My Favorite Quotes About Religion

I tend to collect a lot of quotes.  I used to more often.  When I was in high school I used to write quotes and thoughts on sticky notes and put them all over my wall.  There was a section by my bed that looked like sticky-noted wall paper.  A lot of those quotes were about religion, and I’ve been in the habit of collecting religion quotes (also definitions of religion) for the last 8 years or so.

Along with my comments about Reductionism in Religion and Science Part 2, it should be noted that while these quotes do not represent all of religion, they carry the distilled essences of aspects of religious views, beliefs, and practices.  (This is a post that will grow and be added to.  Watch for updates.)

“There is a rumor going around that I have found God. I think this is unlikely, because I have enough difficulty finding my keys, and there is empirical evidence that they exist.” -Terry Pratchett 

This is from a couple years ago, an article by Terry Pratchett in reference to looking towards the end of his life with Alzheimer’s.  “I create Gods all the time, now I think one might exist” reads the headline. He’s joking about thinking one might exist, if you can tell from first quote.  It goes along with what one of my grad school professors said about death and God.  Adam Seligman claimed that everyone starts to turn to God as they get close to the end of their lives.  Erin and I disagreed entirely: “I’m not going to find God on my deathbed if i’ve already spent my whole life disbelieving, why will I suddenly believe, especially when I don’t believe in an afterlife?”  But as Pratchett says, while he might not have found God, persay, he did have a rather hectic moment of understanding.

The Many Wines by Rumi (Coleman Barks translation); excerpt

God has given us a dark wine so potent that,
drinking it we leave the two worlds.

There are thousands of wines
that can take over our minds.
Don’t think all ecstasies
are the same!
Jesus was lost in his love for God.
His donkey was drunk on barley.
Drink from the presence of saints,
not from those other jars.
Every object, every being,
is a jar full of delight.
Be a connoisseur,
and taste with caution.
Any wine will get you high.
Judge like a king, and choose the purest,
the ones unadulterated with fear,
or some urgency about “what’s needed.”
Drink the wine that moves you
as a camel moves when it’s been untied
and is just ambling about.

The Many Wines was the first poem that made me love Rumi.  Here, the wine has always been, to me, a metaphor about religion and belief.  “Be a connoisseur/and taste with caution” and “any wine will get you high” warn about the dangers of sects that inspire only ecstasy and religious high and not true spiritual depth.

I’ll let you know when I find a connection to the Pratchett quote with this Rumi.

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One Response to “My Favorite Quotes About Religion”

  1. brinkmanship Says:

    I love Coleman Barks’ translation of Rumi. Always have loved it, although I don’t understand Rumi or his mysticism at all. Thanks for the lovely reminder of some of the wonderful poetry in the world.

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