A Soiled White Shirt

“The church and the whorehouse arrived in the far west at the same time. And each would have been horrified to think it was a different facet of the same thing. But surely they were both intended to accomplish the same thing: the singing, the devotion, the poetry of the churches took a man out of his bleakness for a time, so did the brothels. The sectarian churches came in swinging, cocky and loud and confident. Ignoring the laws of debt and repayment, they built churches which couldn’t be repaid in a hundred years. The sects fought evil, true enough, but they also fought each other with a fine lustiness. They fought at a turn of a doctrine. Each happily believed all the others were bound for hell in a basket. And each for all its bumptiousness brought with it the same thing: the Scripture on which our ethnics, our art and poetry, and our relationships are built. It took a smart man to know where the difference lay between the sects, but anyone could see what they had in common. And they brought music- maybe not the best, but the form and the sense of it. And they brought a conscience, or, rather, nudged the dozing conscience. They were not pure, but they had the potential of purity, like a soiled white shirt. And any man could make something pretty fine of it within himself. ” 

                                                                                                             -John Steinbeck, East of Eden
I must say, this is the most accurate description of the church I have ever heard! I’m reading East of Eden and came across this little jewel. Pretty interesting stuff. Well, just wanted to have someone to share in the awe of the authors finesse and eloquence. = )

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