H.L. Mencken quotations are renowned for their incisive causticity, and leave the reader always in admiration of the author. If the reader is someone like me who dares to express himself in print, he is left feeling amused, humble or just plain jealous. The following are precious pearls which the valiant readers of this blog deserve to have as a handy vade mecum, a viaticum for our journey together to liberation and enlightenment (trumpets, please). If ever this blog makes you doze off, scroll back to this post for a pick-me-up, a Mencken Moment. I plan to include other Mencken Moments now and again to give the blog a little class and you a little smile.
1. “Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable.”
2. “Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more civilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant.”
3. “I am suspicious of all the things that the average people believe.” (Editor’s note : Some may find this an arrogant, elitist, offensive statement, until we recall that in the Church the “sensus fidelium”, the common belief of the faithful, was the justification for defining the so-declared infallible doctrine of Mary’s bodily Assumption into Heaven …).
4. “It is often argued that religion is valuable because it makes men good, but even if this were true it would not be proof that religion is true. That would be an extension of pragmatism beyond endurance. Santa Claus makes children good in precisely the same way, and yet no one would argue seriously that the fact proves his existence. The defence of religion is full of such logical imbecilities.”
5. “The trouble with Communism is the Communists, just as the trouble with Christianity is Christians.”
6. “It is now quite lawful for a Catholic woman to avoid pregnancy by a resort to mathematics, though she is still forbidden to resort to physics and chemistry.”