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Psychology Of A Religious Revival
by [?]

We are heirs to the past, its good and ill, and we all have a touch of superstition, like a syphilitic taint. To eradicate this tyranny of fear and get the cringe and crawl out of our natures, seems the one desirable thing to lofty minds. But the revivalist, knowing human nature, as all confidence men do, banks on our superstitious fears and makes his appeal to our acquisitiveness, offering us absolution and life eternal for a consideration–to cover expenses. As long as men are paid honors and money, can wear good clothes, and be immune from work for preaching superstition, they will preach it. The hope of the world lies in withholding supplies from the pious mendicants who seek to hold our minds in thrall.

This idea of a divine bankrupt court where you can get forgiveness by paying ten cents on the dollar, with the guaranty of becoming a winged pauper of the skies, is not alluring excepting to a man who has been well scared. Advance agents pave the way for revivalists by arranging details with the local orthodox clergy. Universalists, Unitarians, Christian Scientists and Befaymillites are all studiously avoided. The object is to fill depleted pews of orthodox Protestant churches–these pay the freight, and to the victor belong the spoils. The plot and plan is to stampede into the pen of orthodoxy the intellectual unwary–children and neurotic grown-ups. The cap-and-bells element is largely represented in Chapman’s select company of German-American talent: the confetti of foolishness is thrown at us–we dodge, laugh, listen and no one has time to think, weigh, sift or analyze. There are the boom of rhetoric, the crack of confession, the interspersed rebel-yell of triumph, the groans of despair, the cries of victory. Then come songs by paid singers, the pealing of the organ–rise and sing, kneel and pray, entreaty, condemnation, misery, tears, threats, promise, joy, happiness, heaven, eternal bliss, decide now–not a moment is to be lost, whoop-la you’ll be a long time in hell!

All this whirl is a carefully prepared plan, worked out by expert flim-flammers to addle the reason, scramble intellect and make of men drooling derelicts.

What for?

I’ll tell you–that Doctor Chapman and his professional rooters may roll in cheap honors, be immune from all useful labor and wax fat on the pay of those who work. Second, that the orthodox churches may not advance into workshops and schoolhouses, but may remain forever the home of a superstition. One would think that the promise of making a person exempt from the results of his own misdeeds, would turn the man of brains from these religious shell-men in disgust. But under their hypnotic spell, the minds of many seem to suffer an obsession, and they are caught in the swirl of foolish feeling, like a grocer’s clerk in the hands of a mesmerist.

At Northfield, Massachusetts, is a college at which men are taught and trained, just as men are drilled at a Tonsorial College, in every phase of this pleasing episcopopography.

There is a good fellow by the suggestive name of Sunday who works the religious graft. Sunday is the whirling dervish up to date. He and Chapman and their cappers purposely avoid any trace of the ecclesiastic in their attire. They dress like drummers–trousers carefully creased, two watch-chains and a warm vest. Their manner is free and easy, their attitude familiar. The way they address the Almighty reveals that their reverence for Him springs out of the supposition that He is very much like themselves.

The indelicacy of the revivalists who recently called meetings to pray for Fay Mills, was shown in their ardent supplications to God that He should make Mills to be like them. Fay Mills tells of the best way to use this life here and now. He does not prophesy what will become of you if you do not accept his belief, neither does he promise everlasting life as a reward for thinking as he does. He realizes that he has not the agency of everlasting life. Fay Mills is more interested in having a soul that is worth saving than in saving a soul that isn’t. Chapman talks about lost souls as he might about collar buttons lost under a bureau, just as if God ever misplaced anything, or that all souls were not God’s souls, and therefore forever in His keeping.