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Customer Review

on February 16, 2005
The title I have chosen is a quotation from Ingersoll that lost him a teaching job in Illinois because the seminary students to whom he said it in answer to a question they asked reported it to the school's principal. His speeches and writings are full of barbs like this that can have an audience in stitches, and it is no wonder that he was paid as much as $5,000 (in the ninetheenth century) to speak to thousands of delighted people.

After his aborted teaching career he married a fine and affluent woman who shared his views. They moved to New York and Ingersoll devoted the rest of his life to writing and to public speaking.

It is not easy to dislike this man, even if one disagrees with him, because his best is hilarious and always on the mark. America's Great Agnostic expressed himself with clarity and always with the compassion that some of his Christian critics lacked. Witness the debates between him and the Reverend Talmadge, which have appeared in print.

Ingersoll loved children, and only when he criticized religious teachings designed to terrify children into trembling piety did he become indignant and acerbic. Otherwise, he spoke of religion with rollicking humor.

Perhaps the best way to appreciate him is to read an entire, short text, such as "Some mistakes of Moses." Single quotations may not do him justice.

He died in 1899, but his ashes were kept in New York because they were not allowed interment in Arlington National Cemetery until 1932. I have visited his grave, and the stone does not bear a cross, as most do--a breath of clean air in a country now sinking into the dark ignorance of the religious right.

We need more of Robert Ingersoll. Read his works and roar with laughter along with him.
60 helpful votes
61 helpful votes
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