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Georges Bernanos (1888 – 1948)


French writer.
Georges Bernanos
You don't wage civil war in kid gloves. The Spanish bishops know it so well that they have been obliged to refer to 'regrettable excesses' and 'inevitable abuses'. They seem to think that war is like Shrove Tuesday, that it's a jolly respite, as it were, from social morality, and that men can give themselves up to being cruel just as gay sparks at carnival-time indulge in bottom-pinching! Once the illuminations go out, we must welcome the dear lad home with a smile that's both knowing and fatherly. 'Don't worry, my dear boy. We can none of us resist a little fun sometimes. Think no more about it.' But, Your Excellencies, this is something more than a little fun!
Bernanos quotes
He [Abbé Cénabre] had often reflected on the plight of even the most illustrious of those renegades who finish up engaged in a monotonous argument they can never quite extricate themselves from and seem to be insulting the God they have offended, dragging Him along with them like a fellow criminal shackled to them.... He thought, not without some justification, that where such tortured and anxious nihilists had made their greatest mistake was in having freed only their intellects, leaving belief to go on surviving and festering in the most hidden and least accessible parts of their sensibility. Such a deep and hidden contradiction is all the more destructive because they cannot form a clear idea of it, or indeed express it, except in terms of stammering, repeated, pointless, and childish expressions of hatred. They no longer have any part in a faith that still holds them in abject and slavering thrall. It matters little that they think they have destroyed it.
Bernanos
You know, sometimes I imagine what any decent agnostic of average intelligence might say, if by some impossible chance one of those intolerable praters were to let him stand awhile in the pulpit,in his stead: ' Ladies and gentlemen,... I don't share all your beliefs, but I probably know more about the history of the church than you do, because I happen to have read it, and not many parishioners can say that. For though you're not interested in unbelievers, unbelievers are extremely interested in you..Yes, we were drawn to you. But now we've decided that you're not very interesting after all, and it's rather disappointing.....Because you do not live your faith, your faith has ceased to be a living thing.'




Bernanos Georges quotes
When marine officers called on me at Palma, they remarked on the clean roads, the punctual trams and so on. 'Why', they exclaimed, 'business as usual - and you say there's killing going on? what nonsense!' They didn't realise that any tradesman who closed down, closed down at his peril. They didn't know that the relatives of the executed were not allowed to go into mourning. How can you expect the outside appearance of a town to be affected, just because the staff of its prisons is double, treble, ten times, a hundred times what it was? The discreet slaughter of fifteen or twenty wretched people per day, will not prevent tramways from running to schedule, cafés from being full, or churches resounding with the Te Deum.
Bernanos Georges
[A]ll her life she [Chantal] had been carefully, heroically watching over mediocre beings who were hardly real, over things of no value.
Georges Bernanos quotes
There is no mask that temptation cannot wear, and the idea that Satan is purely a logician is an illusion held by not a few naive people. Many a shifty old man sees him as an opponent in an academic argument, but if he does the observer is still at the stage of games and trifles. Sometimes, though not often, the black desire to harm wins out over quicker and less bitter delights. When that happens, evil shows itself for what it truly is, not a way of life, but an attack on life itself.
Georges Bernanos
She isn't very clever or very devout,... and she certainly empties the whole salt cellar into the stories she tells me. But I love her because she never lies.
Bernanos Georges quotes
Only the present counts.
Bernanos
I shouldn't dream of wasting my time by picking holes in the attitude of the Italian prelates throughout the war for Ethiopia. Thanks to the mustard-gas sprinklers that are used in Australia for destroying rodents, Fascist aviation has been enabled to strip whole populations of hapless negroes of their skin, so that they lay rotting in heaps in front of their huts. It makes no difference to me if the Italian prelates affirm that a war like this seems chivalrous to them. I believe that I know what is chivalrous and what is not...
Bernanos Georges
I can now see to the bottom of my own depths, there is nothing stopping my gaze, no obstacle is in the way. And there is nothing there.
Georges Bernanos
More often than not, nothingness is reluctantly and despairingly taken to be the only hypothesis possible when all the others have failed, since by definition it cannot be disproven and is beyond the scope of reason.




Georges Bernanos quotes
[P]ride has no intrinsic substance, being no more than the name given to the soul devouring itself. When that loathsome perversion of love has borne its fruit, it has another, more meaningful and weightier name. We call it hatred.
Georges Bernanos
[T]here is nothing that God hates so much as a liar.
Bernanos quotes
Hatred of the priest is one of man's profoundest instincts, as well as one of the least known. That it is as old as the race itself no one doubts, yet our age has raised it to an almost prodigious degree of refinement and excellence. With the decline or disappearance of other powers, the priest, even though appearing so intimately integrated into the life of society, has become a more singular and unclassifiable being than any of those old magicians the ancient world used to keep locked up like sacred animals in the depths of its temples, existing in the intimacy of the gods alone. Priests moreover are all the more singular and unclassifiable in that they do not recognize themselves as such and are nearly always dupes of the most gross outward appearances — whether of the irony of some or the servile deference of others. But that contradiction, by nature more political than religious and used far too long to nurture clerical pride, does, through the growing feeling of their loneliness and to the extent that it is gradually transformed into hostile indifference, throw them unarmed into the heart of social conflicts they naively pride themselves on being able to resolve by using texts. But, then, what does it matter? The hour is coming when, on the ruins of the old Christian order, a new order will be born that will indeed be an order of the world, the order of the Prince of this World, of that prince whose kingdom is of this world. And the hard law of necessity, stronger than any illusions, will then remove the very object for clerical pride so long maintained simply by conventions outlasting any belief. And the footsteps of beggars shall cause the earth to tremble once again.
Bernanos Georges
If hell has no answer for the questioning dead, it is not because it refuses to answer (for rigorous, alas, in observance, is the imperishable fire), but it is because hell has nothing to say, will say nothing eternally.
Bernanos Georges quotes
There is a well known and most profound saying of people wishing to induce sympathy in each other. 'Put yourself in his place,' they say. But it is easy only to put yourself in the place of your equals. At a certain point of inferiority, real or imaginary, this substitution is no longer possible....Young Vittorio Mussolini has published a book on his Ethiopian campaign, of which I quote this extract: It was thrilling. A huge zariba, surrounded by tall trees, was very difficult to hit. I had to aim very carefully, and I only succeeded the third time. The poor devils inside jumped out when they saw their roof was on fire, and fled madly...surrounded by a ring of flames, four to five thousand Abyssinians died of suffocation. It was like hell itself. Smoke rising up to unbelievable heights, and flames turning the black sky red. Obviously Signor Vittorio Mussolini never dreamt of putting himself in the place of the Ethiopians!
Georges Bernanos
Money-crimes have an abstract quality. History is laden with the victims of gold, but their remains are odourless.
Georges Bernanos quotes
The contradictions in Renan, his feminine sensibility, coquetry, unavowed egotism, and sudden emotional outbursts, all indicate a soul deliberately using distraction as a means of evasion. The perpetual equivocation bears witness to God in the same way as the twisting and turning of a hunted animal indicates the presence of an unseen hunter.
Georges Bernanos
[F]irst of all, be what you are.
Bernanos Georges
Appearances are nothing.... And first of all they should not be feared, they are only dangerous to the weak.


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