11 March 2018

Billy Sunday
Part 2

Back on March 7th I wrote about an old Billy Sunday biography I recently bought, and mentioned that the book had a lot of Sunday quips. In this post, I will share a few of them.

Some of these quotes are hard to understand because they apply to American culture a century ago. They were different times, to be sure. Nevertheless, much of what Sunday says still applies to our day and time.

While I totally disagree with the theology expressed in a couple of these quotes, it isn't my intention to analyze and criticize—only to provide you with this thought-provoking historical perspective on Billy Sunday. Some of these quotes are good enough to commit to memory.


"They say to me, 'Bill, you rub the fur the wrong way.' I don't; let the cats turn 'round."

"Paul said he would rather speak five words that were understood than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue. That hits me. I want people to know what I mean, and that's why I try to get down where they live. What do I care if some puff-eyed, dainty little dibbly-dibbly preacher goes tibbly-tibbling around because I use plain Anglo-Saxon words."

"It isn't a good thing to have synonyms for sin. Adultery is adultery, even though you call it affinity."

"If a man goes to hell he ought to be there, or he wouldn't be there."

"The church gives people what they need; the theatre gives them what they want."

"Death-bed repentance is burning the candle of life in the service of the devil, and then blowing the smoke into the face of God."

"Your reputation is what people say about you. Your character is what God and your wife know about you."

"I believe that cards and dancing are doing more to damn the spiritual life of the Church than the grog-shops—though you can't accuse me of being a friend of that stinking, dirty, rotten, hell-soaked business."

"If you took no more care of yourself physically than spiritually, you'd be just as dried up physically as you are spiritually."

"We place too much reliance upon preaching and upon singing, and too little on the living of those who sit in the pews."

"Look into the preaching Jesus did and you will find it was aimed straight at the big sinners on the front seats."

"Some homes need a hickory switch a good deal more than they do a piano."

"Churches don't need new members half so much as they need the old bunch made over."

"The bars of the church are so low that any old hog with two or three suits of clothes and a bank roll can crawl through."

"You can't measure manhood with a tape line around the biceps."

"The social life is the reflex of the home life."

"I don't believe there are devils enough in hell to pull a boy out of the arms of a godly mother."

"To train a boy in the way he should go you must go that way yourself."

"The man who lives for himself alone will be the sole mourner at his own funeral."

"The devil often grinds the axe with which God hews."

"Whisky is all right in its place, but its place is in hell."

"A pup barks more than an old dog."

"Character needs no epitaph. You can bury the man, but character will beat the hearse back from the graveyard and it will travel up and down the streets while you are under the sod. It will bless or blight long after your name is forgotten."

"Some people pray like a jack-rabbit eating cabbage."

If you put a polecat in the parlor, which will change first—the polecat or the parlor?"

"It won't save your soul if your wife is a Christian. You have got to be something more than a brother-in-law to the Church."

"All that God has ever done to save this old world, has been done through men and women of flesh and blood like ourselves."

"If every black cloud had a cyclone in it, the world would have been blown to toothpicks long ago."

"You can't raise the standard of women's morals by raising their pay envelope. It lies deeper than that."

"Put the kicking straps on the old Adam, feed the angel in you, and starve the devil."

"When a baby is born, what do you do with it? Put it in a refrigerator? That's a good place for dead chicken, and cold meat, but a poor place for babies. Then don't put these new converts, 'babes in Christ,' into refrigerator churches."

"Nobody can read the Bible thoughtfully, and not be impressed with the way it upholds the manhood of man. More chapters in the Bible are devoted to portraying the manhood of Caleb than the creation of the world."

"Home is on a level with the women; the town is on a level with the homes."

"The reason you don't like the Bible, you old sinner, is because it knows all about you."

"Nearly everybody is stuck up about something. Some people are even proud that they aren't proud."

"The average man is more careful of his company than the average girl."

"Going to church doesn't make a man a Christian, any more than going to a garage makes him an automobile."

"Wouldn't this city be a great place to live in if some people would die, get converted, or move away?"

"If you only believe things that you can understand you must be an awful ignoramus."

"There is more power in a mother's hand than in a king's scepter."

"Give your face to God and he will put his shine on it."

"If you want milk and honey on your bread, you'll have to go into the land where there are giants."

"There is nothing in the world of art like the songs mother used to sing."

"God pays a good mother. Mother's get your names on God's payroll."

"The man who can drive a hog and keep his religion will stand without hitching."

"If you would have your children turn out well, don't turn your home into a lunch counter and lodging house."

"The backslider likes the preaching that wouldn't hit the side of a house, while the real disciple is delighted when the truth brings him to his knees."

"There would be more power in the prayers of some folks if they put more white money in the collection basket."

"Temptation is the devil looking through the keyhole. Yielding is opening the door and inviting him in."

This illustration and quote are from
the Billy Sunday biography


I know the answer to this, but I'm wondering if anyone else reading this can explain what "kicking straps" are?


  1. I picture something that ties the front legs to the hind legs of a horse that tends to kick . I have found that word before in old books and so have had that picture in my mind a long time ,but never bothered to look it up. . Karen Jones

  2. When we ran our dairy we had devices called "kickers" for cows that kicked a lot. It was two metal devices connected by a rod that each fit over the hip bone of the cows and then was tightened down via the rod until they couldn't kick or found it hard too. Not a strap but I'm assuming the reasoning was the same.

  3. Elizabeth L. Johnson said, Herrick, you certainly went to a lot of effort for this post. No, don't know what kicking straps are. These were great quotes, some thought-provoking, some I understood, a few I didn't. Thought-provoking: "Character needs no epitaph.." . Wow-factor: "It won't save your soul, if your wife is a christian. You've got to be something more than a brother-in-law to the Church." Funny: "Nearly everybody is stuck-up about something. Some people are even proud that they aren't proud!" Thanks, Herrick.

  4. Why don't you have the "Blogger" option to follow your blog on like your previous blog was offering, I don't use any of the options you are using and I'm probably not the only one. Diane

    1. Thanks, Diane.
      There should be two boxes showing at the top of the right column of this page. One is "Follow by Email" and the other is "Subscribe To This Blog." Those are the same options I had at The Deliberate Agrarian 1.0 blog. Are you seeing them?
      According to Kire in Macedonia, a long-time reader of this blog, those options may not show if you have an ad blocker. You would need to disable the ad blocker to see them and get signed up.
      Perhaps someone else knows of other options to "subscribe" to the posts here?

    2. Kicking Straps = hobble. Mr Kimball - the "follow by email" option doesn't appear to be available anymore?

  5. Thanks for the comments, everyone.
    Yes, kicking straps are put on cows to keep them from kicking when milking. Perhaps horses too, at times.

  6. At the bottom of the email is a link "View Web Version." This takes you to the actual website and the subscribe to email option should be on the right.