Curtis Dahlgren
Rhyme or Reason; The sages of the ages on religion and free speech
By Curtis Dahlgren
May 10, 2017

"A just man walks in his integrity and his children are blessed after him." – Solomon (1,000 BC)

"Come now and let us reason together." – Isaiah (725 BC)

"If you [can] say what you please, you will hear what pleases you not." – Alceus (595 BC)

"Whom the gods intended to make miserable they lead to error." – Sophocles (441 BC)

"The most beautiful thing in the world is freedom of speech." – Diogenes (350 BC)

"MILLIENIALS!" Over the cliff and through the Valley of Death? Or the generation that wakes up in time? The coolest generation or the one that is "hip" enough to cultivate its roots? Not that I am worthy to pick up their quill, or the ink they dipped it in – before Spell Check – but some of our past great writers ought to be required reading. So:

- "Speak out or get out." – Plautus (200 BC)

- "He spoke as one Who had authority and not as one of the scribes." – Luke (1st Century)

- "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." – Matthew (1st Century)

- "[But] a fool nought be still [a fool can't shut up]." – Chaucer (1300s)

- "[We] call a mattock nothing els but a mattock, and a spade a spade." – Taverner (1539)

- "We call a nettle but a nettle and the faults of fools but folly." – Shakespeare (1607)

- "He that lives without religion sayles without a compass." – Sir Thomas Overbury (1613)

- "Reason lies between the spur and the bridle." – George Herbert (1640)

- "An ounce of wisdom is worth tons of cleverness." – Gracian (1647)

- The spacious firmament on high,
With all the blue ethereal sky . .
Soon as the evening shades prevail,
The moon takes up the wondrous tale . . .
In Reason's ear they all rejoice,
And utter forth a glorious Voice,
For ever singing as they shine,
'The Hand that made us is Divine.'
- Joseph Addison (1672-1719)

- "Talking against Religion is unchaining a Tyger; the Beast let loose may worry his Deliverer . . . When Reason preaches, if you don't hear her she'll box your ears." – Benjamin Franklin (Poor Richard's Almanac, 1751-53)

- "Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it." -Wm. Pitt (1770)

- "Error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it." – Jefferson (1801)

- "There is revelation. The Word of God is the Creation we behold . . It does not depend upon the will of man whether it will be published or not; it publishes itself from one end of the earth to the other. It preaches to all nations and to all worlds . . " – - Thomas Paine (

- "The New Testament I have repeatedly read in the original Greek, in the Latin, in the Geneva Protestant, in Sacy's Catholic French translation, in Luther's German translation, in the common English Protestant, and in the Douay Catholic translations. I take any one of them for my standard of faith." – John Quincy Adams (18 ??

- "Always be ready to speak your mind, and a base man will avoid you." – Blake (1808)

- "Had the people been less intelligent, less independent, or less virtuous, can it be believed that we should have . . been blessed with the same success? While then [America] retains its sound and healthful state, everything will be safe . . It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt . . [that] the people themselves become the willing instruments of their own debasement and ruin." – President Monroe (1817)

- "It is now no mere child's play to defend the principles of Jefferson in this country." – Abraham Lincoln (1860)

- "I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way . . Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." – John Emerich Edward Dahlberg (Lord Acton, 1887)

- "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." -S.G. Tallentyre (paraphrasing earlier writers, 1906)

- "When you play, play hard. When you work, don't play at all." – Theodore Roosevelt (1900s)

- "A teacher should impart what's true. At least when they allow him to." – Irwin Edman (1935)

- "Never, never, never give up." – Winston Churchill (1940s?)

- "Propaganda is when you try to convince others of that which you do not believe yourself." – Abba Eben (1950s?)

- "Abortion is a crime that kills not only the child but the consciences of all involved." - Mother Teresa (1970s?)

P.S. If you don't like my list, you can make your own list. In spite of their literary heritage, some young Brits today think Sherlock Holmes was real and Churchill was fictional. Some young Americans have never heard of Churchill, and have no idea what a "conscience" is (no one ever said NO to them). It's time for one last quotation – one of mine:

"The word matrimony has something to do with motherhood! Those who would define marriage in any other way are just about out of luck. The jig is up."

Oh sorry ma'am, but just one more thing: Happy Mother's Day to everyone (we all had one, Thank God).

© Curtis Dahlgren


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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)


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