Upton Sinclair: The Profits of Religion

Book Two - The Church of Good Society

Gibson's Preservative

I have a friend, a well-known "scholar," who permits me the use of his extensive library. I stand in the middle and look about me, and see in the dim shadows walls lined from floor to ceiling with decorous and grave-looking books, bound for the most part in black, many of them fading to green with age. There are literally thousands of such, and their theme is the pseudo- science of "divinity." I close my eyes, to make the test fair, and walk to the shelves and put out my hand and take a book. It proves to be a modern work, "A History of the English Prayer-book in Relation to the Doctrine of the Eucharist." I turn the pages and discover that it is a study of the variations of one minute detail of church doctrine. This learned divine - he has written many such works, as the advertisements inform us - fills up the greater part of his pages with foot-notes from hundreds of authorities, arguments over supernatural subtleties. I will give one sample of these footnotes - asking the reader to be patient:

I add the following valuable observation, of Dean Goode: ("On Eucharist," II p. 757. See also Archbishop Ware in Gibson's "Preservative," vol X, Chap II) "One great point for which our divines have contended, in opposition to Romish errors, has been the reality of that presence of Christ's Body and Blood to the soul of the believer which is affected through the operation of the Holy Spirit notwithstanding the absence of that Body and Blood in Heaven. Like the Sun, the Body of Christ is both present and absent; present, really and truly present, in one sense - that is, by the soul being brought into immediate communion with - but absent in another sense - that is, as regards the contiguity of its substance to our bodies. The authors under review, like the Romanists, maintain that this is not a Real Presence, and assuming their own interpretation of the phrase to be the only true one, press into their service the testimony of divines who, though using the phrase, apply it in a sense the reverse of theirs. The ambiguity of the phrase, and its misapplication by the Church of Rome, have induced many of our divines to repudiate it," etc.

Realize that of the work from which this "valuable observation" is quoted, there are at least two volumes, the second volume containing not less than 757 pages! Realize that in Gibson's "Preservative" there are not less than ten volumes of such writings! Realize that in this 20th century a considerable portion of the memtal energies of the world's greatest empire is devoted to that kind of learning!

I turn to the date upon the volume, and find that it is 1910. I was in England within a year of that time, and so I can tell what was the condition of the English people while printers were making and papers were reviewing and book-stores were distributing this work of ecclesiastical research. I walked along the Embankment and saw the pitiful wretches, men, women and sometimes children, clad in filthy rags starved white and frozen blue, soaked in winter rains and shivering in winter winds, homeless, hopeless, unheeded by the doctors of divinity, unpreserved by Gibson's "Preservative." I walked on Hempstead Heath on Easter day, when the population of the slums turns out for its one holiday; I walked, literally trembling with horror, for I had never seen such sights nor dreamed of them. These creatures were hardly to be recognized as human beings; they were some new grotesque race of apes. They could not walk, they could only shamble; they could not laugh, they could only leer. I saw a hand-organ playing, and turned away - the things they did in their efforts to dance were not to be watched. And then I went out into the beautiful English country, cultured and charming ladies took me in swift, smooth motor-cars, and I saw the pitiful hovels and the drink-sodden, starch-poisoned inhabitants - slum- populations everywhere, even on the land! When the newspaper reporters came to me, I said that I had just come from Germany, and that if ever England found herself at war with that country, she would regret that she had let the bodies and the minds of her people rot; for which expression I was severely taken to task by more than one British divine.

The bodies - and the minds; the rot of the latter being the cause of the former. All over England in that year of 1910, in thousands of schools, rich and poor, and in the greatest centers of learning, men like Dean Goode were teaching boys dead languages and dead sciences and dead arts; sending them out to life with no more conception of the modern world than a monk of the Middle Ages; sending them out with minds made hard and inflexible, ignorant of science, indifferent to progress, contemptuous of ideas. And then suddenly, almost overnight, this terrified people finds itself at war with a nation ruled and disciplined by modern experts, scientists and technicians. The awful muddle that was in England during the first two years of the war has not yet been told in print; but thousands know it, and some day it will be written, and it will finish forever the prestige of the British ruling caste. They rushed off an expedition to Gallipoli, and somebody forgot the water-supply, and at one time they had 95,000 cases of dysentery!

They always "muddle through," they tell you; that is the motto of their ruling caste. But this time they did not "muddle through" - they had to come to America for help. As I write, our Congress is voting billions and tens of billions of dollars, and a million of the best of our young manhood are being taken from their homes - because in 1910 the mind of England was occupied with Dean Goode "On Eucharist," and the ten volumes of Gibson's "Preservative."

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