Puritanism Quotes

Quotes tagged as "puritanism" Showing 1-30 of 45
H.L. Mencken
“Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”
H.L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy

Marlene Dietrich
“Sex: In America an obsession. In other parts of the world a fact.”
Marlene Dietrich, Marlene Dietrich's ABC

Anaïs Nin
“The important task of literature is to free man, not to censor him, and that is why Puritanism was the most destructive and evil force which ever oppressed people and their literature: it created hypocrisy, perversion, fears, sterility.”
Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 4: 1944-1947

Salman Rushdie
“The enemy for the fanatic is pleasure, which makes it extremely important to continue to indulge in pleasure. Dance madly. That is how you get rid of terrorism.”
Salman Rushdie

Christopher Moore
“Nothing evokes the prurient like puritanism.”
Christopher Moore, Practical Demonkeeping

Alexis de Tocqueville
“The chief care of the legislators [in the colonies of New England] was the maintenance of orderly conduct and good morals in the community: thus they constantly invaded the domain of conscience, and there was scarcely a sin which was no subject to magisterial censure. The reader is aware of the rigor with which these laws punished rape and adultery; intercourse between unmarried persons was likewise severely repressed. The judge was empowered to inflict either a pecuniary penalty, a whipping, or marriage, on the misdemeanants; and if the records of the old courts of New Haven may be believed, prosecutions of this kind were not unfrequent. We find a sentence, bearing date the 1st of May, 1660, inflicting a fine and reprimand on a young woman who was accused of using improper language, and of allowing herself to be kissed. The Code of 1650 abounds in preventive measures. It punishes idleness and drunkenness with severity. Innkeepers were forbidden to furnish more than certain quantities of liquor to each customer; and simple lying, whenever it may be injurious, is checked by a fine or a flogging. In other places, the legislator, entirely forgetting the great principles of religious toleration which he had himself demanded in Europe, makes attendance on divine service compulsory, and goes so far as to visit with severe punishment, and even with death, Christians who choose to worship God according to a ritual differing from his own. Sometimes, indeed, the zeal for regulation induces him to descend to the most frivolous particulars: thus a law is to be found in the same code which prohibits the use of tobacco. It must not be forgotten that these fantastical and vexatious laws were not imposed by authority, but that they were freely voted by all the persons interested in them, and that the manners of the community were even more austere and puritanical than the laws....

These errors are no doubt discreditable to human reason; they attest the inferiority of our nature, which is incapable of laying firm hold upon what is true and just, and is often reduced to the alternative of two excesses. In strict connection with this penal legislation, which bears such striking marks of a narrow, sectarian spirit, and of those religious passions which had been warmed by persecution and were still fermenting among the people, a body of political laws is to be found, which, though written two hundred years ago, is still in advance of the liberties of our own age.”
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Richard Rorty
“The sectarian divisions which plagued Marxism are manifestations of an urge for purity which the Left would be better off without.”
Richard M. Rorty, Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America

William S. Burroughs
“A typical modern Puritan, she was able to believe in sin without believing in God. In fact, she felt there was something soft and sinful about believing in God. She rejected such indulgence like an indecent proposal.”
William S. Burroughs, And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks

Joel R. Beeke
“In short, doctrinally, Puritanism was a kind of vigorous Calvinism; experientially, it was warm and contagious; evangelistically, it was aggressive, yet tender; ecclesiastically, it was theocentric and worshipful; and politically, it aimed to be scriptural and balanced.”
Joel R. Beeke, Church History 101: The Highlights of Twenty Centuries

Fritz Leiber
“The “Howard” in the entry had to be Howard Phillips Lovecraft, that twentieth-century puritanic Poe from Providence, with his regrettable but undeniable loathing of the immigrant swarms he felt were threatening the traditions and monuments of his beloved New England and the whole Eastern seaboard. (And hadn’t Lovecraft done some ghost-writing for a man with a name like Castries? Caster? Carswell?)”
Fritz Leiber, Our Lady of Darkness

“If we did not feel the bitterness of his anger, we would not so sweetly relish His love.”
Timothy Rogers, Trouble of Mind and the Disease of Melancholy: Written for the Use of Such As Are or Have Been Exercised by the Same

Erich Fromm
“Calvin's theory of predestination has one implication which should be explicitly mentioned here, since it has found its most vigorous revival in Nazi ideology: the principle of the basic inequality of men. For Calvin there are two kinds of people—those who are saved and those who are destined to eternal damnation. Since this fate is determined before they are born and without their being able to change it by anything they do or do not do in their lives, the equality of mankind is denied in principle. Men are created unequal. This principle implies also that there is no solidarity between men, since the one factor which is the strongest basis for human solidarity is denied: the equality of man's fate. The Calvinists quite naïvely thought that they were the chosen ones and that all others were those whom God had condemned to damnation. It is obvious that this belief represented psychologically a deep contempt and hatred for other human beings—as a matter of fact, the same hatred with which they had endowed God. While modern thought has led to an increasing assertion of the equality of men, the Calvinists' principle has never been completely mute. The doctrine that men are basically unequal according to their racial background is confirmation of the same principle with a different rationalization. The psychological implications are the same.”
Erich Fromm, Escape from Freedom

John Winthrop
“When a man is to wade throughe a deepe water, there is required tallnesse, as well as courage, and if he findes it past his depth, and God open a gapp another waye, he may take it.”
John Winthrop

“To the people that don't like this kind of thing, I'm sorry, but this is what you get when you try to repress human desire. It quadruples in size, grows hair, teeth and extra arms, then it comes to your house and has a loud party that never ends in your front yard. So, you know, learn your lesson already.”
Giancarlo DiTrapano

“Heaven's eucharistic irruption into earthly space and time prompted classical Lutheranism not to join the Reformed and Anabaptists in their campaign of iconoclasm which rendered Christian churches little different in external appearance from Islamic mosques. While conceding the adiaphorous quality of images representing various aspects of the Incarnate Life, as early as his conflict with Karlstadt the Reformer defended the appropriateness of the crucifix and sculptures of Mary with the Christ Child. Orthodox Lutheran architecture and church decor attested the confession of our Lord's presence among His own in the means of grace, forging a style which goes hand in hand with precious doctrinal substance. Increasing accommodation to the North American Puritan milieu over the past century has led to a loss of the genuinely Lutheran understanding of the altar as a monument to the atonement, which is Christ's throne in our midst. ... If our chancels' decoration (or stark lack thereof) bespeaks the absence of our Lord and His celestial companions, can we be surprised at waning faith in the real presence and at waxing conviction of the rightfulness of an open communion practice? A deliberate opting for Puritanism's aesthetic barrenness can only make the reclaiming of Lutheran substance an even harder struggle.”
John R. Stephenson, The Lord's Supper

Bertrand Russell
“The fanatic fails to recognise that the suppression of a real evil, if carried out too drastically, produces other evils which are even greater.”
Bertrand Russell, Sceptical Essays

Richard Sibbes
“Despair is a high point of atheism, it takes away God and Christ both at once. Judas, in betraying our Saviour, was an occasion of his death as man, but in despairing he did what lay in him to take away his life as God.”
Richard Sibbes, The Soul's Conflict and Victory Over Itself by Faith

“A certain emotional frostiness is the heritage of a culture that puts great stock in WASP values: One does not talk about money sex, religion, and above all, one does not expose one's feelings. If a case can be made for the cultural contouring of personality, the Puritan ethic is the culprit in such rubrics as 'Children should be seen and not heard' and 'Never complain, never explain.”
Victoria Secunda, Women and Their Fathers: The Sexual and Romantic Impact of the First Man in Your Life

Helmuth Plessner
“Radicalism is the party of the spirit whose ideas erect signposts to eternity and, in every situation, remind the conscience of the future. It scorns the conditioned and limited, small things and steps, restraint, discretion, and unconsciousness. It is joyful, but only towards what is great; it is reverent, but only towards what is powerful. It is pure and, therefore, self-righteous; principled and, therefore, repressive; fanatical and, therefore, destructive.”
Helmuth Plessner, Grenzen der Gemeinschaft

Amos Oz
“There are varying degrees of evil in the world. The distinction between levels of evil is perhaps the primary moral responsibility incumbent upon each of us. Every child knows that cruelty is bad and contemptible, while its opposite, compassion, is commendable. That is an easy and simple moral distinction. The more essential and far more difficult distinction is the one between different shades of gray, between degrees of evil. Aggressive environmental activists, for example, or the furious opponents of globalization, may sometimes emerge as violent fanatics. But the evil they cause is immeasurably smaller than that caused by a fanatic who commits a large-scale terrorist attack. Nor are the crimes of the terrorist fanatic comparable to those of fanatics who commit ethnic cleansing or genocide.

Those who are unwilling or unable to rank evil may thereby become the servants of evil. Those who make no distinction between such disparate phenomena as apartheid, colonialism, ISIS, Zionism, political incorrectness, the gas chambers, sexism, the 1 percent's wealth, and air pollution serve evil with their very refusal to grade it.”
Amos Oz, שלום לקנאים

Helmuth Plessner
“The devil, cheated of his legitimate portion of human life, avenges itself by taking over all of life.”
Helmuth Plessner, Grenzen der Gemeinschaft

Helmuth Plessner
“Everything must be structured around the center - from the core of the being of the person and not just one aspect of him, from his heart, as the vernacular names the source of the individual - and not from his head. The excessive stretching of the consciousness of responsibility - for which the excessive expansion of the belief in reason, in the social and political effectiveness of conviction, is to blame - already has been broken asunder in the world ... For the most serious human evil is lack of moderation.”
Helmuth Plessner, Grenzen der Gemeinschaft

“Joy is more moral than every possible purification.”
Edward al-Kharrat

“Human beings discovered it long ago that the fastest and easiest way to become pure and holy is to become part of a group that distributes certificates of purity and holiness to its members.”

J.G. Ballard
“Has a festival of atrocity films ever been held? Every year at the Oscars ceremony, some might say. It seemed likely in the late 60s, but the new puritans of our day would greet such a suggestion with a shudder. A pity - given the unlimited opportunities which the media landscape now offers to the wayward imagination, I feel we should immerse ourselves in the most destructive element, ourselves, and swim. I take it that the final destination of the 20th century, and the best we can hope for in the circumstances, is the attainment of a moral and just psychopathology.”
J.G. Ballard, The Atrocity Exhibition

Caitlin Moran
“Es cierto que la situación no es tan grave como en la época victoriana, cuando las mujeres no eran más que «un vestido» con una cabeza en lo alto; pero es fácil darse cuenta del camino que nos queda por recorrer: basta con constatar que las mujeres todavía tenemos que esforzarnos para encontrar una palabra aceptable con que denominar la parte de nuestro cuerpo más fundamental y definitoria: los genitales. En 2012, a la congresista de Michigan Lisa Brown se le prohibió seguir interviniendo en el Congreso por haber pronunciado la palabra «vagina» en un debate sobre la anticoncepción. El congresista republicano Mike Callton argumentó que la palabra era tan «repugnante y asquerosa que él jamás se atrevería a pronunciarla ni delante de una mujer ni de un grupo de hombres y mujeres».”
Caitlin Moran, More Than a Woman

Bertrand Russell
“The career of Puritanism has been curious. It held brief power in England in the seventeenth century, but so disgusted the mass of ordinary citizens that they have never again allowed it to control the Government. The Puritans, persecuted in England, colonised New England, and subsequently the Middle West. The American Civil War was a continuation of the English Civil War, the Southern States having been mainly colonised by opponents of the Puritans. But unlike the English Civil War, it led to a permanent victory of the Puritan Party. The result is that the greatest Power in the world is controlled by men who inherit the outlook of Cromwell’s Ironsides.”
Bertrand Russell, Sceptical Essays

Bertrand Russell
“For rough practical purposes, pleasures may be divided into those that have their primary basis in the senses, and those that are mainly of the mind. The traditional moralist praises the latter at the expense of the former; or rather, he tolerates the latter because he does not recognise them as pleasures. His classification is, of course, not scientifically defensible, and in many cases he is himself in doubt. Do the pleasures of art belong to the senses or to the mind? If he is really stern, he will condemn art in toto, like Plato and the Fathers: if he is more or less latitudinarian, he will tolerate art if it has a ‘spiritual purpose’, which generally means that it is bad art.”
Bertrand Russell, Sceptical Essays

Lydia Millet
“Surely little remained of the Puritan legacy of prudish rectitude, he thought: surely this was now a country of excess, gluttony, lust, and sloth; surely this had grown into a land where obesity reigned and even the poor moved ponderously down the street on big thighs that rubbed fatly together. What had become of the pilgrims' gaunt and stingy oversight? He knew in part it was the visionary genius of enterprising men, but such entrepreneurs were only the tools of a hungry culture. For the descendants of those gray, upright pioneers had cherished cravings for beef patties with ketchup, deep-fried chicken and vats of ice cream, chemically scented and dyed all the colors of the rainbow, and billions upon billions of gallons of soda. Their thirst had never been quite slaked and so they never finished drinking; and this was the market in all its streamlined functionality—which, precisely where the supply and the demand curves crossed, had swiftly produced a nation of paralyzed giants, fallen across their couches much as soldiers on the field of battle, their arteries hard, their softened hearts failing.

The market made a fool of you by giving you what you wanted. But this did not make him resent it; it merely earned his respect. From the day you were born you were called upon to discern what to choose.”
Lydia Millet, How the Dead Dream

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