The Brothers K

Duncan, David James

Bantam, 1992

p. 227

Mama had become a religious fanatic. The fanatic has an advantage over other people. ”’What’s a little confusion or pain,’ they ask, ‘compared to eternal salvation?’ And of course this question can’t be argued: who wouldn’t gladly be robbed of all they have today if they were certain that the thief would ‘come again’ and hand them a billion-dollar compensation payment tomorrow? But this question doesn’t address the real problem.

In a head-on collision with fanatics, the real problem is always the same: how can we possibly behave decently toward people so arrogantly ignorant that they believe, first, that they possess Christ’s power to bestow salvation, second, that that forcing us to memorize and regurgitate a few of their favorite Bible phrases and attend their church is that salvation, and third, that any discomfort, frustration, anger or disagreement we express in the face of their moronic barrages is due not to their astounding effrontery, but to our sinfulness?

The Austrian writer Robert Musil summed up the fanatic’s great rhetorical advantage in just ten words: ‘There is no truth which stupidity can’t make use of.’”