Poisonwood Bible Quotes

We've searched our database for all the quotes and captions related to Poisonwood Bible. Here they are! All 100 of them:

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Don’t try to make life a mathematics problem with yourself in the center and everything coming out equal. When you’re good, bad things can still happen. And if you’re bad, you can still be lucky.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Everything you're sure is right can be wrong in another place.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Listen. Slide the weight from your shoulders and move forward. You are afraid you might forget, but you never will. You will forgive and remember.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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I’ve seen how you can’t learn anything when you’re trying to look like the smartest person in the room.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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God doesn’t need to punish us. He just grants us a long enough life to punish ourselves.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Listen. To live is to be marked. To live is to change, to acquire the words of a story, and that is the only celebration we mortals really know. In perfect stillness, frankly, I've only found sorrow.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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I attempted briefly to consecrate myself in the public library, believing every crack in my soul could be chinked with a book.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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The power is in the balance: we are our injuries, as much as we are our successes.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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There is a strange moment in time, after something horrible happens, when you know it's true, but you haven't told anyone yet.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Misunderstanding is my cornerstone. It's everyone's, come to think of it. Illusions mistaken for truth are the pavement under our feet.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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It is true that I do not speak as well as I can think. But that is true of most people, as nearly as I can tell.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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A first child is your own best foot forward, and how you do cheer those little feet as they strike out. You examine every turn of flesh for precocity, and crow it to the world. But the last one: the baby who trails her scent like a flag of surrender through your life when there will be no more coming after--oh, that' s love by a different name.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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As long as I kept moving, my grief streamed out behind me like a swimmer's long hair in water. I knew the weight was there but it didn't touch me. Only when I stopped did the slick, dark stuff of it come floating around my face, catching my arms and throat till I began to drown. So I just didn't stop.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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It's frightening when things you love appear suddenly changed from what you have always known.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Silence has many advantages. When you do not speak, other people presume you to be deaf or feeble-minded and promptly make a show of their own limitations.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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No other continent has endured such an unspeakably bizarre combination of foreign thievery and foreign goodwill.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Sugar, it's no parade but you'll get down the street one way or another, so you'd just as well throw your shoulders back and pick up the pace.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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But I've swallowed my pride before, that's for sure. I'm practically lined with my mistakes on the inside like a bad-wallpapered bathroom.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Every betrayal contains a perfect moment, a coin stamped heads or tails with salvation on the other side.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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To live is to change, to acquire the words of a story, and that is the only celebration we mortals really know.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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The death of something living is the price of our own survival, and we pay it again and again. We have no choice. It is the one solemn promise every life on earth is born and bound to keep.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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He was my father. I own half his genes, and all of his history. Believe this: the mistakes are part of the story. I am born of a man who believed he could tell nothing but the truth, while he set down for all time the Poisonwood Bible.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Oh, mercy. If it catches you in the wrong frame of mind, the King James Bible can make you want to drink poison in no uncertain terms.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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I stir in bed and the memories rise out of me like a buzz of flies from a carcass. I crave to be rid of them...
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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A choir of seedlings arching their necks out of rotted tree stumps, sucking life out of death. I am the forest's conscience, but remember, the forest eats itself and lives forever.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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I could never work out whether we were to view religion as a life-insurance policy or a life sentence. I can understand a wrathful God who'd just as soon dangle us all from a hook. And I can understand a tender, unprejudiced Jesus. But I could never quite feature the two of them living in the same house. You wind up walking on eggshells, never knowing which... is at home at the moment.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Illusions mistaken for truth are the pavement under our feet. They are what we call civilization.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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I know how people are, with their habits of mind. Most will sail through from cradle to grave with a conscience clean as snow...I know people. Most have no earthly notion of the price of a snow-white conscience.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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If the Lord hasn't got a boyfriend lined up for me to marry, that's his business.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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But the last one: the baby who trails her scent like a flag of surrender through your life when there will be no more coming after - oh, that's love by a different name. She is the babe you hold in your arms for an hour after she's gone to sleep. If you put her down in the crib, she might wake up changed and fly away. So instead you rock by the window, drinking the light from her skin, breathing her exhaled dreams. Your heart bays to the double crescent moons of closed lashes on her cheeks. She's the one you can't put down.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Hunger of the body is altogether different from the shallow, daily hunger of the belly. Those who have known this kind of hunger cannot entirely love, ever again, those who have not.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Every life is different because you passed this way and touched history.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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This Forest eats itself and lives forever.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Poor Congo, barefoot bride of men who took her jewels and promised the Kingdom.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Friends, there is nothing like your own family to make you appreciate strangers!
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Every life is different because you passed this way and touched history. Even the child Ruth May touched history. Everyone is complicit. The okapi complied by living, and the spider by dying. It would have lived if it could. Listen: being dead is not worse than being alive. It is different, though. You could say the view is larger.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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For if there is any single thing that everyone hopes for most dearly, it must be this: that the youngest outlive the oldest.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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I wonder that religion can live or die on the strength of a faint, stirring breeze. The scent trail shifts, causing the predator to miss the pounce. One god draws in the breath of life and rises; another god expires.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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He was getting that look he gets, oh boy, like Here comes Moses tromping down off of Mount Syanide with ten fresh ways to wreck your life.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Maybe he's been in Africa so long he has forgotten that we Christians have our own system of marriage, and it is called Monotony.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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The arrogance of the able-bodied is staggering. Yes, maybe we'd like to be able to get places quickly, and carry things in both hands, but only because we have to keep up with the rest of you. We would rather be just like us, and have that be all right.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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We came from Bethlehem, Georgia bearing Betty Crocker cake mixes into the jungle.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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You can curse the dead or pray for them, but don't expect them to do a thing for you. They're far too interested in watching us, to see what in heaven's name we will do next.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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You see mother, you had no life of your own. They have no idea. One has only a life of one's own.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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We are our injuries, as much as we are our successes.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Because I could not stop for death he kindly stopped for me, or paused at least to strike a glancing blow with his sky-blue mouth as he passed.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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How is it right to slip free of an old skin and walk away from the scene of the crime? We came, we saw, we took away and we left behind, we must be allowed our anguish and our regrets.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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When I want to take God at his word exactly, I take a peep out the window at His creation. Because that, darling, He makes fresh for us everyday...
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Tall and straight I may appear, but I will always be Ada inside. A crooked little person trying to tell the truth. The power is in the balance: we are our injuries, as much as we are our successes
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Shoes would interfere with her conversation, for she constantly addresses the ground under her feet. Asking forgiveness. Owning, disowning, recanting, recharting a hateful course of events to make sense of her complicity. We all are, I suppose. Trying to invent our version of the story. All human odes are essentially one, "My life; what I stole from history, and how I live with it.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Culture is a slingshot moved by the force of its past
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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She is inhumanly alone. And then, all at once, she isn't.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Beene-beene. The truest truth.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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To live is to be marked. To live is to change, to acquire the words of a story, and that is the only celebration we mortals really know.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Like kids who only ever get socks for Christmas, but still believe with all their hearts in Santa.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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I can think of no honorable answer. Why must some of us deliberate between brands of toothpaste, while others deliberate between damp dirt and bone dust to quiet the fire of an empty stomach lining? There is nothing about the United States I can really explain to this child of another world.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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My little beast, my eyes, my favorite stolen egg. Listen. To live is to be marked. To live is to change, to acquire the words of a story, and that is the only celebration we mortals really know. In perfect stillness, frankly, I’ve only found sorrow.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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I considered her my ally, because, like me, she was imperfect.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Oh, that river of wishes, the slippery crocodile dream of it, how it might have carried my body down through all the glittering sand bars to the sea.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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But Anatole said suddenly, 'Don't expect God's protection in places beyond God's dominion. It will only make you feel punished. I'm warning you. When things go bad, you will blame yourself.' 'What are you telling me?' 'I am telling you what I'm telling you. Don't try to make life a mathematics problem with yourself in the center and everything coming out equal. When you are good, bad things can still happen. And if you are bad, you can still be lucky.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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You know things are bad when a woman without any legs and who recently lost two of her own kids feels sorry for you.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Some of us know how we came by our fortune and some of us don't; but we wear it all the same
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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There's a strange moment in time, after something horrible happens, when you know it's true but you haven't told anyone yet. Of all things, that is what I remember most. It was so quiet.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Most of the girls my age, or even younger, have babies. They appear way too young to be married, till you look in their eyes. Then you'll see it. Their eyes look happy and sad at the same time, but unexcited by anything, shifting easily off to the side as if they've already seen most of what there is. Married eyes.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Back then I was still appalled that God would set down his barefoot boy and girl dollies into an Eden where, presumably, He had just turned loose elephantiasis and microbes that eat the human cornea. Now I understand, God is not just rooting for the dollies.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Sometimes I prayed for Baby Jesus to make me good, but Baby Jesus didn't.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Imagine a ruin so strange it must never have happened.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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We would not wake up from this nightmare to find out it was someone's real life, and for once that someone wasn't just a poor unlucky nobody in a shack you could forget about. It was our life, the only one we were going to have.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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It lasted just a moment, whatever that is. One held breath? An ant's afternoon? It was brief, I can promise that much, for although it's been many years now since my children ruled my life, a mother recalls the measure of the silences.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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He warned Mother not to flout God's Will by expecting too much of us. "Sending a girl to college is like pouring water in your shoes,' he still loves to say, as often as possible. 'It's hard to say which is worse, seeing it run out and waste the water, or seeing it hold in and wreck the shoes.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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The gods you do not pay are the ones that can curse you best.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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It's just lucky for Father he never had any sons. He might have been forced to respect them.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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But his kind will always lose in the end. I know this, and now I know why. Whether it's wife or nation they occupy, their mistake is the same: they stand still, and their stake moves underneath them.... Chains rattle, rivers roll, animals startle and bolt, forests inspire and expand, babies stretch open-mouthed from the womb, new seedlings arch their necks and creep forward into the light. Even a language won't stand still. A territory is only possessed for a moment in time. They stake everything on that moment, posing for photographs while planting the flag, casting themselves in bronze.... Even before the flagpole begins to peel and splinter, the ground underneath arches and slides forward into its own new destiny. It may bear the marks of boots on its back, but those marks become the possessions of the land.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Forgive me, O Heavenly Father, according to the multitude of Thy mercies. I have lusted in my heart to break a man's skull and scatter the stench of his brains across several people's back yards.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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When push comes to shove, a mother takes care of her children from the bottom up.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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For time and eternity there have been fathers like Nathan who simply can see no way to have a daughter but to own her like a plot of land. To work her, plow her under, rain down a dreadful poison upon her. Miraculously, it causes these girls to grow. They elongate on the pale slender stalks of their longing, like sunflowers with heavy heads. You can shield them with your body and soul, trying to absorb that awful rain, but they'll still move toward him. Without cease they'll bend to his light.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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On the day I swore to uphold the Hippocratic oath, the small hairs on the back of my neck stood up as I waited for lightning to strike. Who was I, vowing calmly among all these necktied young men to steal life out of nature's jaws, every old time we got half a chance and a paycheck?... I could not accept the contract: that every child born human upon this earth comes with a guarantee of perfect health and old age clutched in its small fist.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Our childhood had passed over into history overnight. The transition was unnoticed by anyone but ourselves.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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I prefer to remain anomalous.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Mother, you can still hold hold on but forgive, forgive and give for long as long as we both shall live, I forgive you, Mother.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Silence has many advantages…I write and draw in my notebook and I read anything I please.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Listen: being dead is not worse than being alive. It is different though. You could say the view is larger.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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...trust in Creation which is made fresh daily and doesn’t suffer in translation. This God does not work in especially mysterious ways. The sun here rises and sets at six exactly. A caterpillar becomes a butterfly. A bird raises its brood in the forest and a greenheart tree will only grow from a greenheart seed. He brings drought sometimes followed by torrential rains and if these things aren’t always what I had in mind, they aren’t my punishment either. They’re rewards, let’s say for the patience of a seed.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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My father wears his faith like the bronze breastplate of God's footsoldiers while our mother's is more like a good cloth coat with a secondhand fit.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Listen. Slide the weight from your shoulders and move forward. You are afraid you might forget, but you never will. You will forgive and remember. Think of the vine that curls from the small square plot that was once my heart. That is the only marker you need. Move on. Walk forward into the light.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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He spoke for an hour on the nonviolent road to independence. The crowd loved it so much they rioted and killed twelve people.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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That is surely childhood's end, when you look at a thing like a rabbit needing skinned and have to say: "Nobody else is going to do this.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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A mother's body remembers her babies--the folds of soft flesh, the softly furred scalp against her nose. Each child has its own entreaties to body and soul. It's the last one, though, that overtakes you. I can't dare say I loved the others less, but my first three were all babies at once, and motherhood dismayed me entirely. . . . That's how it is with the firstborn, no matter what kind of mother you are--rich, poor, frazzled half to death or sweetly content. A first child is your own best food forward, and how you do cheer those little feet as they strike out. You examine every turn of flesh for precocity, and crow it to the world. But the last one: the baby who trails her scent like a flag of surrender through your life when there will be no more coming after--oh, that's love by a different name. She is the babe you hold in your arms for an hour after she's gone to sleep. If you put her down in the crib, she might wake up changed and fly away. So instead you rock by the window, drinking the light from her skin, breathing her exhaled dreams. Your heart bays to the double crescent moons of closed lashes on her cheeks. She's the one you can't put down.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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We aimed for no more than to have dominion over every creature that moved upon the earth. And so it came to pass that we stepped down there on a place we believed unformed, where only darkness moved on the face of the waters. Now you laugh, day and night, while you gnaw on my bones. But what else could we have thought? Only that it began and ended with us. What do we know, even now? Ask the children. Look at what they grew up to be. We can only speak of the things we carried with us, and the things we took away.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Let me claim that Africa and I kept company for a while and then parted ways as if we were both party to relations with a failed outcome. Or say I was afflicted with Africa like a bout of a rare disease from which I have not managed a full recovery.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Nobody had planted these flowers, I felt sure, nor harvested them either; these were works that the Lord had gone ahead and finished on His own. He must have lacked faith in mankind's follow-through capabilities, on the day he created flowers.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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But we've all ended up giving body and soul to Africa, one way or another. Even Adah, who's becoming an expert in tropical epidemiology and strange new viruses. Each of us got our heart buried in six feet of African dirt; we are all co-conspirators here. I mean, all of us, not just my family. So what do you do now? You get to find your own way to dig out a heart and shake it off and hold it up to the light again.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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If chained is where you have been, your arms will always bear marks of the shackles. What you have to lose is your story, your own slant. You'll look at the scars on your arms and see mere ugliness, or you'll take great care to look away from them and see nothing. Either way, you have no words for the story of where you came from.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Nathan was something that happened to us, as devastating in its way as the burning roof that fell on the family Mwanza; with our fate scarred by hell and brimstone we still had to track our course. And it happened finally by the grace of hell and brimstone that I had to keep moving. I moved, and he stood still.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Our way was to share a fire until it burned down, ayi? To speak to each other until every person was satisfied. Younger men listened to older men. Now the Beelezi tell us the vote of a young, careless man counts the same as the vote of an elder.' In the hazy heat Tata Ndu paused to take off his hat, turn it carefully in his hands, then replace it above the high dome of his forehead. No one breathed. 'White men tell us: Vote, bantu! They tell us: You do not all have to agree, ce n'est pas necessaire! If two men vote yes and one says no, the matter is finished. A bu, even a child can see how that will end. It takes three stones in the fire to hold up the pot. Take one away, leave the other two, and what? The pot will spill into the fire.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Take your place, then. Look at what happened from every side and consider all the other ways it could have gone. Consider, even, an Africa unconquered altogether. Imagine those first Portuguese adventurers approaching the shore, spying on the jungle’s edge through their fitted brass lenses. Imagine that by some miracle of dread or reverence they lowered their spyglasses, turned, set their riggings, sailed on. Imagine all who came after doing the same. What would that Africa be now? All I can think of is the other okapi, the one they used to believe in. A unicorn that could look you in the eye.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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First, picture the forest. I want you to be its conscience, the eyes in the trees. The trees are columns of slick, brindled bark like muscular animals overgrown beyond all reason. Every space is filled with life: delicate, poisonous frogs war-painted like skeletons, clutched in copulation, secreting their precious eggs onto dripping leaves. Vines strangling their own kin in the everlasting wrestle for sunlight. The breathing of monkeys. A glide of snake belly on branch. A single-file army of ants biting a mammoth tree into uniform grains and hauling it down to the dark for their ravenous queen. And, in reply, a choir of seedlings arching their necks out of rotted tree stumps, sucking life out of death. This forest eats itself and lives forever.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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On the day of the hunt I came to know in the slick center of my bones this one thing; all animals kill to survive, and we are animals. The lion kills the baboon, the baboon kills fat grasshoppers. The elephant tears up living trees, dragging their precious roots from the dirt they love....And we, even if we had no meat or even grass to gnaw, still boil our water to kill the invisible creatures that would like to kill us first. And swallow quinine pills. The death of something living is the price of our own survival, and we pay it again and again. We have no choice. It is the one solemn promise every life on earth is born and bound to keep.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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That night marks my life's dark center, the moment when growing up ended and the long downward slope toward death began. The wonder to me now is that I thought myself worth saving...I reached out and clung for life with my good left hand like a claw, grasping at moving legs to raise myself from the dirt. Desperate to save myself in a river of people saving themselves. And if they chanced to look down and see me struggling underneath them, they saw that even the crooked girl believed her own life was precious. That is what it means to be a beast in the kingdom.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
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Back in Georgia everybody we knew had an automobile." A bu, don't tell stories. That is not possible." Well, not everybody. I don't mean babies and children. But every single family." Not possible." Yes, it is! Some families even have two!" What is the purpose of so many automobiles at the same time?" Well, because everybody has someplace to go every day. To work or to the store or something." And why is nobody walking?" It's not like here, Anatole. Everything's farther apart. People live in big towns and cities. Bigger cities than Leopoldville, even." Beene, you are lying to me. If everyone lived in a city they could never grow enough food." Oh, they do that in the country. In big, big fields. Peanuts and soybeans and corn, all that. The farmers grow it, then they put it on big trucks and take it all to the city, where people buy it from the store." From the market." No, it isn't a bit like the big market. It's a great big house kind of thing, with bright lights and all these shelves inside. It's open every day, and just one person sells all the different things." One farmer has so many things?" No, not a farmer. A storekeeper buys it all from the farmers, and sells it to the city people." And so you don't even know whose fields this food came from? That sounds terrible. It could be poisoned!" It's not bad, really. It works out." How can there be enough food, Beene? If everyone lives in a city?" There just is. Things are different from here.
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Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)