Graven Quotes

Authors: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Categories: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Some Christian lawyers-some eminent and stupid judges-have said and still say, that the Ten Commandments are the foundation of all law. Nothing could be more absurd. Long before these commandments were given there were codes of laws in India and Egypt-laws against murder, perjury, larceny, adultery and fraud. Such laws are as old as human society; as old as the love of life; as old as industry; as the idea of prosperity; as old as human love. All of the Ten Commandments that are good were old; all that were new are foolish. If Jehovah had been civilized he would have left out the commandment about keeping the Sabbath, and in its place would have said: 'Thou shalt not enslave thy fellow-men.' He would have omitted the one about swearing, and said: 'The man shall have but one wife, and the woman but one husband.' He would have left out the one about graven images, and in its stead would have said: 'Thou shalt not wage wars of extermination, and thou shalt not unsheathe the sword except in self-defence.' If Jehovah had been civilized, how much grander the Ten Commandments would have been. All that we call progress-the enfranchisement of man, of labor, the substitution of imprisonment for death, of fine for imprisonment, the destruction of polygamy, the establishing of free speech, of the rights of conscience; in short, all that has tended to the development and civilization of man; all the results of investigation, observation, experience and free thought; all that man has accomplished for the benefit of man since the close of the Dark Ages-has been done in spite of the Old Testament.

Robert G. Ingersoll
Yet what moved Our Blessed Lord to invective was not badness but just such self-righteousness as this... He said that the harlots and the Quislings would enter the Kingdom of Heaven before the self-righteous and the smug. Concerning all those who endowed hospitals and libraries and public works, in order to have their names graven in stone before their fellow men, He said, 'Amen I say to you, they have received their reward' (Matt. 6:2). They wanted no more than human glory, and they got it. Never once is Our Blessed Lord indignant against those who are already, in the eyes of society, below the level of law and respectability. He attacked only the sham indignation of those who dwelt more on the sin than the sinner and who felt pleasantly virtuous, because they had found someone more vicious than they. He would not condemn those whom society condemned; his severe words were for those who had sinned and had not been found out... He would not add His burden of accusation to those that had already been hurled against the winebibbers and the thieves, the cheap revolutionists, the streetwalkers, and the traitors. They were everybody's target, and everybody knew that they were wrong... And the people who chose to make war against Our Lord were never those whom society had labeled as sinners. Of those who sentenced Him to death, none had ever had a record in the police court, had ever been arrested, was ever commonly known to be fallen or weak. But among his friends, who sorrowed at His death, were coverts drawn from thieves and from prostitutes. Those who were aligned against Him were the nice people who stood high in the community-the worldly, prosperous people, the men of big business, the judges of law courts who governed by expediency, the 'civic-minded' individuals whose true selfishness was veneered over with public generosity. Such men as these opposed him and sent Him to His death.

Fulton J. Sheen
Talk about corporate greed and everything is really crucially beside the point, in my view, and really should be recognized as a very big regression from what working people, and a lot of others, understood very well a century ago. Talk about corporate greed is nonsense. Corporations are greedy by their nature. They're nothing else - they are instruments for interfering with markets to maximize profit, and wealth and market control. You can't make them more or less greedy; I mean maybe you can sort of force them, but it's like taking a totalitarian state and saying 'Be less brutal!' Well yeah, maybe you can get a totalitarian state to be less brutal, but that's not the point - the point is not to get a tyranny to be less brutal, but to get rid of it. Now 150 years ago, that was understood. If you read the labour press - there was a very lively labour press, right around here [Massachusetts] ; Lowell and Lawrence and places like that, around the mid nineteenth century, run by artisans and what they called factory girls; young women from the farms who were working there - they weren't asking the autocracy to be less brutal, they were saying get rid of it. And in fact that makes perfect sense; these are human institutions, there's nothing graven in stone about them. They [corporations] were created early in this century with their present powers, they come from the same intellectual roots as the other modern forms of totalitarianism - namely Stalinism and Fascism - and they have no more legitimacy than they do. I mean yeah, let's try and make the autocracy less brutal if that's the short term possibility - but we should have the sophistication of, say, factory girls in Lowell 150 years ago and recognize that this is just degrading and intolerable and that, as they put it 'those who work in the mills should own them ' And on to everything else, and that's democracy - if you don't have that, you don't have democracy.

Noam Chomsky
Now I myself, I cheerfully admit, feel that enormity in Kensington Gardens as something quite natural. I feel it so because I have been brought up, so to speak, under its shadow; and stared at the graven images of Raphael and Shakespeare almost before I knew their names; and long before I saw anything funny in their figures being carved, on a smaller scale, under the feet of Prince Albert. I even took a certain childish pleasure in the gilding of the canopy and spire, as if in the golden palace of what was, to Peter Pan and all children, something of a fairy garden. So do the Christians of Jerusalem take pleasure, and possibly a childish pleasure, in the gilding of a better palace, besides a nobler garden, ornamented with a somewhat worthier aim. But the point is that the people of Kensington, whatever they might think about the Holy Sepulchre, do not think anything at all about the Albert Memorial. They are quite unconscious of how strange a thing it is; and that simply because they are used to it. The religious groups in Jerusalem are also accustomed to their coloured background; and they are surely none the worse if they still feel rather more of the meaning of the colours. It may be said that they retain their childish illusion about their Albert Memorial. I confess I cannot manage to regard Palestine as a place where a special curse was laid on those who can become like little children. And I never could understand why such critics who agree that the kingdom of heaven is for children, should forbid it to be the only sort of kingdom that children would really like; a kingdom with real crowns of gold or even of tinsel. But that is another question, which I shall discuss in another place; the point is for the moment that such people would be quite as much surprised at the place of tinsel in our lives as we are at its place in theirs. If we are critical of the petty things they do to glorify great things, they would find quite as much to criticise (as in Kensington Gardens) in the great things we do to glorify petty things. And if we wonder at the way in which they seem to gild the lily, they would wonder quite as much at the way we gild the weed.

G.K. Chesterton
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