The Afterglow of Mencken Day

Inspired by Tim Challies, here are some vintage Mencken aphorisms:

“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.”

“We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.”

“Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”

“A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.”

“Misogynist: A man who hates women as much as women hate one another.”

“Conscience is a mother-in-law whose visit never ends.”

“Christian — One who is willing to serve three Gods, but draws the line at one wife.”

And one more, not an aphorism but perhaps still an insight into the Puritan (experimental Calvinist) mind:

The inner springs of Puritanism, once the Freudians uncover them, will be found, I venture, to lie in the Puritan kitchen. The blue-nose is simply a fellow who eats badly, and who suffers from it violently. No man with a sound meal under his belt ever cares a hoot for the peccadilloes of his neighbor around the corner. Moral endeavor and enlightened victualing are as incompatible as baseball and counterpoint.

The explanation of such grisly phenomena as Jonathan Edwards is to be found in the infernal cooking of New England, which is still the worst in the world, despite the importation of Greek bootblacks disguised as chefs. The early Puritans, even when they feasted, feasted upon unappetizing and indigestible food; it is no wonder that they cut short their meals in order to leave more time for sermons. (“Meditations on a Day in June,” June 5, 1918)

I wonder what Mencken would do with Kim Davis who doesn’t appear to have missed a good meal.


9 thoughts on “The Afterglow of Mencken Day

  1. “….Turkey buzzard is a popular name for this vulture, though the true buzzard (buteo buteo) is not a vulture at all but a European hawk. The turkey designation refers to the bird’s red, turkey like head (a few American colonial hunters, thinking they had shot turkeys, reported a ‘most disagreeable flavor’)…”

    “Birds of Forest, Yard, & Thicket,” John Eastman, p. 103, Stackpole Books (Mechanicsburg: 1997)

    Yeah, I can see Machen’s point. If those people can’t tell the difference between a wild turkey and a vulture, I wouldn’t want to eat their food either.


  2. Mencken quotations on tonight’s Prairie Home Companion.

    “A philosopher is a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat that isn’t there. A theologian is the man who finds it.”

    “The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it.”

    “People say we need religion when what they really mean is we need police.”


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