On page 426 of Ken Follett’s latest novel, World Without End, I came across a neat quote. The story, which is a sequel to Pillars of the Earth, takes place in 14th century England, in a town that is mostly managed by monks from the local cathedral. A monk named Godwyn has devised a scheme to bilk the townspeople out of a bunch of money.
Caris wondered whether he believed that any deceit was pardonable provided it was done for the sake of God’s work. Surely men of God should be more scrupulous about honesty than laymen, not less?
She put the point to her father, as they hung around the court, waiting for their case to come up. He said: “I never trust anyone who proclaims his morality from the pulpit. That high-minded type can always find an excuse for breaking his own rules. I’d rather do business with an everyday sinner who thinks it’s probably to his advantage, in the long run, to tell the truth and keep his promises. He’s not likely to change his mind about that.”