Mary Doria Russell

"Love is a debt. When the bill comes you repay in grief."

If I was led by God to love God, step by step, as it seemed, if I accept that the beauty and rapture were real and true, then the rest of it was God's will too and that is the cause for bitterness. But if I'm simply a deluded ape who took a lot of old folktales far too seriously, then I brought all this on myself and my companions. The problem with atheism is that I have no-one to despise but myself. If, however, I choose to believe that God is vicious, then at least I have the solace of hating God.

Rain falls on everyone, lightning strikes some. What cannot be changed is best forgotten. God made the world, and He saw that it was good. Not fair. Not happy. Not perfect. Good.

He hath led me and brought me into darkness, and not into light. He hath set me in dark places as those who are dead forever. And when I cry and I entreat, He hath shut out my prayer! He hath filled me with bitterness. He hath fed me ashes. He hath caused me disgraced and contempt!

We must never seek to establish a rule so rigid as to leave no room for exception. [Saint Ignatius]

The redemptive power of suffering is, in my experience at least, vastly overrated.

If that's how God treats His friends, it's no wonder He's got so few of them. [Saint Teresa]

In the darkness of my soul, I have wondered if God enjoys watching despair, the way voyeurs watch sex. That would explain a great deal of human history. My faith in the meaning of Jesus's life and in Chistian doctrine has been shaken to its core.

Why this is hell, not am I out of it; Think'st thou that I who saw the face of God am not tormented with ten thousand hells? [Mephistopheles]

I always thought it was a tactical mistake of God to love us in the aggregate, when Satan is willing to make a special effort to seduce each of us separately.

I have begun to hope for a fire. At times, the solution to a maze is to reduce it to embers and walk straight through the ashes.

My uncle lost most of his right hand when I was about eight. Do you know what they call it when a bomb goes off too soon? Premature disassembly. My aunt used to think he was lying about the pain to get sympathy. Dead dogs don't bite, she used to say. The hand's not there anymore. How can something that's not there hurt? My uncle used to tell her, Pain is as real as God. Invisible, unmeasurable, powerful.

I think perhaps God uses the tools He's got, even the ones that are bent or broken.

It is a scholar's task to find patterns in nature or cycles in history. Initially, it's no different from finding portraits of animals and heroes in the stars. The Question is, Have you discovered a pre-existing truth? Or have you imposed an arbitrary meaning on whatever it is you're considering?"

Shrödinger said that a thing isn't true unless there's someone to observe that it is true. He said that observing actually makes an event turn into being true. Schrödinger said that if you put a cat in a box with - let's say with a plate of good food and a plate of poison food, and then you close the box. Now: the cat's in the box, and he may have eaten the good food or the bad food. So he might be alive or he might be dead. But Shrödinger said that the cat actually isn't alive or dead unless and until the man outside opens the box to see that the cat is alive or dead.

Now here's my idea about God. I think that we're like the cat. I think that God is like the man outside the box. I think that if the cat believes in the man, the man is there. And if the cat is an atheist, there is no man.

... the one thing an agnostic knows for sure is: you never know.

The chief source of all evils to man, as well as of baseness and cowardice, is not death but fear of death. [Epictetus]

God lied. The wife and husband did not die, and they knew good and evil. God lied. The longneck told the truth.

Well, they did die eventually. But not that day. So both God and longneck told part of the truth, I suppose. They had different reasons for what they did.

The people you feel sorriest for are the fools who hope for justice and sense, and not just in the world to come. But God instilled in us a capacity to value mercy and justice, and it's only human to hope for them. Maybe it's foolish, but we do.

Sufferin' may be banal predictable, but it doesn't hurt any less for all that. And it's despicable to take comfort in knowin' that others have suffered as well.

How can you hear your soul when everyone is talking?

And you believe you will succeed, where God has failed me?

God may only be a fable, whereas I have an investment to watch over. In any case, my family has generally found bullets rather more reliable than prayer.

... trust in God could impose an additional burden on good people slammed to their knees by some senseless tragedy. An atheist might be no less staggered by such an event, but non-believers often experienced a kind of calm acceptance: shit happens, and this particular shit had happened to them. It could be more difficult for a person of faith to get to his feet precisely, because he had to reconcile God's love and care with the stupid, brutal fact that something irreversibly terrible had happened.

Faith is supposed to be a comfort, Father! How could God let this happen? All those prayers, all that hope - it was just howling into the wind!

So fucking what? My kid is dead and she's not coming back in three days, and I don't give a shit about the ressurection at the end of the goddamn world because I want her back now. God's got a lot to answer for. That's all I can tell you, Father. God's got a lot to answer for.

I would kill or die for you.

Sometimes there's no choice. Sometimes the choices aren't thought of.

It's cowardice to meet a challenger with more than the opponent brings to the field.

Religion - the wishful thinking of an ape that talks. Random shit happens, and we turn it into stories and call it sacred scripture.

Choose your enemies wisely, for you will become them.

If anything could prove the existence of a soul, it is the utter emptiness of a corpse.

Maybe Abraham was psychotic and schizophrenia ran in his family. Maybe Jesus was just another crazy Jew who heard voices. Or maybe God is real, but He's evil or stupid, and that's why so much seems so insane and unfair!. It doesn't matter. It really doesn't matter. I don't really give a damn about God anymore.

There is a passage in Deutoronomy - God tells Moses, "No one can see My face but I will protect you with My hand until I have passed by you, and then I will remove My hand and you will see My back." Well I always thought this was a physical metaphor, but you know - I wonder now if it isn't really about time. Maybe that was God's way of telling us that we can never know his intentions, but as time goes on...we'll understand. We'll see where He was: we'll see His back.

God's got a lot of explaining to do. Of course, God never explains. When life breaks your heart, you're just supposed to pick up the pieces and start all over, I guess.

Note: The quotes are taken from "Children of God" by Mary Doria Russell, which is a sequel to her first novel "The Sparrow". Most of the quotes have been taken out of context and the readers' perceived meanings of the quotes might not be accurate.