Friday, December 12, 2014

On the Nature of Sin and Faith - Terry Pratchett

I've been re-reading Terry Pratchett's Discworld books - two of my favorite, thought-provoking quotes are these gem from Carpe Jugulum:

"...There is a very interesting debate raging at the moment on the nature of sin, for example."

"And what do they think? Against it, are they?"

"It is not as simple as that. It's not a black and white issue. There are so many shades of gray."

"Nope."


"Pardon?"

"There's no grays, only white that's got grubby. I'm surprised you don't know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That's what sin is."

"It's a lot more complicated than that--"

"No it ain't. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they're getting worried that they won't like the truth. People as things, that's where it starts."

"Oh, I'm sure there are worse crimes-"

"But they Starts with thinking about people as things…"

and

That’s people for you. Now if I’d seen him, really there, really alive, it’d be in me like a fever. 

If I thought there was some god who really did care two hoots about people, who watched ’em like a father and cared for ’em like a mother . . . well, you wouldn’t catch me sayin’ things like ‘there are two sides to every question’ and ‘we must respect other people’s beliefs.’ 

You wouldn’t find me just being gen’rally nice in the hope that it’d all turn out right in the end, not if that flame was burning in me like an unforgivin’ sword. And I did say burnin’, Mister Oats, ’cos that’s what it’d be. 

You say that you people don’t burn folk and sacrifice people anymore, but that’s what true faith would mean, y’see? Sacrificin’ your own life, one day at a time, to the flame, declarin’ the truth of it, workin’ for it, breathin’ the soul of it. That’s religion. Anything else is just . . . is just bein’ nice. And a way of keepin’ in touch with the neighbors.”


She relaxed slightly, and went on in a quieter voice: “Anyway, that’s what I’d be, if I really believed. And I don’t think that’s fashionable right now, ’cos it seems that if you sees evil now you have to wring your hands and say, ‘oh deary me, we must debate this.’ 

That’s my two penn’orth, Mister Oats. You be happy to let things lie. Don’t chase faith, ’cos you’ll never catch it.“ 

She added, almost as an aside, “But, perhaps, you can live faithfully.”