Malcolm Muggeridge


English Editor, Writer, Journalist, Media Personality and Satirist

Author Quotes

As far as the Incarnation is concerned, I believe firmly in it. I believe that God did lean down to become Man in order that we could reach up to Him, and that the drama which embodies that Incarnation, the drama described in the Creed, took place.

History will see advertising as one of the real evil things of our time. It is stimulating people constantly to want things, want this, want that.

In retrospect, all these exercises in self-gratification seem pure fantasy, what Pascal called, licking the earth.

Never forget, a Stranger said to me once in the lobby of the Midland Hotel in Manchester, that only dead fish swim with the stream.

Suddenly, without thinking or deciding, I started swimming back to shore . . . I shouted foolishly for help, and kept my eyes fixed on the lights of Peter's Cafe and the Costa da Sol. They were the lights of the world; they were the lights of my home, my habitat, where I belonged. I must reach them. There followed an overwhelming joy such as I had never experienced before; an ecstasy. In some mysterious way it became clear to me that there was no darkness, only the possibility of losing sight of a light which shone eternally; . . . that our sufferings, our affliction, are part of a drama - an essential, even an ecstatic part - endlessly revolving around the two great propositions of good and evil, of light and darkness. A brief interlude, an incarnation, reaching back into the beginning of time, and forward into an ultimate fulfillment in the universal spirit of love which informs, animates, illuminates all creation, from the tiniest particle of insentient matter to the radiance of God's very throne . . . Though I scarcely realized it at the time and subsequently only very slowly and dimly, this episode represented for me one of those deep changes which take place in our lives; as, for instance, in adolescence, only more drastic and fundamental. A kind of spiritual adolescence, whereby, thenceforth, all my values and pursuits and hopes were going to undergo a total transformation - from the carnal towards the spiritual; from the immediate, the now, towards the everlasting, the eternal. In a tiny dark dungeon of the ego, chained and manacled, I had glimpsed a glimmer of light . . .

The pursuit of happiness, which American citizens are obliged to undertake, tends to involve them in trying to perpetuate the moods, tastes and aptitudes of youth.

What I wish to put to you here is that the darkness falling on our civilization is likewise due to a transposition of good and evil. In other words, we are suffering not from an energy crisis, or an overpopulation crisis, or an unemployment crisis ? from none of these ills that are commonly specified. The root cause of our trouble is that we've lost our sense of a moral order in the universe, without which no order whatsoever ? economic, social, political ? is attainable. For Christians, of course, this moral order is derived from that terrific moment when, as is so splendidly put in the Wisdom of

As I see it, the only pleasure of living is that every joke should be made, every thought expressed, every line of investigation, irrespective of its direction, pursued to the uttermost limits that human ingenuity, courage and understanding can take it. The moment that limits are set... then the flavor is gone.

How do I know pornography depraves and corrupts? It depraves and corrupts me.

In the end, coming to faith remains for all a sense of homecoming, of picking up the threads of a lost life, of responding to a bell that had long been ringing, of taking a place at a table that had long been vacant.

On television I feel like a man playing piano in a brothel; every now and again he solaces himself by playing 'Abide with Me' in the hope of edifying both the clients and the inmates

Surely the glory of journalism is its transience.

The trouble with kingdoms of heaven on earth is that they're liable to come to pass, and then their fraudulence is apparent for all to see. We need a kingdom of heaven in Heaven, if only because it can't be realized.

What other hope is there which could possibly compare with such a hope as this? What victory or defeat, what revolution or counter-revolution, what putting down of the mighty from their seats and exalting the humble and meek who then of course become mighty in their turn and fit to be put down, what going to the moon or exploration of the universe? A hope that transcends all human hoping, and yet is open to all humans; based on the absolute of love, rather than on the relativities of justice; on the universality of brotherhood, rather than the peculiarity of equality; on the perfect freedom which is service, rather than the perfect service purporting to be freedom. It is precisely when every recourse this world offers has been explored and found wanting, when every possibility of help from earthly sources has been sought and is not forthcoming, when in the shivering cold the last fagot's been thrown on the fire, and in the gathering darkness every glimpse of light has finally flickered out ? it is then that Christ's hand reaches out sure and firm, that His words bring their inexpressible comfort, that His light shines brightest abolishing the darkness forever. So, finding in everything only deception and nothingness, the soul is constrained to have recourse to God Himself and to rest content.

As well as the [League of Nations] delegates themselves and their suites, there were innumerable campaigners of one sort and another, male and female, clerical and lay, young and old; all with some notion to publicize, some pet solution to offer, some organization to promote. They gathered in droves, fanning out through the city, and settling in hotels and pensions, from the Lakeside ones down to tiny obscure back-street establishments. Ferocious ladies with moustaches, clergymen with black leather patches on the elbows of their jackets or cassocks and smelling of tobacco smoke, mad admirals who knew where to find the lost tribes of Israel, and scarcely saner generals who deduced prophetic warnings from the measurement of the pyramids; but one and all believers in the League's historic role to deliver mankind painlessly and inexpensively from the curse of war to the great advantage of all concerned.

I beg you to believe that life is not a process, it's a drama.

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 forever unattainable. Therein lies the inevitability of failure in embarking upon its quest, which is none the less the only one worthy of serious attention.

One of the peculiar sins of the twentieth century which we've developed to a very high level is the sin of credulity. It has been said that when human beings stop believing in God they believe in nothing. The truth is much worse: they believe in anything.

Television was not invented to make human beings vacuous, but is an emanation of their vacuity.

The truth is that a lost empire, lost power and lost wealth provide perfect circumstances for living happily and contentedly in our enchanted island.

Whatever is fine and permanent in human achievement has been realized through individuals courageously facing the circumstances of their being; and a society is civilized to the extent to which it makes this possible. Terrorism, which aims at putting out the spiritual light, is the antithesis of civilization.

At the 20th Congress of British Communist Party,- usual slogans spread about the building-Marxism is the science of working-class power. Those present mostly lower middle class, few working class. On platform sat the Executive Committee, really deplorable faces. Unpleasant thought that in many parts of Europe, such people already in absolute power.

I can say that I never knew what joy was like until I gave up pursuing happiness, or cared to live until I chose to die. For these two discoveries I am beholden.

It took no more than three decades to transform a war crime into an act of compassion, thereby enabling the victors in the war against Nazism to adopt the very practices for which the Nazis had been solemnly condemned at Nuremberg.

One of the stupidest theories of Western life.

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English Editor, Writer, Journalist, Media Personality and Satirist