Category Archives: Quotable Quotes

Absolute Enemy

“Power according to men, as well as the spirit of power which that brings about, is truly the absolute enemy of God.  God is with those who have little power whether they have chosen this way or whether they are found involuntarily in this situation; and at issue is both material and spiritual power.  Inversely, those who have power, of whatever kind, always turn away from God.”

— Jacques Ellul, Apocalypse:  The Book of Revelation, 138.

Books

“I still love books.  Nothing a computer can do can compare to a book.  You can’t really put a book on the Internet.  Three companies have offered to put books by me on the Net, and I said, ‘If you can make something that has a nice jacket, nice paper with that nice smell, then we’ll talk.’  All the computer can give you is a manuscript.  People don’t want to read manuscripts.  They want to read books.  Books smell good.  They look good.  You can press it to your bosom.  You can carry it in your pocket.”

— Ray Bradbury

War Prayer

“O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle — be Thou near them!  With them, in spirit, we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe.  O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells, help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead, help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain.   Help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire, help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief, help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unbefriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun-flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it — for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet!  We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts.  Amen.”

— Mark Twain, “The War Prayer”

Thinking Christianly

” … Try the following experiment.  Take some topic of current political importance.  Try to establish in your own mind what is the right policy to recommend in relation to it; and do so in total detachment from any political alignment or prejudice; form your conclusions by thinking christianly.  Then discuss the matter with fellow-members of your congregation.  The full loneliness of the thinking Christian will descend upon you.  It is not that people disagree with you.  (Some do and some don’t.)  In a sense that does not matter.  But they will not think christianly. They will think pragmatically, politically, but not christianly.  In almost all cases you will find that views are wholly determined by political allegiance.  Though he does not face it, the loyalty of the average Churchman to the Conservative Party or the Labour Party is in practical political matters prior to his loyalty to the Church.”   

— Harry Blamires, The Christian Mind

Overcome Evil with Good

“The Son of the Highest, the great self-sacrificing Non-Resistant, is our prophet, priest, and king.  Though the maddened inhabitants of the earth have so long turned a deaf ear to his voice, he shall yet be heard.  He declares that good is the only antagonist of evil which can conquer the deadly foe.  Therefore he enjoins on his disciples the duty of resisting evil only with good.”  

— Adin Ballou, Christian Non-Resistance

The Establishment

“The notion that this world, and the powers of it, are in the grip of evil, is too well established in Christian teaching to be lightly disregarded …

“By ‘the world’ I mean what the Church has always meant by ‘the world’ — and this surely includes the official and respectable earthly set-up, the thing ruled over by the Powers-that-be; indeed (there is no escaping the word) what we now call ‘the Establishment.’  This needs to be said, for we have now sufficiently secularized our minds to be in the habit of viewing the social and political set-up in which we are involved as something wholly, or largely, good in the eyes of God …

“… The Church can never truly ally itself either with our materialistic Conservatism or our materialistic Socialism.  For the Church is up against the Establishment.  It always was.”

                 — Harry Blamires, The Christian Mind    

Opinion

“Public opinion surveys always reveal that people have opinions even on the most complicated questions, except for a small minority (usually the most informed and those who have reflected most).  The majority prefers expressing stupidities to not expressing any opinions:  this gives them the feeling of participation.”

                    — Jacques Ellul, Propaganda  

The Problem of Loyalty

“It might be argued that the problem of loyalty is the key problem of our age …

“Loyalty may be said to be evil in the sense that if any action is defended on the grounds of loyalty alone, it is defended on no rational grounds at all.  ‘I do this out of loyalty to my party’ is irrational and amoral unless it is consequent upon, ‘My party is operating wholly and in every particular for the benefit of the human race.’  ‘I do this out of loyalty to my leader’ is irrational and amoral unless it is consequent upon, ‘My leader’s character, or purpose, or policy is such that it ought to be supported.’  Loyalty in itself is not a moral basis for action.”

                  — Harry Blamires, The Christian Mind 

Current Events

“Neither past events nor great metaphysical problems challenge the average individual, the ordinary man of our times.  He is not sensitive to what is tragic in life; he is not anguished by a question that God might put to him; he does not feel challenged except by current events, political or economic …

“A man caught up in the news must remain on the surface of the event; he is carried along by the current, and can at no time take respite to judge and appreciate; he cannot stop to reflect.”

                                     — Jacques Ellul, Propaganda  

Team Spirit

Football 001

“It is needless to speak of the totalitarian frame of mind for which the exercise of sports paves the way.  We constantly hear that the vital thing is ‘team spirit,’ and so on.  It is worth noting that technicized sport was first developed in the United States, the most conformist of all countries, and that it was then developed as a matter of course by the dictatorships, Fascist, Nazi, and Communist, to the point that it became an indispensable constituent element of totalitarian regimes.

“Sport is an essential factor in the creation of the mass man. “

Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society. 

Books 001

 

Nationalism

“The idolatry of patriotism, believing that any one nation’s or people’s cause is so worthy that to it human lives — whether “friend” or “foe” — should be sacrificed, must be unveiled not first when it has actually led to open warfare but already when the possibility of such slaughter has been accepted into government plans.  Not taking of life, but the idolizing of one’s interest which leads finally to killing, is the deepest sin of militarism. Whether or not the sixth commandment forbids all killing is still debated; in any case the first forbids nationalism.”

                — John Howard Yoder

Unspeakable Blessedness

“I am sometimes so taken with astonishment … at the unspeakable blessedness of some passing minute, that I could not have the heart to be unthankful even if I knew for certain there was nothing besides:  nothing before that minute or after it, for ever and ever.  And that minute, nothing too, as soon as it was over.”

       — E. R. Eddison, A Fish Dinner in Memison 

Never Out of Season

Books 001

“It is never out of season to protest against that coarse familiarity with sacred things which is busy on the lip, and idle in the heart; or against the confounding of Christianity with any class of persons who, in the words of Swift, have just enough religion to make them hate, and not enough to make them love, one another.”

Charles Dickens, Preface to the Cheap Edition of The Pickwick Papers, 1847