Quotations about   afterlife

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“Far better that they are dead and with God, who will know how to deal with them. That is, after all,” Miss Mead said gravely, “what God is for.”

Kerry Greenwood (b. 1954) Australian author and lawyer
Urn Burial (1996)
Added on 29-May-17 | Last updated 29-May-17
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The principle is surely not new in the world: everyone ought to know by this time that a mountebank, thinking only of tomorrow’s cakes, is far safer with power in his hands than a prophet and martyr, his eyes fixed frantically upon the rewards beyond the grave.

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
“What I Believe,” sec. 2, Forum and Century (Sep 1930)
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Added on 15-May-17 | Last updated 15-May-17
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DEATH: You see. No shock. No engulfment. No tearing asunder. What you feared would come like an explosion is like a whisper. What you thought was the end is the beginning.

George Clayton Johnson (1929-2015) American writer
Twilight Zone, 3×16 “Nothing in the Dark” (5 Jan 1962)
Added on 17-Apr-17 | Last updated 17-Apr-17
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And, when you, looking on your fellow men
Behold them doomed to endless misery,
How can you talk of joy and rapture then?
May God withhold such cruel joy from me!

Anne Brontë (1820-1849) British novelist, poet [pseud. Acton Bell]
“A Word to Calvinists” (28 May 1843)
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Added on 26-Jan-17 | Last updated 26-Jan-17
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I have little confidence in any enterprise or business or investment that promises dividends only after the death of the stockholders.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
Letter to the Chicago Times (27 Mar 1890)
Added on 23-Sep-16 | Last updated 23-Sep-16
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“Do unto others …” is a good rule of thumb. I live by that. Forgiveness is probably the greatest virtue there is. But that’s exactly what it is -­‐ a virtue. Not just a Christian virtue. No one owns being good. I’m good. I just don’t believe I’ll be rewarded for it in heaven. My reward is here and now. It’s knowing that I try to do the right thing. That I lived a good life. And that’s where spirituality really lost its way. When it became a stick to beat people with. “Do this or you’ll burn in hell.”

You won’t burn in hell. But be nice anyway.

Ricky Gervais (b. 1961) English comedian, actor, director, writer
“Why I’m an Atheist,” Wall Street Journal (19 Dec 2010)
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Added on 4-Aug-16 | Last updated 4-Aug-16
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Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
“The Weight of Glory,” sermon, Oxford University Church of St Mary the Virgin (8 Jun 1941)
Added on 22-Jun-16 | Last updated 22-Jun-16
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The wish falls often warm upon my heart that I may learn nothing here that I cannot continue in the other world; that I may do nothing here but deeds that will bear fruit in heaven.

Jean-Paul Richter (1763-1825) German novelist, art historian, aesthetician [pseud. Jean-Paul]
Letter to Rector Werner (1781)
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Added on 22-Jun-16 | Last updated 22-Jun-16
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“You are fettered,” said Scrooge, trembling. “Tell me why?”

“I wear the chain I forged in life,” replied the Ghost. “I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.”

Dickens - forged in life - wist_info quote

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) English writer and social critic
A Christmas Carol (1843)

Sometimes oddly paraphrased, "We forge the chains we wear in life."
Added on 16-Jun-16 | Last updated 16-Jun-16
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He shrugged his shoulders. “I have known many gods. He who denies them is as blind as he who trusts them too deeply. I seek not beyond death. It may be the blackness averred by the Nemedian skeptics, or Crom’s realm of ice and cloud, or the snowy plains and vaulted halls of the Nordheimer’s Valhalla. I know not, nor do I care. Let me live deep while I live; let me know the rich juices of red meat and stinging wine on my palate, the hot embrace of white arms, the mad exultation of battle when the blue blades flame and crimson, and I am content. Let teachers and priests and philosophers brood over questions of reality and illusion. I know this: if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.”

Robert E. Howard (1906-1936) American author
“Queen of the Black Coast” (1934)
Added on 9-May-16 | Last updated 9-May-16
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The doors of Hell are locked on the inside. I do not mean that the ghosts may not wish to come out of Hell, in the vague fashion wherein an envious man “wishes” to be happy: but they certainly do not will even the first preliminary stages of that self-abandonment through which alone the soul can reach any good. They enjoy forever the horrible freedom they have demanded, and are therefore self-enslaved: just as the blessed, forever submitting to obedience, become through all eternity more and more free.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
The Problem of Pain (1940)
Added on 30-Dec-15 | Last updated 30-Dec-15
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There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations — these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit — immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn: We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously — no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner — no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat — the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.

Lewis - ordinary people - wist_info quote

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
“The Weight of Glory,” sermon, Oxford University Church of St Mary the Virgin (8 Jun 1941)
Added on 23-Dec-15 | Last updated 22-Jun-16
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   “Even if some details of dogma aren’t true — or even all of ’em — think what a consolation religion and the church are to weak humanity!”
   “Are they? I wonder! Don’t cheerful agnostics, who know they are going to die dead, worry much less than good Baptists, who worry lest their sons and cousins and sweethearts fail to get into the Baptist heaven — or what is even worse, who wonder if they may not have guessed wrong — if God may not be a Catholic, maybe, or a Mormon or Seventh-day Adventist instead of a Baptist, and then they’ll go to hell themselves. Consolation? No!”

Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) American novelist, playwright
Elmer Gantry (1927)
Added on 10-Nov-15 | Last updated 10-Nov-15
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And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
The Last Battle, final words (1956)
Added on 28-Oct-15 | Last updated 28-Oct-15
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Heaven will solve our problems, but not, I think, by showing us subtle reconciliations between all our apparently contradictory notions. The notions will all be knocked from under our feet. We shall see that there never was any problem.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
A Grief Observed (1961)
Added on 30-Sep-15 | Last updated 30-Sep-15
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Talk to me about the truth of religion and I’ll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I’ll listen submissively. But don’t come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don’t understand.

Unless, of course, you can literally believe all that stuff about family reunions “on the further shore,” pictured in entirely earthly terms. But that is all unscriptural, all out of bad hymns and lithographs. There’s not a word of it in the Bible. And it rings false. We know it couldn’t be like that. Reality never repeats. The exact same thing is never taken away and given back. How well the Spiritualists bait their hook! “Things on this side are not so different after all.” There are cigars in Heaven. For that is what we should all like. The happy past restored.

And that, just that, is what I cry out for, with mad, midnight endearments and entreaties spoken into the empty air.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
A Grief Observed (1961)
Added on 29-Jul-15 | Last updated 29-Jul-15
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Consider and act with reference to the true ends of existence. This world is but the vestibule of an immortal life. Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity.

Edwin Hubbell Chapin (1814-1880) American clergyman
(Attributed)
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Quoted in Charles Northend, Memory Gems (1890).

Variant: "Every action of your life touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity." ["Advice to the Young," quoted in Charles W. Sanders, Sanders' Union Fourth Reader (1873)]
Added on 20-Apr-15 | Last updated 11-Sep-17
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It was the Unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling. He stamped his right fore-hoof on the ground and neighed, and then cried: “I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this. Bree-hee-hee! Come further up, come further in!”

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
The Last Battle, ch. 15 (1956)
Added on 18-Nov-14 | Last updated 18-Nov-14
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How small man is on this little atom where he dies! But how great his intelligence! He knows when the face of the stars must be masked in darkness, when the comets will return after thousands of years, he who lasts only an instant! A microscopic insect lost in a fold of the heavenly robe, the orbs cannot hide from him a single one of their movements in the depth of space. What destinies will those stars, new to us, light? Is their revelation bound up with some new phase of humanity? You will know, race to be born; I know not, and I am departing.

François-René de Chateaubriand (1768-1848) French writer, politican, diplomat
Memoirs from Beyond the Grave [Mémoires d’Outre-Tombe], Book 42, ch. 18 (1848-1850) [tr. Kline]
Added on 13-May-14 | Last updated 13-May-14
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I was told that the Chinese said they would bury me by the Western Lake and build a shrine to my memory. I have some slight regret that this did not happen as I might have become a god, which would have been very chic for an atheist.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
Autobiography (1968)
Added on 17-Mar-14 | Last updated 17-Mar-14
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Here is my Creed: I believe in one God, Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by his Providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable Service we can render to him, is doing Good to his other Children. That the Soul of Man is immortal, and will be treated with Justice in another Life respecting its Conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental Principles of all sound Religion, and I regard them as you do, in whatever Sect I meet with them.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Letter to Ezra Stiles (9 Mar 1790)
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Added on 16-Sep-13 | Last updated 23-Sep-16
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The God of Hell should be held in loathing, contempt and scorn. A God who threatens eternal pain should be hated, not loved — cursed, not worshiped. A heaven presided over by such a God must be below the lowest hell. I want no part in any heaven in which the saved, the ransomed and redeemed will drown with shouts of joy the cries and sobs of hell — in which happiness will forget misery, where the tears of the lost only increase laughter and double bliss.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“The Great Infidels” (1881)
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Added on 25-Jan-12 | Last updated 2-Feb-16
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As long as we love we will hope to live, and when the one dies that we love we will say: “Oh, that we could meet again,” and whether we do or not it will not be the work of theology. It will be a fact in nature. I would not for my life destroy one star of human hope, but I want it so that when a poor woman rocks the cradle and sings a lullaby to the dimpled darling, she will not be compelled to believe that ninety-nine chances in a hundred she is raising kindling wood for hell.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“What Must We Do To Be Saved?” Sec. 11 (1880)
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Added on 7-Dec-11 | Last updated 11-Aug-14
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Heaven is where those are we love, and those who love us. And I wish to go to no world unless I can be accompanied by those who love me here. Talk about the consolations of this infamous doctrine. The consolations of a doctrine that makes a father say, “I can be happy with my daughter in hell;” that makes a mother say, “I can be happy with my generous, brave boy in hell;” that makes a boy say, “I can enjoy the glory of heaven with the woman who bore me, the woman who would have died for me, in eternal agony.” And they call that tidings of great joy.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“What Must We Do To Be Saved?” Sec. 9 (1880)
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Added on 26-Oct-11 | Last updated 4-Feb-16
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Men fear death as children fear to go in the dark; and as that natural fear in children is increased with tales, so is the other.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
“Of Death,” Essays, No. 2 (1625)
Added on 28-May-10 | Last updated 16-May-16
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For when the One Great Scorer comes
To write against your name,
He marks — not that you won or lost —
But how you played the game.

Grantland Rice (1880-1954) American sportswriter
“Alumnus Football,” l. 63ff (1908)

For more information on variations in this poem and quotation from it, see here.
Added on 11-Feb-10 | Last updated 10-Oct-17
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As long as we love we will hope to live, and when the one dies that we love we will say: “Oh, that we could meet again,” and whether we do or not it will not be the work of theology. It will be a fact in nature. I would not for my life destroy one star of human hope, but I want it so that when a poor woman rocks the cradle and sings a lullaby to the dimpled darling, she will not be compelled to believe that ninety-nine chances in a hundred she is raising kindling wood for hell.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“What Must We Do to Be Saved?” Sec. 11 (1880)
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Added on 23-Oct-09 | Last updated 4-Feb-16
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The dread of something after death,
The undiscovr’d country from whose bourn
No traveler returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than to fly to others that we know not of?

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Hamlet, Act 3, sc. 1, l. 78 [Hamlet] (1600)
Added on 23-Jul-09 | Last updated 26-May-16
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The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven, not man’s.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Letter to W.D. Howells (2 Apr 1899)
Added on 16-Apr-09 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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If people really want to go, and really try all their lives, I think they will get in; for I don’t believe there are any locks on that door, or any guards at the gate. I always imagine it is as it is in the picture, where the shining ones stretch out their hands to welcome poor Christian as he comes up from the river.

Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) American writer
Little Women, ch. 13 [Beth] (1868)
Added on 2-Sep-08 | Last updated 16-Apr-19
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If there is a God who will damn his children forever, I would rather go to hell than to go to heaven and keep the society of such an infamous tyrant. I make my choice now. I despise that doctrine. It has covered the cheeks of this world with tears. It has polluted the hearts of children, and poisoned the imaginations of men.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“The Liberty of Man, Woman, and Child” (1877)
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Added on 28-Aug-08 | Last updated 4-Feb-16
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I had rather live and love where death is king, than have eternal life where love is not.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“At a Child’s Grave” (8 Jan 1882)
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Added on 14-Aug-08 | Last updated 2-Feb-16
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Is it necessary that Heaven should borrow its light from the glare of Hell? Infinite punishment is infinite cruelty, endless injustice, immortal meanness. To worship an eternal gaoler hardens, debases, and pollutes even the vilest soul. While there is one sad and breaking heart in the universe, no good being can be perfectly happy.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“The Great Infidels” (1881)
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Added on 10-Jul-08 | Last updated 2-Feb-16
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The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there’s little good evidence. Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.

Carl Sagan (1934-1996) American scientist and writer
“In the Valley of the Shadow,” Parade (10 Mar 1996)
Added on 9-Jun-08 | Last updated 9-Feb-16
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I have made up my mind that if there is a God, he will be merciful to the merciful.
Upon that rock I stand.
That he will not torture the forgiving.
Upon that rock I stand.
That every man should be true to himself, and that there is no world, no star, in which honesty is a crime.
Upon that rock I stand.
The honest man, the good woman, the happy child, have nothing to fear, either in this world or the world to come.
Upon that rock I stand.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“What Must We Do to Be Saved?” Sec. 11 (1880)
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Added on 16-Apr-08 | Last updated 4-Feb-16
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Why should we fear that which will come to all that is? We cannot tell, we do not know, which is the greater blessing — life or death. We do not know whether the grave is the end of this life, or the door of another, or whether the night here is not somewhere else at dawn. Neither can we tell which is the more fortunate — the child dying in its mother’s arms, before its lips have learned to form a word, or he who journeys all the length of life’s uneven road, painfully taking the last slow steps with staff and crutch.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“At a Child’s Grave” (8 Jan 1882)
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Added on 8-Mar-08 | Last updated 2-Feb-16
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The dead do not suffer. And if they live again, their lives will surely be as good as ours. We have no fear. We are all children of the same mother, and the same fate awaits us all. We, too, have our religion, and it is this: Help for the living, hope for the dead.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“At a Child’s Grave” (8 Jan 1882)
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Added on 21-Feb-08 | Last updated 2-Feb-16
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But regardless of whether Hitler or the mass murderer of your choice sincerely regretted his actions in his last moments and made it to Heaven, with all due respect, what difference does it make to you? Apart from the awkward silence if you happen to bump into him there, I mean.

John Russell (contemp.) ("jr")
Belief-L (24 Nov. 1999)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 10-Feb-19
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