logo Practical Dreamers

Quips and quotes  -  4

Muddling through
As Plato himself recognized,  the beautiful city described in "Republic" is unattainable;  humans lack the knowledge and character to sustain such a utopia.   Thus muddling through is inevitable.   Moreover muddling through has undeniable virtues.   In the absence of philosopher kings,  the alternative to politics as a series of minor blunders in a relatively decentralized system may be politics as a series of colossal blunders in a centralized system.

William Ophuls

To pray is to pay attention to something or someone other than oneself.

W.H. Auden

Love your neighbour as yourself
This is not only a commandment but also a promise or reward.

Meister Eckhart

Ethical infants
The world has achieved brilliance without conscience.   Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants.

Omar Bradley

Everything evens up in the end.   The rich man has his ice in the summer and the poor man gets his in the winter.

L.I. Wilder


Sense of humour
I have never understood why it should be considered derogatory to the Creator to suppose that he has a sense of humour.

Dean Inge

No new sect ever had humour,  no disciples either,  even the disciples of Christ.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

The person who knows only one religion does not know any religion.

Friedrich Max Müller

One religious brand
   There is a dreadful Hell,
   And everlasting pains;
   There sinners must with devils dwell
   In darkness,  fire,  and chains.

Isaac Watts   "Divine Songs for Children"

You're probably not a member of a major league baseball team.   Your errors,  unless they are truly spectacular,  don't show up in the morning paper.

Jane Goodsell


He who does reverence to his own sect,  while disparaging the sects of others with intent to enhance the glory of his own sect,  by such conduct inflicts the severest injury on his own sect.

Asoka,  Buddhist

Self punishment
Intend to live in continual mortification,  and never to expect or desire any worldly ease or pleasure.

Diary of Jonathan Edwards

An idea isn't responsible for the people who believe in it.

Don Marquis

We don't see things as they are,  we see them as we are.

Anais Nin

TV is chewing gum for the eyes.

Frank Lloyd Wright


Endless life?
Death,  that final evil,  is one of the paths to eternity.   Endless life in the conditions of our existence would be a nightmare.

Nicolas Berdyaev

Rabbi Mendel said:  Everything in the world can be imitated except truth,  for truth that is imitated is no longer truth.

Tales of the Hasidim

In a fable by Ivan Krylov the wolf says to the lamb:  "Your guilt consists in this  --  I want to eat you up!"

Ivan Krylov, Russian

I shall ask no more than that you agree with Dean Inge that even though counting heads is not an ideal way to govern,  at least it is better than breaking them.

Judge Learned Hand

Every man has a right to be wrong in his opinions.   But no man has a right to be wrong in his facts.

Bernard Baruch


A good friend
I don't need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod.   My shadow does that much better.


A young monk, who was travelling,  lay down under a tree and rested his head on a few bricks.   Some women,  who were passing on their way to fetch water,  said to one another:  'Look, there is someone who has become a monk,  yet he can't do without the idea of a pillow.   He has to have bricks instead.'   'They were quite right to criticize me,'  thought the monk,  so he threw the bricks away and laid his head on the ground.   On their way back the women laughed at him again.   'A fine sort of monk!   He feels insulted because we said he had a pillow.   Now he has thrown his pillow away!'   Then the monk thought,  'If I have a pillow people criticize me,  and if I don't have a pillow that doesn't suit them either.   You can't please them.   Let me try to please God alone.'

Hindu story

Truth or Christ?
Christ likes us to prefer truth to him because,  before being Christ,  he is truth.   If one turns aside from him to go towards the truth,  one will not go far before falling into his arms.

Simone Weil

Counting the cost
Make no friendship with an elephant-keeper if you have no room to entertain an elephant.


To worship a Christ or a Krishna is to worship God.   It is not,  however,  to worship a man as God,  not to worship a person.   It is to worship God himself,  the impersonal-personal Existence,  in and through the Incarnation;  it is to adore him as one with the eternal Spirit,  transcendent as the Father and immanent in all hearts.

Prabhavananda  (Hindu)


Political wisdom?
If you wish to be a success in the world,  promise everything,  deliver nothing.


I laugh when I hear that the fish in the water is thirsty.   You wander restlessly from forest to forest while the Reality is within your own dwelling.


Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Hanlon's Razor

The overwhelming majority of people,  including Christians,  are materialists.   They do not believe in the power of spirit.   They believe only in material power.

Nicolas Berdyaev

Ye must have faith
Anybody who has been seriously engaged in scientific work of any kind realises that over the gates of the temple of science are written the words: "Ye must have faith."   It is a quality which the scientist cannot dispense with.

Max Planck


They say  'He cannot be found'.   Something that cannot be 'found' is what I desire.


Acceptable unemployment
An "acceptable" level of unemployment means that the government economist to whom it is acceptable still has a job.

Newlan's truism

Healing miracles
In the healing miracles we can see that,  in the family of God,  sick beggars become healthy people.   We should not understand this as a metaphysical miracle to prove Jesus' divine qualities,  but rather as a consequence,  which we too can imagine,  of the solidarity and love which was practised in this movement of the poor.

Luise Schottroff

God inefficient?
He didn't actually accuse God of inefficiency,  but when he prayed his tone was loud and angry,  like that of a dissatisfied guest in a carelessly managed hotel.

Clarence Day

Dogmatism is puppyism come to its full growth.

Douglas Jerrold


I simply believe that some part of the human Self or Soul is not subject to the laws of space and time.

C.G. Jung

Which came first?
A hen is only an egg's way of making another egg.

Samuel Butler

It is extremely urgent to try and adapt our thoughts realistically to a world which has no fixed general direction either upward or downward,  but is likely to vary largely according to what we do.

Mary Midgley   'Evolution as a Religion'

The marginality of women
The Christian marginality of women has its roots in the patriarchal beginnings of the church and in the androcentrism of Christian revelation.

Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza   'In Memory of Her'

Christian beginnings
Our understanding of early Christian beginnings is usually monolithic.   It is much determined by the Acts of the Apostles,  which pictures a straightforward development from the primitive community in Jerusalem founded on Pentecost to the world-wide mission of Paul climaxing with his arrival in Rome,  the political centre of the Greco-Roman world.   The Pauline epistles are understood not so much as historical sources reflecting a much more multifaceted early Christian situation fraught with tensions but as theological treatises expounding and defending the doctrine of justification by faith.

Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza   'In Memory of Her'


Beyond imagination
Now,  my suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose,  but queerer than we can suppose.   I suspect that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of,  in any philosophy.   That is the reason why I have no philosophy myself,  and must be my excuse for dreaming.

JBS Haldane

The chicken had his wish,  and was magically transformed into a fox.   Then he found that he could not digest grain.

Idries Shah

I've never met a healthy person who worried much about his health,  or a good person who worried much about his soul.

JBS Haldane

A statesman
I have the consolation to reflect that during the period of my administration not a drop of the blood of a single citizen was shed by the sword of war or of the law.

Thomas Jefferson

Non-violence leads to the highest ethics,  which is the goal of all evolution.   Until we stop harming all other living beings,  we are still savages.

Thomas Edison


Good value
No religion  is better than an unnatural one.

William Penn

Crisis of values
Christianity came to Africa last century as part and parcel of Western culture and civilization.   That being the case,  Christianity only compounded the problem of the crisis of values for Africans.   Through preaching and education churches changed traditional value systems.   Christianity weakened our ability to interpret and reconstruct systems of values and norms that give meaning to our lives.   All the more important that Africans,  particularly African Christians,  rediscover traditional African values,  and re-think Christianity in a non-Western,  African way.

Harvey Sindima

It isn't pollution that's harming the environment.   It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.

Dan Quayle,  former US Vice-President

Free market capitalism
Planned economies are heretical in free-market capitalism,  but global planning is done all the time by the managers of big capital.   It is a matter of who does the planning,  and in whose interests.

Ched Myers

To enjoy a good reputation,  give publicly and steal privately.

Josh Billings


For, when all is said,  as my friend George Rublee likes to put it,  the only success is to be a success as a person;  and it is still not too late for that.

Judge Learned Hand

Right livelihood
There is no easy formula for determining right and wrong livelihood,  but it is essential to keep the question alive.   To return the sense of dignity and honour to manhood,  we have to stop pretending that we can make a living at something that is trivial or destructive and still have a sense of legitimate self-worth.   A society in which vocation and job are separated for most people gradually creates an economy that is often devoid of spirit,  one that frequently fills our pocketbooks at the cost of emptying our souls.

Sam Keen

No better love than love with no objective,  no more satisfying work than work with no purpose.   If you could give up tricks and cleverness,  that would be the cleverest trick!

Jalaludin Rumi

An apology for the Devil
It must be remembered that we have heard only one side of the case.   God has written all the books.

Samuel Butler

Best first
Always eat grapes downwards  --  that is,  always eat the best grape first;  in this way there will be none better left on the bunch,  and each grape will seem good down to the last.   If you eat the other way,  you will not have a good grape in the lot.   Besides,  you will be tempting Providence to kill you before you come to the best.  ...  In New Zealand for a long time I had to do the washing-up after each meal.   I used to do the knives first,  for it might please God to take me before I came to the forks,  and then what a sell it would have been to have done the forks rather than the knives!

Samuel Butler


Counterfeiters exist because there is such a thing as real gold.

Jalaludin Rumi

The evidence
You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements.

Norman Douglas

Women are not inherently passive or peaceful.   We are not inherently anything but human.

Robin Morgan

If woman were brought into the field to fight political battles with men,  why what would she be then?   Instead of being man's superior,  as she is at the present time,  she would be man's rival.   ...  It is because I have a great respect for women that I shall oppose this Bill.   I look upon woman as the light of the home,  and the genius of the fireside.

Thomas Bracken speaking in a suffrage debate,  as reported in Hansard

Fancy a man coming home in the evening after a hard day's work,  tired if he be an artisan,  or weary with the worries of the day if he be a merchant or a tradesman,  and finding his parlour or drawing-room as the case may be,  filled with a lot of noisy and declamatory women  --  and women can be noisy and declamatory if they like  --  talking politics,  and the man's dinner entirely neglected!   Let us picture the scene of social and domestic discomfort which would follow that  ...

Mr Fish M.P. as reported in Hansard.   (Mr Fish was not returned
to Parliament in the election after women's suffrage was enacted.)


Being peace
If we are peaceful, if we are happy,  we can blossom like a flower,  and everyone in our family,  our entire society,  will benefit from our peace.

Thich Nhat Hanh

The rat race
The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win you're still a rat.

Lily Tomlin

As you would be done by
This is a world of compensation;  and he who would be no slave must consent to have no slave.   Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves,  and under a just God,  cannot long retain it.

Abraham Lincoln

Rules of creation?
All fundamentalist theologians make the ordinances of creation an essential part of creation and absolutize them.   Women belong at home,  fulfil their life through motherhood,  by caring for their husbands and serving them.   The fixed role pattern of one particular economic and family order is transformed into an order willed by God and given by creation.   With a methodologically similar logic,  slaves were understood as those elected by God to serve the whites.

Dorothee Sölle

Some religions long for transcendence from bodies,  but our bodies are the only home we have.   We do theology as if our bodies matter.

Buddhist speaker at NGO women's Forum,  Beijing


I wish there was a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence.   There's a knob called "brightness",  but it doesn't work.


First bread and then religion.   We stuff them too much with religion,  when the poor fellows have been starving.   No dogmas will satisfy the cravings of hunger.


Finding I could speak the language of ants,  I approached one and enquired,  'What is God like?   Does he resemble the ant?'   He answered,  'God!   No indeed  --  we have only a single sting,  but God,  he has TWO!'

Imam Muhammad Baqir

It is useless for the sheep to pass resolutions in favour of vegetarianism while the wolf remains of a different opinion.

Dean Inge

Money,  not morality,  is the principal commerce of civilized nations.

Thomas Jefferson


The power of truth
Truth can never be told so as to be understood,  and not be believ'd.

William Blake

A different sort of power
Dietrich Bonhoeffer did well when he pointed away from a controlling deity and spoke of the divine suffering.   But he was dangerously misleading when he spoke of the divine as powerless.   The still small voice and the man on the cross have their power too,  but it is a different sort of power from that of the thunderbolt and the insurance company's 'acts of God'.

J.B. Cobb  'Sustainability'

We are the miracle of force and matter making itself over into imagination and will.   Incredible.   The Life Force experimenting with forms.   You for one.   Me for another.   The Universe has shouted itself alive.   We are one of the shouts.

Ray Bradbury

In politics stupidity is not a handicap.


We must change
Our current difficulties can best be described as having an 'end-of-the-road' character to them and there is no longer any easy way out   . . .    If we are to survive we have only the option of changing ourselves.

R.L. Rubenstein  'The Age of Triage'


All the year round there is spring,  all through life is youth;  there is always something which may flower.

Karel Capek

For me as a woman pride is not really sin,  but rather something that I still have to learn.   The male conception of the person who rebels against God by affirming himself,  by acting proudly,  arrogantly,  and without constraints,  is not a woman's concern.   Rather,  we women are in danger of not developing any pride,  of never becoming independent,  of constantly remaining within too narrow boundaries.

Dorothée Sölle

Psychiatry enables us to correct our faults by confessing our parents' shortcomings.

Laurence J. Peter

The rich
The rich are not very nice.   That's why they're rich.


One cannot weep for the entire world,  it is beyond human strength.   One must choose.

Jean Anouilh


Whales have become newly symbolic of real values in a world environment of which man is newly aware.   Whales live in families,  they play in the moonlight,  they talk to one another,  and they care for one another in distress.   They are awesome and mysterious.   In their cold,  wet,  and forbidding world they are complete and successful.   They deserve to be saved,  not as potential meatballs,  but as a source of encouragement to mankind.

Victor Scheffer,  American whale expert

For reward?
I will not serve God like a labourer,  in expectation of my wages.

Rabia,  Sufi woman mystic

Economics is extremely useful as a form of employment for economists.

J.K. Galbraith

What is the use of running when you are on the wrong road?


I do not understand how people declare themselves to be believers in God,  and at the same time think that God has handed over to a little body of men all truth,  and that they are the guardians of the rest of humanity.




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