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Psychology Of A Religious Revival
by [?]

Doctor Chapman wants all men to act alike and believe alike, not realizing that progress is the result of individuality, and so long as a man thinks, whether he is right or wrong, he is making head. Neither does he realize that wrong thinking is better than no thinking at all, and that the only damnation consists in ceasing to think, and accepting the conclusions of another. Final truths and final conclusions are wholly unthinkable to sensible people in their sane moments, but these revivalists wish to sum up truth for all time and put their leaden seal upon it.

In Los Angeles is a preacher by the name of McIntyre, a type of the blatant Bellarmine who exiled Galileo–a man who never doubts his own infallibility, who talks like an oracle and continually tells of perdition for all who disagree with him.

Needless to say that McIntyre lacks humor. Personally, I prefer the McGregors, but in Los Angeles the McIntyres are popular. It was McIntyre who called a meeting to pray for Fay Mills, and in proposing the meeting McIntyre made the unblushing announcement that he had never met Mills nor heard him speak, nor had he read one of his books.

Chapman and McIntyre represent the modern types of Phariseeism–spielers and spouters for churchianity, and such are the men who make superstition of so long life. Superstition is the one Infamy–Voltaire was right. To pretend to believe a thing at which your reason revolts–to stultify your intellect–this, if it exists at all, is the unpardonable sin. These muftis preach “the blood of Jesus,” the dogma that man without a belief in miracles is eternally lost, that everlasting life depends upon acknowledging this, that or the other. Self-reliance, self-control and self-respect are the three things that make a man a man.

But man has so recently taken on this ability to think, that he has not yet gotten used to handling it. The tool is cumbrous in his hands. He is afraid of it–this one characteristic that differentiates him from the lower animals–so he abdicates and turns his divine birthright over to a syndicate. This combination called a church agrees to take care of his doubts and fears and do his thinking for him, and to help matters along he is assured that he is not fit to think for himself, and to do so would be a sin. Man, in his present crude state, holds somewhat the same attitude toward reason that an Apache Indian holds toward a camera–the Indian thinks that to have his picture taken means that he will shrivel up and blow away in a month. And Stanley relates that a watch with its constant ticking sent the bravest of Congo chiefs into a cold sweat of agonizing fear; on discovering which, the explorer had but to draw his Waterbury and threaten to turn the whole bunch into crocodiles, and at once they got busy and did his bidding. Stanley exhibited the true Northfield-revival quality in banking on the superstition of his wavering and frightened followers.

The revival meetin’ is an orgie of the soul, a spiritual debauch–a dropping from sane and sensible control into eroticism. No person of normal intelligence can afford to throw the reins of reason on the neck of emotion and ride a Tam O’Shanter race to Bedlam. This hysteria of the uncurbed feelings is the only blasphemy, and if there were a personal God, He surely would be grieved to see that we have so absurd an idea of Him, as to imagine He would be pleased with our deporting the divine gift of reason into the hell-box.

Revivalism works up the voltage, then makes no use of the current–the wire is grounded. Let any one of these revivalists write out his sermons and print them in a book, and no sane man could read them without danger of paresis. The book would lack synthesis, defy analysis, puzzle the brain and paralyze the will. There would not be enough attic salt in it to save it. It would be the supernaculum of the commonplace, and prove the author to be the lobscouse of literature, the loblolly of letters. The churches want to enroll members, and so desperate is the situation that they are willing to get them at the price of self-respect. Hence come Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Chapman, and play Svengali to our Trilby. These gentlemen use the methods and the tricks of the auctioneer–the blandishments of the bookmaker–the sleek, smooth ways of the professional spieler.