It seems to me there is less meanness in atheism, by a good measure. It seems that the spirit of religious self-righteousness this article deplores is precisely the spirit in which it is written. Of course he's right about many things, one of them being the destructive potency of religious self-righteousness. (p. 146)
I love the writers of my thousand books. It pleases me to think how astonished old Homer, whoever he was, would be to find his epics on the shelf of such an unimaginable being as myself, in the middle of an unrumored continent. I love the large minority of the writers on my shelves who have struggled with words and thoughts and, by my lights, have lost the struggle. All together they are my community, the creators of the very idea of books, poetry, and extended narratives, and of the amazing human conversation that has taken place across the millennia, through weal and woe, over the heads of interest and utility.
There is a saying that to understand is to forgive, but that is an error, so Papa used to say. You must forgive in order to understand. Until you forgive, you defend yourself against the possibility of understanding... If you forgive, he would say, you may indeed still not understand, but you will be ready to understand, and that is the posture of grace.
What if good institutions were in fact the product of good intentions? What if the cynicism that is supposed to be rigor and the acquisitiveness that is supposed to be realism are making us forget the origins of the greatness we lay claim to - power and wealth as secondary consequences of the progress of freedom, or, as Whitman would prefer, Democracy?
There is no justice in love, no proportion in it, and there need not be, because in any specific instance it is only a glimpse or parable of an embracing, incomprehensible reality. It makes no sense at all because it is the eternal breaking in on the temporal. So how could it subordinate itself to cause or consequence?
We live in a moment in which old conflicts, much altered during their subterraneous years, have boiled up again. The struggle to own the past so that it can be made to serve contemporary interests has led to gross distortions. But it is true also that the experience of any generation is inevitably a warped lens through which to view the thought and the actions of any previous generation, especially when there is a lack of rigorous historical perspective to correct for these distortions. This second consideration may go some way toward explaining the fact that there are two sides to what would otherwise be a great national controversy.
Language is music. Written words are musical notation. The music of a piece of fiction establishes the way in which it is to be read, and, in the largest sense, what it means. It is essential to remember that characters have a music as well, a pitch and tempo, just as real people do. To make them believable, you must always be aware of what they would or would not say, where stresses would or would not fall.