Morris West, fully Morris Langlo West

West, fully Morris Langlo West

Australian Novelist and Playwright best known for The Devil's Advocate

Author Quotes

I was lost a long time, without knowing it. Without the Faith, one is free, and that is a pleasant feeling at first. There are no questions of conscience, no constraints, except the constraints of custom, convention and the law, and these are flexible enough for most purposes. It is only later that terror comes. One is free - but free in chaos, in an unexplained and unexplainable world. One is free in a desert, from which there is no retreat but inward, toward the hollow core of oneself. There is nothing to build on but the small rock of one's own pride, and this is a nothing, based on nothing... I think, therefore I am. But what am I? An accident of disorder, going no place.

We are ants on the carcass of the world, spawned out of nothing, going busily nowhere. One of us dies, the others crawl over us to the pickings.

If prayer fails I am in a greater darkness yet, not knowing whether I have presumed too much or believed too little.

Well I travelled quite a lot in the east, and one of the things that impressed me greatly was the Buddhist notion of the continuity of things, the wheel of life which is what we're talking about, the ever turning wheel.

I'm a Nolan. I could dazzle you in dialect, because the words do not make the same sense to different men.

Who said to me, a fetus in the womb, a puling babe, "You have your life, but on the condition that you thus believe?" No one! Not even God! So gentlemen, I say you have no right to make terms for my life. I tell you then ? No! I will not recant.

I've always worked on the principle that if it interests me enough to write about it, then it must interest a lot of other people.

You are also caught with the fact that man is a creature who walks in two worlds and traces upon the walls of his cave the wonders and the nightmare experiences of his spiritual pilgrimage.

And I've always worked on the principle that if it interests me enough to write about it, then it must interest a lot of other people.

Look at yourself! You're a priest. You know damn well that if I were setting out to make a girl at this moment instead of young Paolo, you'd take an entirely different view. You'd disapprove, sure! You'd read me a lecture on fornication and all the rest. But you wouldn't be too unhappy. I'd be normal... according to nature! But I am not made like that. God didn't make me like that. But do I need love the less? Do I need satisfaction less? Have I less right to live in contentment because somewhere along the line the Almighty slipped a cog in creation?... What's your answer to that Meredith? What's your answer for me? Tie a knot in myself and take up badminton and wait till they make me an angel in heaven, where they don't need this sort of thing anymore? I'm lonely! I need love like the next man! My sort of love!

You can choose your neighbors, but you can't choose your family... It's sad.

Each of us can walk only the path he sees at his own feet. Each of us is subject to the consequences of his own belief.

No man ? prince, peasant, pope, ? has all the light, who says else is a mountebank. I claim no private lien on truth, only a liberty to seek it, prove it in debate, and to be wrong a thousand times to reach a single rightness. It is that liberty they fear. They want us to be driven to God like sheep, not running to him like lovers, shouting joy!"

Even in sin, the act of love -done with love- is shadowed with divinity. Its conformity may be at fault, but its nature is not altered, and its nature is creative, communicative, splendid in surrender. It was in the splendor of my surrender to Nina and she to me, that I first understood how a man might surrender himself to God -if a God existed. The moment of love is a moment of union -of body and spirit- and the act of faith is mutual and implicit.

None of us is guaranteed against failure or corruption of any kind; witness what's going on in the world in this moment, the follies of human nature and the failures of human nature.

Ever since the Greeks, we have been drunk with language! We have made a cage with words and shoved our God inside!

Once you accept the existence of God ? however you define him, however you explain your relationship to him ? then you are caught forever with his presence in the center of all things. You are also caught with the fact that man is a creature who walks in two worlds and traces upon the walls of his cave the wonders and the nightmare experiences of his spiritual pilgrimage.

For the rest of us, there remains still the pilgrimage, the journey in hope and mutual caring toward the ultimate revelation of eternal Goodness. It is not for nothing that the symbols of that hope are a star still blazing in the heavens and a babe, newborn, sleeping in a manger with dumb and innocent animals for guardians.

One of the greatest mistakes we have made in the Church, a mistake we have repeated down the centuries- because we are human and often very stupid- is to make laws about everything. We have covered the pasture-land with fences, so there is no place for the sheep to run free. We do it, we say, to keep them safe. I know, because I have done it all too often. But the sheep are not safe: they languish in a confinement that was never their natural habitat.

He had fallen into the error of all liberals: the belief that men are prepared to reform themselves, that good will attracts good will, that truth has leavening virtue of its own.

One solved nothing by waving the commandments like a bludgeon at people's heads. There was no point in shouting damnation at a man who was already walking himself to hell on his own two feet. One had to pray for the Grace of God and then go probing like a good psychologist for the fear that might condition him to repentance or the love that might draw him toward it.

He spoke a kind of ecclesiastical jargon; a debased rhetoric that explained nothing but brought the truth into disrepute. It begged all the questions and answered none. The massive structure of reason and revelation on which the church was founded was reduced to ritual incantation, formless, fruitless and essentially false. Peppermint piety. It deceived no one but the man who peddled it. It satisfied no one but old ladies and girls in green-sickness; yet it flourished most rankly where the Church was most firmly entrenched in the established order. It was the mark of accommodation, compromise, laxity among the clergy, who find it easier to preach devotion than to affront the moral and social problems of the time. It covered fatuity and lack of education. It left people naked and unarmed in the face of terrifying mysteries: pain, passion, death and the great perhaps of the hereafter.

Other priests, he knew, found an intense pleasure in the raw, salty dialect of peasant conversation. They picked up pearls of wisdom and experience over a farmhouse table or a cup of wine in a workingman's kitchen. They talked with equal familiarity to the rough-tongued whores of Trastevere and the polished signori of Parioli. They enjoyed the ribald humor of the fish market as much as the wit of a Cardinal's dinner table. They were good priests too, and they did much good for their people, with a singular satisfaction to themselves.

I believe in saints as I believe in sanctity. I believe in miracles as I believe in God, who can suspend the laws of His own making. But I believe, too, that the hand of God writes plainly and simply, for all men of good will to read. I am doubtful of His presence in confusion and conflicting voices.

The man who does good in doubt must have so much more merit than one who does it in the bright certainty of belief. Other sheep I have which are not of this fold... A warning against the smugness of inherited faith.

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Australian Novelist and Playwright best known for The Devil's Advocate