Friday, 8 February 2008

Losing my religion

I fear many things: dogs, horses, fire-arms, the sea, thunder-storms, machinery, the country roads at night.’

‘But why do you fear a bit of bread?’

‘I imagine, Stephen said, that there is a malevolent reality behind those things I say I fear.’

‘Do you fear then, Cranly asked, that the God of the Roman catholics would strike you dead and damn you if you made a sacrilegious communion?’

‘The God of the Roman catholics could do that now, Stephen said. I fear more than that the chemical action which would be set up in my soul by a false homage to a symbol behind which are massed twenty centuries of authority and veneration.’

‘Would you, Cranly asked, in extreme danger, commit that particular sacrilege? For instance, if you lived in the penal days?’

‘I cannot answer for the past, Stephen replied. Possibly not.’

‘Then, said Cranly, you do not intend to become a protestant?’

‘I said that I had lost the faith, Stephen answered, but not that I had lost self-respect. What kind of liberation would that be to forsake an absurdity which is logical and coherent and to embrace one which is illogical and incoherent?'

(James Joyce – A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Chapter V)

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