"Try your tongue, if you cannot use your mind. The people scorn you, laughing at your folly, For all men know, as you might easily find, That almighty God is up in heaven so high, And all these images, it's plain to the eyes, Are nothing, and give you nothing, and cannot try For more - worthless lumps of stone, where they lie" - The Second Nun's Tale (379), Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales (tr. Burton Raffel)
“Is there a proper blessing for the tsar?”
“A blessing for the tsar? Of course . . . May God bless and keep the tsar . . . far away from us!”
– The Rabbi of Anatevka, Fiddler on the Roof
Kings made tombs more splendid than houses of the living, and counted old names in the rolls of their descent dearer than the names of sons. Childless lords sat in aged halls musing on heraldry; in secret chambers withered men compounded strong elixirs, or in high cold towers asked questions of the stars. And the last king of the line of Anárion had no heir.
– J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings
“The ideal set up by the Party was something huge, terrible, and glittering… all thinking the same thoughts and shouting the same slogans, perpetually working, fighting, triumphing, persecuting – three hundred million people all with the same face.
“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered.
“And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”
George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand:
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
– William Butler Yeats, The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats
Everywhere there rises before our eyes the spectre of a society where security, if it is attained at all, will be attained at the expense of freedom, where the security that is attained will be the security of fed beasts in a stable, and where all the high aspirations of humanity will have been crushed by an all-powerful state.
– J. Gresham Machen, Christian Faith in the Modern World (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1936), p. 11.
. . . the same tendency exhibits itself today even in those communities where the name of socialism is most abhorred. When once the majority has determined that a certain regime is beneficial, that regime without further hesitation is forced ruthlessly upon the individual man. It never seems to occur to modern legislatures that although “welfare” is good, forced welfare may be bad . . . . in the interests of physical well-being the great principles of liberty are being thrown ruthlessly to the winds.
-J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism, pp. 10-11.
“The surest way to get more of something is to have our government declare war on it.” – Uncle Rufus