If not now, when?

Here I am.  I’m starting a blog.  My friends are officially tired of me sending random emails.  My colleague Elif suggested, nay, demanded that I start a blog, pretty much explicitly so that I would no longer email her random links that I’d found.  So here, Elif, I’m making a blog for you.

I originally wanted to name this blog with an allusion to great quotation or concept, like the philosophy blog Crooked Timber (“Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made” -Immanuel Kant) or the political science blog the Monkey Cage (“Democracy is the art of running the circus from the monkey cage” -H. L. Mencken).  I found nothing so good.  In lieu of choosing a name that could come back to be embarrassing later: “Zeal and Sincerity” was the closest to being chosen, but doesn’t exactly roll of the tongue or even hint at what this blog is about.   From my more academic side, I considered several phrases from Geertz’s definition of religion (top contenders: “Uniquely Realistic” and “Moods and Motivations”, but Asad had to go make Geertz’s whole shtick so unfashionable that I just couldn’t.  I just chose to name it after myself and pray that I am the next Chris Blattman or Daniel Drezner.  Anyway, here are the most appropriate quotations I found in my furious internet search.  Tell me if you see a great blog name I missed:

Mark Twain in Tesla’s Lab//Wikipedia

Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion–several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn’t straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother’s path to happiness and heaven….The higher animals have no religion. And we are told that they are going to be left out in the Hereafter. I wonder why? It seems questionable taste.
Mark Twain, “The Lowest Animal”

 I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.
Thomas Jefferson, quoted in The Life and Writings of Thomas Jefferson.

Gandhi and Mountbatten supping tea//Wikipedia

I can say without the slightest hesitation, and yet in all humility, that those who say that religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion means.
Mahatma Gandhi, An Autobiography

Alas! those good old days are gone, when a murderer could wipe the stain from his name and soothe his trouble to sleep simply by getting out his blocks and mortar and building an addition to a church.
– Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad

In its pure and simple form religion is not often encountered today. It is almost as rare, indeed, as pure democracy of pure reason.
H. L. Mencken, Treatise on the G-ds.

Zeal and sincerity can carry a new religion further than any other missionary except fire and sword.
Mark Twain, Christian Science

(It is surprisingly hard to find interesting quotations about religion that are neither decidedly for or against it.  And none of the interesting ones have appropriate two or three word images.)


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