On wickedness

I’m preparing to write a sermon on the Unitarian Universalist Association’s purposes and principles, titled “Why the Seven Principles Must Change.” I’m thinking of using one of several passages from Agatha Christie’s murder mystery A Pocketful of Rye as one of the texts on which the sermon will be based; Christie, whatever her faults may be, is fairly sound on the topic of wickedness. At this point, I think the second passage below best captures what I’m trying to say in the sermon. If you have any similar quotes that could serve as a necessary corrective to the excessive optimism of the “Seven Principles,” I’d love it if you left them in the comments.

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1. Calming himself, [Inspector Neele] said, “Oh, there are other possibilities, other people who had a perfectly good motive.”

“Mr. Dubois, of course,” said Mis Marple sharply. “And that young Mr. Wright. I do so agree with you, Inspector. Wherever there is a question of gain, one has to be very suspicious. The great thing to avoid is having in any way a trustful mind.”

In spite of himself, Neele smiled.

“Always think the worst, eh?” he asked. It seemed a curious doctrine to be proceeding from this charming and fragile-looking old lady.

“Oh yes,” said Miss Marple fervently. “I always believe the worst. What is so sad is that one is usually justified in doing so.”

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2. “It sounds rather cruel,” said Pat.

“Yes, my dear,” said Miss Marple, “life is cruel, I’m afraid….”

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3. “…It’s very wicked, you know, to affront human dignity….”

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4. “…One needs a great deal of courage to get through life….”

9 thoughts on “On wickedness”

  1. I like this quote by La Rochefoucauld? Could possibly be used to counter the 1st Principle?

    No man deserves to be praised for his goodness, who has it not in his power to be wicked. Goodness without that power is generally nothing more than sloth, or an impotence of will.
    Francois de La Rochefoucauld

  2. My mother’s favorite quote, although not of course original with her:

    “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

  3. Erp @ 4 — No one fell asleep.

    Jean @ 5 — I don’t think Miss Marple would quite approve.

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