"The most successful missionary religions became the religion of an empire. Empires need universalist stories that can unify the diverse peoples they subjugate, and portable stories less dependent on local shrines. Empires need religions that emphasize scriptures.
"Writing transforms religion as it transforms everything. The universal religions are precisely those whose deities reside not in idols or temples but in texts.
— Roger Scruton
"With script words assume a life of their own and the possibility of immortality. The earth is not sacred in Abrahamic religions but God's Word is. Moses banished the golden calf by substituting two tablets. Idolatry was supplanted by bibliolatry.
"The Buddha, like Socrates and Jesus, wrote nothing.
"We Sioux spend a lot of time thinking about everyday things . . . We see around us many symbols that teach us the meaning of life. We have a saying that the white man sees so little, he must see only with one eye. See a lot that you no longer notice. You could notice if you wanted to, but you are usually too busy. We Indians live in a world of symbols and images where the spiritual and the commonplace are one. To you symbols are just words, spoken or written in a book. To us they are part of nature, part of ourselves — the earth, the sun, the wind and the rain, stones, trees, animals, even little insects like ants and grasshoppers.
— Lame Deer
"Having learned to find meaning in words, we miss the meaning of everything else.
"The universe story is the quintessence of reality. We perceive the story. We put it in our language, the birds put it in theirs, and the trees put it in theirs. We can read the story of the universe in the trees. Everything tells the story of the universe. The winds tell the story, literally, not just imaginatively. The story has its imprint everywhere, and that is why it is so important to know the story. If you do not know the story, in a sense you do not know yourself; you do not know anything."
— Thomas Berry