— Robert G. Ingersoll Union United States Army officer 1833 - 1899
Context: I have given you my definition of blasphemy, and now the question arises, what is worship? Who is a worshiper? What is prayer? What is real religion? Let me answer these questions.
Good, honest, faithful work, is worship. The man who ploughs the fields and fells the forests; the man who works in mines, the man who battles with the winds and waves out on the wide sea, controlling the commerce of the world; these men are worshipers. The man who goes into the forest, leading his wife by the hand, who builds him a cabin, who makes a home in the wilderness, who helps to people and civilize and cultivate a continent, is a worshiper.
Labor is the only prayer that Nature answers; it is the only prayer that deserves an answer, — good, honest, noble work. A woman whose husband has gone down to the gutter, gone down to degradation and filth; the woman who follows him and lifts him out of the mire and presses him to her noble heart, until he becomes a man once more, this woman is a worshiper. Her act is worship.
The poor man and the poor woman who work night and day, in order that they may give education to their children, so that they may have a better life than their father and mother had; the parents who deny themselves the comforts of life, that they may lay up something to help their children to a higher place -- they are worshipers; and the children who, after they reap the benefit of this worship, become ashamed of their parents, are blasphemers.
The man who sits by the bed of his invalid wife, -- a wife prematurely old and gray, -- the husband who sits by her bed and holds her thin, wan hand in his as lovingly, and kisses it as rapturously, as passionately, as when it was dimpled, -- that is worship; that man is a worshiper; that is real religion.