CHAPTER III
DRAMA AND RELIGION

HISTORY shows an intimate connection between religion and drama. The ceremonial worship of religion has been the cradle of drama. The drama of ancient Greece sprang from the ritual pantomime of pagan nature worship, the worship of Dionysus, the spirit of vegetation and in particular of the vine; the drama of modern Europe from the Christian mystery play. And the origins of Indian and of Japanese drama--the No plays--were equally religious. For the ritual of religion has always contained a dramatic element. No doubt it was due, in the first instance, to the savage's belief in the magical power of mimicry. But when religion freed herself from magic, she did not therefore shed the dramatic element in her worship. For dramatic impersonation impresses the imagination most vividly and powerfully with the thoughts or actions of god, hero and saint. And religion, which, if it is to be complete, must make its appeal to the entire nature of man, can ill afford to neglect the unique influence over the imagination exercised by the dramatic method of presentation. This method is an invaluable instrument of teaching. Even the dullest subjects come alive, as soon as they are clothed in a dramatic form. In my own experience boys have begun to enjoy a lesson in elementary Latin grammar, immediately it was broken up into dialogue and seasoned with a little action.

Religion, therefore, whose message, though of an enthralling power over souls awake to its meaning, is obscure and often enigmatic and in any case requires a certain degree of spiritual perception in the hearer, is not likely to dispense, nor has it in fact dispensed, with the aid of the dramatic method of instruction. If the worship of the primitive savage consists pre-eminently of mimetic ceremonies, the ritual of the great religious bodies has always been largely dramatic. And among all the great world- religions none possesses a more dramatic ritual than Catholic Christianity. The central mystery of the Catholic Church--

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