"When theology erodes and organization crumbles, when the institutional framework of religion begins to break up, the search for a direct experience which people can feel to be religious facilitates the rise of cults. A cult differs from a formal religion in many significant ways. It is in the nature of a cult to claim some esoteric knowledge which has been submerged (or repressed by orthodoxy) for a long time but has now suddenly been illuminated. There is often some heterodox figure, mocked or scorned by the orthodox, who presents these new teachings. There are communal rites which often permit or spur an individual to act out impulses that had hitherto been repressed. In the cult, one feels as though one were exploring novel or hitherto taboo modes of conduct. What defines a cult, therefore, is its implicit emphasis on magic rather than theology, on the personal tie to a guru or to the group, rather than to an institution or a creed."
"And so it goes, back and forth, good church-members all, which means that their banter contains nothing off-color, and by the same token, nothing that was coined later than the first batch of buffalo nickels."
"It goes without saying that religion thus conceived is the opposite of magic. The latter is essentially selfish, the former admits of and often even demands disinterestedness. The one claims to force the compliance of nature, the other implores the favor of a god. Above all, magic works in an environment which is semi-physical and semi-moral--the magician, at all events is not dealing with a person; whereas on the contrary it is from the god's personality that religion draws its greatest efficacy. Granted that primitive intelligence thinks it perceives around it, in phenomena and in events, elements of personality rather than complete personalities, religion, as we have just understood it, will ultimately reinforce these elements to the extent of completely personifying them; whereas magic looks upon them as debased, dissolved, as it were, in a material world in which their efficacy can be tapped."
"It seems, Euphranor..., that there is nothing so singularly absurd as we are apt to think, in the belief of mysteries; and that a man need not renounce his reason to maintain his religion. But if this were true, how comes it to pass, that, in proportion as men abound in knowledge, they dwindle in faith?"
"If ... we admit a divinity, why not divine worship? and if worship, why not religion to teach this worship? and if a religion, why not the Christian, if a better cannot be assigned, and it be already established by the laws of our country, and handed down to us from our forefathers?"
"Have a sense of piety ever on your mind, and be ever mindful that this is subject to no change, but will last you as long as life and support you in death. Elevate your soul by prayer and by contemplation without mystical enthusiasm."
"English! they are barbarians; they don't believe in the great God." I told him, "Excuse me, Sir. We do believe in God, and in Jesus Christ too." "Um," says he, "and in the Pope?" "No." "And why?" This was a puzzling question in these circumstances.... I thought I would try a method of my own, and very gravely replied, "Because we are too far off." A very new argument against the universal infallibility of the Pope."
"Baseball is the religion that worships the obvious and gives thanks that things are exactly as they seem. Instead of celebrating mysteries, baseball rejoices in the absence of mysteries and trusts that, if we watch what is laid before our eyes, down to the last detail, we will cultivate the gift of seeing things as they really are."
"His whole works are a heap of mis-shapen errors, and absurd paradoxes, vented with the confidence of a juggler, the brags of a mountebank, and the authority of some Pythagoras, or third Cato, lately dropped down from heaven. Thus we have seen how the obbian principles do destroy the existence, the simplicity, the ubiquity, the eternity, and infiniteness of God, the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity, the hypostatical union, the kingly, sacerdotal, and prophetical office of Christ, the being and operation of the Holy Ghost, heaven, hell, angels, devils, the immortality of the soul, the Catholic and all national churches; the holy Scriptures, holy orders, the holy sacrament, the whole frame of religion, and the worship of God; the laws of nature, the reality of goodness, justice, piety, honesty, conscience, and all that is sacred."
"No doubt for the average man nationalism is no more than one of the faiths that live together in actual if illogical partnership in his heart and mind (illogical in the sense that some of these faiths, say Christianity and national patriotism, may have mutually incompatible ethical ideals). Yet it is hard to exaggerate the extent to which for many modern Western men the worship of the nation-state occupies a major part of their conscious relations with groups outside the family.... The ritual surrounding the flag, patriotic hymns, the reverent reading of patriotic texts, the glorification of national heroes (saints), the insistence on the nation's mission, the nation's basic consonance with the scheme of the universe--all of this is so familiar to most of us that unless we are internationalist crusaders in favor of a world-state or some other proposed means for securing universal peace we never even notice it."