Some Christmas Quotes

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I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round — apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that — as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, ‘God bless it!’

– Fred Scrooge in Charles Dickens,  A Christmas Carol, 1843

Christmas is an awfulness that compares favorably with the great London plague and fire of 1665-66. No one escapes the feelings of mortal dejection, inadequacy, frustration, loneliness, guilt and pity. No one escapes feeling used by society, by religion, by friends and relatives, by the utterly artificial responsibilities of extending false greetings, sending banal cards, reciprocating unsolicited gifts, going to dull parties, putting up with acquaintances and family one avoids all the rest of the year…in short, of being brutalized by a ‘holiday’ that has lost virtually all of its original meanings and has become a merchandising ploy for color tv set manufacturers and ravagers of the woodlands.

– Harlan Ellison in “No Offense Intended, But Fuck Xmas!”, 1972

And then, just when everything is bearing down on us to such an extent that we can scarcely withstand it, the Christmas message comes to tell us that all our ideas are wrong, and that what we take to be evil and dark is really good and light because it comes from God. Our eyes are at fault, that is all. God is in the manger, wealth in poverty, light in darkness, succor in abandonment. No evil can befall us; whatever men may do to us, they cannot but serve the God who is secretly revealed as love and rules the world and our lives.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas

Does Christmas make you uneasy? Do you ever get a twinge of a conscience about not helping out with the school Nativity play, or even even about not attending the college carol service? I do. Always have. After four centuries of science, why are we still labouring to pass on a supernaturalist world view to our children? … Christmas is the Disneyfication of Christianity.

– Atheist Anglican theologian Don Cupitt, 1996

May 6

Home / Something Wise / May 6

If a man is not interested in having children, but is keen on winning victory crowns at the games or is engaged in some other such pursuit to which he recognizes that sexual intercourse is detrimental, then nothing would be of greater benefit to him than castration. It is time therefore for us to cut off the testicles of Olympic athletes. – Galen, (129-c. 210), On Semen

May 4

Home / Something Wise / May 4

At a meeting of the college faculty, an angel suddenly appears and tells the head of the philosophy department, “I will grant you whichever of three blessings you choose: Wisdom, Beauty—or ten million dollars.” Immediately, the professor chooses Wisdom. There is a flash of lightning, and the professor appears transformed, but he just sits there, staring down at the table. One of his colleagues whispers, “Say something.” The professor says, “I should have taken the money.” – Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein, Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar, 2007

I used to think that the brain was the most wonderful organ in my body. Then I realized who was telling me this. – Emo Phillips, HBO comedy special, 1987

May 2

Home / Something Wise / May 2

A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is merely relative, is asking you not to believe him. So don’t. Deconstruction deconstructs itself, and disappears up its own behind, leaving only a disembodied smile and a faint smell of sulphur.  – Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy: An Introduction and Survey, 1994

Bart: We want the truth.

Sideshow Bob: You can’t handle the truth! No truth-handler, you. BAH! I deride your truth-handling abilities. 

– “Sideshow Bob Roberts”, The Simpsons, 1995

April 30

Home / Something Wise / April 30

The adjective “modern”’, when applied to any branch of art, means “designed to evoke incomprehension, anger, boredom or laughter”. – Philip Larkin, All That Jazz, 1985

I don’t know what art is, but I do know what it isn’t. And it isn’t someone walking around with a salmon over his shoulder, or embroidering the name of everyone they have slept with on the inside of a tent. – Brian Sewell, Independent, 26 April, 1999

A cow and calf are cut in half/ And placed in separate cases/ To call it art, however smart/ Casts doubt on art’s whole basis. – Anonymous, in Spectator, 5 July 2003

April 26

Home / Something Wise / April 26

The parable of Pythagoras is dark, but true: Cor ne edito – Eat not the heart. Certainly if a man would give it a hard phrase, those that lack friends to open themselves unto are cannibals of their own hearts. But one thing is most admirable (wherewith I will conclude this first fruit of friendship), which is, that this communicating of a man’s self to his friend, works two contrary effects; for it redoubleth joys, and cutteth griefs in halves. For there is no man, that imparteth his joys to his friend, but he joyeth the more; and no man that imparteth his griefs to his friend, but he grieveth the less. – Francis Bacon, “Friendship”, Essays, 1625

Family, religion, friendship. These are the three demons you must slay if you wish to succeed in business. – Mr. Burns, “The Old Man and the Lisa”, The Simpsons, 1997