Friday, December 19, 2008

from Halldor Laxness, The Great Weaver From Kashmir (1927)

How in the world can Christianity, a nineteen-hundred year old ghost story from Asia, be expected to have any influence on contemporary Europeans?

Men live in reality, and there they are condemned to help themselves. God has sentenced man to help himself. God does not help him; that is evidenced everywhere. It is also evidenced everywhere that the more faith men put in God, the more liable they are to wallow in idiocy and penury, the less liable to rise up against their enemies, against lies and tyranny. In just a short time the holiest names of Christianity will not be seen upon anything other than fatted calves, lapdogs, soft drinks and laundries.


The older a man becomes, the more vain become the questions that he ponders, the more paltry the decisions that he makes. It is a rare exception to meet a man older than thirty who thinks. To grow older signifies a man's surrender to facts. He no longer changes water into wine, no longer gives orders, is no longer a creative philosopher. His cleverness from this point on is confined to taking a position toward things as they are, settling himself down in such a way that the flaws he fought against most often in his youth cause him the least amount of trouble possible. To grow older is to lose the nerve to try to untie the Gordian knot, to settle with whatever one wasn't able to conquer. The soul of a middle-aged man is solidified lava.

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