Wednesday 9 October 2019

Old-Time Religion

The Catholic Church is an institution I am bound to hold divine — but for unbelievers a proof of its divinity might be found in the fact that no merely human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight.
Hilaire Belloc

Idolatry is committed, not merely by setting up false gods, but also by setting up false devils; by making men afraid of war or alcohol, or economic law, when they should be afraid of spiritual corruption and cowardice.
G. K. Chesterton

With respect to religion: for me, Judaism is not a religion. In my identity, Judaism is a people, an ethnicity, a national culture, that manifests itself in a set of behavioral rules that have been constructed by others, or by non-members, as how religion functions for them. But Judaism is not about religion; it’s not about belief. There is no “I believe” in the Trinity; there is no al-Shahadat (which says “I witness that there is no God but Allah, and that Mohammed is His Prophet”). There is no credo. In the Bible we get the Torah, stating “we’ll do and we’ll listen.” First, there’s the deed. So, Judaism is a legal culture that pervades the life of the community. But it is not a religion in the sense of a creed, a belief. The idea of Judaism as a religion is a construction of modern Western Judaism, designed to enable “Germans of Mosaic persuasion” or “American Jews” to avoid having a double identity.
Professor Yochai, Israeli-American writer, Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard Law School.

It’s a no-brainer that we should have the right to marry, but I also think equally that it’s a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist. Fighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there — because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie.
Masha Gessen, Russian-American journalist, biographer of Vladimir Putin and "Russia's leading LGBT rights activist".


  1. Quotations

    There is chance involved in being a conservative. It depends on what you’re born into as to whether many or any of the existing institutions are worth preserving...

    James Allan

    The freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in Parliament
    ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of

    BILL OF RIGHTS [1689]

    The book that changed my life

    Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis. I can still quote whole scenes from it. I read it in my early 20s, still a bit young to have fully understood that a book can be simultaneously entertaining and serious. Abruptly I realised that it could be a possible aim, for a writer, to raise a serious point and a laugh along with it.

    The book I think is most under/overrated

    I still think there are paragraphs by Raymond Chandler that are underrated.

    Clive James
    Books that made me

  2. I really ought to read 'Lucky Jim'. I didn't very much like any of Amis senior's books that I did read. The short stories and poetry were all right.