I have argued in this series, that, as Gary Saul Morson has said, “Quotationality defines us. We are what we quote.” I firmly believe this, but many of you are still unconvinced. However, I would be willing to bet that you love quotes and already embrace hundreds of them, you just don’t know it. That’s right, I would be willing to bet you are a Subconscious Quotaholic. But already you scoff!  “Even if it was true, how could you prove it?” you ask. Well step right up to my quiz of the day. I’ll give you 15 movie quotes with a key word replaced. I am willing to bet that you can easily replace the “wrong” word with the right one, thus proving my point. Go ahead, make my day! Just try not to “correct” these erroneous quotes!

  1. “I’ll get you my pretty, and your little quote, too!”
  2. “Why don’t you come up and quote me sometime?”
  3. “What we have here is a failure to quote.”
  4. “That’s the stuff that quotes are made of.”
  5. “Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful quote.”
  6. “I’m quoting here! I’m quoting here!”
  7. “You can’t handle the quote!”
  8. “If you quote it, he will come.”
  9. “A boy’s best friend is his quote.”
  10. “Houston, we have a quote.”
  11. “Gentlemen, you can’t quote in here. This is the war room!”
  12. “You’ve got to ask yourself one question: “Do I feel like a quote?” Well, do ya, punk?”
  13. “There’s no quoting in baseball!”
  14. “I feel the need – the need for a quote.”
  15. Quotes? We ain’t got no quotes! We don’t need no quotes! I don’t have to show you any stinking quotes!”

I rest my case! As the song says, “You like to think that you’re immune to the stuff, oh yeah / It’s closer to the truth to say you can’t get enough / you know you’re gonna have to face it, you’re addicted to quotes!”

Today’s featured “artist” is a little different. You may not have ever heard of him (or he may be one of your patron saints). His name is Ambrose Bierce. He was a well-respected journalist, satirist, story-teller, author and most of all cynic. In 1911, he published The Devil’s Dictionary, what the experts in Wikipedia describe as a “mock lexicon in which he scathed American culture and accepted wisdom.” And I might add, religion. In this dictionary, he took everyday words, words like “Christian,” “saint” and “charity” and proposed a new definition that better described each word as he saw it being lived out.  Honestly, his definitions are both hilarious and, at the same time, terribly sad. Now, without a doubt, sometimes he went way too far. Many of the words I was excited to hear redefined stepped over a line (so you won’t see them here). But many others hit the nail right on the head.

I hope you will enjoy these new definitions, these 15 quotes. But most of all, I hope they will cause you to think. I hope they will help you to see how people outside the church often look at us. I hope they will prod you to see if these new definitions describe you in any way. And I hope they will even make you laugh at yourself a bit because when Bierce is right, he is both right and funny.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce you to Ambrose Bierce and his Devil’s Dictionary in 15 quotes. . . .

  1. “ADMIRATION, n. Our polite recognition of another’s resemblance to ourselves.”
  2. “DAY, n. A period of twenty-four hours, mostly misspent.”
  3. “SWEATER, n. A garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly.”
  4. “BORE, n. A person who talks when you wish him to listen.”
  5. “INHUMANITY, n. One of the signal and characteristic qualities of humanity.”
  6. “SAINT, n. A dead sinner revised and edited.”
  7. “TWICE, adv. Once too often.”
  8. “CHRISTIAN, n. (1) One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor. One who follows the teachings of Christ in so far as they are not inconsistent with a life of sin.”
  9. “NEIGHBOR, n. One whom we are commanded to love as ourselves and who does all he knows how to make us disobedient.”
  10. “CHRISTIAN, n. (2) A man who feels repentance on a Sunday for what he did on Saturday and is going to do on Monday.”
  11. “GUILT, n. The condition of one who is known to have committed an indiscretion, as distinguished from the state of him who has covered his tracks.”
  12. “EGOTIST, n. A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me.”
  13. “POSITIVE, adj.: Mistaken at the top of one’s voice.”
  14. “CLERGYMAN, n. A man who undertakes the management of our spiritual affairs as a method of bettering his temporal ones.”
  15. “CHARITY, n. An amiable quality of the heart which moves us to condone in others the sins and vices to which ourselves are addicted.”

Mother of mercy, is this the end of the series on quotes? No. There is one more blog to look forward to. In the meantime, “Carpe diem, boys, seize the quote. Make your life extraordinary.” Thanks for reading!

Extra credit for anyone who can name the two movies alluded to in the previous paragraph!

And for those of you who are unsure of your answers to the quiz, here they are:

  1. Dog (Wizard of Oz)
  2. See (She Done Him Wrong)
  3. Communicate (Cool Hand Luke)
  4. Dreams (The Maltese Falcon)
  5. Friendship (Casablanca)
  6. Walking. (Midnight Cowboy)
  7. Truth (A Few Good Men)
  8. Build (Field of Dreams)
  9. Mother (Psycho)
  10. Problem (Apollo 13)
  11. Fight ( Strangelove)
  12. Lucky (Dirty Harry)
  13. Crying (A League of Their Own)
  14. Speed (Top Gun)
  15. Badges (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre)

And for the bonus points, the two movies mentioned in the final paragraph were Little Caesar and Dead Poet’s Society.