November 1, 2015

Charity, love and a prenup cover a multitude of sins...


“And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.”  
Saint Peter (c. 1 BC-c. 67 AD)
       Galilean-born Apostle of Jesus and early Christian leader
       His famous words in
I Peter 4:8, as translated in the King James Bible. Most later version of the Bible use the word love in place of charity.
       Chapter 4, Verse 8 of the
“First Epistle of Peter” (usually referred to as I Peter 4:8) is the origin of the sayings “charity covers a multitude of sins” and “love covers a multitude of sins.” These reflect two different translations of a word originally written in Greek by Peter. Although most familiar Bible quotes are from the King James version, “love covers a multitude of sins” has become the more commonly heard version.
       Peter actually used the Greek word agape for the thing that covers a multitude of sins. In the early Catholic Church’s Vulgate Bible and in the King James Version, agape was translated as charity. In later versions, it was translated as love. But in early Christian theology it didn’t quite mean what we now think of when we use either of those words. Agape refers to a more profound concept that can’t easily be translated into a single English word. It means a feeling of charitable compassion, empathy and non-romantic love toward other people, like the love God and Jesus Christ are said to have for mankind; a higher love that can look past and forgive — and thus “cover” and accept — other people’s faults and transgressions. 
       The famed Bible quote was not intended to mean that if someone gives enough alms to the poor or donates enough money to charities it will atone for or “cover up” their sins and let them get past St. Peter into the Pearly Gates of Heaven. Nonetheless, in common use, variations of the saying “charity covers a multitude of sins” are often used to suggest that doing or having a certain thing will hide or excuse something else.


“Love covers a multitude of sins. Sure. But you’d be nuts not to get a prenup. I mean, c’mon. #TrumpBible.” 
       Eric Metaxas
       Pastor, author and radio show host
       One of Metaxas's suggested additions to the funny faux Donald Trump quotes featured on the #TrumpBible Twitter page, which mocks Trump’s claim to be a Christian (and Trump in general). Illustration by Jordan Awan.


“The conditions under which the leper families live are terrible...Sometimes the pain is so great that I feel as if everything will break. The smile is a big cloak which covers a multitude of pains.”
Mother Teresa (1910-1997)
       Albanian-born Catholic nun known for her humanitarian efforts in India
In a letter quoted in the book Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light: the Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta (2007), edited by Brian Kolodiejchuk


“The proper aim is to try and reconstruct society on such a basis that poverty will be impossible... Charity creates a multitude of sins. There is also this to be said. It is immoral to use private property in order to alleviate the horrible evils that result from the institution of private property. It is both immoral and unfair.”
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
       Irish playwright, poet, social critic and wit
       In his essay
“The Soul of Man Under Socialism” (1891)


“The word ‘god’ is used to cover a vast multitude of mutually exclusive ideas. And the distinctions are, I believe in some cases, intentionally fuzzed so that no one will be offended that people are not talking about their god.”
Carl Sagan (1934-1996)
       American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist and author 
       Remark in a lecture included in the book
The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God (2007)


“That helmet covers a multitude of sins.”
Captain James T. Kirk (actor William Shatner) 
       Kirk makes this joking remark
to Spock (Leonard Nimoy) in the Star Trek episode “Patterns of Force” (Season 2, Episode 21). He’s referring to the helmet Spock puts on during their visit to a planet run by a Nazi-inspired government. The helmet covers Spock’s pointed Vulcan ears, thus helping to hide the fact that he is an alien.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Famous Quotations Facebook group.

Related reading and viewing…

October 27, 2015

“Suppose they gave a war and nobody came.”


“Sometime they’ll give a war and nobody will come.”
Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)
       American poet and writer
       A line from Sandburg’s epic prose poem The People, Yes (1936)
       In the 1960s, several variations of an anti-war slogan began appearing on posters, in print and in songs. The version that became most common (as shown by the
comparatively huge number of Google hits it gets) is “Suppose they gave a war and nobody came.” Other variations include “Suppose they gave a war and no one came” and “What if they gave a war and nobody came.” It’s not certain who coined the most familiar version, but this much is clear: all of the various iterations of the saying are ultimately descended from a line in Carl Sandburg’s book-length ode to America and it’s citizens, The People, Yes, first published in 1936.
       In the poem, the line is said by a little girl who sees a group of soldiers marching in a parade. It’s from a part of the poem in which Sandburg seems to foresee the potential devastation of a second and possibly a third world war:
The first world war came and its cost was laid on the people.
       The second world war — the third — what will be the cost.
       And will it repay the people for what they pay?...
       The little girl saw her first troop parade and asked, 
       ‘What are those?’
       ‘What are soldiers?’
       ‘They are for war. They fight and each tries to kill as many of the other side as he can.’
       The girl held still and studied. 
       ‘Do you know ... I know something?’
       ‘Yes, what is it you know?’
       ‘Sometime they’ll give a war and nobody will come.’


“Suppose they gave a war and nobody came.” 
       Possibly coined by
James R. Newman 
       American mathematician, writer and editor of Scientific American magazine
       In the 1960s, several updated versions of Carl Sandburg’s line became popular. They were often used in the context of opposition to the Vietnam War. The most common version, “Suppose they gave a war and nobody came,” was used as a slogan on posters that were sold in Hippie shops in the late Sixties (like the blacklight poster shown at left). It was also used as the title of
a comedy movie in 1970, giving it even broader recognition. Some posts on the Internet claim the now familiar words were first written by Bertolt Brecht in the 1930s. However, they give no source and I couldn’t find one, so I deem that claim doubtful. (As Abraham Lincoln said, “The problem with Internet quotations is that many are not genuine.”) 
       In contrast, the origin of the variation “Suppose They Gave a War and No One Came” is well documented. It was used as
the title of a widely-read article written by the American poet and author Charlotte E. Keyes (1914-1980). The article, about her growing admiration for the anti-war activism of her son Gene, was published in the October 1966 issue of McCall’s magazine. Charlotte’s other son happens to be the quote and phrase maven Ralph Keyes. He noted in his excellent book The Quote Verifier (2006) that his mother saw the phrase “Suppose they gave a war and nobody came” in a 1961 letter to the editor in The Washington Post, written by James R. Newman. Newman was referencing, but apparently misremembering, Sandburg’s line. Charlotte cut out and kept the letter for future reference and later adapted the title of her article from it. Newman may or may not have coined “Suppose they gave a war and nobody came.” That paraphrase of Sandburg may already have been floating around at the time. However, I found no use of those words dated earlier than Newman’s 1961 letter in any newspaper archive or anywhere else online. So, he may deserve credit for creating the Sixties slogan (though perhaps inadvertently.) 
       Another variation, “What If They Gave a War and No One Came,” surfaced in 1968 as the title of a song by the now forgotten "Symphonopop" composer and musician
Jonna Gault. And, in 1972, poet Allen Ginsberg echoed her version in his 1972 poem “Graffiti,” which included the lines “What if someone gave a war & Nobody came? / Life would ring the bells of Ecstasy and Forever be Itself again.”


“What if they gave a debate and nobody came?”
       Brad Knickerbocker
       Staff writer and editor for the Christian Science Monitor 
       His humorous question
in an article about the December 2011 Republican “debate” hosted by Donald Trump, which all but two Republican presidential candidates declined to participate in. (Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum were the only candidates who agreed to appear.)


“What if You Took Viagra and Nobody Came?” 
       Double entendre title of
an article in the Jan.-Feb. 1999 issue of Mother Jones magazine
       The tongue-in-cheek article discussed some non-drug alternatives to Viagra, such as an artificial nylon-polypropylene penis, penile implant surgery — or a Corvette.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Famous Quotations Facebook page.

Related reading…

September 1, 2015

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty: updated and adapted…


“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”
Wendell Phillips (1811-1884)
       American Abolitionist and liberal activist
       In a
speech to the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society on January 28, 1852
       This quotation is often mistakenly attributed to Irish lawyer and politician John Philpot Curran (1750–1817) or to various American Founding Fathers, most commonly Thomas Jefferson. Similar quotes by Curran, Jefferson and others do predate the speech by Phillips, but he created the formulation we are most familiar with today in his 1852 speech.
       What Curran said, in
a speech in Dublin on July 10, 1790, was: “The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance.”
       The common misattribution to Thomas Jefferson may derive from a quote inscribed on the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC: “I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” This comes from a
letter Jefferson wrote to Dr. Benjamin Rush on September 23, 1800, in which he stressed his determination to prevent Christian clergyman from imposing their particular brands of religion on other Americans.
this post on my This Day in Quotes site for more background.


“We must constantly train and equip our people and upgrade our technology to meet these ever-growing and ever-changing challenges. Eternal vigilance is the price for continuing security.” 
      James R. Schlesinger (1929-2014)
       American government official who served as CIA director, Secretary of Defense and the first U.S. Secretary of Energy
       His version of the “eternal vigilance” saying comes from his July 1987 “Report to the Secretary of State on the Moscow Chancery Construction Project.” The report was commissioned after it was discovered that Soviet Russian spy agencies had planted an array of high tech listening and recording devices in the newly-constructed American Embassy building in Moscow. Given the more recent hacking of U.S. government computer systems by China and freelance hackers, his observation still seems relevant.


“Eternal vigilance is not the price of liberty. It’s the price of everything. Every object you own has to be maintained. In society, there will always be people who oppose whatever you hold dear. They will try to overturn, evade or weaken your reforms. Others will seek power, wealth, or status without doing any work. The only way to keep what you have is to guard it constantly.”
Prof. Steven Dutch
       Professor of Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin–Green Bay
       One of
Dutch’s Laws of Just About Everything 


“Eternal vigilance is not only the price of liberty; eternal vigilance is the price of human decency.”
Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)
       English novelist and social critic
       From his introduction to the radio version of his novel Brave New World,
produced by William Froug for CBS Radio in 1965


“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance and a willingness to act in its defense.” 
George P. Shultz
       U.S. Secretary of State under President Ronald Reagan
       A saber-rattling variation
attributed to Schultz


“The price of surfing freedom is eternal vigilance.”
Jay Garmon 
       A “professional geek, Web entrepreneur, and occasional science fiction writer”
       In a
post about online privacy tools (and the unfortunate need for them)

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Famous Quotations Facebook page.

Related reading…

July 22, 2015

“Half the world…” (vs. the other half)


“Half the world doesn’t know how the other half lives.”
(“La moitié du monde ne sait comment l’autre vit.”) 
François Rabelais (c. 1494-c. 1553)
       French satirist
       Many sources attribute the origin of this saying to its use by Rabelais in his novel Pantagruel (the first of his five Gargantua and Pantagruel novels). In the novel it is cited by the character Alcofribas as something that “is said,” clearly indicating it was already proverbial in French.
       It was also a proverbial in English by the mid-1600s. In 1640, it was recorded by the Anglican priest, poet and collector of proverbs George Herbert in his book Outlandish Proverbs (later reprinted as Jacula Prudentum) in the form: “Half the world knows not how the other half lives.”
       Initially, and throughout the centuries, the saying has generally been used to mean that people who were rich or financially secure could not understand the how hard life was for people who were poor. Photographer and journalist Jacob Riis helped embed that meaning into American culture with the publication of his classic “muckraking” book How the Other Half Lives (1890), which helped raise awareness of the deplorable living and working conditions of poor people in the slums of New York City.


“One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.” 
Jane Austen (1775-1817)
       British novelist 
       A famous line from Austen’s novel Emma (1815)
       It is often assumed and even asserted that Austen intended this quote to mean that men can’t understand how women feel or how they think about matters related to sex, love, relationships and other things that make women different from men. But in the context of its use in the novel, it seems to be a much broader generalization that is not about (or at least not just about) sexism or the differences between the sexes.
       In Volume 1, Chapter 9, Emma’s father remarks that he can’t understand why some young children enjoy having an adult toss them “up to the ceiling in a very frightful way!”
       Emma responds: “That is the case with us all, papa. One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.”


“Half the world doesn’t care how the other half lives.”
Sir Humphry Davy (1778-1829)
       British chemist and inventor
       A pithy quote by Davy included in The Collected Works of Sir Humphry Davy (1839)


“Half the world hates
What half the world does every day”
       Lyrics from the song “Half the World” by the rock band Rush
       (Band member and drummer Neil Peart wrote the lyrics.)
       On the band’s Test For Echo album (1996)


“Half the world does not know how the other half lives, but is trying to find out.”
Edgar Watson Howe (1853-1937)
       American journalist and novelist
       A quote cited in his book Country Town Sayings (1911)


“Half the world spends its time laughing at the other half, and both are fools.” 
Mr. Moto (played by a
ctor Peter Lorre)
       In the 1937 film Think Fast, Mr. Moto. (Based on the novel of the same name by Mr. Moto’s creator John P. Marquand.)

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Famous Quotations Facebook page.

Related reading (and listening)…

July 5, 2015

“Man’s inhumanity to man…”


“Man’s inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn!”

Robert Burns (1759-1796)
       Scottish poet and lyricist
“Man Was Made to Mourn: A Dirge” (1784), stanza 7
       The phrase “man’s inhumanity to man” was coined in this poem, written by Burns in 1784. It was included in his first book of poetry, Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, also known as
the Kilmarnock edition. That volume, published in 1786, made Burns famous and contains several poems that gave us immortal phrases, including: “man’s inhumanity to man,” “the best laid schemes of mice and men” (from “To a Mouse”) and “to see ourselves as others see us” (from “To a Louse” ).
       “Man Was Made to Mourn” reflects Burns’ antipathy toward the social and economic caste system that had been imposed on Scotland by Great Britain, which created a huge, poor, disenfranchised underclass and benefited a relatively small number of wealthy landowners and businessmen. The poem also seems to subtly reflect Burns’ support for Scottish independence —
a radical position at the time.


“The story of ISIS is not about Islam, it is about the universal human story of cruelty and man’s inhumanity to man, whether it be ISIS, Nazism, fascism or pure hatred of others. Intolerance and arrogance mixed with power and politics has caused most wars.”
       Alia Hogben
       Executive Director of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women
       In an op-ed published by The Kingston Whig-Standard, October 8, 2014
       (Cartoon by artist Steve Greenberg)


“There is only one way in which one can endure man’s inhumanity to man and that is to try, in one’s own life, to exemplify man’s humanity to man.”
Alan Paton (1903-1988)
       South African writer and anti-apartheid activist
From his essay “The Challenge of Fear,” originally published in the Saturday Review, September 9, 1967


“Revolution is the negation of the existing, a violent protest against man’s inhumanity to man with all the thousand and one slaveries it involves. It is the destroyer of dominant values upon which a complex system of injustice, oppression, and wrong has been built up by ignorance and brutality.” 
Emma Goldman (1869-1940)
       Russian-born social activist and anarchist
In her book My Disillusionment in Russia (1925)


“Given the reality of female oppression, how women treat each other matters more, not less...I am not saying that woman’s inhumanity to woman is on the same level as man’s inhumanity to woman; it is not. But women have enormous influence over each other; we have the power to encourage each other to either resist or to collaborate with tyranny.”
Phyllis Chesler
       Pioneering feminist and Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies at City University of New York
In the introduction of her book Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman (2009)


“Man’s inhumanity to man has received a lot of press, but man’s inhumanity to animals is worse, by far, if such a thing can be imagined. It is remarkable that animals will have anything whatever to do with us.”
       D. V. Barrett 
In the book Little Thoughts, Big Oughts (2001)

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Famous Quotations Facebook page.

Related reading…

Copyrights, Disclaimers & Privacy Policy

Creative Commons License
Copyright © Subtropic Productions LLC

The Quote/Counterquote blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License. Any duplicative or remixed use of the original text written for this blog and any exact duplications the specific sets of quotations collected for the posts shown here must include an attribution to and, if online, a link to

To the best of our knowledge, the non-original content posted here is used in a way that is allowed under the fair use doctrine. If you own the copyright to something we've posted and think we may have violated fair use standards, please let me know.

Subtropic Productions LLC and are committed to protecting your privacy. We will not sell your email address, etc. For more details, read this blog's full Privacy Policy.