"The Poetry of Christianity" seems to me to be a good new title for
this extract. There is nothing to be said about my choice of it, save
that I like it. Treatise on the Gods is my own favorite among my
books, and by long odds.
H. L. MENCKEN
CHRISTIANITY, as religions run in the world, is scarcely to be described as belonging to the first rank. It is full of vestiges of the barbaric cults that entered into it, and some of them are shocking to common sense, as to common decency. The old polytheism lingers on in the preposterous concept of the Trinity, defectively concealed by metaphysical swathings that are worse, if anything, than the idea itself. The Atonement is a reminder of blood sacrifice and the Eucharist of the pharmacology of cannibals. Judaism, in its theology, is far simpler and more plausible. So is Parseeism. A Parsee is not doomed to Hell for neglecting a sacrament, like a Catholic or a Baptist, nor is the Hell ahead of him, supposing he lands there on other counts, the savage and incredible chamber of horrors that Christians fear. He believes vaguely that his soul will go marching on after death, but he doesn't believe that it will go marching on forever; soon or late, he is taught, the whole cosmos must come to an end and start all over again. Buddhism leans the same way; it rejects immortality as not only unimaginable, but also as unendurable. Confucianism evades the question as unanswerable. It teaches that the dead survive, but doesn't pretend to say how long. On the ethical side it is much more rational than Christianity, and very much more humane, for its chief prophets and law-givers have not been ignorant fanatics but highly civilized men, some of them philosophers comparable to Plato or Aristotle. Even Moslemism, in this department, is superior to Christianity, if only because its ethical sys-