Quotations about   faith

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I’m working at trying to be a good Christian, and that’s serious business. It’s like trying to be a good Jew, a good Muslim, a good Buddhist, a good Shintoist, a good Zoroastrian, a good friend, a good lover, a good mother, a good buddy — it’s serious business. It’s not something where you think, Oh, I’ve got it done. I did it all day, hotdiggety. The truth is, all day long you try to do it, try to be it, and then in the evening if you’re honest and have a little courage you look at yourself and say, Hmm. I only blew it eighty-six times. Not bad.

Maya Angelou (1928-2014) American poet, memoirist, activist [b. Marguerite Ann Johnson]
“The Art of Fiction,” Paris Review, #116, Interview with George Plimpton (1990)
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Added on 3-Jan-19 | Last updated 3-Jan-19
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A foolish faith in authority is the worst enemy of truth.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) German-American physicist
Remark to Jost Winteler (8 Jul 1901), in Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, Vol. 1 (1987) [tr. Beck]
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Added on 6-Nov-18 | Last updated 6-Nov-18
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Ah, what a dusty answer gets the soul
When hot for certainties in this our life!

George Meredith (1828-1909) English novelist and poet
Modern Love, Sonnet 50 (1862)
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I also think living in the country gives you faith. All you have to do is get up and look at the mountains and look at the other animals to realize that your problems are mostly made up or exacerbated by humans. But human life isn’t necessarily life. There’s so much more out there.

Rita Mae Brown (b. 1944) American author, playwright
Interview in OutSmart (Jan 1998)
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Depend upon it, as long as the church is living so much like the world, we cannot expect our children to be brought into the fold.

Dwight Lyman "D. L." Moody (1837-1899) American evangelist and publisher
God’s Good News, “Where Art Thou?” [Gen. 3:9] (1897)
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Added on 23-Oct-17 | Last updated 23-Oct-17
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It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics. This is equally true whether the faith is Communism or Holy-Rollerism; indeed it is the bounden duty of the faithful to do so. The custodians of the True Faith cannot logically admit tolerance of heresy to be a virtue.

Robert A. Heinlein (1909-1988) American writer
“Concerning Stories Never Written” (Oct 1952)
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Man is so built that he cannot imagine his own death. This leads to endless invention of religions. While this conviction by no means proves immortality to be a fact, questions generated by it are overwhelmingly important. The nature of life, how ego hooks into the body, the problem of ego itself and why each ego seems to be the center of the universe, the purpose of life, the purpose of the universe — these are paramount questions, Ben; they can never be trivial. Science hasn’t solved them — and who am I to sneer at religions for trying, no matter how unconvincingly to me? Old Mumbo Jumbo may eat me yet; I can’t rule him out because he owns no fancy cathedrals. Nor can I rule out one godstruck boy leading a sex cult in an upholstered attic; he might be the Messiah. The only religious opinion I feel sure of is this: self-awareness is not just a bunch of amino acids bumping together!

Robert A. Heinlein (1909-1988) American writer
Stranger in a Strange Land, Part 4, ch. 33 [Jubal] (1961)
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In the "uncut" original version (1960): "Self-aware man is so built that he cannot believe in his own extinction ... and this automatically leads to endless invention of religions. While this involuntary conviction of immortality by no means proves immortality to be a fact, the questions generated by this conviction are overwhelmingly important ... whether we can answer them or not, or prove what answers we suspect. The nature of life, how the ego hooks into the physical body, the problem of the ego itself and why each ego seems to be the center of the universe, the purpose of life, the purpose of the universe -- these are paramount questions Ben; they can never be trivial. Science can't, or hasn't, coped with any of them -- and who am I to sneer at religions for trying to answer them, no matter how unconvincingly to me? Old Mumbo Jumbo may eat me yet; I can't rule Him out because He owns no fancy cathedrals. Nor can I rule out one godstruck boy leading a sex cult in an upholstered attic; he might be the Messiah. The only religious opinion that I feel sure of is this: self-awareness is not just a bunch of amino acids bumping together!"
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The capacity of a human mind to believe devoutly in what seems to me to be the highly improbable — from table tapping to the superiority of their own children — has never been plumbed. Faith strikes me as intellectual laziness, but I don’t argue with it — especially as I am rarely in a position to prove that it is mistaken.

Robert A. Heinlein (1909-1988) American writer
Stranger in a Strange Land, ch. 18 (1960 ed., publ. 1991)
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An elided version is found in the 1961 published edition, in ch. 13.
Added on 14-Jul-17 | Last updated 14-Jul-17
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Though I’ve never understood how God could expect his creatures to pick the one true religion by faith — it strikes me as a sloppy way to run a universe.

Robert A. Heinlein (1909-1988) American writer
Stranger in a Strange Land, ch. 13 [Jubal] (1961)
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In the "original uncut" edition (1960, published 1991), this is given as: "I've never been able to understand 'faith' myself, nor to see how a just God could expect his creatures to pick the one true religion out of an infinitude of false ones -- by faith alone. It strikes me as a sloppy way to run an organization, whether a universe or a smaller one."
Added on 7-Jul-17 | Last updated 12-Jul-17
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Do not fancy, as too many do, that thou canst praise God by singing hymns to Him in church once a week, and disobeying Him all the week long. … Dost thou fancy as the heathen do, that God needs to be flattered with fine words? or that thou wilt be heard for thy much speaking, and thy vain repetitions? He asks of thee works as well as words; and more, He asks of thee works first and words after.

Charles Kingsley (1819-1875) English clergyman, historian, essayist, novelist (pseud. "Parson Lot")
The Good News of God, Sermon 4 “The Song of the Three Children (Daniel 3:16-18)” (1881)
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Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?

Douglas Adams (1952-2001) English writer
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, ch. 16 [Ford] (1979)
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The most dangerous type of atheism is not theoretical atheism, but practical atheism — that’s the most dangerous type. And the world, even the church, is filled up with people who pay lip service to God and not life service. And there is always a danger that we will make it appear externally that we believe in God when internally we don’t. We say with our mouths that we believe in him, but we live with our lives like he never existed. That is the ever-present danger confronting religion. That’s a dangerous type of atheism.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Rediscovering Lost Values,” sermon, Second Baptist Church, Detroit (28 Feb 1954)
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Nobody ever knows the whole truth. That’s why promises mean something. Otherwise they’d be too easy, don’t you see? We look toward the unknown future and promise to be faithful no matter what comes.

Claudia Gray (contemp.) American writer [pseud. of Amy Vincent]
Lost Stars (2015)
Added on 27-Feb-17 | Last updated 27-Feb-17
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The practice of terror serves the true believer not only to cow and crush his opponents but also to invigorate and intensify his own faith.

hoffer-practice-of-terror-intensify-faith-wist_info-quote

Eric Hoffer (1902-1983) American writer, philosopher, longshoreman
The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, ch. 85 (1951)
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All men profess honesty as long as they can. To believe all men honest would be folly. To believe none so is something worse.

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) US President (1825-29)
Letter to William Eustis (22 Jun 1809)
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I must confess, my friends, the road ahead will not always be smooth. There will be still rocky places of frustration and meandering points of bewilderment. There will be inevitable setbacks here and there. There will be those moments when the buoyancy of hope will be transformed into the fatigue of despair. Our dreams will sometimes be shattered and our ethereal hopes blasted. We may again with tear-drenched eyes have to stand before the bier of some courageous civil rights worker whose life will be snuffed out by the dastardly acts of bloodthirsty mobs. Difficult and painful as it is, we must walk on in the days ahead with an audacious faith in the future.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
‘Where Do We Go From Here?” Southern Christian Leadership Conference (1967)
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Added on 28-Oct-16 | Last updated 28-Oct-16
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Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile.

sunday-church-christian-garage-automobile-wist_info-quote

William Ashley "Billy" Sunday (1862-1935) American athlete, evangelist, preacher
In William T. Ellis, “Billy” Sunday, The Man and his Message, ch. 12 (1914)
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But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
Letter to F. A. Van der Kamp (27 Dec 1816)
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To aim to convert a man by miracles is a profanation of the soul.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“The Divinity School Address” (1838)
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But I must submit all my Hopes and Fears, to an overruling Providence, in which, unfashionable as the Faith may be, I firmly believe.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
Letter to Abigail Adams (3 Jul 1776)
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If you are threatened or offended by people disagreeing, challenging or even ridiculing your faith, your faith can’t be that strong.

Ricky Gervais (b. 1961) English comedian, actor, director, writer
Twitter (23 Sep 2012)
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By concentrating on what is good in people, by appealing to their idealism and their sense of justice, and by asking them to put their faith in the future, socialists put themselves at a severe disadvantage.

Ian McEwan (b. 1948) English novelist and screenwriter
City Limits (London, May 27, 1983)
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He believed in it, as certain good women believe in the leviathan — by faith, not by reason.

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, ch. 4 (1870)
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Now any dogma, based primarily on faith and emotionalism, is a dangerous weapon to use on others, since it is almost impossible to guarantee that the weapon will never be turned on the user.

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
Foundation, Part 5 “The Merchant Princes,” Sec. 13 (1951)
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Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

Francis Pharcellus Church (1839-1906) American publisher and editor
“Is There a Santa Claus?” The New York Sun (21 Sep 1897)
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You must not tell lies because if you do you will find yourself unable to believe anything that is told to you.

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George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) British playwright and critic
The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism, and Fascism, ch. 74 (1928)
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We are very near to greatness: one step and we are safe: can we not take the leap?
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Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (28 Oct 1841)
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Remember, though we struggle against things because we are afraid of them, it is often the other way round — we get afraid because we struggle. Are you struggling, resisting? Don’t you think Our Lord says to you ‘Peace, child, peace. Relax. Let go. Underneath are the everlasting arms. Let go, I will catch you. Do you trust me so little?’ Of course, this may not be the end. Then make it a good rehearsal.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
Letter to Mary Willis Shelburne (17 Jun 1963)

Discussing the closeness of death.
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You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him of whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape? The words compelle intrare, compel them to come in, have been so abused by wicked men that we shudder at them; but, properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy. The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
Surprised by Joy, ch. 14 (1955)
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I acknowledge myself a unitarian — Believing that the Father alone, is the supreme God, and that Jesus Christ derived his Being, and all his powers and honors from the Father. […] There is not any reasoning which can convince me, contrary to my senses, that three is one, and one three.

Abigail Adams (1744-1818) American correspondent, First Lady (1797-1801)
Letter to John Quincy Adams (5 May 1816)
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The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Poor Richard’s Almanack (1758)
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I doubt that anyone does not really believe in God. People may think they don’t have any belief, but you will usually find that there is a belief in something beyond himself. In any case, I would not judge a man’s character by his belief or unbelief. I would judge his character by his deeds; and no matter what he said about his beliefs, his behavior would soon show whether he was a man of good character or bad.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the US (1933-45), politician, diplomat, activist
“The Wisdom of Eleanor Roosevelt” (1963)
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If religion is too big for us, we should be careful which parts we choose.

Abdal Hakim Murad (b. 1960) British Muslim shaykh, researcher, writer, academic [b. Timothy John Winter]
“Contentions 2,” #87
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Religion to me is simply the conviction that all human beings must hold some belief in a power greater than themselves, and that whatever their religious belief may be, it must move them to live better in this world and to approach whatever the future holds with serenity.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the US (1933-45), politician, diplomat, activist
“If You Ask Me,” Ladies Home Journal (Oct 1941)
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The curse of man, and the cause of nearly all his woes, is his stupendous capacity for believing the incredible.

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
In Defense of Women (1918)
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BOOK: Only one thing is gonna walk you though this, Mal: belief.

MAL: You know I always look to you for counsel, but sermons make me sleepy, Shepherd. I ain’t looking for help on high. That’s a long wait for a train don’t come.

BOOK: When I talk about belief, why do you always assume I’m talking about God?

Joss Whedon (b. 1964) American screenwriter, author, producer [Joseph Hill Whedon]
Serenity (2005)
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Surely, in the light of history, it is more intelligent to hope rather than to fear, to try rather than not to try. For one thing we know beyond all doubt: Nothing has ever been achieved by the person who says, “It can’t be done.”

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the US (1933-45), politician, diplomat, activist
You Learn By Living (1960)
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“I believe that the Bible is the literal word of God.” And I say no, it’s not, Dad. “Well, I believe that it is.” Well, you know, some people believe they’re Napoleon. That’s fine. Beliefs are neat. Cherish them, but don’t share them like they’re the truth.

Bill Hicks (1961-1994) American stand-up comedian, social critic, satirist, musician [William Melvin "Bill" Hicks]
Filling Up the Hump (1993)
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We are experiencing all kinds of trouble, but we aren’t crushed. We are confused, but we aren’t depressed. We are harassed, but we aren’t abandoned. We are knocked down, but we aren’t knocked out.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 [CEB]

Alt. trans:
  • "We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed." [NRSV]
  • "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed." [KJV]
  • "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." [NIV]
  • "We are often troubled, but not crushed; sometimes in doubt, but never in despair; there are many enemies, but we are never without a friend; and though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed." [GNT]
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To accomplish great things we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe.

Anatole France (1844-1924) French poet, journalist, novelist, Nobel Laureate [pseud. of Jaques-Anatole-François Thibault]
Speech, Académie Française (24 Dec 1896)
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Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement; nothing can be done without hope.

Helen Keller (1880-1968) American author and lecturer
“Optimism” (1903)
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The important thing is neither your nationality nor the religion you professed, but how your faith translated itself in your life.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the US (1933-45), politician, diplomat, activist
“My Day” (23 Sep 1943)
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The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt. You must leave room for the Lord, not for our certainties; we must be humble. Uncertainty is in every true discernment that is open to finding confirmation in spiritual consolation.

Francis I (b. 1936) Argentinian Catholic Pope (2013- ) [b. Jorge Mario Bergoglio]
Interview with Antonio Spadaro, America Magazine (30 Sep 2013)
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He that will believe only what he can fully comprehend, must have a very long head, or a very short creed.

Charles Caleb "C. C." Colton (1780-1832) English cleric, writer
Lacon: or, Many Things in Few Words, #470 (1820 ed.)
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I believe that the present suffering is nothing compared to the coming glory that is going to be revealed to us. The whole creation waits breathless with anticipation for the revelation of God’s sons and daughters. Creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice — it was the choice of the one who subjected it — but in the hope that the creation itself will be set free from slavery to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of God’s children. We know that the whole creation is groaning together and suffering labor pains up until now. And it’s not only the creation. We ourselves who have the Spirit as the first crop of the harvest also groan inside as we wait to be adopted and for our bodies to be set free. We were saved in hope. If we see what we hope for, that isn’t hope. Who hopes for what they already see? But if we hope for what we don’t see, we wait for it with patience.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Romans 8:18-25
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We have abundant reason to rejoice, that, in this land, the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition, and that every person may here worship God according to the dictates of his own heart. In this enlightened age, & in this land of equal liberty, it is our boast, that a man’s religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining & holding the highest offices that are known in the United States.

George Washington (1732-1799) American military leader, Founding Father, US President (1789-1797)
Letter to the New Church (22 Jan 1793)
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Sacrifice is a form of bargaining.

Holbrook Jackson (1874-1948) English journalist, editor, author
Platitudes in the Making, ch. 3 “The Inner Temple,” #12 (1911)
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There are those who believe something, and therefore will tolerate nothing; and on the other hand, those who tolerate everything, because they believe nothing.

Robert Browning (1812-1889) English poet
(Attributed)
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Cited in Tryon Edwards, A Dictionary of Thoughts (1908 ed.).
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Every time a child says, “I don’t believe in fairies,” there is a fairy somewhere that falls down dead.

James Barrie (1860-1937) Scottish novelist and dramatist
Peter Pan, Act 1 (1928)
Added on 23-Jan-15 | Last updated 23-Jan-15
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You can’t reason someone out of an idea they weren’t reasoned into.

Sig Lines
~
Added on 16-Jan-15 | Last updated 16-Jan-15
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When the limit of suffering is overpassed, the most imperturbable virtue is disconcerted.

Victor Hugo (1802-1885) French writer
Les Misérables, “Saint Denis” (15.1) [tr. Wilbour (1862)]
Added on 16-Dec-14 | Last updated 16-Dec-14
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Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation — not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy. Our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over two hundred years ago: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” That is the true genius of America — a faith in simple dreams, an insistence on small miracles.

Barack Obama (b. 1961) American politician, US President (2009-2017)
Keynote speech, Democratic National Convention (26 Jul 2004)
    (Source)
Added on 3-Dec-14 | Last updated 3-Dec-14
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Gentleness is everywhere in daily life, a sign that faith rules through ordinary things: through cooking and small talk, through storytelling, making love, fishing, tending animals and sweet corn and flowers, through sports, music and books, raising kids — all the places where the gravy soaks in and grace shines through.

Garrison Keillor (b. 1942) American entertainer, author
“The Meaning of Life,” We Are Still Married (1989)
Added on 13-Nov-14 | Last updated 13-Nov-14
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Ah! how many Judases have we in these days, that kiss Christ, and yet betray Christ; that in their words profess him, but in their works deny him; that bow their knee to him, and yet in their hearts despise him; that call him Jesus, and yet will not obey him for their Lord.

Thomas Brooks (1608-1680) English Puritan divine, writer
Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, “A Word to the Reader” (1652)
Added on 12-Nov-14 | Last updated 12-Nov-14
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We must be something in order to do something, but we must also do something in order to be something. The best rule, I think, is this: If we find it hard to do good, then let us try to be good. If, on the other hand, we find it hard to be good, then let us try to do good. Being leads to doing, doing leads to being. Yet below both as their common root is faith, — faith in God, in man, in ourselves, in the eternal superiority of right over wrong, truth over error, good over evil, love over all selfishness and all sin.

James Freeman Clarke (1810-1888) American theologian and author
(Attributed)

Quoted in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).
Added on 24-Oct-14 | Last updated 24-Oct-14
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