Stephen, struck by his tone of closure, reopened the discussion at once by saying:
—I fear many things: dogs, horses, firearms, the sea, thunderstorms, machinery, the country roads at night.
—But why do you fear a bit of bread?
—I imagine that there is a malevolent reality behind those things I say I fear.
—Do you fear then, Cranly asked, that the God of the Roman catholics would strike you dead and damn you if you made a sacrilegious communion?
—The God of the Roman catholics could do that now, Stephen said. I fear more than that the chemical action which would be set in in my soul by a false homage to a symbol behind which are massed twenty centuries of authority and veneration.
—Would you, Cranly asked, in extreme danger commit that particular sacrilege? For instance if you lived in the penal days?
—I cannot answer for the past, Stephen replied. Possibly not.
—Then, said Cranly, you do not intend to become a protestant?
—I said that I had lost the faith, Stephen answered, but not that I had lost selfrespect. What kind of liberation would that be to forsake an absurdity which is logical and coherent and embrace one which is illogical and incoherent?
A Potrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce