On the shoulders of giants: samples from my quote collection

If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants. — Isaac Newton, in a letter to Robert Hooke, 1676

I love quotations.  There are so many times when I’ll run across something that was said by someone else, and it is so appropriate to a situation, or so relevant to my life, or so matches my way of thinking — but phrased so much better than I ever could’ve — that it just hits me amidships.  I love those moments.  And whenever a quote like that comes along, I steal it.  It’s true.  I steal it, and place it in an alabaster box lacquered with pictures of encyclopedists dancing in flowery meadows.  (Okay, not really — I use copy & paste on my computer and save it in a Microsoft Word document, but if I could keep them all in an alabaster box, I would.)

Today, dear reader, I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you.  Like Gaul in the days of Julius Caesar, they divide roughly into three parts: quotes about writing and creativity; quotes about theology, religion and ethics; and everything else.  This is just a sample from my collection — I’m holding back some stuff so I can do this again down the road.

Ready?  Let’s climb up on those shoulders, then …

You’re not officially a writer until someone interrupts you while you’re typing, and you try to be nice about it, but you secretly want to start screaming like Nicholson in “The Shining.” – Bill Simmons

All truth passes through three stages.  First, it is ridiculed.  Second, it is violently opposed.  Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. – Arthur Schopenhauer

The measure of (mental) health is flexibility (not comparison to some ‘norm’) … the freedom to learn from experience … to be influenced by reasonable arguments … and the appeal to the emotions … and especially the freedom to cease when sated.  The essence of illness is the freezing of behavior into unalterable and insatiable patterns. – Lawrence Kubie

I don’t have much patience with the facts, and any writer is a congenital liar to begin with or he wouldn’t take up writing. – William Faulkner

When a prophet is accepted and deified, his message is lost. The prophet is only useful so long as he is stoned as a public nuisance calling us to repentance, disturbing our comfortable routines, breaking our respectable idols, shattering our sacred conventions – A. G. Gardiner

Mad (adj.): Afflicted with a high degree of intellectual independence. – Ambrose Bierce, in The Devil’s Dictionary

We don’t need more people writing Christian books.  What we need is more Christians writing good books. – C.S. Lewis, as quoted by his stepson Douglas Gresham

Conceal a flaw, and the world will imagine the worst. – Marcus Valerius Martialis

There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at with no result. – Winston Churchill

(Writing is) like driving a car at night.  You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. – E.L. Doctorow

You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do. – Anne Lamott

Writing gives you the illusion of control, and then you realize it’s just an illusion, that people are going to bring their own stuff into it. — David Sedaris

There’s only one thing that can change a man’s mind, and that’s a modified Uzi with an extra-long clip. – Robert Downey Jr.

Anyone who theologizes without discerning Christ crucified is on the wrong track. Anyone who builds the church without discerning Christ crucified builds nothing. Anyone who preaches, sings, leads, writes or counsels without discerning Christ crucified is a sounding gong and a clanking bell, inviting judgment. – Michael Spencer

I know a lot of people who hide out in fantasy because reality is too hard to cope with.  Fantasy is my business.  The only difference is that I write it down and make the rest of the world pay for the privilege of sharing the delusion. – David Gerrold

Jesus seems to ask, ”Haven’t I just gotten through saying that I myself, the Messiah, am going to be the biggest outsider and loser of all? Don’t you think it’s about time you stopped being scandalized by what you consider my lack of messianic respectability and just listen to me for a change?” – Robert Farrar Capon, in The Parables Of Grace

Remember that there is nothing stable in human affairs; therefore avoid undue elation in prosperity, or undue depression in adversity. – Socrates

Whatever creativity is, it is in part a solution to a problem. – Brian W. Aldiss

There is no life which does not violate the injunction “Be not anxious.”  That is the tragedy of human sin.  It is the tragedy of man who is dependent upon God, but seeks to make himself independent and self-sufficing. – Reinhold Niebuhr

There’s a lotta tough guys in the league, but Oak don’t give a f***. – unnamed NBA player, on why former player Charles Oakley was so intimidating

Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better. – André Gide

As logic approaches perfection, truth approaches zero. – Theodore Sturgeon

One advantage of marriage is that, when you fall out of love with him or he falls out of love with you, it keeps you together until you fall in again. – Judith Viorst

I think that’s what our world is desperately in need of – lovers, people who are building deep, genuine relationships with fellow strugglers along the way, and who actually know the faces of the people behind the issues they are concerned about. – Shane Claiborne

No lifetime is long enough for those who wish to create …Fr. Paul Duré, in The Rise of Endymion by Dan Simmons

Keep my steps steady according to Your promise, and never let iniquity have dominion over me. – King David, c. 1000 B.C.




2 Responses to On the shoulders of giants: samples from my quote collection

  1. Neeks says:

    I like this, good quotes are a great thing! Or great quotes are a good thing. You have a couple of my fav’s on here too, my fav one being the one about driving at night by E.L. Doctorow. Thanks for a good read.

  2. Ray Anselmo says:

    You’re welcome, Neeks! The honor is to serve.

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