Historical Reprints Religion Preaching and Paganism

Preaching and Paganism

Preaching and Paganism
Catalog # SKU3826
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Albert Parker Fitch
ISBN 10: 0000000000
ISBN 13: 0000000000000


Preaching and Paganism

Albert Parker Fitch

The mediaeval world brought forth, out of its need, the robed and mitered ecclesiastic; a more recent world, pursuant to its genius, demanded the ethical idealist. Drink-sodden Georgian England responded to the open-air evangelism of Whitefield and Wesley.



For the primitive in man is a beast whom it is hard to chain nor does humanism with its semi-scientific, semi-sentimental laudation of all natural values produce that exacting mood of inward scrutiny in which self-control has most chance of succeeding. Hence here, as elsewhere on the continent, and formerly in China, in Greece and in Rome, a sort of neo-paganism has been steadily supplanting it.

To the study of this neo-paganism we now address ourselves. It is the third and lowest of those levels of human experience to which we referred in the first lecture. The naturalist, you may remember, is that incorrigible individual who imagines that he is a law unto himself, that he may erect his person into a sovereign over the whole universe. He perversely identifies discipline with repression and makes the unlimited the goal both of imagination and conduct. Oscar Wilde's epigrams, and more particularly his fables, are examples of a thoroughgoing naturalist's insolent indifference to any form of restraint.

All things, whether holy or bestial, were material for his topsy-turvy wit, his literally unbridled imagination. No humanistic law of decency, that is to say, a proper respect for the opinions of mankind, and no divine law of reverence and humility, acted for him as a restraining force or a selective principle. An immediate and significant example of this naturalistic riot of feeling, with its consequent false and anarchic scale of values, is found in the film dramas of the moving picture houses.

Unreal extravagance of imagination, accompanied by the debauch of the aesthetic and moral judgment, frequently distinguishes them. In screenland, it is the vampire, the villain, the superman, the saccharine angel child, who reign almost undisputed. Noble convicts, virtuous courtesans, attractive murderers, good bad men, and ridiculous good men, flit across the canvas haloed with cheap sentimentality. Opposed to them, in an ever losing struggle, are those conventional figures who stand for the sober realities of an orderly and disciplined world; the judge, the policeman, the mere husband.

These pitiable and laughable figures are always outwitted; they receive the fate which indeed, in any primitive society, they so richly deserve! How deeply sunk in the modern world are the roots of this naturalism is shown by its long course in history, paralleling humanism. It has seeped down through the Protestant centuries in two streams. One is a sort of scientific naturalism.

It exalts material phenomena and the external order, issues in a glorification of elemental impulses, an attempted return to childlike spontaneous living, the identifying of man's values with those of primitive nature. The other is an emotional naturalism, of which Maeterlinck is at the moment a brilliant and lamentable example.

This exchanges the world of sober conduct, intelligible and straightforward thinking for an unfettered dreamland, compounded of fairy beauty, flashes of mystical and intuitive understanding intermixed with claptrap magic, a high-flown commercialism and an etherealized sensuality.

216 pages - 7 x 8½ softcover - Print size, 13 point font

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