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Literacy as a religious act

From the remarkable book How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill:

“Like the Jews before them, the Irish enshrined literacy as their central religious act. In a land where literacy had previously been unknown, in a world where the old literate civilizations were sinking fast beneath successive waves of barbarism, the white Gospel page, shining in all the little oratories of Ireland, acted as a pledge: the lonely darkness had been turned into light, and the lonely virtue of courage, sustained through all the centuries, had been transformed into hope.”