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Religion may make you happy, but that does not make it true

Religion makes some people happy, but their feelings do not mean that their religion is true.Richard Dawkins:I wish it were not necessary to add that such beneficial effects in no way boost the truth value of religion’s claims. In George Bernard Shaw’s words, ‘The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.’A common strategy is for the religion to make the followers feel worthless or broken and then to give them back their sense of worth and wholeness.Alan Watts:...if one wants to feel exhilaratingly light-footed, it is always possible to go around for some time with lead in one's shoes — and then take them off. The sense of relief will certainly be proportional to the length of time such shoes have been worn, and to the weight of the lead. This is equivalent to the old trick of religious revivalists who give their followers a tremendous emotional uplift by first implanting an acute sense of …
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Mentions of eunuchs in 'The Dance of Genghis Cohn' (1968)

Quotes from Romain Gary's 1968 novel The Dance of Genghis Cohn that allude to eunuchs.“He was...inoffensive. He had been the victim of a shooting accident in France...you see what I mean?”
”What was he doing in France?”
“Well, he is a German, isn’t he? He was doing his duty.”
“Why should the Baroness have gone off with a eunuch?”
“Because he is harmless.”
“Then one might just as well stay with one’s husband.” (p. 53)“Who was that gentleman, Florian?”
* * *
“Just another small-timer, my darling. There was no need for you to bother. I’ve told you a million times: they can’t deliver. They don’t have what it takes. Eunuchs, all of them.” (p. 95, pp. 118-119)“Florian, you’re crying? You!”
“This dog’s life!” wails Florian. “I get fed up with it sometimes.”
“But what is it? What’s the matter now?”
“What’s the matter, what’s the matter? ... There are moments when I would like to...well, when I too would like to be able to...Watching them do it all the time...it’s upsetting, in…

Quotes on developing a self

"Selfhood — an obsolete idea, according to Bateson and other proponents of the ‘new consciousness’ — is precisely the inescapable awareness of man’s contradictory place in the natural order of things. … The distinguishing characteristic of selfhood, however, is not rationality but the critical awareness of man’s divided nature. Selfhood expresses itself in the form of a guilty conscience, the painful awareness of the gulf between human aspirations and human limitation. “Bad conscience is inseparable from freedom,” Jacques Ellul reminds us. “There is no freedom without an accompanying critical attitude to the self..."
Christopher Lasch. The Minimal Self: Psychic Survival in Troubled Times. New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 1984. p. 257-258."Similar in concept to theologian James Fowler’s stages of faith (even Campbell’s hero’s journey), [M. Scott] Peck’s framework [in his book The Different Drum] consists of four systematic or hierarchical stages of spiritual growth and de…

Quotes on seeking oneself

”We all come into existence as a single cell, smaller than a speck of dust. Much smaller. Divide. Multiply. Add and subtract. Matter changes hands, atoms flow in and out, molecules pivot, proteins stitch together, mitochrondria send out their oxidative dictates; we begin as a microscopic electrical swarm. The lungs the brain the heart. Forty weeks later, six trillion cells get crushed in the vise of our mother’s birth canal and we howl. Then the world starts in on us.”
Anthony Doerr. All the Light We Cannot See. New York: Scribner, 2014.“Half her work is tricking him into trusting himself and the other half is giving him the tools to make the right decisions. She doesn’t know it yet, but she will find that these are the first steps toward being an adult.”
Lindsey Drager. The Archive of Alternate Endings. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Dzanc, 2019."Denied the Sought-After,
He longed to deserve
To be the Sought-After."
Dag Hammarskjöld. Markings [Vägmärken], (1963) Translated by Leif Sjöbe…

Quotes on finding one's 'self' within community

It may be claimed that we are singularities..."And it isn't a culture of individualism, but its lack, that makes for social tension. George Packer wrote of this in his book The Assassins' Gate about Iraq, where people's group identities overwhelmed their identities as individuals, with bloody results. In contrast, it is where people have a strong sense of themselves as individuals, rather than as subordinated to some larger social amalgam, that they can have a deep and genuine respect for other human beings, their individual worth, and their rights.
* * *
Those who believe human evil has to be controlled by a powerful state may not have noticed that the worst evils ever perpetrated have been the projects of powerful governments--from the Inquisition to the Holocaust to the Gulag. This is why we need to hold the state in check, curbing the power of a few to work their will upon the many."
Frank S. Robinson. The Case for Rational Optimism. New Brunswick, N.J. and …

Political parties are supposed to present positions and uphold principles. Ideally.

Why do political parties exist? Not only for politicians to mutually support each other, but for the public to have a shorthand method of understanding what positions are being discussed at any given time and to give voters an easy way to accept a "package deal" of positions that they don't otherwise fully understand.Chris Hayes explained it in 2012: “Choose nearly any important public issue — the long-term solvency of Social Security, the effect of taxes on growth, the importance to student performance of merit pay for teachers — and you will find smart, well-credentialed, and energetic advocates arguing for mutually exclusive positions. In this way, the voter is asked to referee a series of contests for which he or she has absolutely no independent expertise. That’s why political parties are such a useful part of liberal democracy; they take on much of this informational burden. Citizens come to associate themselves with a party for myriad reasons — affiliation of worl…

Quotes on the benefits of quiet, solitary reflection to connect with oneself

"What we do during our working hours determines what we have; what we do during our leisure hours determines what we are."
Philanthropist George Eastman, quoted in the Buffalo Law Journal, quoted in The Week, June 14, 2013, p. 19."When you stop thinking about yourself all the time, a certain sense of repose overtakes you."
Leonard Cohen, quoted in the Montreal Gazette, quoted in The Week, Dec. 21, 2012, p. 15."What solitary icebergs we are, Miss Vinrace! How little we can communicate!"
Virginia Woolf. The Voyage Out (1915)."Silence is the cornerstone of character."
Ohhiyesa, Santee Sioux. Quoted in Sharon Franquemont. You Already Know What to Do: 10 Invitations to the Intuitive Life. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 2000. p. 117.”Like most deadly attractive people, he had a hollow at the center of him. What people loved most about her husband was how mellifluous their own voices sounded when they echoed back.”
Lauren Groff. Fates and Fu…