We read the pagan sacred books with profit and delight. With myth and fable we are ever charmed and find a pleasure in the endless repetition of the beautiful, poetic and absurd. We find, in all these records of the past, philosophies and dreams and efforts stained with tears, of great and tender souls who tried to pierce the mystery of life and death, to answer the eternal questions of the Whence and Whither and vainly sought to make, with bits of shattered glass, a mirror that would, in very truth, reflect the face and form of Nature's perfect self.These myths were born of hopes and fears and tears and smiles and they were touched and colored by all there is of joy and grief between the rosy dawn of birth and death's sad night. They clothed even the stars with passion and gave to gods the faults and frailties of the sons of men. In them, the winds and waves were music and all the lakes and streams and springs,—the mountains, woods and perfumed dells were haunted by a thousand fairy forms. They thrilled the veins of Spring with tremulous desire; made tawny Summer's billowed breast the throne and home of love; filled Autumns arms with sun-kissed grapes and gathered sheaves; and pictured Winter as a weak old king who felt, like Lear upon his withered face, Cordelia's tears. These myths, though false, are beautiful and have for many ages and in countless ways, enriched the heart and kindled thought. But if the world were taught that all these things are true and all inspired of God and that eternal punishment will be the lot of him who dares deny or doubt, the sweetest myth of all the Fable World would lose its beauty and become a scorned and hateful thing to every brave and thoughtful man.
Robert G. Ingersoll
I heard Mr. Ingersoll many years ago in Chicago. The hall seated 5,000 people; every inch of standing-room was also occupied; aisles and platform crowded to overflowing. He held that vast audience for three hours so completely entranced that when he left the platform no one moved, until suddenly, with loud cheers and applause, they recalled him. He returned smiling and said: 'I am glad you called me back, as I have something more to say. Can you stand another half-hour?' 'Yes: an hour, two hours, all night,' was shouted from various parts of the house; and he talked on until midnight, with unabated vigor, to the delight of his audience. This was the greatest triumph of oratory I had ever witnessed. It was the first time he delivered his matchless speech, 'The Liberty of Man, Woman and Child'.I have heard the greatest orators of this century in England and America; O'Connell in his palmiest days, on the Home Rule question; Gladstone and John Bright in the House of Commons; Spurgeon, James and Stopford Brooke, in their respective pulpits; our own Wendell Phillips, Henry Ward Beecher and Webster and Clay, on great occasions; the stirring eloquence of our anti-slavery orators, both in Congress and on the platform, but none of them ever equalled Robert Ingersoll in his highest flights.{Stanton's comments at the great Robert Ingersoll's funeral}
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
When reading the history of the Jewish people, of their flight from slavery to death, of their exchange of tyrants, I must confess that my sympathies are all aroused in their behalf. They were cheated, deceived and abused. Their god was quick-tempered unreasonable, cruel, revengeful and dishonest. He was always promising but never performed. He wasted time in ceremony and childish detail and in the exaggeration of what he had done. It is impossible for me to conceive of a character more utterly detestable than that of the Hebrew god. He had solemnly promised the Jews that he would take them from Egypt to a land flowing with milk and honey. He had led them to believe that in a little while their troubles would be over and that they would soon in the land of Canaan, surrounded by their wives and little ones, forget the stripes and tears of Egypt. After promising the poor wanderers again and again that he would lead them in safety to the promised land of joy and plenty, this God, forgetting every promise, said to the wretches in his power:—'Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness and your children shall wander until your carcasses be wasted.' This curse was the conclusion of the whole matter. Into this dust of death and night faded all the promises of God. Into this rottenness of wandering despair fell all the dreams of liberty and home. Millions of corpses were left to rot in the desert and each one certified to the dishonesty of Jehovah. I cannot believe these things. They are so cruel and heartless, that my blood is chilled and my sense of justice shocked. A book that is equally abhorrent to my head and heart, cannot be accepted as a revelation from God.When we think of the poor Jews, destroyed, murdered, bitten by serpents, visited by plagues, decimated by famine, butchered by each, other, swallowed by the earth, frightened, cursed, starved, deceived, robbed and outraged, how thankful we should be that we are not the chosen people of God. No wonder that they longed for the slavery of Egypt and remembered with sorrow the unhappy day when they exchanged masters. Compared with Jehovah, Pharaoh was a benefactor and the tyranny of Egypt was freedom to those who suffered the liberty of God.While reading the Pentateuch, I am filled with indignation, pity and horror. Nothing can be sadder than the history of the starved and frightened wretches who wandered over the desolate crags and sands of wilderness and desert, the prey of famine, sword and plague. Ignorant and superstitious to the last degree, governed by falsehood, plundered by hypocrisy, they were the sport of priests and the food of fear. God was their greatest enemy and death their only friend.It is impossible to conceive of a more thoroughly despicable, hateful and arrogant being, than the Jewish god. He is without a redeeming feature. In the mythology of the world he has no parallel. He, only, is never touched by agony and tears. He delights only in blood and pain. Human affections are naught to him. He cares neither for love nor music, beauty nor joy. A false friend, an unjust judge, a braggart, hypocrite and tyrant, sincere in hatred, jealous, vain and revengeful, false in promise, honest in curse, suspicious, ignorant and changeable, infamous and hideous:—such is the God of the Pentateuch.
Robert G. Ingersoll
We are sometimes dragged into a pit of unhappiness by someone else’s opinion that we do not look happy.
Mokokoma Mokhonoana
You know that feeling of invincibility you sometimes get, especially when young and testing yourself - well that could be because actually know deep down that we are indeed eternal. We come into this world to live a life, to experience it, from somewhere else, some other plane, but we are programmed by all around us to deny or forget this - until one day we may remember again. That feeling of blissful reconnection with our source can be invoked through nature, beautiful writing or art or music, any detailed craft or work of discovery or personal dedication, meditation or other mentally balancing practice, or even through religious experience if there is a pure communion (not a pretence of it). But we should not yearn to return too soon, we should accept that we have come here for the duration of each life and revel in the chance to learn and grow on this splendid planet. We can draw a deep sense of being-ness. peace and love from this connection, which will sustain us through any trial. Once nurtured, this becomes stronger than any other connection, so of course our relationships here are most joyful when they allow us the personal freedom to spend time developing and celebrating that connection. Our deepest friendships form with those we can share such time and experiences with - discussing, meditating, immersing ourselves in nature, or creating our music, art, written or other works. Our journeys here are voyages of discovery, opening out the wonders within and all around. What better companions could we have than those who are able to fully share in such delights with us?
Jay Woodman