Thursday, August 17, 2017 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Malcolm Muggeridge (1903 – 1990)


British journalist, author, media personality, soldier, spy and Christian scholar.
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Malcolm Muggeridge
There is something ridiculous and even quite indecent in an individual claiming to be happy. Still more a people or a nation making such a claim. The pursuit of happiness… is without any question the most fatuous which could possibly be undertaken. This lamentable phrase ‘’the pursuit of happiness'’ is responsible for a good part of the ills and miseries of the modern world.
Muggeridge quotes
[A] scene that has often come into my mind, both sleeping and waking — I am standing in the wings of a theatre waiting for my cue to go onstage. As I stand there I can hear the play proceeding, and suddenly it dawns on me that the lines I have learnt are not in this play at all, but belong to quite a different one. Panic seizes me; I wonder frenziedly what should I do. Then I get my cue. Stumbling, falling over the unfamiliar scenery, I make my way onto the stage, and then look for guidance to the prompter, whose head I can just see rising out of the floor-boards. Alas he only signals helplessly to me and I realise of course that his script is different from mine. I begin to speak my lines, but they are incomprehensible to the other actors and abhorrent to the audience, who begin to hiss and shout: “Get off the stage!”, “Let the play go on!”, “You’re interrupting!”. I am paralysed and can think of nothing to do but to go on standing there and speaking my lines that don’t fit. The only lines I know.
Muggeridge
I wonder whether, in the history of all the civilisations that have ever been, a more insanely optimistic notion has ever been entertained than that you and I, mortal, puny creatures, may yet aspire, with God’s grace and Christ’s help, to be reborn into what St Paul calls the glorious liberty of the children of God. Or if there was ever a more abysmally pessimistic one than that we, who reach out with our minds and our aspirations to the stars and beyond, should be able so to arrange our lives, so to eat and drink and fornicate and learn and frolic, that our brief span in this world fulfils all our hopes and desires.




Muggeridge Malcolm quotes
We foreign journalists in Moscow used to amuse ourselves, as a matter of fact, by competing with one another as to who could wish upon one of these intelligentsia visitors to the USSR the most outrageous fantasy…One story I floated myself, for which I received considerable acclaim, was that the huge queues outside food shops came about because the Soviet workers were so ardent in building Socialism that they just wouldn't rest, and the only way the government could get them to rest for even two or three hours was organizing a queue for them to stand in. I laugh at it all now, but at the time you can imagine what a shock it was to someone like myself, who had been brought up to regard liberal intellectuals as the samurai, the absolute elite, of the human race, to find that they could be taken in by deceptions which a half-witted boy would see through in an instant…I could never henceforth regard the intelligentsia as other than credulous fools who nonetheless became the media's prophetic voices, their heirs and successors remaining so still.
Muggeridge Malcolm
It is a frightening thought that a man as prejudiced as Muggeridge was allowed such power in an organisation such as the BBC, and in other equally powerful organs of the media. Here was a man who was known to be deeply anti-Semitic ... , whose entire life and actions were determined by prejudices, and who was openly carrying on with extramarital sexual liaisons despite pronouncing pious values. He also tried to use his position to stop other people from using contraception. He was a supporter of the war in Vietnam, and of other American war exercises. He cast doubt on the suffering in Hiroshima; he participated in CIA funded clandestine activities... He had absolutely no room in his psyche for relativism in religion, for tolerance and understanding, and he fervently believed that Christianity should go out with the sword as well as the Gospel to conquer inferior cultures. He would have no hesitation in twisting and bending facts in order to promote Christianity — in this he had an ally in Teresa.
Malcolm Muggeridge quotes
Animistic savages prostrating themselves before a painted stone have always seemed to me to be nearer the truth than any Einstein or Bertrand Russell.
Malcolm Muggeridge
It is only possible to succeed at second-rate pursuits — like becoming a millionaire or a prime minister, winning a war, seducing beautiful women, flying through the stratosphere or landing on the moon. First-rate pursuits involving, as they must, trying to understand what life is about and trying to convey that understanding — inevitably result in a sense of failure. A Napoleon, a Churchill, a Roosevelt can feel themselves to be successful, but never a Socrates, a Pascal, a Blake. Understanding is for ever unattainable. Therein lies the inevitability of failure in embarking upon its quest, which is none the less the only one worthy of serious attention.
Muggeridge Malcolm quotes
The whole atmosphere [of a party hosting a pro-democracy, anti-communist Albanian National Committee] was spoilt... by Malcolm Muggeridge, who declared in a loud voice that Albania was a ridiculous country anyway that ought to be partitioned as soon as possible between Greece and Yugoslavia.
Muggeridge
To carry personal responsibility for keeping God alive in the modern world would be a greivous burden for anyone, even Muggeridge, whose search for the Kingdom has been fascinating to observe but who, since he found it, has been sadly in danger of becoming Christianity's most bizarre exhibitionist. Face contorted, hands clawing in the air to pantomime his inner anguish, world weary and longing for an apocalyptic end to a Naughty Age, Malcolm reviles the medium which feeds him and begs reassurance that he is still loved from the assorted personalities who gather about him like Plato's disciples. 'Why?' his strangulated cry goes up - tempting a heavenly retort 'Why indeed?'
Muggeridge Malcolm
I hate government. I hate power. I think that man's existence, insofar as he achieves anything, is to resist power, to minimize power, to devise systems of society in which power is the least exerted.
Malcolm Muggeridge
Freedom is a mystical truth — Its expressed best in The Brothers Karamazov, the chapter when the Grand Inquisitor confronted the returned Christ. The freedom that Christ gave the world was the freedom of being an individual, in a collectivity, of basing one's life on love, as distinct from power, of seeking the good of others rather than nourishing one's own ego. That was liberation. And the Chief Inquisitor, who speaks for every dictator, every millionaire, every ideologue that's ever been, says we can't have it. Go away. Stay away.




Malcolm Muggeridge quotes
The first thing I remember about the world — and I pray that it may be the last — is that I was a stranger in it. This feeling, which everyone has in some degree, and which is, at once, the glory and desolation of homo sapiens, provides the only thread of consistency that I can detect in my life.
Malcolm Muggeridge
You are one of those obsessed demoniacal creatures who ought to be avoided at all costs; they bring misfortune into the lives of others; they ruin the lives of others. The real good people are humble and silent (like your Kitty is). But beware, God sees all vanity and pride and you cannot fool him.
Muggeridge quotes
The only ultimate disaster that can befall us, I have come to realise, is to feel ourselves to be at home here on earth.
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