"Magic is akin to science in that it always has a definite aim intimately associated with human instincts, needs, and pursuits. The magic art is directed towards the attainment of practical aims. Like other arts and crafts, it is also governed by a theory, by a system of principles which dictate the manner in which the act has to be performed in order to be effective."
"Both magic and religion are based strictly on mythological tradition, and they also both exist in the atmosphere of the miraculous, in a constant revelation of their wonder-working power. They both are surrounded by taboos and observances which mark off their acts from those of the profane world."
"But is it not the fact that religion emanates from the nature, from the moral state of the individual? Is it not therefore true that unless the nature be completely exercised, the moral state harmonised, the religion cannot be healthy?"
"I shall never send for a priest or recite an Act of Contrition in my last moments. I do not mind if I lose my soul for all eternity. If the kind of God exists Who would damn me for not working out a deal with Him, then that is unfortunate. I should not care to spend eternity in the company of such a person."
"I am a Wasp only in the genetic sense; the P does not quite apply. As an Episcopalian I am technically an Anglican Catholic, meaning that I have a real feel for theological dottiness untainted by deeper questions of religious belief. I have no religious beliefs to speak of, but I stand four-square with the Highs against the Lows on Latin and incense, and I will go to bat for transubstantiation even though it means nothing to me one way or the other."
"Zen is to religion what a Japanese "rock garden" is to a garden. Zen knows no god, no afterlife, no good and no evil, as the rock-garden knows no flowers, herbs or shrubs. It has no doctrine or holy writ: its teaching is transmitted mainly in the form of parables as ambiguous as the pebbles in the rock-garden which symbolise now a mountain, now a fleeting tiger. When a disciple asks "What is Zen?", the master's traditional answer is "Three pounds of flax" or "A decaying noodle" or "A toilet stick" or a whack on the pupil's head."
"It is a mystery to me how a theologian can be praised for having brought himself to disbelieve dogmas. I've always thought that those who have brought themselves to believe in dogmas merit the true recognition owing a heroic deed."
"I didn't have any looks, I didn't have any talent, and it was easy for me to say to the Lord, "I don't have anything." If you only knew where I came from ... this leetle-bitty town with no more than twelve hundred people in it. So ... anything I am today, He is the one who has done it [ellipses in source]."
"Even the street, the sunshine, the very air had a special Sunday quality. We walked differently on Sundays, with greater propriety and stateliness. Greetings were more formal, more subdued, voices more meticulously polite. Everything was so smooth, bland, polished. And genuinely so, because this was Sunday. In church the rustling and the stillness were alike pervaded with the knowledge that all was for the best. Propriety ruled the universe. God was in His Heaven, and we were in our Sunday clothes."
"[In the old religion of the Indians in New Mexico] the whole life-effort of man was to get his life into direct contact with the elemental life of the cosmos.... To come into immediate felt contact, and so derive energy, power, and a dark sort of joy. This effort into sheer naked contact, without an intermediary or mediator, is the root meaning of religion."
"A man has no religion who has not slowly and painfully gathered one together, adding to it, shaping it; and one's religion is never complete and final, it seems, but must always be undergoing modification."
"The centuries-long wars with the Saracen, when everything of the East was the enemy, and the subsequent, now over, era of Western imperialism, when Eastern cultures were despised by us, have caused a block in European thinking, making it hard for us to acknowledge what we all owe to the East. Two great religions have influenced Europe, we say: Christianity and Judaism, but we scarcely mention Islam, which has been the third. We are the heirs, we claim proudly, of Greece and Rome, but seldom think of the Arabs, the Persians, the Moors, who, through Spain, fed culture into a Europe that was considered a poor and backward place, with a culture far below the dazzling civilizations of the cities of North Africa, Spain, the Middle East, India."