"We think of religion as the symbolic expression of our highest moral ideals; we think of magic as a crude aggregate of superstitions. Religious belief seems to become mere superstitious credulity if we admit any relationship with magic. On the other hand our anthropological and ethnographical material makes it extremely difficult to separate the two fields."
"The blood of Abraham, God's father of the chosen, still flows in the veins of Arab, Jew, and Christian, and too much of it has been spilled in grasping for the inheritance of the revered patriarch in the Middle East. The spilled blood in the Holy Land still cries out to God--an anguished cry for peace."
"When, as a child, I first opened my eyes on a Sunday-morning, a feeling of dismal anicipation, which began at least on the Friday, culminated. I knew what was before me, and my wish, if not my word, was "Would God it were evening!" It was no day of rest, but a day of texts, of catechisms (Watts'), of tracts about converted swearers, godly charwomen, and edifying deaths of sinners saved.... There was but one rosy spot, in the distance, all that day: and that was "bed-time," which never could come too early!"
"It's almost impossible to deal with a crazy man, except that he does have religious beliefs, and the world of Islam will be damaged if a fanatic like him should commit murder in the name of religion against 60 innocent people."
"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."