“Perhaps he won’t.
It’s a long and arduous road he’s starting to travel, but it may be
that at the end of it he’ll find what he’s seeking.”
“Hasn’t it occurred to you? It seems to me that in what he said to you he indicated it pretty plainly. God.”1
“The first time he
talked in that way he said something that I’ve never forgotten, because
it horrified me; he said that the world isn’t a creation, for out of
nothing nothing comes, but a manifestation of the eternal nature; well,
that was all right, but then he added that evil is as direct a
manifestation of the divine as good.”2
“I thought he hated
that great, uncouth body of his and wanted to torture it and that his
cheating and his bitterness and his cruelty were the revolt of his will
… against a deep-rooted instinct of holiness, against a desire for God
that terrified and yet obsessed him.”3
I received the impression she was bringing them up to do as they were told.4
“We’re not used to persons who do things simply for the love of God whom they don’t believe in.”5
“That doesn’t mean
she’s bad. Quite a number of highly respected citizens get drunk and
have a liking for rough trade. They’re bad habits, like biting one’s
nails, but I don’t know that they’re worse than that. I call a person
bad who lies and cheats and is unkind.”6
“D’you remember how
Jesus was led into the wilderness and fasted forty days? Then, when he
was a-hungered, the devil came to him and said: if thou be the son of
God, command that these stones be made bread. But Jesus resisted the
temptation. Then the devil set him up on a pinnacle of the temple and
said to him: If thou be the son of God, cast thyself down. For angels
had charge of him and would bear him up. But again Jesus resisted. Then
the devil took him to a high mountain and showed him the kingdoms of
the world and said that he would give them to him if he would fall down
and worship him. But Jesus said: Get thee hence, Satan. That’s the end
of the story according to the good simple Matthew. But it wasn’t. The
devil was sly and he came to Jesus once more and said: If thou wilt
accept shame and disgrace, scourging, a crown of thorns and death on
the cross thou shalt save the human race, for greater love hath no man
than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Jesus fell.
The devil laughed till his sides ached, for he knew the evil men would
commit in the name of their redeemer.”7
“‘Our wise old
church,’ he said then, ‘has discovered that if you will act as if you
believed belief will be granted to you; if you pray with doubt, but
pray with sincerity, your doubt will be dispelled; if you surrender
yourself to the beauty of that liturgy the power of which over the
human spirit has been proved by the experience of the ages, peace will
descend upon you.”8
“I wanted to believe, but I couldn’t believe in a God who wasn’t better than the ordinary decent man.”9
‘A God that can be understood is no God. Who can explain the Infinite in words?’10
“But how can a
purely intellectual conception be a solace to the suffering human race?
Men have always wanted a personal God to whom they can turn in their
distress for comfort and encouragement.”11
1W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor’s Edge, (Philadelphia: Blakiston, 1944), 73.
2 Ibid., 86.
3 Ibid., 88.
4 Ibid., 112.
This is interesting in the context of the 1984 movie version of the
story. The film brings up the theme of independent thought over
following instructions a bit more blatantly than the book does.
5 Ibid., 150.
6 Ibid., 165.
7 Ibid., 167-168.
8 Ibid., 202.
9 Ibid., 203.
This reminded me very much of a quote of Einstein’s: “I cannot imagine
a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation [and] is but
a reflection of human frailty.”
10 Ibid., 209.
11 Ibid., 215.