Puritanism Quotes

Quotes tagged as "puritanism" (showing 1-25 of 25)
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

Emma Goldman
“...Puritanism has made life itself impossible. More than art, more than estheticism, life represents beauty in a thousand variations; it is indeed, a gigantic panorama of eternal change. Puritanism, on the other hand, rests on a fixed and immovable conception of life; it is based on the Calvinistic idea that life is a curse, imposed upon man by the wrath of God. In order to redeem himself man must do constant penance, must repudiate every natural and healthy impulse, and turn his back on joy and beauty.

Puritanism celebrated its reign of terror in England during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, destroying and crushing every manifestation of art and culture. It was the spirit of Puritanism which robbed Shelley of his children, because he would not bow to the dicta of religion. It was the same narrow spirit which alienated Byron from his native land, because that great genius rebelled against the monotony, dullness, and pettiness of his country. It was Puritanism, too, that forced some of England's freest women into the conventional lie of marriage: Mary Wollstonecraft and, later, George Eliot. And recently Puritanism has demanded another toll--the life of Oscar Wilde. In fact, Puritanism has never ceased to be the most pernicious factor in the domain of John Bull, acting as censor of the artistic expression of his people, and stamping its approval only on the dullness of middle-class respectability.”
Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

Wendell Berry
“To both the racist and the puritan, childhood is not a time of life that we grow out of, as the life of the child grows out of the life of the parent or as a plant grows out of the soil, but a time and state of consciousness to be left behind, to cut oneself off from ... The child may be joyous, the man must be sober and self-denying; the child may be free, the man is to be "responsible"; the child may be candid in his feelings, the man must be polite, restrained, mindful of the demands of convention; the child may be playful, the man must be industrious. I am not necessarily objecting to the manly virtues, but I am objecting that they should be so exclusively assigned to grownups, and that grownups should be so exclusively restricted to them. A man may have all the prescribed adult virtues and, if he lacks the childhood virtues, still be a dunce and a bore and a liar.”
Wendell Berry, The Hidden Wound

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

David Markson
“Trying to imagine E. M. Forster, who found Ulysses indecorous, at a London performance of Lenny Bruce—to which in fact he was once taken.

Trying to imagine the same for a time-transported Nathaniel Hawthorne—who during his first visit to Europe was even shocked by the profusion of naked statues.”
David Markson, The Last Novel

Albert Camus
“Absolute virtue is impossible and the republic of forgiveness leads, with implacable logic, to the republic of the guillotine.”
Albert Camus

John Lukacs
“About these developments George Orwell, in Nineteen Eighty-Four , was quite wrong. He described a new kind of state and police tyranny, under which the freedom of speech has become a deadly danger, science and its applications have regressed, horses are again plowing untilled fields, food and even sex have become scarce and forbidden commodities: a new kind of totalitarian puritanism, in short. But the very opposite has been happening. The fields are plowed not by horses but by monstrous machines, and made artificially fertile through sometimes poisonous chemicals; supermarkets are awash with luxuries, oranges, chocolates; travel is hardly restricted while mass tourism desecrates and destroys more and more of the world; free speech is not at all endangered but means less and less.”
John Lukacs, Democracy and Populism: Fear and Hatred

Anya Seton
“Elizabeth knew it was a fast day, but the rumbling in her belly was harder to ignore than the grumbling of the preacher.”
Anya Seton, The Winthrop Woman

“If you saw a wounded person, torn and mangled, on the highway, the sight of so deplorable an object would fill you with compassion; the sight of your friends under the disease I am now speaking ought to move you much more, for it is tearing them to pieces every moment. Every moment it preys upon their vitals, and they are continually dying, yet cannot die.”
Timothy Rogers, Trouble of Mind and the Disease of Melancholy

Richard M. 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

Margaret Atwood
“Vosotros los jóvenes no sabéis apreciar las cosas, proseguía. No sabéis lo que hemos tenido que pasar para lograr que estéis donde estáis. Míralo, es él quien pela las zanahorias. ¿Sabéis cuántas vidas de mujeres, cuántos cuerpos de mujeres han tenido que arrollar los tanques para llegar a esta situación?
La cocina es mi pasatiempo predilecto, decía Luke. Disfruto cocinando.
Un pasatiempo muy original, replicaba mi madre. No tienes por qué darme explicaciones. En otros tiempos no te habrían permitido tener semejante pasatiempo, te habrían llamado marica.
Vamos, madre, le decía yo. No discutamos por tonterías.
Tonterías, repetía amargamente. Las llamas tonterías. Veo que no entiendes. No entiendes nada de lo que estoy diciendo.”
Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale

G.K. Chesterton
“To a Calvinist the most important thing was Calvinism; to a Puritan the most important thing was the Puritan creed; and this in itself certainly did not favor the vague sentiments either of emancipation or fraternity. Calvinism took away a man's liberty in the universe; why, then, should it favor his liberty in the State? Puritanism denied free will; why should it be likely to affirm free speech? Why should the Calvinist object to an aristocracy? The Calvinists were an aristocracy; they were the most arrogant and awful of aristocracies by the nature of their own belief: they were the elect. Why should the Puritans dislike a baby being born a nobleman? It was the whole philosophy of the Puritans that a baby is born a celestial nobleman; and he is at birth and before birth a member of the cosmic upper classes. It should have been a small matter to the Puritans to admit that one might be born a king, seeing that they maintained the much more paradoxical position that one might be born a saint. Nor is it easy to see upon their own ideal principles why the Puritans should have disliked despotism or arbitrary power; though it is certainly much more the fact that they did dislike despotism than that they did dislike oligarchy. The first conception of Calvinism is a fierce insistence on the utterly arbitrary nature of power. The King of the Cavaliers was certainly not so purely willful, so sublimely capricious a sultan, as the God of the Puritans.”
G.K. Chesterton

John     Mason
“But GOD was above them, who laughed his Enemies and the Enemies of his People to Scorn, making them as a fiery Oven: Thus were the Stout Hearted spoiled, having slept their last Sleep, and none of their Men could find their Hands: Thus did the LORD judge among the Heathen, filling the Place with dead Bodies!”
John Mason, A Brief History of the Pequot War

Jonathan Edwards
“The arrows of death fly unseen at noon-day; the sharpest sight cannot discern them.”
Jonathan Edwards, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

John     Mason
“Let the whole Earth be filled with his Glory! Thus the LORD was pleased to smite our Enemies in the hinder Parts, and to give us their Land for an Inheritance: Who remembred us in our low Estate, and redeemed us out of our Enemies Hands: Let us therefore praise the LORD for his Goodness and his wonderful Works to the Children of Men!”
John Mason, A Brief History of the Pequot War

“Pain, indeed, makes the time seem to go on very slowly; an hour seems like a day and a day like a week.”
Timothy Rogers, Trouble of Mind and the Disease of Melancholy

“Many persons will say to such people,"Why do you so pore and muse and gratify the devil?"―whereas it is the very nature of the disease to cause such fixed musings. They might as well say, "Why are you diseased? Why won't you get well?" Their so musing proceeds from a violent pressure on their spirits, which they are not able to remove. Some think that melancholy persons are pleased with their distemper, but I believe that they are as pleased as a man who is lying on thorns or briars, or as one who is thrown into a fiery furnace. It is vastly painful to them to be in this condition, and they cannot be supposed to hate themselves so much as to be fond of pain.”
Timothy Rogers, Trouble of Mind and the Disease of Melancholy

“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

“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

Balajinnatha Pandita
“While aesthetic richness has prevailed in Indian spiritual life form ancient times, there has also been a parallel puritanical aspect among Indian people. This puritanism was prevalent in various traditions of monks, and evolved into the systems of Buddhism and Jainism. Monks of these two religious paths prohibited the use of objects that were pleasing to the senses, and prescribed forcible control of the mind and senses, suppression of the emotions and instincts, and renunciation of worldly enjoyments. Those monks who became experts in this austere type of penance often developed supernatural psychic powers like telepathy and hypnotism. Even though Patanjali denounced the attainment of such powers (siddhis) as being impediments to liberation (Yogasutra, IV.36-37) still they tended to have considerable influence on people from all walks of life. Brahmanic thinkers were inflienced as well, but wisely accommodated the ideals and practices of these monks by placing them into the renunciatory and seclusionary periods of a practitioner’s later lifetime (the third and fourth stages which follow the student and householder stages).

Tantric theologians did not accept puritanism. Instead they propagated a spiritual path that focused on the simultaneous attainment of enjoyment (bhukti), and liberation (mukti). They accepted both of them as the goal of human life, and developed philosophies and methods that could be followed equally by both monks and householders. They did not approve of any form of forcible control or repression of the mind, emotions, and senses, but rather emphasized that such practices could create adverse reactions that might simply deepen a practitioner’s bondage.

— B. N. Pandit, Specific Principles of Kashmir Shaivism (3rd ed., 2008), p. 118.”
Balajinnatha Pandita, Specific Principles of Kashmir Saivism

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