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The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: 'If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?' But...the good Samaritan reversed the question: 'If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?
Martin Luther King Jr.
I have observed, indeed, generally, that while in protestant countries the defections from the Platonic Christianity of the priests is to Deism, in catholic countries they are to Atheism. Diderot, D'Alembert, D’Holbach, Condorcet, are known to have been among the most virtuous of men. Their virtue, then, must have had some other foundation than the love of God.
[Letter to Thomas Law, 13 June 1814]
Thomas Jefferson (Letters of Thomas Jefferson)
Never trust girls who let themselves be touched right away. But even less those who need a priest for approval.
Carlos Ruiz Zafón (The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #1))
Happy," I muttered, trying to pin the word down. But it is one of those words, like Love, that I have never quite understood. Most people who deal in words don’t have much faith in them and I am no exception – especially the big ones like Happy and Love and Honest and Strong. They are too elusive and far to relative when you compare them to sharp, mean little words like Punk and Cheap and Phony. I feel at home with these, because they’re scrawny and easy to pin, but the big ones are tough and it takes either a priest or a fool to use them with any confidence.
Hunter S. Thompson (The Rum Diary)
And there is my payment the rubies in your cheeks. Are you properly scandalized by your wicked behavior? If you were Catholic, you'd singe the ears of the priest you confessed to. Do you remember making me swear to repeat all those naughty actions agian, no matter what you said this morning?"
Now that he brought it up, I did recall saying that. Great Betrayed by my own immorality.
"God, Bones...some of that was depraved."
"I'll take that as a compliment." He closed the distance between us."I love you. Don't be ashamed of anything we did, even if your prudery is on life support.
Jeaniene Frost (One Foot in the Grave (Night Huntress, #2))
It is futile and knackering to try and make all your tiny choices representative of your moral compass then beat yourself up when this plan inevitably fails. Feminists can get waxed. Priests can swear. Vegetarians can wear leather shoes. Do as much good as you can. The weighty representation of the world cannot rest on every decision you make.
Dolly Alderton (Everything I Know About Love: Now a Major BBC One Series)
Justice is the only worship.
Love is the only priest.
Ignorance is the only slavery.
Happiness is the only good.
The time to be happy is now,
The place to be happy is here,
The way to be happy is to make others so.
Wisdom is the science of happiness.
Robert G. Ingersoll
The priest's lesson: beware the Nightlord, for his pleasure is a mortal's doom. My grandmother's lesson: beware love, especially with the wrong man.
N.K. Jemisin (The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Inheritance, #1))
Ham turned back, still smiling. "You make it sound so desperate, El."
Elend looked over at him. "The Assembly is a mess, a half-dozen warlords with superior armies are breathing down my neck, barely a month passes without someone sending assassins to kill me, and the woman I love is slowly driving me insane."
Vin snorted at this last part.
"Oh is that all?" Ham said. "See? It's not so bad after all. I mean, we could be facing an immortal god and his all-powerful priests instead.
Brandon Sanderson (The Well of Ascension (Mistborn, #2))
WE two boys together clinging,
One the other never leaving,
Up and down the roads going, North and South excursions making,
Power enjoying, elbows stretching, fingers clutching,
Arm'd and fearless, eating, drinking, sleeping, loving.
No law less than ourselves owning, sailing, soldiering, thieving,
Misers, menials, priests alarming, air breathing, water drinking, on
the turf or the sea-beach dancing,
Cities wrenching, ease scorning, statutes mocking, feebleness
Fulfilling our foray.
Find whatever love is left in your life and hold on to it tightly. And one day, things will have gotten less gray, less dull.
Sierra Simone (Priest (Priest, #1))
I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts. All right, one of them does, but we do not like her very much. We do not think that she has a rich inner life or that God likes her or can even stand her. (Although when I mentioned this to my priest friend Tom, he said that you can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.)
Anne Lamott (Bird by Bird)
The pain of one-sided love, of knowing that I had loved her more than she had loved me
Sierra Simone (Priest (Priest, #1))
On the parable of the Good Samaritan: "I imagine that the first question the priest and Levite asked was: 'If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?' But by the very nature of his concern, the good Samaritan reversed the question: 'If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?
Martin Luther King Jr. (Strength to Love)
Oh, Cameron," Eldon replied in a whisper, moving closer and brushing his lips over Cameron's mouth. "You are literally the very reason my heart beats. Nothing I have lost can compare with the love in you I have found.
Zathyn Priest (Liquid Glass)
She laughed. 'It won't last. Nothing lasts. But I'm happy now.'
'Happy,' I muttered, trying to pin the word down. But it is one of those words, like Love, that I have never quite understood. Most people who deal in words don't have much faith in them and I am no exception--especially the big ones like Happy and Love and Honest and Strong. They are too elusive and far too relative when you compare them to sharp, mean little words like Punk and Cheap and Phony. I feel at home with these, because they're scrawny and easy to pin, but the big ones are tough and it takes either a priest or a fool to use them with any confidence.
Hunter S. Thompson (The Rum Diary)
Si vis amari, ama," you tell me. If you wish to be loved, love.
Sierra Simone (Priest (Priest, #1))
I love you.
They sit with the words.
Pause. She looks at him.
He takes her hand.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag: The Scriptures)
10th October 1877
I am in love! Her name is Drusilla MacAvoy.
15th October 1877
Too hasty by far! The MacAvoy woman was not for me. I am planning to kill myself, and if the remainder of these pages are blank anyone who comes across this diary will know I succeeded.
Christopher Priest (The Prestige)
Her beauty is not just—or even primarily—physical. In her face, I see her wisdom, her compassion, her courage, her eternal glory. This other beauty, this spiritual beauty—which is the deepest truth of her—sustains me in times of fear and despair, as other truths might sustain a priest enduring martyrdom at the hands of a tyrant. I see nothing blasphemous in equating her grace with the mercy of God, for the one is a reflection of the other. The selfless love that we give to others to the point of being willing to sacrifice our lives for them, is all the proof I need that human beings are not mere animals of self-interest; we carry within us a divine spark, and if we chose to recognize it, our lives have dignity, meaning, hope. In her it is spark is bright, a light that heals rather than wounds me.
Dean Koontz (Seize the Night (Moonlight Bay, #2))
if this was what love was, then I didn’t know how anyone could bear the weight of it.
Sierra Simone (Priest (Priest, #1))
And Priests in black gowns, were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars, my joys & desires.
William Blake (Songs of Innocence and of Experience)
Thank you, baby, for being my rock, my safe place to land, my inspiration, and my heart. No matter what, snaring you as a husband will always remain my greatest achievement. I love you.
Zathyn Priest (The Curtis Reincarnation)
A man and a woman wanting each other is by far one of the least sinful things I've seen
Sierra Simone (Priest (Priest, #1))
Even the eternal sky and earth will fade one day, but this love is everlasting
Priest (天涯客 [Tiān Yá Kè] Faraway Wanderers)
The Garden of Love
I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen:
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.
And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
And 'Thou shalt not' writ over the door;
So I turn'd to the Garden of Love,
That so many sweet flowers bore.
And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tomb-stones where flowers should be:
And Priests in black gowns, were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars, my joys & desires.
William Blake (Songs of Innocence and of Experience)
And will you love me for a day? A year? A lifetime?" She knew the answer but wanted to hear him say it in that beautiful, shattered voice.
"Beyond that," he whispered, eyes shining with the tempest of emotion he'd held in check until now. "Beyond the reign of false gods and meddlesome priests. Beyond al Zafira when her bright stars fade.
Grace Draven (Master of Crows (Master of Crows, #1))
Trusting God's grace means trusting God's love for us rather than our love for God. […] Therefore our prayers should consist mainly of rousing our awareness of God's love for us rather than trying to rouse God's awareness of our love for him, like the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:26-29).
Peter Kreeft (Prayer for Beginners)
Oh,' the priest said, 'that's another thing altogether - God is love. I don't say the heart doesn't feel a taste of it, but what a taste. The smallest glass of love mixed with a pint pot of ditch-water. We wouldn't recognize that love. It might even look like hate. It would be enough to scare us - God's love. It set fire to a bush in the desert, didn't it, and smashed open graves and set the dead walking in the dark. Oh, a man like me would run a mile to get away if he felt that love around.
Graham Greene (The Power and the Glory)
A few years ago, a priest working in a slum section of a European city was asked why he was doing it, and replied, 'So that the rumor of God may not completely disappear.
Peter L. Berger (A Rumor of Angels: Modern Society and the Rediscovery of the Supernatural)
Jesus never asked anyone to form a church, ordain priests, develop elaborate rituals and institutional cultures, and splinter into denominations. His two great requests were that we “love one another as I have loved you” and that we share bread and wine together as an open channel of that interabiding love.
Cynthia Bourgeault (The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind)
A man is better than the worst thing he's ever done.
Matthew Colville (Priest (Ratcatchers #1))
I cared about her as a person, as a soul, and I wanted to fuck her, and that was the recipe for something much worse than carnal sin. It was a recipe for falling in love.
Sierra Simone (Priest (Priest, #1))
Not long, not long my father said
Not long shall you be ours
The Raven King knows all too well
Which are the fairest flowers.
The priest was all too worldly
Though he prayed and rang his bell
The Raven King three candles lit
The priest said it was well
Her arms were all too feeble
Though she claimed to love me so
The Raven King stretched out his hand
She sighed and let me go
The land is all too shallow
It is painted on the sky
And trembles like the wind-shook rain
When the Raven King goes by
For always and for always
I pray remember me
Upon the moors, beneath the stars
With the King’s wild company.
Susanna Clarke (Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell)
I wonder if the priest knows that while he’s up here charging for forgiveness, Mary’s back there handing it out for free.
Glennon Doyle Melton (Love Warrior)
Where is the graveyard of dead gods? What lingering mourner waters their mounds? There was a time when Jupiter was the king of the gods, and any man who doubted his puissance was ipso facto a barbarian and an ignoramus. But where in all the world is there a man who worships Jupiter today? And who of Huitzilopochtli? In one year - and it is no more than five hundred years ago - 50,000 youths and maidens were slain in sacrifice to him. Today, if he is remembered at all, it is only by some vagrant savage in the depths of the Mexican forest. Huitzilopochtli, like many other gods, had no human father; his mother was a virtuous widow; he was born of an apparently innocent flirtation that she carried out with the sun.
When he frowned, his father, the sun, stood still. When he roared with rage, earthquakes engulfed whole cities. When he thirsted he was watered with 10,000 gallons of human blood. But today Huitzilopochtli is as magnificently forgotten as Allen G. Thurman. Once the peer of Allah, Buddha and Wotan, he is now the peer of Richmond P. Hobson, Alton B. Parker, Adelina Patti, General Weyler and Tom Sharkey.
Speaking of Huitzilopochtli recalls his brother Tezcatlipoca. Tezcatlipoca was almost as powerful; he consumed 25,000 virgins a year.
Lead me to his tomb: I would weep, and hang a couronne des perles. But who knows where it is? Or where the grave of Quetzalcoatl is? Or Xiuhtecuhtli? Or Centeotl, that sweet one? Or Tlazolteotl, the goddess of love? Of Mictlan? Or Xipe? Or all the host of Tzitzimitl? Where are their bones? Where is the willow on which they hung their harps? In what forlorn and unheard-of Hell do they await their resurrection morn? Who enjoys their residuary estates? Or that of Dis, whom Caesar found to be the chief god of the Celts? Of that of Tarves, the bull? Or that of Moccos, the pig? Or that of Epona, the mare? Or that of Mullo, the celestial jackass? There was a time when the Irish revered all these gods, but today even the drunkest Irishman laughs at them.
But they have company in oblivion: the Hell of dead gods is as crowded
as the Presbyterian Hell for babies. Damona is there, and Esus, and
Drunemeton, and Silvana, and Dervones, and Adsullata, and Deva, and
Bellisima, and Uxellimus, and Borvo, and Grannos, and Mogons. All mighty gods in their day, worshipped by millions, full of demands and impositions, able to bind and loose - all gods of the first class. Men labored for generations to build vast temples to them - temples with stones as large as hay-wagons.
The business of interpreting their whims occupied thousands of priests,
bishops, archbishops. To doubt them was to die, usually at the stake.
Armies took to the field to defend them against infidels; villages were burned, women and children butchered, cattle were driven off. Yet in the end they all withered and died, and today there is none so poor to do them reverence.
What has become of Sutekh, once the high god of the whole Nile Valley? What has become of:
All there were gods of the highest eminence. Many of them are mentioned with fear and trembling in the Old Testament. They ranked, five or six thousand years ago, with Yahweh Himself; the worst of them stood far higher than Thor. Yet they have all gone down the chute, and with them the following:
You may think I spoof. That I invent the names. I do not. Ask the rector to lend you any good treatise on comparative religion: You will find them all listed. They were gods of the highest standing and dignity-gods of civilized peoples-worshiped and believed in by millions. All were omnipotent, omniscient and immortal.
And all are dead.
H.L. Mencken (A Mencken Chrestomathy)
Is it weird to pray during sex? Maybe it is, but sometimes it happens. I’ve tried to accept that it’s who I am—a man who loves God, and who loves fucking, that I can be dirty and holy all in the same moment.
Sierra Simone (Midnight Mass (Priest, #1.5))
I thought of the priest who'd told me that many religions hold that it is easier to be closely connected to people we love after death than before.
Elizabeth Berg (The Year of Pleasures)
Tarkovsky was right. The responsibility of the artist is to stir people’s hearts and minds toward loving others: to find the light and the true beauty of human nature within this love. Religion can rarely show us what fate means in concrete terms. Yet everyone needs to be understood and this understanding is found within each individual’s fate, one’s life journey that clarifies the way. I’m not a therapist or a philosopher or a priest. I’m an artist.
Qiu Miaojin (Last Words from Montmartre)
He loved the darkness and the mystery of the Catholic service--the tall priest strutting like a carrion crow and pronouncing magic in a dead language, the immediate magic of the Eucharist bringing the dead back to life so that the faithful could devour Him and become of Him, the smell of incense and the mystical chanting.
Dan Simmons (The Terror)
You are a Bridgerton. I don’t care who you marry or what your name becomes when you stand up before a priest and say your vows. You will always be a Bridgerton, and we behave with honor and honesty, not because it is expected of us, but because that is what we are.” Eloise
Julia Quinn (To Sir Phillip, With Love (Bridgertons, #5))
There must be a glowing light above such houses. The joy they contain must escape in light through the stones of the walls and shine dimly into the darkness. It is impossible that this sacred festival of destiny should not send a celestial radiation to the infinite. Love is the sublime crucible in which is consummated the fusion of man and woman; the one being, the triple being, the final being-- the human trinity springs from it. This birth of two souls into one space must be an emotion for space. The lover is priest; the apprehensive maiden submits. Something of this joy goes to God. Where there really is marriage, that is to say, where there is love, the ideal is mingled with it. A nuptial bed makes a halo in the darkness. Were it given to the eye of the flesh to perceive the fearful and enchanting sights of the superior life, it is likely that we should see the forms of night, the winged stranger, the blue travelers of the invisible, bending, a throng of shadowy heads, over the luminous house, pleased, blessing, showing to one another the sweetly startled maiden bride and wearing the reflection of the human felicity on their divine countenances. If at that supreme hour, the wedded pair, bewildered with pleasure, and believing themselves alone, were to listen, they would hear in their room a rustling of confused wings. Perfect happiness implies the solidarity of the angels. That obscure little alcove has for its ceiling the whole heavens. When two mouths, made sacred by love, draw near to each other to create, it is impossible, that above that ineffable kiss there should not be a thrill in the immense mystery of the stars.
Victor Hugo (Les Misérables)
If you meet somebody and they love you when you are your true, awful, not-ready-yet, boring, not cool enough, not handsome enough, not pretty enough, too fat, too poor self? And if you love them back so much it makes you calm? And they have flaws and you do not mind a single one of them? That means you get yourself to the church and you pull one of those priests out of bed and you have him cast one of those wedding spells on you. If you’re gay and this happens, you might have to rent a car first and drive to one of the states that operates a few hours ahead. Because if you found that, you found it.
Even a King wishes to be loved for Himself, not for the gifts He bestows." He smiled at me. "If you do not enjoy being with Me now, why do you believe you will enjoy My company for eternity?" He smiled at me. "The pursuer wants to be pursued also." --- Jesus
Anna Rountree (The Priestly Bride)
My job isn't to go around judging people. Priests are meant to teach love and forgiveness. That to me is the essence of being a Christian. And trying to find that love and forgiveness in ourselves and others every day should be a challenge that we want to achieve.
Rosamund Lupton (Sister)
One day you and I will have to have a little talk about this business called love. I still don't understand what it's all about. My guess is that it's just a gigantic hoax, invented to keep people quiet and diverted. Everyone talks about love: the priests, the advertising posters, the literati, and the politicians, those of them who make love. And in speaking of love and offering it as a panacea for every tragedy, they would and betray and kill both body and soul.
Oriana Fallaci (Letter to a Child Never Born)
God is bigger than our sins. God wants you as you are—stumbling, sinning, confused. All He asks of us is love—love for Him, love for others, and love for ourselves. He asks us to lay down our lives—not to live like ascetics, devoid of any pleasure or joy, but to give Him our lives so that he may increase our joy and increase our love.
Sierra Simone (Priest (Priest, #1))
I don’t want Tiamat to go back,” said Jeremy sullenly. “I want her to stay here with me.”
Miss Priest laughed. It was not a horrible laugh at all. “What a terrible idea!” she said. “Why do you want her to stay?”
Because I love her. I don’t want to lose her.”
Miss Priest reached out and took his chin in her hand. She looked into his eyes. “You silly boy,” she said. “Nothing you love is lost. Not really. Things, people—they always go away, sooner or later. You can’t hold them, any more than you can hold moonlight. But if they’ve touched you, if they’re inside you, then they’re still yours. The only things you ever really have are the ones you hold inside your heart.
Bruce Coville (Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher (Magic Shop, #2))
To those of us who believe that all of life is sacred every crumb of bread and sip of wine is a Eucharist, a remembrance, a call to awareness of holiness right where we are.
I want all of the holiness of the Eucharist to spill out beyond church walls, out of the hands of priests and into the regular streets and sidewalks, into the hands of regular, grubby people like you and me, onto our tables, in our kitchens and dining rooms and backyards.
Shauna Niequist (Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes)
Gran, for the gods' love, it's talk like yours that starts riots!" I said keeping my voice down. "Will you just put a stopper in it?"
She looked at me and sighed. "Girl, do you ever take a breath and wonder if folk don't put out bait for you? To see if you'll bite? You'll never get a man if you don't relax."
My dear old Gran. It's a wonder her children aren't every one of them as mad as priests, if she mangles their wits as she mangles mine.
"Granny, "I told her, "this is dead serious. I can't relax, no more than any Dog. I'm not shopping for a man. That's the last thing I need.
Tamora Pierce (Bloodhound (Beka Cooper, #2))
The Church is in the world, it is part of the suffering in the world, and though Christ condemned the disciple who struck off the ear of the high priest's servant, our hearts go out in sympathy to all who are moved to violence by the suffering of others. The Church condemns violence, but it condemns indifference more harshly. Violence can be the expression of love, indifference never. One is an imperfection of charity, the other the perfection of egoism.
Graham Greene (The Comedians)
It is the fate of great achievements, born from a way of life that sets truth before security, to be gobbled up by you and excreted in the form of shit. For centuries great, brave, lonely men have been telling you what to do. Time and again you have corrupted, diminished and demolished their teachings; time and again you have been captivated by their weakest points, taken not the great truth, but some trifling error as your guiding principal. This, little man, is what you have done with Christianity, with the doctrine of sovereign people, with socialism, with everything you touch. Why, you ask, do you do this? I don't believe you really want an answer. When you hear the truth you'll cry bloody murder, or commit it. … You had your choice between soaring to superhuman heights with Nietzsche and sinking into subhuman depths with Hitler. You shouted Heil! Heil! and chose the subhuman. You had the choice between Lenin's truly democratic constitution and Stalin's dictatorship. You chose Stalin's dictatorship. You had your choice between Freud's elucidation of the sexual core of your psychic disorders and his theory of cultural adaptation. You dropped the theory of sexuality and chose his theory of cultural adaptation, which left you hanging in mid-air. You had your choice between Jesus and his majestic simplicity and Paul with his celibacy for priests and life-long compulsory marriage for yourself. You chose the celibacy and compulsory marriage and forgot the simplicity of Jesus' mother, who bore her child for love and love alone. You had your choice between Marx's insight into the productivity of your living labor power, which alone creates the value of commodities and the idea of the state. You forgot the living energy of your labor and chose the idea of the state. In the French Revolution, you had your choice between the cruel Robespierre and the great Danton. You chose cruelty and sent greatness and goodness to the guillotine. In Germany you had your choice between Goring and Himmler on the one hand and Liebknecht, Landau, and Muhsam on the other. You made Himmler your police chief and murdered your great friends. You had your choice between Julius Streicher and Walter Rathenau. You murdered Rathenau. You had your choice between Lodge and Wilson. You murdered Wilson. You had your choice between the cruel Inquisition and Galileo's truth. You tortured and humiliated the great Galileo, from whose inventions you are still benefiting, and now, in the twentieth century, you have brought the methods of the Inquisition to a new flowering. … Every one of your acts of smallness and meanness throws light on the boundless wretchedness of the human animal. 'Why so tragic?' you ask. 'Do you feel responsible for all evil?' With remarks like that you condemn yourself. If, little man among millions, you were to shoulder the barest fraction of your responsibility, the world would be a very different place. Your great friends wouldn't perish, struck down by your smallness.
Wilhelm Reich (Listen, Little Man!)
Once, he’d been the Seducer, the Executioner, the High Priest of the Hourglass, the Prince of the Darkness, the High Lord of Hell.
Once, he’d been Consort to Cassandra, the great Black-Jeweled, Black Widow Queen, the last Witch to walk the Realms.
Once, he’d been the only Black-Jeweled Warlord Prince in the history of the Blood, feared for his temper and the power he wielded.
Once, he’d been the only male who was a Black Widow.
Once, he’d ruled the Dhemlan Territory in the Realm of Terreille and her sister Territory in Kaeleer, the Shadow Realm. He’d been the only male ever to rule without answering to a Queen and, except for Witch, the only member of the Blood to rule Territories in two Realms.
Once, he’d been married to Hekatah, an aristo Black Widow Priestess from one of Hayll’s Hundred Families.
Once, he’d raised two sons, Mephis and Peyton. He’d played games with them, told them stories, read to them, healed their skinned knees and broken hearts, taught them Craft and Blood Law, showered them with his love of the land as well as music, art, and literature, encouraged them to look with eager eyes upon all that the Realms had to offer—not to conquer but to learn. He’d taught them to dance for a social occasion and to dance for the glory of Witch. He’d taught them how to be Blood.
But that was a long, long time ago.
Anne Bishop (Daughter of the Blood (The Black Jewels, #1))
Man cannot be reduced to slavery if he is not distorted first. The politician and the priest have been in a deep conspiracy down the ages. They have been reducing humanity to a crowd of slaves. They are destroying every possibility of rebellion in man—and love is rebellion, because love listens only to the heart and does not care a bit about anything else.
Osho (Courage: The Joy of Living Dangerously)
I am no Christian. These days it does no good to confess that, for the bishops and abbots have too much influence and it is easier to pretend to a faith than to fight angry ideas. I was raised a Christian, but at ten years old, when I was taken into Ragnar’s family, I discovered the old Saxon gods who were also the gods of the Danes and of the Norsemen, and their worship has always made more sense to me than bowing down to a god who belongs to a country so far away that I have met no one who has ever been there. Thor and Odin walked our hills, slept in our valleys, loved our women and drank from our streams, and that makes them seem like neighbours. The other thing I like about our gods is that they are not obsessed with us. They have their own squabbles and love affairs and seem to ignore us much of the time, but the Christian god has nothing better to do than to make rules for us. He makes rules, more rules, prohibitions and commandments, and he needs hundreds of black-robed priests and monks to make sure we obey those laws. He strikes me as a very grumpy god, that one, even though his priests are forever claiming that he loves us. I have never been so stupid as to think that Thor or Odin or Hoder loved me, though I hope at times they have thought me worthy of them.
Bernard Cornwell (Lords of the North (The Saxon Stories, #3))
Christ did not descend from the cross except into the grave. And why not otherwise? Wouldn’t it have put fine comical expressions on the faces of the scribes and chief priests and the soldiers if at that moment He had come down in power and glory? Why didn’t He do it? Why hasn’t He done it at any one of a thousand good times between then and now?
I knew the answer. I knew it a long time before I could admit it, for all the suffering of the world is in it. He didn’t, He hasn’t, because from the moment He did, He would be the absolute tyrant of the world and we would be His slaves. Even those who hated Him and hated one another and hated their own souls would have to believe in Him then. From that moment the possibility that we might be bound to Him and He to us and us to one another by love forever would be ended.
And so, I thought, He must forebear to reveal His power and glory by presenting Himself as Himself, and must be present only in the ordinary miracle of the existence of His creatures. Those who wish to see Him must see Him in the poor, the hungry, the hurt, the wordless creatures, the groaning and travailing beautiful world.
Wendell Berry (Jayber Crow)
Maria, lonely prostitute on a street of pain,
You, at least, hail me and speak to me
While a thousand others ignore my face.
You offer me an hour of love,
And your fees are not as costly as most.
You are the madonna of the lonely,
The first-born daughter in a world of pain.
You do not turn fat men aside,
Or trample on the stuttering, shy ones,
You are the meadow where desperate men
Can find a moment's comfort.
Men have paid more to their wives
To know a bit of peace
And could not walk away without the guilt
That masquerades as love.
You do not bind them, lovely Maria, you comfort them
And bid them return.
Your body is more Christian than the Bishop's
Whose gloved hand cannot feel the dropping of my blood.
Your passion is as genuine as most,
Your caring as real!
But you, Maria, sacred whore on the endless pavement of pain,
You, whose virginity each man may make his own
Without paying ought but your fee,
You who know nothing of virgin births and immaculate conceptions,
You who touch man's flesh and caress a stranger,
Who warm his bed to bring his aching skin alive,
You make more sense than stock markets and football games
Where sad men beg for virility.
You offer yourself for a fee--and who offers himself for less?
At times you are cruel and demanding--harsh and insensitive,
At times you are shrewd and deceptive--grasping and hollow.
The wonder is that at times you are gentle and concerned,
Warm and loving.
You deserve more respect than nuns who hide their sex for eternal love;
Your fees are not so high, nor your prejudice so virtuous.
You deserve more laurels than the self-pitying mother of many children,
And your fee is not as costly as most.
Man comes to you when his bed is filled with brass and emptiness,
When liquor has dulled his sense enough
To know his need of you.
He will come in fantasy and despair, Maria,
And leave without apologies.
He will come in loneliness--and perhaps
Leave in loneliness as well.
But you give him more than soldiers who win medals and pensions,
More than priests who offer absolution
And sweet-smelling ritual,
More than friends who anticipate his death
Or challenge his life,
And your fee is not as costly as most.
You admit that your love is for a fee,
Few women can be as honest.
There are monuments to statesmen who gave nothing to anyone
Except their hungry ego,
Monuments to mothers who turned their children
Into starving, anxious bodies,
Monuments to Lady Liberty who makes poor men prisoners.
I would erect a monument for you--
who give more than most--
And for a meager fee.
Among the lonely, you are perhaps the loneliest of all,
You come so close to love
But it eludes you
While proper women march to church and fantasize
In the silence of their rooms,
While lonely women take their husbands' arms
To hold them on life's surface,
While chattering women fill their closets with clothes and
Their lips with lies,
You offer love for a fee--which is not as costly as most--
And remain a lonely prostitute on a street of pain.
You are not immoral, little Maria, only tired and afraid,
But you are not as hollow as the police who pursue you,
The politicians who jail you, the pharisees who scorn you.
You give what you promise--take your paltry fee--and
Wander on the endless, aching pavements of pain.
You know more of universal love than the nations who thrive on war,
More than the churches whose dogmas are private vendettas made sacred,
More than the tall buildings and sprawling factories
Where men wear chains.
You are a lonely prostitute who speaks to me as I pass,
And I smile at you because I am a lonely man.
James Kavanaugh (There Are Men Too Gentle to Live Among Wolves)
At a time when I should have felt abandoned by God, I was not reduced to ashes. I felt like I was floating, floating on the love and prayers of all those who hummed around me like worker bees, bringing notes and flowers and warm socks and quilts embroidered with words of encouragement. They came in like priests and mirrored back to me the face of Jesus.
Kate Bowler (Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I've Loved)
Sissy had two great failings. She was a great lover and a great mother. She had so much of tenderness in her, so much of wanting to give of herself to whoever needed what she had, whether it was her money, her time, the clothes off her back, her pity, her understanding, her friendship or her companionship and love. She was mother to everything that came her way. She loved men, yes. She loved women too, and old people and especially children. How she loved children! She loved loved the down-and-outers. She wanted to make everybody happy. She had tried to seduce the good priest who heard her infrequent confessions because she felt sorry for him. She thought he was missing the greatest joy on earth by being committed to a life of celibacy.
She loved all the scratching curs on the street and wept for the gaunt scavenging cats who slunk around Brooklyn corners with their sides swollen looking for a hole in which they might bring forth their young. She loved the sooty sparrows and thought that the very grass that grew in the lots was beautiful. She picked bouquets of white clover in the lots believing they were the most beautiful flowers God ever made...Yes, she listened to everybody's troubles but no one listened to hers. But that was right because Sissy was a giver and never a taker.
Betty Smith (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn)
Thomas Merton said it was actually dangerous to put the Scriptures in the hands of people whose inner self is not yet sufficiently awakened to encounter the Spirit, because they will try to use God for their own egocentric purposes. (This is why religion is so subject to corruption!) Now, if we are going to talk about conversion and penance, let me apply that to the two major groups that have occupied Western Christianity—Catholics and Protestants. Neither one has really let the Word of God guide their lives.
Catholics need to be converted to giving the Scriptures some actual authority in their lives. Luther wasn’t wrong when he said that most Catholics did not read the Bible. Most Catholics are still not that interested in the Bible. (Historically they did not have the printing press, nor could most people read, so you can’t blame them entirely.) I have been a priest for 42 years now, and I would sadly say that most Catholics would rather hear quotes from saints, Popes, and bishops, the current news, or funny stories, if they are to pay attention. If I quote strongly from the Sermon on the Mount, they are almost throwaway lines. I can see Catholics glaze over because they have never read the New Testament, much less studied it, or been guided by it. I am very sad to have to admit this. It is the Achilles heel of much of the Catholic world, priests included. (The only good thing about it is that they never fight you like Protestants do about Scripture. They are easily duped, and the hierarchy has been able to take advantage of this.)
If Catholics need to be converted, Protestants need to do penance. Their shout of “sola Scriptura” (only Scripture) has left them at the mercy of their own cultures, their own limited education, their own prejudices, and their own selective reading of some texts while avoiding others. Partly as a result, slavery, racism, sexism, classism, xenophobia, and homophobia have lasted authoritatively into our time—by people who claim to love Jesus! I think they need to do penance for what they have often done with the Bible! They largely interpreted the Bible in a very individualistic and otherworldly way. It was “an evacuation plan for the next world” to use Brian McLaren’s phrase—and just for their group. Most of Evangelical Protestantism has no cosmic message, no social message, and little sense of social justice or care for the outsider. Both Catholics and Protestants (Orthodox too!) found a way to do our own thing while posturing friendship with Jesus.
One of my favorite definitions of enlightenment comes from a Jesuit priest named Anthony de Mello, who passed away some years ago. Someone asked him to define his experience of enlightenment. He said, “Enlightenment is absolute cooperation with the inevitable.” I love that, because it defines enlightenment not just as a realization, but as an activity. Enlightenment is when everything within us is in cooperation with the flow of life itself, with the inevitable.
Adyashanti (The End of Your World: Uncensored Straight Talk on the Nature of Enlightenment)
All good writers write [terrible first drafts.] This is how they end up with good second drafts and terrific third drafts. . . I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts. All right, one of them does, but we do not like her very much. We do not think that she has a rich inner life or that God likes her or can even stand her. (Although when I mentioned this to my priest friend Tom, he said you can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.
Anne Lamott (Bird by Bird)
And did you know that Valentine’s Day originally started when this emperor like a million years ago made marriage illegal because he thought it made soldiers weak? This priest—Valentine—married people in secret anyway, and he ended up having his head cut off because of it. So the first Valentine was some guy’s head. There’s some history for you.
It’s sort of perfect, when you think about it. Isn’t falling in love a lot like losing your head?
Michael Thomas Ford (Suicide Notes)
What we call religion is merely organized belief, with its dogmas, rituals, mysteries and superstitions. Each religion has its own sacred book, its mediator, its priests and its ways of threatening and holding people.
Most of us have been conditioned to all this, which is considered religious education; but this conditioning sets man against man, it creates antagonism, not only among the believers, but also against those of other beliefs.
Though all religions assert that they worship God and say that we must love one another, they instill fear through their doctrines of reward and punishment, and through their competitive dogmas they perpetuate suspicion and antagonism.
J. Krishnamurti (Education and the Significance of Life)
we all make vows, Jimmy. And there is something very beautiful and touching and noble about wanting good impulses to be permanent and true forever," she said. "Most of us stand up and vow to love, honor and cherish someone. And we truly mean it, at the time. But two or twelve or twenty years down the road, the lawyers are negotiating the property settlement."
"You and George didn't go back on your promises."
She laughed. "Lemme tell ya something, sweetface. I have been married at least four times, to four different men." She watched him chew that over for a moment before continuing, "They've all been named George Edwards but, believe me, the man who is waiting for me down the hall is a whole lot different animal from the boy I married, back before there was dirt. Oh, there are continuities. He has always been fun and he has never been able to budget his time properly and - well, the rest is none of your business."
"But people change," he said quietly.
"Precisely. People change. Cultures change. Empires rise and fall. Shit. Geology changes! Every ten years or so, George and I have faced the fact that we have changed and we've had to decide if it makes sense to create a new marriage between these two new people." She flopped back against her chair. "Which is why vows are such a tricky business. Because nothing stays the same forever. Okay. Okay! I'm figuring something out now." She sat up straight, eyes focused somewhere outside the room, and Jimmy realized that even Anne didn't have all the answers and that was either the most comforting thing he'd learned in a long time or the most discouraging. "Maybe because so few of us would be able to give up something so fundamental for something so abstract, we protect ourselves from the nobility of a priest's vows by jeering at him when he can't live up to them, always and forever." She shivered and slumped suddenly, "But, Jimmy! What unnatural words. Always and forever! Those aren't human words, Jim. Not even stones are always and forever.
Mary Doria Russell (The Sparrow (The Sparrow, #1))
There is lovemaking that is bad for a person, just as there is eating that is bad. That boysenberry cream pie from the Thrift-E Mart may appear inviting, may, in fact, cause all nine hundred taste buds to carol from the tongue, but in the end, the sugars, the additives, the empty calories clog arteries, disrupt cells, generate fat, and rot teeth. Even potentially nourishing foods can be improperly prepared. There are wrong combinations and improper preparations in sex as well. Yes, one must prepare for a fuck--the way an enlightened priest prepares to celebrate mass, the way a great matador prepares for the ring: with intensification, with purification, with a conscious summoning of sacred power. And even that won't work if the ingredients are poorly matched: oysters are delectable, so are strawberries, but mashed together ... (?!) Every nutritious sexual recipe calls for at least a pinch of love, and the fucks that rate four-star rankings from both gourmets and health-food nuts use cupfuls. Not that sex should be regarded as therapeutic or to be taken for medicinal purposes--only a dullard would hang such a millstone around the nibbled neck of a lay--but to approach sex carelessly, shallowly, with detachment and without warmth is to dine night after night in erotic greasy spoons. In time, one's palate will become insensitive, one will suffer (without knowing it) emotional malnutrition, the skin of the soul will fester with scurvy, the teeth of the heart will decay. Neither duration nor proclamation of commitment is necessarily the measure--there are ephemeral explosions of passion between strangers that make more erotic sense than lengthy marriages, there are one-night stands in Jersey City more glorious than six-months affairs in Paris--but finally there is a commitment, however brief; a purity, however threatened; a vulnerability, however concealed; a generosity of spirit, however marbled with need; and honest caring, however singled by lust, that must be present if couplings are to be salubrious and not slow poison.
Tom Robbins (Still Life with Woodpecker)
The world is a beautiful place
to be born into
if you don't mind happiness
not always being
so very much fun
if you don't mind a touch of hell
now and then
just when everything is fine
because even in heaven
they don't sing
all the time
The world is a beautiful place
to be born into
if you don't mind some people dying
all the time
or maybe only starving
some of the time
which isn't half bad
if it isn't you
Oh the world is a beautiful place
to be born into
if you don't much mind
a few dead minds
in the higher places
or a bomb or two
now and then
in your upturned faces
or such other improprieties
as our Name Brand society
is prey to
with its men of distinction
and its men of extinction
and its priests
and other patrolmen
and its various segregations
and congressional investigations
and other constipations
that our fool flesh
is heir to
Yes the world is the best place of all
for a lot of such things as
making the fun scene
and making the love scene
and making the sad scene
and singing low songs and having inspirations
and walking around
looking at everything
and smelling flowers
and goosing statues
and even thinking
and kissing people and
making babies and wearing pants
and waving hats and
and going swimming in rivers
in the middle of the summer
and just generally
'living it up'
but then right in the middle of it
comes the smiling
Lawrence Ferlinghetti (City Lights Pocket Poets Anthology)
No doubt his fellow priests would condemn his act as sacrilege; but even if he was betraying them, he was not betraying his Lord. He loved him now in a different way from before. Everything that had taken place until now had been necessary to bring him to this love. 'Even now I am the last priest in this land. But Our Lord was not silent. Even if he had been silent, my life until this day would have spoken of him.
Shūsaku Endō (Silence)
Belief is this. Praying when you don't feel like it, when you don't know who or what is listening; it's doing the actions with the trust that something about it matters. That something about it makes you more human, a better human, a human able to love and trust and hope in a world where those things are hard.
That is belief. That is the point of prayer. Not logging a wish list inside a cosmic ledger, not bartering for transactional services. You do it for the change around you; to the point of it is...itself. Nothing more and nothing less.
Sierra Simone (Sinner (Priest, #2))
Oh, keep your warnings and your fears for those giddy women who call themselves women of feeling, whose heated imaginations persuade them that nature has placed their senses in their heads; who, having never thought about it, invariably confuse love with a lover; who, with their stupid delusions, imagine that the man with whom they have found pleasure is pleasure's only source; and, like all the superstitious, accord that faith and respect to the priest which is due to only the divinity.
Pierre Choderlos de Laclos (Les Liaisons dangereuses)
...a priest is someone willing to stand between a God and a people who are longing for one another's love, turning back and forth between them with no hope of tending either as well as each deserves. To be a priest is to serve a God who never stops calling people to do more justice and love more mercy, and simultaneously to serve people who nine times out of ten are just looking for a safe place to rest. To be a priest is to know that things are not as they should be and yet to care for them the way they are.
Barbara Brown Taylor (Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith)
The priest gazed around my cell and answered in a voice that sounded very weary to me. 'Every stone here sweats with suffering, I know that. I have never looked at them without a feeling of anguish. But deep in my heart I know that the most wretched among you have seen a divine face emerge from their darkness. That is the face you are asked to see.'
This perked me up a little. I said I had been looking at the stones in these walls for months. There wasn't anything or anyone in the world I knew better. Maybe at one time, way back, I had searched for a face in them. But the face I was looking for was as bright as the sun and the flame of desire—and it belonged to Marie.
Albert Camus (The Stranger)
Once we have broken free of the prejudices of our own provincially limited ecclesiastical, tribal, or national rendition of the world archetypes, it becomes possible to understand that the supreme initiation is not that of the local motherly fathers, who then project aggression onto the neighbors for their own defense. The good news, which the World Redeemer brings and which so many have been glad to hear, zealous to preach, but reluctant, apparently, to demonstrate, is that God is love, the He can be, and is to be, loved, and that all without exception are his children. Such comparatively trivial matters as the remaining details of the credo, the techniques of worship, and devices of episcopal organization (which have so absorbed the interest of Occidental theologians that they are today seriously discussed as the principal questions of religion), are merely pedantic snares, unless kept ancillary to the major teaching. Indeed, where not so kept, they have the regressive effect: they reduce the father image back again to the dimensions of the totem. And this, of course, is what has happened throughout the Christian world. One would think that we had been called upon to decide or to know whom, of all of us, the Father prefers. Whereas, the teaching is much less flattering: "Judge not, that ye be not judged." The World Savior's cross, in spite of the behavior of its professed priests, is a vastly more democratic symbol than the local flag.
Joseph Campbell (The Hero With a Thousand Faces)
Hippolytus: Do you believe in God?
Priest: (Looks at him.)
Hippolytus: I know what I am. And always will be. But you. You sin knowing you'll confess. Then you're forgiven. And then you start all over again.
How do you dare mock a God so powerful? Unless you don't really believe.
Priest: This is your confession, not mine.
Hippolytus: Then why are you on your knees? God certainly is merciful. If I were him I'd despise you. I'd wipe you off the face of the earth for your dishonesty.
Priest: You're not God.
Hippolytus: No. A prince. God on earth. But not God. Fortunate for all concerned. I'd not allow you to sin knowing you'd confess and get away with it.
Priest: Heaven would be empty.
Hippolytus: A kingdom of honest men, honestly sinning. And death for those who try to cover their arse.
Sarah Kane (Phaedra's Love)
Song of myself
I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise,
Regardless of others, ever regardful of others,
Maternal as well as paternal, a child as well as a man,
Stuff'd with the stuff that is coarse and stuff'd with the stuff
that is fine,
One of the Nation of many nations, the smallest the same and the
largest the same,
A Southerner soon as a Northerner, a planter nonchalant and
hospitable down by the Oconee I live,
A Yankee bound my own way ready for trade, my joints the limberest
joints on earth and the sternest joints on earth,
A Kentuckian walking the vale of the Elkhorn in my deer-skin
leggings, a Louisianian or Georgian,
A boatman over lakes or bays or along coasts, a Hoosier, Badger, Buckeye;
At home on Kanadian snow-shoes or up in the bush, or with fishermen
At home in the fleet of ice-boats, sailing with the rest and tacking,
At home on the hills of Vermont or in the woods of Maine, or the
Comrade of Californians, comrade of free North-Westerners, (loving
their big proportions,)
Comrade of raftsmen and coalmen, comrade of all who shake hands
and welcome to drink and meat,
A learner with the simplest, a teacher of the thoughtfullest,
A novice beginning yet experient of myriads of seasons,
Of every hue and caste am I, of every rank and religion,
A farmer, mechanic, artist, gentleman, sailor, quaker,
Prisoner, fancy-man, rowdy, lawyer, physician, priest.
I resist any thing better than my own diversity,
Breathe the air but leave plenty after me,
And am not stuck up, and am in my place.
When I became convinced that the Universe is natural – that all the ghosts and gods are myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood, the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom. The walls of my prison crumbled and fell, the dungeon was flooded with light and all the bolts, and bars, and manacles became dust. I was no longer a servant, a serf or a slave. There was for me no master in all the wide world -- not even in infinite space. I was free -- free to think, to express my thoughts -- free to live to my own ideal -- free to live for myself and those I loved -- free to use all my faculties, all my senses -- free to spread imagination's wings -- free to investigate, to guess and dream and hope -- free to judge and determine for myself -- free to reject all ignorant and cruel creeds, all the "inspired" books that savages have produced, and all the barbarous legends of the past -- free from popes and priests -- free from all the "called" and "set apart" -- free from sanctified mistakes and holy lies -- free from the fear of eternal pain -- free from the winged monsters of the night -- free from devils, ghosts and gods. For the first time I was free. There were no prohibited places in all the realms of thought -- no air, no space, where fancy could not spread her painted wings -- no chains for my limbs -- no lashes for my back -- no fires for my flesh -- no master's frown or threat – no following another's steps -- no need to bow, or cringe, or crawl, or utter lying words. I was free. I stood erect and fearlessly, joyously, faced all worlds.
And then my heart was filled with gratitude, with thankfulness, and went out in love to all the heroes, the thinkers who gave their lives for the liberty of hand and brain -- for the freedom of labor and thought -- to those who fell on the fierce fields of war, to those who died in dungeons bound with chains -- to those who proudly mounted scaffold's stairs -- to those whose bones were crushed, whose flesh was scarred and torn -- to those by fire consumed -- to all the wise, the good, the brave of every land, whose thoughts and deeds have given freedom to the sons of men. And then I vowed to grasp the torch that they had held, and hold it high, that light might conquer darkness still.
Robert G. Ingersoll
It was not until the year 1808 that Great Britain abolished the slave trade. Up to that time her judges, sitting upon the bench in the name of justice, her priests, occupying her pulpits, in the name of universal love, owned stock in the slave ships, and luxuriated upon the profits of piracy and murder. It was not until the same year that the United States of America abolished the slave trade between this and other countries, but carefully preserved it as between the States. It was not until the 28th day of August, 1833, that Great Britain abolished human slavery in her colonies; and it was not until the 1st day of January, 1863, that Abraham Lincoln, sustained by the sublime and heroic North, rendered our flag pure as the sky in which it floats.
Abraham Lincoln was, in my judgment, in many respects, the grandest man ever President of the United States. Upon his monument these words should be written: 'Here sleeps the only man in the history of the world, who, having been clothed with almost absolute power, never abused it, except upon the side of mercy.'
Think how long we clung to the institution of human slavery, how long lashes upon the naked back were a legal tender for labor performed. Think of it.
With every drop of my blood I hate and execrate every form of tyranny, every form of slavery. I hate dictation. I love liberty.
Robert G. Ingersoll (The Liberty Of Man, Woman And Child)
Sissy had two great failings. She was a great lover and a great mother. She had so much of tenderness in her, so much of wanting to give of herself to whoever needed what she had, whether it was her money, her time, the clothes off her back, her pity, her understanding, her friendship or her companionship and love. She was mother to everything that came her way. She loved men, yes. She loved women too, and old people, and especially children. How she loved children! She loved the down-and-outers. She wanted to make everybody happy. She had tried to seduce the good priest who heard her infrequent confessions because she felt sorry for him. She thought he was missing the greatest joy on earth by being committed to a life of celibacy.
Betty Smith (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn)
Then it happened. One night as the rain beat on the slanted kitchen roof a great spirit slipped forever into my life. I held his book in my hands and trembled as he spoke to me of man and the world, of love and wisdom, pain and guilt, and I knew I would never be the same. His name was Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky. He knew more of fathers and sons than any man in the world, and of brothers and sisters, priests and rogues, guilt and innocence. Dostoyevsky changed me. The Idiot, The Possessed, The Brothers Karamazov, The Gambler. He turned me inside out. I found I could breathe, could see invisible horizons. The hatred for my father melted. I loved my father, poor, suffering, haunted wretch. I loved my mother too, and all my family. It was time to become a man, to leave San Elmo and go out into the world. I wanted to think and feel like Dostoyevsky. I wanted to write.
The week before I left town the draft board summoned me to Sacramento for my physical. I was glad to go. Someone other than myself could make my decisions. The army turned me down. I had asthma. Inflammation of the bronchial tubes.
“That’s nothing. I’ve always had it.”
“See your doctor.”
I got the needed information from a medical book at the public library. Was asthma fatal? It could be. And so be it. Dostoyevsky had epilepsy, I had asthma. To write well a man must have a fatal ailment. It was the only way to deal with the presence of death.
John Fante (The Brotherhood of the Grape)
I may not have known much about pregnancies but I knew that you couldn’t have a son or a daughter without actually doing it first. The priests at school had once muttered something to the effect that when a mummy and a daddy loved each other very much, they lay close together and the Holy Spirit descended upon them to create the miracle of new life. (Charles, in his one attempt at a man-to-man talk with me, had put it rather differently. ‘Get her kit off,’ he said. ‘Play with her tits a bit, because the ladies love that. Then just stick your cock in her pussy and ram it in and out a bit. Don’t hang around too long in there – it’s not a bloody train station. Just do your business and get on with your day.’ It’s no wonder he managed to secure so many wives, the old romantic.) I
John Boyne (The Heart's Invisible Furies)
The principals are quite simple. We can love people who treat us well. We cannot love people who treat us badly because, treating someone badly is not a virtue and we can only love virtue. I don’t think that’s controversial. I mean, there is no marriage therapist that I can imagine in the world who would say to a woman being beaten, humiliated, verbally abused, or completely ignored by her husband, “You just need to love him more. You need to work at making him happier.” That would be sadistic in the extreme to say to someone.
So, in the same way I say, if anyone, I don’t care if they are your priest, god, father, mother, or your Siamese twin cousin coming out of your elbow or ass. I don’t care. If someone is treating you badly, that is not good for you. The solution is not you being so great that you both become better. That’s not a realistic solution.
What is a fanatic? One who believes passionately and acts desperately upon what he believes. I was always believing in something and so getting into trouble. The more my hands were slapped the more firmly I believed. I believed- and the rest of the world did not! If it were only a question of enduring punishment one could go on believing till the end; but the way of the world is more insidious than that. Instead of being punished you are undermined, hollowed out, the ground taken from under your feet. It isn't even treachery, what I have in mind. Treachery is understandable and combatable. No, it is something worse, something less than treachery. It's a negativism that causes you to overreach yourself. you are perpetually spending your energy in the act of balancing yourself. You are seized with a sort of spiritual vertigo, you totter on the brink, your hair stands on end, you can't believe that beneath your feet lies an immeasurable abyss. It comes about through excess of enthusiasm, through a passionate desire to embrace people, to show them your love. The more you reach out toward the world the more the world retreats. Nobody wants real love, real hatred. Nobody wants you to put your hand in his sacred entrails- that's only for the priest in the hour of sacrifice. While you live, while the blood's still warm, you are to pretend that there is no such thing as blood and no such thing as a skeleton beneath the covering of flesh. "Keep off the grass!" That's the motto by which people live.
Henry Miller (Tropic of Capricorn (Tropic, #2))
Most of us are painfully aware that we’re not perfect parents. We’re also deeply grieved that we don’t have perfect kids. But the remedy to our mutual imperfections isn’t more law, even if it seems to produce tidy or polite children. Christian children (and their parents) don’t need to learn to be “nice.” They need death and resurrection and a Savior who has gone before them as a faithful high priest, who was a child himself, and who lived and died perfectly in their place. They need a Savior who extends the offer of complete forgiveness, total righteousness, and indissoluble adoption to all who will believe. This is the message we all need. We need the gospel of grace and the grace of the gospel. Children can’t use the law any more than we can, because they will respond to it the same way we do. They’ll ignore it or bend it or obey it outwardly for selfish purposes, but this one thing is certain: they won’t obey it from the heart, because they can’t. That’s why Jesus had to die.
Elyse M. Fitzpatrick (Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus)
DON Luigi Giussani used to quote this example from Bruce Marshall’s novel To Every Man a Penny. The protagonist of the novel, the abbot Father Gaston, needs to hear the confession of a young German soldier whom the French partisans are about to sentence to death. The soldier confesses his love of women and the numerous amorous adventures he has had. The young priest explains that he has to repent to obtain forgiveness and absolution. The soldier answers, “How can I repent? It was something that I enjoyed, and if I had the chance I would do it again, even now. How can I repent?” Father Gaston, who wants to absolve the man who has been marked by destiny and who’s about to die, has a stroke of inspiration and asks, “But are you sorry that you are not sorry?” The young man answers impulsively, “Yes, I am sorry that I am not sorry.” In other words, he apologizes for not repenting. The door was opened just a crack, allowing absolution to come in….
Pope Francis (The Name of God Is Mercy)
Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fring’d legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?
Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear’d,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!
Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearied,
For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
For ever warm and still to be enjoy’d,
For ever panting, and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy’d,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.
Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead’st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea shore,
Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
Why thou art desolate, can e’er return.
O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st,
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
John Keats (Ode On A Grecian Urn And Other Poems)
A person does not reach the pinnacle of self-realization without relentlessly exploring the parameters of the self, exhausting their psychic energy coming to know oneself. Without society to rebel against and to sail away from, there would be no advances in civilization; there would be no need for healers and mystics, priests and artist, or shaman and writers. It is our curiosity and refusal to be satisfied with the status quo that compels us to challenge ourselves to learn and continue to grow. We only establish inner peace of mind with acceptance of the world, with the recognition of our connection to the entirety of the universe, and understanding that chaos and change are inevitable. We must also love because without love there are no acts of creation. Without love, humankind is a spasmodic pool of brutality and suffering. Love is a balm. It cures human aches and pains; it unites couples, families, and cultures. Love is a creative force, without love there is no art or religion. Art expresses thought and feelings, an articulation of adore and reverence.
Kilroy J. Oldster (Dead Toad Scrolls)
When reading the history of the Jewish people, of their flight from slavery to death, of their exchange of tyrants, I must confess that my sympathies are all aroused in their behalf. They were cheated, deceived and abused. Their god was quick-tempered unreasonable, cruel, revengeful and dishonest. He was always promising but never performed. He wasted time in ceremony and childish detail, and in the exaggeration of what he had done. It is impossible for me to conceive of a character more utterly detestable than that of the Hebrew god. He had solemnly promised the Jews that he would take them from Egypt to a land flowing with milk and honey. He had led them to believe that in a little while their troubles would be over, and that they would soon in the land of Canaan, surrounded by their wives and little ones, forget the stripes and tears of Egypt. After promising the poor wanderers again and again that he would lead them in safety to the promised land of joy and plenty, this God, forgetting every promise, said to the wretches in his power:—'Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness and your children shall wander until your carcasses be wasted.' This curse was the conclusion of the whole matter. Into this dust of death and night faded all the promises of God. Into this rottenness of wandering despair fell all the dreams of liberty and home. Millions of corpses were left to rot in the desert, and each one certified to the dishonesty of Jehovah. I cannot believe these things. They are so cruel and heartless, that my blood is chilled and my sense of justice shocked. A book that is equally abhorrent to my head and heart, cannot be accepted as a revelation from God.
When we think of the poor Jews, destroyed, murdered, bitten by serpents, visited by plagues, decimated by famine, butchered by each, other, swallowed by the earth, frightened, cursed, starved, deceived, robbed and outraged, how thankful we should be that we are not the chosen people of God. No wonder that they longed for the slavery of Egypt, and remembered with sorrow the unhappy day when they exchanged masters. Compared with Jehovah, Pharaoh was a benefactor, and the tyranny of Egypt was freedom to those who suffered the liberty of God.
While reading the Pentateuch, I am filled with indignation, pity and horror. Nothing can be sadder than the history of the starved and frightened wretches who wandered over the desolate crags and sands of wilderness and desert, the prey of famine, sword, and plague. Ignorant and superstitious to the last degree, governed by falsehood, plundered by hypocrisy, they were the sport of priests, and the food of fear. God was their greatest enemy, and death their only friend.
It is impossible to conceive of a more thoroughly despicable, hateful, and arrogant being, than the Jewish god. He is without a redeeming feature. In the mythology of the world he has no parallel. He, only, is never touched by agony and tears. He delights only in blood and pain. Human affections are naught to him. He cares neither for love nor music, beauty nor joy. A false friend, an unjust judge, a braggart, hypocrite, and tyrant, sincere in hatred, jealous, vain, and revengeful, false in promise, honest in curse, suspicious, ignorant, and changeable, infamous and hideous:—such is the God of the Pentateuch.
Robert G. Ingersoll (Some Mistakes of Moses)
Siddhartha gave his garments to a poor Brahman in the street. He wore
nothing more than the loincloth and the earth-coloured, unsown cloak.
He ate only once a day, and never something cooked. He fasted for
fifteen days. He fasted for twenty-eight days. The flesh waned from
his thighs and cheeks. Feverish dreams flickered from his enlarged
eyes, long nails grew slowly on his parched fingers and a dry, shaggy
beard grew on his chin. His glance turned to icy when he encountered
women; his mouth twitched with contempt, when he walked through a city
of nicely dressed people. He saw merchants trading, princes hunting,
mourners wailing for their dead, whores offering themselves, physicians
trying to help the sick, priests determining the most suitable day for
seeding, lovers loving, mothers nursing their children--and all of this
was not worthy of one look from his eye, it all lied, it all stank,
it all stank of lies, it all pretended to be meaningful and joyful and
beautiful, and it all was just concealed putrefaction. The world tasted
bitter. Life was torture.
A goal stood before Siddhartha, a single goal: to become empty, empty of
thirst, empty of wishing, empty of dreams, empty of joy and sorrow.
Dead to himself, not to be a self any more, to find tranquility with an
emptied heard, to be open to miracles in unselfish thoughts, that was
his goal. Once all of my self was overcome and had died, once every
desire and every urge was silent in the heart, then the ultimate part
of me had to awake, the innermost of my being, which is no longer my
self, the great secret.
Hermann Hesse (Siddhartha)
Science and reason have, from the beginning of time, played a secondary and subordinate part in the life of nations; so it will be till the end of time. Nations are built up and moved by another force which sways and dominates them, the origin of which is unknown and inexplicable: that force is the force of an insatiable desire to go on to the end, though at the same time it denies that end. It is the force of the persistent assertion of one's own existence, and a denial of death. It's the spirit of life, as the Scriptures call it, 'the river of living water,' the drying up of which is threatened in the Apocalypse. It's the æsthetic principle, as the philosophers call it, the ethical principle with which they identify it, 'the seeking for God,' as I call it more simply. The object of every national movement, in every people and at every period of its existence is only the seeking for its god, who must be its own god, and the faith in Him as the only true one. God is the synthetic personality of the whole people, taken from its beginning to its end. It has never happened that all, or even many, peoples have had one common god, but each has always had its own. It's a sign of the decay of nations when they begin to have gods in common. When gods begin to be common to several nations the gods are dying and the faith in them, together with the nations themselves. The stronger a people the more individual their God. There never has been a nation without a religion, that is, without an idea of good and evil. Every people has its own conception of good and evil, and its own good and evil. When the same conceptions of good and evil become prevalent in several nations, then these nations are dying, and then the very distinction between good and evil is beginning to disappear. Reason has never had the power to define good and evil, or even to distinguish between good and evil, even approximately; on the contrary, it has always mixed them up in a disgraceful and pitiful way; science has even given the solution by the fist. This is particularly characteristic of the half-truths of science, the most terrible scourge of humanity, unknown till this century, and worse than plague, famine, or war. A half-truth is a despot... such as has never been in the world before. A despot that has its priests and its slaves, a despot to whom all do homage with love and superstition hitherto inconceivable, before which science itself trembles and cringes in a shameful way.
Fyodor Dostoevsky (Demons)
Touching the copper of the ankh reminded me of another necklace, a necklace long since lost under the dust of time. That necklace had been simpler: only a string of beads etched with tiny ankhs. But my husband had brought it to me the morning of our wedding, sneaking up to our house just after dawn in a gesture uncharacteristically bold for him.
I had chastised him for the indiscretion. "What are you doing? You're going to see me this afternoon... and then every day after that!"
"I had to give you these before the wedding." He held up the string of beads. "They were my mother's. I want you to have them, to wear them today.”
He leaned forward, placing the beads around my neck. As his fingers brushed my skin, I felt something warm and tingly run through my body. At the tender age of fifteen, I hadn't exactly understood such sensations, though I was eager to explore them. My wiser self today recognized them as the early stirrings of lust, and . . . well, there had been something else there too. Something else that I still didn't quite comprehend. An electric connection, a feeling that we were bound into something bigger than ourselves. That our being together was inevitable.
"There," he'd said, once the beads were secure and my hair brushed back into place. "Perfect.” He said nothing else after that. He didn't need to. His eyes told me all I needed to know, and I shivered. Until Kyriakos, no man had ever given me a second glance. I was Marthanes' too-tall daughter after all, the one with the sharp tongue who didn't think before speaking. (Shape-shifting would eventually take care of one of those problems but not the other.) But Kyriakos had always listened to me and watched me like I was someone more, someone tempting and desirable, like the beautiful priestesses of Aphrodite who still carried on their rituals away from the Christian priests.
I wanted him to touch me then, not realizing just how much until I caught his hand suddenly and unexpectedly. Taking it, I placed it around my waist and pulled him to me. His eyes widened in surprise, but he didn't pull back. We were almost the same height, making it easy for his mouth to seek mine out in a crushing kiss. I leaned against the warm stone wall behind me so that I was pressed between it and him. I could feel every part of his body against mine, but we still weren't close enough. Not nearly enough.
Our kissing grew more ardent, as though our lips alone might close whatever aching distance lay between us. I moved his hand again, this time to push up my skirt along the side of one leg. His hand stroked the smooth flesh there and, without further urging, slid over to my inner thigh. I arched my lower body toward his, nearly writhing against him now, needing him to touch me everywhere.
"Letha? Where are you at?”
My sister's voice carried over the wind; she wasn't nearby but was close enough to be here soon.
Kyriakos and I broke apart, both gasping, pulses racing. He was looking at me like he'd never seen me before. Heat burned in his gaze.
"Have you ever been with anyone before?" he asked wonderingly.
I shook my head.
"How did you ... I never imagined you doing that...”
"I learn fast.”
He grinned and pressed my hand to his lips. "Tonight," he breathed. "Tonight we ...”
"Tonight," I agreed.
He backed away then, eyes still smoldering. "I love you. You are my life.”
"I love you too." I smiled and watched him go.
Richelle Mead (Succubus Blues (Georgina Kincaid, #1))
He had not stopped looking into her eyes, and she showed no signs of faltering. He gave a deep sigh and recited:
"O sweet treasures, discovered to my sorrow." She did not understand.
"It is a verse by the grandfather of my great-great-grandmother," he explained. "He wrote three eclogues, two elegies, five songs, and forty sonnets. Most of them for a Portuguese lady of very ordinary charms who was never his, first because he was married, and then because she married another man and died before he did."
"Was he a priest too?"
"A soldier," he said.
Something stirred in the heart of Sierva María, for she wanted to hear the verse again. He repeated it, and this time he continued, in an intense, well-articulated voice, until he had recited the last of the forty sonnets by the cavalier of amours and arms Don Garcilaso de la Vega, killed in his prime by a stone hurled in battle.When he had finished, Cayetano took Sierva María's hand and placed it over his heart. She felt the internal clamor of his suffering.
"I am always in this state," he said.
And without giving his panic an opportunity, he unburdened himself of the dark truth that did not permit him to live. He confessed that every moment was filled with thoughts of her, that everything he ate and drank tasted of her, that she was his life, always and everywhere, as only God had the right and power to be, and that the supreme joy of his heart would be to die with her. He continued to speak without looking at her, with the same fluidity and passion as when he recited poetry, until it seemed to him that Sierva María was sleeping. But she was awake, her eyes, like those of a startled deer, fixed on him. She almost did not dare to ask:
"And now nothing," he said. "It is enough for me that you know."
He could not go on. Weeping in silence, he slipped his arm beneath her head to serve as a pillow, and she curled up at his side. And so they remained, not sleeping, not talking, until the roosters began to crow and he had to hurry to arrive in time for five-o'clock Mass. Before he left, Sierva María gave him the beautiful necklace of Oddúa: eighteen inches of mother-of-pearl and coral beads.
Panic had been replaced by the yearning in his heart. Delaura knew no peace, he carried out his tasks in a haphazard way, he floated until the joyous hour when he escaped the hospital to see Sierva María. He would reach the cell gasping for breath, soaked by the perpetual rains, and she would wait for him with so much longing that only his smile allowed her to breathe again. One night she took the initiative with the verses she had learned after hearing them so often. 'When I stand and contemplate my fate and see the path along which you have led me," she recited. And asked with a certain slyness: "What's the rest of it?"
"I reach my end, for artless I surrendered to one who is my undoing and my end," he said.
She repeated the lines with the same tenderness, and so they continued until the end of the book, omitting verses, corrupting and twisting the sonnets to suit themselves, toying with them with the skill of masters. They fell asleep exhausted. At five the warder brought in breakfast, to the uproarious crowing of the roosters, and they awoke in alarm. Life stopped for them.
Gabriel García Márquez (Of Love and Other Demons)
He was perfectly astonished with the historical account gave him of our affairs during the last century; protesting “it was only a heap of conspiracies, rebellions, murders, massacres, revolutions, banishments, the very worst effects that avarice, faction, hypocrisy, perfidiousness, cruelty, rage, madness, hatred, envy, lust, malice, and ambition, could produce.”
His majesty, in another audience, was at the pains to recapitulate the sum of all I had spoken; compared the questions he made with the answers I had given; then taking me into his hands, and stroking me gently, delivered himself in these words, which I shall never forget, nor the manner he spoke them in: “My little friend Grildrig, you have made a most admirable panegyric upon your country; you have clearly proved, that ignorance, idleness, and vice, are the proper ingredients for qualifying a legislator; that laws are best explained, interpreted, and applied, by those whose interest and abilities lie in perverting, confounding, and eluding them. I observe among you some lines of an institution, which, in its original, might have been tolerable, but these half erased, and the rest wholly blurred and blotted by corruptions. It does not appear, from all you have said, how any one perfection is required toward the procurement of any one station among you; much less, that men are ennobled on account of their virtue; that priests are advanced for their piety or learning; soldiers, for their conduct or valour; judges, for their integrity; senators, for the love of their country; or counsellors for their wisdom. As for yourself,” continued the king, “who have spent the greatest part of your life in travelling, I am well disposed to hope you may hitherto have escaped many vices of your country. But by what I have gathered from your own relation, and the answers I have with much pains wrung and extorted from you, I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.
Jonathan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels)
I used to read in books how our fathers persecuted mankind. But I never appreciated it. I did not really appreciate the infamies that have been committed in the name of religion, until I saw the iron arguments that Christians used. I saw the Thumbscrew—two little pieces of iron, armed on the inner surfaces with protuberances, to prevent their slipping; through each end a screw uniting the two pieces. And when some man denied the efficacy of baptism, or may be said, 'I do not believe that a fish ever swallowed a man to keep him from drowning,' then they put his thumb between these pieces of iron and in the name of love and universal forgiveness, began to screw these pieces together. When this was done most men said, 'I will recant.' Probably I should have done the same. Probably I would have said: 'Stop; I will admit anything that you wish; I will admit that there is one god or a million, one hell or a billion; suit yourselves; but stop.'
But there was now and then a man who would not swerve the breadth of a hair. There was now and then some sublime heart, willing to die for an intellectual conviction. Had it not been for such men, we would be savages to-night. Had it not been for a few brave, heroic souls in every age, we would have been cannibals, with pictures of wild beasts tattooed upon our flesh, dancing around some dried snake fetich.
Let us thank every good and noble man who stood so grandly, so proudly, in spite of opposition, of hatred and death, for what he believed to be the truth.
Heroism did not excite the respect of our fathers. The man who would not recant was not forgiven. They screwed the thumbscrews down to the last pang, and then threw their victim into some dungeon, where, in the throbbing silence and darkness, he might suffer the agonies of the fabled damned. This was done in the name of love—in the name of mercy, in the name of Christ.
I saw, too, what they called the Collar of Torture. Imagine a circle of iron, and on the inside a hundred points almost as sharp as needles. This argument was fastened about the throat of the sufferer. Then he could not walk, nor sit down, nor stir without the neck being punctured, by these points. In a little while the throat would begin to swell, and suffocation would end the agonies of that man. This man, it may be, had committed the crime of saying, with tears upon his cheeks, 'I do not believe that God, the father of us all, will damn to eternal perdition any of the children of men.'
I saw another instrument, called the Scavenger's Daughter. Think of a pair of shears with handles, not only where they now are, but at the points as well, and just above the pivot that unites the blades, a circle of iron. In the upper handles the hands would be placed; in the lower, the feet; and through the iron ring, at the centre, the head of the victim would be forced. In this condition, he would be thrown prone upon the earth, and the strain upon the muscles produced such agony that insanity would in pity end his pain.
I saw the Rack. This was a box like the bed of a wagon, with a windlass at each end, with levers, and ratchets to prevent slipping; over each windlass went chains; some were fastened to the ankles of the sufferer; others to his wrists. And then priests, clergymen, divines, saints, began turning these windlasses, and kept turning, until the ankles, the knees, the hips, the shoulders, the elbows, the wrists of the victim were all dislocated, and the sufferer was wet with the sweat of agony. And they had standing by a physician to feel his pulse. What for? To save his life? Yes. In mercy? No; simply that they might rack him once again.
This was done, remember, in the name of civilization; in the name of law and order; in the name of mercy; in the name of religion; in the name of Christ.
Robert G. Ingersoll (The Liberty Of Man, Woman And Child)
[Robert's eulogy at his brother, Ebon C. Ingersoll's grave. Even the great orator Robert Ingersoll was choked up with tears at the memory of his beloved brother]
The record of a generous life runs like a vine around the memory of our dead, and every sweet, unselfish act is now a perfumed flower.
Dear Friends: I am going to do that which the dead oft promised he would do for me.
The loved and loving brother, husband, father, friend, died where manhood's morning almost touches noon, and while the shadows still were falling toward the west.
He had not passed on life's highway the stone that marks the highest point; but, being weary for a moment, he lay down by the wayside, and, using his burden for a pillow, fell into that dreamless sleep that kisses down his eyelids still. While yet in love with life and raptured with the world, he passed to silence and pathetic dust.
Yet, after all, it may be best, just in the happiest, sunniest hour of all the voyage, while eager winds are kissing every sail, to dash against the unseen rock, and in an instant hear the billows roar above a sunken ship. For whether in mid sea or 'mong the breakers of the farther shore, a wreck at last must mark the end of each and all. And every life, no matter if its every hour is rich with love and every moment jeweled with a joy, will, at its close, become a tragedy as sad and deep and dark as can be woven of the warp and woof of mystery and death.
This brave and tender man in every storm of life was oak and rock; but in the sunshine he was vine and flower. He was the friend of all heroic souls. He climbed the heights, and left all superstitions far below, while on his forehead fell the golden dawning, of the grander day.
He loved the beautiful, and was with color, form, and music touched to tears. He sided with the weak, the poor, and wronged, and lovingly gave alms. With loyal heart and with the purest hands he faithfully discharged all public trusts.
He was a worshipper of liberty, a friend of the oppressed. A thousand times I have heard him quote these words: 'For Justice all place a temple, and all season, summer!' He believed that happiness was the only good, reason the only torch, justice the only worship, humanity the only religion, and love the only priest. He added to the sum of human joy; and were every one to whom he did some loving service to bring a blossom to his grave, he would sleep to-night beneath a wilderness of flowers.
Life is a narrow vale between the cold and barren peaks of two eternities. We strive in vain to look beyond the heights. We cry aloud, and the only answer is the echo of our wailing cry. From the voiceless lips of the unreplying dead there comes no word; but in the night of death hope sees a star and listening love can hear the rustle of a wing.
He who sleeps here, when dying, mistaking the approach of death for the return of health, whispered with his latest breath, 'I am better now.' Let us believe, in spite of doubts and dogmas, of fears and tears, that these dear words are true of all the countless dead.
And now, to you, who have been chosen, from among the many men he loved, to do the last sad office for the dead, we give his sacred dust.
Speech cannot contain our love. There was, there is, no gentler, stronger, manlier man.
Robert G. Ingersoll (Some Mistakes of Moses)
This is meant to be in praise of the interval called hangover,
a sadness not co-terminous with hopelessness,
and the North American doubling cascade
that (keep going) “this diamond lake is a photo lab”
and if predicates really do propel the plot
then you might see Jerusalem in a soap bubble
or the appliance failures on Olive Street
across these great instances,
because “the complex Italians versus the basic Italians”
because what does a mirror look like (when it´s not working)
but birds singing a full tone higher in the sunshine.
I´m going to call them Honest Eyes until I know if they are,
in the interval called slam clicker, Realm of Pacific,
because the second language wouldn´t let me learn it
because I have heard of you for a long time occasionally
because diet cards may be the recovery evergreen
and there is a new benzodiazepene called Distance,
anti-showmanship, anti-showmanship, anti-showmanship.
I suppose a broken window is not symbolic
unless symbolic means broken, which I think it sorta does,
and when the phone jangles
what´s more radical, the snow or the tires,
and what does the Bible say about metal fatigue
and why do mothers carry big scratched-up sunglasses
in their purses.
Hello to the era of going to the store to buy more ice
because we are running out.
Hello to feelings that arrive unintroduced.
Hello to the nonfunctional sprig of parsley
and the game of finding meaning in coincidence.
Because there is a second mind in the margins of the used book
because Judas Priest (source: Firestone Library)
sang a song called Stained Class,
because this world is 66% Then and 33% Now,
and if you wake up thinking “feeling is a skill now”
or “even this glass of water seems complicated now”
and a phrase from a men´s magazine (like single-district cognac)
rings and rings in your neck,
then let the consequent misunderstandings
(let the changer love the changed)
wobble on heartbreakingly nu legs
into this street-legal nonfiction,
into this good world,
this warm place
that I love with all my heart,
anti-showmanship, anti-showmanship, anti-showmanship.
Sometimes I think Earth has got to be the insane asylum of the universe. . . and I'm here by computer error. At sixty-eight, I hope I've gained some wisdom in the past fourteen lustrums and it’s obligatory to speak plain and true about the conclusions I've come to; now that I have been educated to believe by such mentors as Wells, Stapledon, Heinlein, van Vogt, Clarke, Pohl, (S. Fowler) Wright, Orwell, Taine, Temple, Gernsback, Campbell and other seminal influences in scientifiction, I regret the lack of any female writers but only Radclyffe Hall opened my eyes outside sci-fi.
I was a secular humanist before I knew the term. I have not believed in God since childhood's end. I believe a belief in any deity is adolescent, shameful and dangerous. How would you feel, surrounded by billions of human beings taking Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy and the stork seriously, and capable of shaming, maiming or murdering in their name? I am embarrassed to live in a world retaining any faith in church, prayer or a celestial creator. I do not believe in Heaven, Hell or a Hereafter; in angels, demons, ghosts, goblins, the Devil, vampires, ghouls, zombies, witches, warlocks, UFOs or other delusions; and in very few mundane individuals--politicians, lawyers, judges, priests, militarists, censors and just plain people. I respect the individual's right to abortion, suicide and euthanasia. I support birth control. I wish to Good that society were rid of smoking, drinking and drugs.
My hope for humanity - and I think sensible science fiction has a beneficial influence in this direction - is that one day everyone born will be whole in body and brain, will live a long life free from physical and emotional pain, will participate in a fulfilling way in their contribution to existence, will enjoy true love and friendship, will pity us 20th century barbarians who lived and died in an atrocious, anachronistic atmosphere of arson, rape, robbery, kidnapping, child abuse, insanity, murder, terrorism, war, smog, pollution, starvation and the other negative “norms” of our current civilization. I have devoted my life to amassing over a quarter million pieces of sf and fantasy as a present to posterity and I hope to be remembered as an altruist who would have been an accepted citizen of Utopia.
Forrest J. Ackerman
He cannot do anything deliberate now. The strain of his whole weight on his outstretched arms hurts too much. The pain fills him up, displaces thought, as much for him as it has for everyone else who has ever been stuck to one of these horrible contrivances, or for anyone else who dies in pain from any of the world’s grim arsenal of possibilities. And yet he goes on taking in. It is not what he does, it is what he is. He is all open door: to sorrow, suffering, guilt, despair, horror, everything that cannot be escaped, and he does not even try to escape it, he turns to meet it, and claims it all as his own. This is mine now, he is saying; and he embraces it with all that is left in him, each dark act, each dripping memory, as if it were something precious, as if it were itself the loved child tottering homeward on the road. But there is so much of it. So many injured children; so many locked rooms; so much lonely anger; so many bombs in public places; so much vicious zeal; so many bored teenagers at roadblocks; so many drunk girls at parties someone thought they could have a little fun with; so many jokes that go too far; so much ruining greed; so much sick ingenuity; so much burned skin. The world he claims, claims him. It burns and stings, it splinters and gouges, it locks him round and drags him down…
All day long, the next day, the city is quiet. The air above the city lacks the usual thousand little trails of smoke from cookfires. Hymns rise from the temple. Families are indoors. The soldiers are back in barracks. The Chief Priest grows hoarse with singing. The governor plays chess with his secretary and dictates letters. The free bread the temple distributed to the poor has gone stale by midday, but tastes all right dipped in water or broth. Death has interrupted life only as much as it ever does. We die one at a time and disappear, but the life of the living continues. The earth turns. The sun makes its way towards the western horizon no slower or faster than it usually does.
Early Sunday morning, one of the friends comes back with rags and a jug of water and a box of the grave spices that are supposed to cut down on the smell. She’s braced for the task. But when she comes to the grave she finds that the linen’s been thrown into the corner and the body is gone. Evidently anonymous burial isn’t quite anonymous enough, after all. She sits outside in the sun. The insects have woken up, here at the edge of the desert, and a bee is nosing about in a lily like silk thinly tucked over itself, but much more perishable. It won’t last long. She takes no notice of the feet that appear at the edge of her vision. That’s enough now, she thinks. That’s more than enough.
Don’t be afraid, says Yeshua. Far more can be mended than you know.
She is weeping. The executee helps her to stand up.
Francis Spufford (Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense)
Ultimately, the roast turkey must be regarded as a monument to Boomer's love.
Look at it now, plump and glossy, floating across Idaho as if it were a mammoth, mutated seed pod. Hear how it backfires as it passes the silver mines, perhaps in tribute to the origin of the knives and forks of splendid sterling that a roast turkey and a roast turkey alone possesses the charisma to draw forth into festivity from dark cupboards.
See how it glides through the potato fields, familiarly at home among potatoes but with an air of expectation, as if waiting for the flood of gravy.
The roast turkey carries with it, in its chubby hold, a sizable portion of our primitive and pagan luggage.
Primitive and pagan? Us? We of the laser, we of the microchip, we of the Union Theological Seminary and Time magazine? Of course. At least twice a year, do not millions upon millions of us cybernetic Christians and fax machine Jews participate in a ritual, a highly stylized ceremony that takes place around a large dead bird?
And is not this animal sacrificed, as in days of yore, to catch the attention of a divine spirit, to show gratitude for blessings bestowed, and to petition for blessings coveted?
The turkey, slain, slowly cooked over our gas or electric fires, is the central figure at our holy feast. It is the totem animal that brings our tribe together.
And because it is an awkward, intractable creature, the serving of it establishes and reinforces the tribal hierarchy. There are but two legs, two wings, a certain amount of white meat, a given quantity of dark. Who gets which piece; who, in fact, slices the bird and distributes its limbs and organs, underscores quite emphatically the rank of each member in the gathering.
Consider that the legs of this bird are called 'drumsticks,' after the ritual objects employed to extract the music from the most aboriginal and sacred of instruments. Our ancestors, kept their drums in public, but the sticks, being more actively magical, usually were stored in places known only to the shaman, the medicine man, the high priest, of the Wise Old Woman. The wing of the fowl gives symbolic flight to the soul, but with the drumstick is evoked the best of the pulse of the heart of the universe.
Few of us nowadays participate in the actual hunting and killing of the turkey, but almost all of us watch, frequently with deep emotion, the reenactment of those events. We watch it on TV sets immediately before the communal meal. For what are footballs if not metaphorical turkeys, flying up and down a meadow? And what is a touchdown if not a kill, achieved by one or the other of two opposing tribes? To our applause, great young hungers from Alabama or Notre Dame slay the bird. Then, the Wise Old Woman, in the guise of Grandma, calls us to the table, where we, pretending to be no longer primitive, systematically rip the bird asunder.
Was Boomer Petaway aware of the totemic implications when, to impress his beloved, he fabricated an outsize Thanksgiving centerpiece? No, not consciously. If and when the last veil dropped, he might comprehend what he had wrought. For the present, however, he was as ignorant as Can o' Beans, Spoon, and Dirty Sock were, before Painted Stick and Conch Shell drew their attention to similar affairs.
Nevertheless, it was Boomer who piloted the gobble-stilled butterball across Idaho, who negotiated it through the natural carving knives of the Sawtooth Mountains, who once or twice parked it in wilderness rest stops, causing adjacent flora to assume the appearance of parsley.
Tom Robbins (Skinny Legs and All)
The heartwood," Rob murmured, looking at me. "You wanted to marry me in the heart of Major Oak." I beamed at him grateful that he understood. "And Scar," he whispered. I leaned in close. "Are you wearing knives to our wedding?" Nodding, I laughed, telling him, "I was going to get you here one way or another, Hood."
He laughed, a bright, merry sound. Standing in the heart of the tree, he reached again for my hand, fingers sliding over mine. Touching his hand, a rope of lightening lashed round my fingers, like it seared us together. Now, and for always. His fingers moved on mine, rubbing over my hand before capturing it tight and turning me to the priest.
The priest looked over his shoulder, watching as the sun began to dip. He led us in prayer, he asked me to speak the same words I'd spoken not long past to Gisbourne, but that whole thing felt like a bad dream, like I were waking and it were fading and gone for good. "Lady Scarlet." he asked me with a smile, "known to some as Lady Marian of Huntingdon, will thou have this lord to thy wedded husband, will thou love him and honour him, keep him and obey him, in health and in sickness, as a wife should a husband, forsaking all others on account of him, so long as ye both shall live?"
I looked at Robin, tears burning in my eyes. "I will," I promised. "I will, always."
Rob's face were beaming back at me, his ocean eyes shimmering bright. The priest smiled.
"Robin of Locksley, will thou have this lady to thy wedded wife, will thou love her and honor her, keep her and guard her, in health and in sickness, as a husband should a wife, forsaking all others on account of her, so long as ye both shall live?" the priest asked.
"Yes," Rob said. "I will."
"You have the rings?" the priest asked Rob.
"I do," I told the priest, taking two rings from where Bess had tied them to my dress. I'd sent Godfrey out to buy them at market without Rob knowing. "I knew you weren't planning on this," I told him.
Rob just grinned like a fool at me, taking the ring I handed him to put on my finger. Laughs bubbled up inside of me, and I felt like I were smiling so wide something were stuck in my cheeks and holding me open. More shy and proud than I thought I'd be, I said. "I take you as me wedded husband, Robin. And thereto I plight my troth." I pushed the ring onto his finger.
He took my half hand in one of his, but the other- holding the ring- went into his pocket. "I may not have known I would marry you today Scar," he said. "But I did know I would marry you." He showed me a ring, a large ruby set in delicate gold. "This," he said to me, "was my mother's. It's the last thing I have of hers, and when I met you and loved you and realized your name was the exact colour of the stone- " He swallowed, and cleared his throat, looking at me with the blue eyes that shot right through me. "This was meant to be Scarlet. I was always meant to love you. To marry you."
The priest coughed. "Say the words, my son, and you will marry her."
Rob grinned and I laughed, and Rob stepped closer, cradling my hand. "I take you as my wedded wife, Scarlet. And thereto I plight my troth." He slipped the ring on my finger and it fit. "Receive the Holy Spirit," the priest said, and kissed Robin on the cheek. Rob's happy grin turned a touch wolflike as he turned back to me, hauling me against him and angling his mouth over mine. I wrapped my arms around him and my head spun- I couldn't tell if we were spinning, if I were dizzy, if my feet were on the ground anymore at all, but all I knew, all I cared for, were him, his mouth against mine, and letting the moment we became man and wife spin into eternity.
A.C. Gaughen (Lion Heart (Scarlet, #3))
A cell phone rang from the end table to my right and Kristen bolted up straight. She put her beer on the coffee table and dove across my lap for her phone, sprawling over me.
My eyes flew wide. I’d never been that close to her before. I’d only ever touched her hand.
If I pushed her down across my knees, I could spank her ass.
She grabbed her phone and whirled off my lap. “It’s Sloan. I’ve been waiting for this call all day.” She put a finger to her lips for me to be quiet, hit the Talk button, and put her on speaker. “Hey, Sloan, what’s up?”
“Did you send me a potato?”
Kristen covered her mouth with her hand and I had to stifle a snort. “Why? Did you get an anonymous potato in the mail?”
“Something is seriously wrong with you,” Sloan said. “Congratulations, he put a ring on it. PotatoParcel.com.” She seemed to be reading a message. “You found a company that mails potatoes with messages on them? Where do you find this stuff?”
Kristen’s eyes danced. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Do you have the other thing though?”
“Yeeeess. The note says to call you before I open it. Why am I afraid?”
Kristen giggled. “Open it now. Is Brandon with you?”
“Yes, he’s with me. He’s shaking his head.”
I could picture his face, that easy smile on his lips.
“Okay, I’m opening it. It looks like a paper towel tube. There’s tape on the—AHHHHHH! Are you kidding me, Kristen?! What the hell!”
Kristen rolled forward, putting her forehead to my shoulder in laughter.
“I’m covered in glitter! You sent me a glitter bomb? Brandon has it all over him! It’s all over the sofa!”
Now I was dying. I covered my mouth, trying to keep quiet, and I leaned into Kristen, who was howling, our bodies shaking with laughter. I must not have been quiet enough though.
“Wait, who’s with you?” Sloan asked.
Kristen wiped at her eyes. “Josh is here.”
“Didn’t he have a date tonight? Brandon told me he had a date.”
“He did, but he came back over after.”
“He came back over?” Her voice changed instantly. “And what are you two doing? Remember what we talked about, Kristen…” Her tone was taunting.
Kristen glanced at me. Sloan didn’t seem to realize she was on speaker. Kristen hit the Talk button and pressed the phone to her ear. “I’ll call you tomorrow. I love you!” She hung up on her and set her phone down on the coffee table, still tittering.
“And what did you two talk about?” I asked, arching an eyebrow.
I liked that she’d talked about me. Liked it a lot.
“Just sexually objectifying you. The usual,” she said, shrugging. “Nothing a hot fireman like you can’t handle.”
A hot fireman like you.I did my best to hide my smirk.
“So do you do this to Sloan a lot?” I asked.
“All the time. I love messing with her. She’s so easily worked up.” She reached for her beer.
I chuckled. “How do you sleep at night knowing she’ll be finding glitter in her couch for the next month?”
She took a swig of her beer. “With the fan on medium.”
My laugh came so hard Stuntman Mike looked up and cocked his head at me.
She changed the channel and stopped on HBO. Some show. There was a scene with rose petals down a hallway into a bedroom full of candles. She shook her head at the TV. “See, I just don’t get why that’s romantic. You want flower petals stuck to your ass? And who’s gonna clean all that shit up? Me? Like, thanks for the flower sex, let’s spend the next half an hour sweeping?”
“Those candles are a huge fire hazard.” I tipped my beer toward the screen.
“Right? And try getting wax out of the carpet. Good luck with that.”
I looked at the side of her face. “So what do you think is romantic?”
“Common sense,” she answered without thinking about it. “My wedding wouldn’t be romantic. It would be entertaining. You know what I want at my wedding?” she said, looking at me. “I want the priest from The Princess Bride. The mawage guy.
Abby Jimenez (The Friend Zone (The Friend Zone, #1))