterpoise to the tendency of the people to indulge excessively in almost the only pleasure left to them.” From The Reformation by Will Durant
TV preacher on sending him your money—“It’s the circumcision of your financial life. It’s like cutting away the excess skin” Blip from TV as I was channel surfing(God was leading me).
From Balkan Ghosts by Robert Kaplan: “…the carrion stench of old people.”
“Like any mistress, the West excites and fascinates us, but our relationship with it is episodic and superficial.” (Concerning Greece)
From Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux: “…it is human nature to worship what we fear. ….There is a point at which hysteria is indistinguishable from belief. …. Christian missionaries have been peregrinating and proselytizing in Africa for upward of 1,400 years…
From The Iron Rooster by Paul Theroux– “The phlegmy, fruity laugh of the chain smoker.”
From Jude The Obscure: by Thomas Hardy, “The wind dipped to earth and scooped straws and hay stems from the ground.”
From The Reformation: Will Durant “…men prefer the assurance of dogma to the diffidence of reason.”…. “Our instincts were formed during a thousand centuries of insecurity and the chase; their once necessary vigor exceeds present social need; they must be checked a hundred times a day, consciously or not, to make society and civilization possible. Families and states, from ages before history, have enlisted the aid of religion to moderate the barbarous impulses of men.” Piers the Plowman by William Langland would “…weary any reader who lays upon authors the moral obligation to be clear.”….“…flays rascals impartially.” John Gower “…achieved dullness in three languages.” “…three things are merciless when they get out of hand: water, fire, and the mob.” Of Chaucer, Durant writes, “…and living like a hermit in all but poverty, chastity, and obedience…” and “…a passion that runs to 8,386 lines becomes prose almost as rapidly as desire consummated.” Durant wrote of Chaucer that, “He was not a very learned man, for he liked to display his learning…” “He mentions some problems of philosophy and theology, but shrugs his shoulders at them helplessly. Perhaps he felt, like any man of the world, that a prudent philosopher will not wear his metaphysics on his sleeve.” Durant says Chaucer, “…is disturbed by evils apparently irreconcilable with an omnipotent benevolence…” In that regard, here is my rough translation of a line or two of Chaucer spoken through Arcite, one of the travelers in The Canterbury Tales—And what is mankind to you than sheep that huddle in the fold. For slain is man same as another beast and is arrested and dwells in prison, and has sickness and great adversity,…and when a beast is dead he has no pain, but man in his death must weep and plea to escape hell’s torment.
Sandra Day O’Conner—“Everyone is going to grow up to be a citizen, Democracy is not a spectator sport.”