Upton Sinclair: The Profits of Religion

Book Six - The Church of the Quacks


Such are the beliefs built on the Bible. But there are other ancient writings with strange nomenclature and ritual and symbolism, calculated to impress the unlettered; also our prophets have imaginations of their own, and can invent nomenclature and ritual and symbolism never seen in heaven nor on earth before. Thus there is Dr. Newo Newi New, who called himself "Archbishop of the Newthot Church," and gathered about him a harem of devoted females in San Francisco, and was landed in jail for using the mails to defraud. Or there is "Oahspe, the Cosmic Bible," a work of brand-new revelations with a brand-new view of the universe and all things therein:

The reader soon discovers that he must radically revise not only his ideas of celestial Cosmogony, but the order and significance of names and titles commonly applied to the Transcendental Brethren. The great provinces of Etheria are presided over by chiefs, chosen for their superior development in wisdom and love. For our solar system to cross one of these provinces requires about 3,000 years, and between them are belts of high Etherian light which take several years to pass over, The passage of each province is a cycle of earthly history, and the crossings are called Dawns of Dan.

And here is Koreshanity, a revelation vouchsafed by the Lord to Dr. C.R. Teed of Chicago in the year 1889. This new seer took the name of Koresh, which is Hebrew for Cyrus, "the Shepherd from Joseph, the Stone of Israel, the Sun-Man; the illuminating center of the Son of man," and went out on the streets of the city to preach that the earth is a hollow sphere with the stars inside. The street urchins of the pork-packing metropolis threw stones at him, and the irreverent newspapers took up his adventures, with the result that followers gathered, and now there is a flourishing colony in Florida, with a dignified magazine called "The Flaming Sword;" and a collection of propaganda volumes: "The Cellular Cosmogony, an Exposition of Koreshan Universology and the New Geodesy"; "The Immortal Manhood, the laws and Processes of its Attainment in the Flesh"; "The Great Red Dragon, by Lord Chester"; "The Coming of the Shepherd from Joseph, The Standing of the Great Ensign, by Koresh." The Religio-science" of this Chicago revelator is based, first upon some precise measurements of the earth which prove that its surface is concave; and second upon some philological discoveries very much resembling puns. Thus the "cross of Christ" is explained in a sense of the word more common among horse-breeders than among theologians:

The highest characteristic of the alchemical law is the cross of Christ with sensual man. The cross means that the Lord God, in order to perpetuate his own being, descends into the race of sensuality.

And again, when someone asks about meteors:

The word Heaven means things heaved up, that is, heaved up from their material basis, the earth; thus, the meteors which fall to the earth are composed of metallic, mineral, and geological substances, being materialized or actually created in the atmosphere by an alchemico-organic process from zones or belts periodically open, which precipitate their contents in the form or shape of meteors."

And perhaps I ought also to quote the "Indicia of Human progress," by "Berthaldine, Matrona." I don't know what a "Matrona" is - unless it is a female matron. This female matron tells me that now is the "Time of Restitution," and explains that "the prolification of the human race has reach a fruition of the adultery of the truth and good of the Lord with the fallacies and evils of the mortal hells." ... We have come, it seems, to the "age of Pisces," which is "one of the greatest radical prolification"; and what we now need is the "power of polarization," so that we may join the "White Horse Army of the Most High," which is the organization of the "Aquarian age," proclaimed by Koresh on January 15, 1891.

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