"There are no gods (including God). Like all species, ours is a product of nature. This is not something to celebrate or to mourn. But it can prove a transformational and mind-opening experience to put all gods, religions, and supernatural enthusiasms aside and to explore the world from the point of view of a human being who lives, dies, and is as natural as a tiger or a dove."
"We were both raised in the country, outside very small communities where a huge assortment of goods wasn't readily available, and if it had been, they would have been out of reach for the modest incomes on which our families lived. And yet, both our mothers had a clever way of creating homes that felt very comfortable. Serena's kept bulk food in colorful old glass jars, put dish soap in old medicine bottles with fancy glass stoppers, and turned worn clothing into patchwork blankets. Teri's mother decorated their home with religious art, a proud display of well-read books, and, during the growing season, vases of lilacs that filled the air with sweet fragrance and the house with color."
"Whatever disease causes the next great outbreak, we won't see it coming. The ones we do see are never as hard to handle as the epidemic that the watchers claim to see in our future. The ones that we will not be able to handle can't be foreseen. We concoct stories to make sense of our dread -- but the real outbreaks are never really what we imagine the epidemic to be. This means that we are right to be fearful, but we are wrong if we think that any particular reading of risk or shift in our 'risk behavior,' any adjustment in our patterns of socializing, or any prohibition against air travel is going to stop the next great plague."