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Georgia Harkness

  • Religion is the most widely debated and least agreed upon phenomenon of human history.

  • ... while religion is ethical, it by no means follows that ethics is religion.

  • The primary battle which religion must fight today is the battle to justify its own existence.

  • ... religion is perhaps its own worst enemy. For religion, masquerading under the guise of archaic creeds, and impossible literalisms, and ecclesiasticism indifferent to human needs, has brought about an inevitable and in many respects wholesome revulsion.

  • ... the principal sources of human misery may fairly be said to lie in the over-possession, under-possession, and the unwise use of economic goods.

  • ... the most common type of pessimism is neither philosophical nor religious: it is the pessimism of thwarted desire. ... It is the cynical sneer of the man who, seeking roses, finds only ashes.

  • ... a sick society, unlike a sick individual, fares best under the ministration of many doctors.

  • Persons who would never think of announcing boldly to the world, 'I am a scholar,' 'I am a great artist,' 'I am a beautiful woman,' nevertheless seem to think it wholly within the bounds of good taste to announce that they are Christians!

  • Many now veer away from the time-honored use of the term Father as applied to the Christian God ... This difficulty rests mainly, I believe, on failure to distinguish between a symbol and a definition.

  • The great danger is that in the confession of any collective sin, one shall confess the sins of others and forget our own.

  • ... love is always in danger of being sentimentalized.

  • ... churches, like all the rest of our major institutions, are rooted in capitalism. For a church to attack capitalism is to 'bite the hand that feeds it.'

  • The perpetual danger which besets religion is that it may substitute gentility and aestheticism for prophetic insight and power.

  • Reason does not get one far toward religion, but as far as it goes, it is indispensable.

  • To discover, or recover, the sense of religious certainty one must worship.

  • One can be coerced to church, but not to worship.

  • Nature, left to itself, defeats nature.

  • Prayer is essentially a process by which ideals are enabled to become operative in our lives. It may be more than this, but it is at least this.

  • This tendency to turn human judgments into divine commands makes religion one of the most dangerous forces in the world.

  • Prayer is the opening of the soul to God so that he can speak to us.

  • Life is a continual alternation of rest and action, of the need of comfort and the need of power.

  • ... we all know how to pray better than we practice what we know!

  • To pray well one must pray much.

  • ... the truth is seldom found in extremes. Central truths can be revolutionary if put to work.

  • Everybody, whether or not he puts the question vocally, wants to know whether life has any meaning, what his relation is to 'whatever gods there be,' why he is here, what his destiny is, how sin and pain may be overcome, whether prayer matters, what lies beyond death for himself and his loved ones.

  • Eternal life is personal existence in continuity with the present life, but transfigured.

Georgia Harkness, U.S. theologian, writer

(1891 - 1974)

Full name: Georgia Elma Harkness.