Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Teddy Dreiser Nostalgia days

Dreiser anticipated many of the present-day debates over theocracy, and unlike many a contemporary pundit (links oder rechts) he rarely minced words. HL Mencken may have objected to the occasional bolshevik-like blast of DreiserSpeak, but praised him for the most part. Dreiser, in addition to penning fiction (Sister Carrie a bleak, amoral mashsterpiece), wrote competently on sociology and was not a half-bad arm-chair economist (is there any other type?). Straight, no chaser:

""""In sum, in America as elsewhere, the Church--speaking of all sects and creeds as one--has consistently expounded views calculated to make the
underdog content with his wretched lot, and in all crises which have meant hunger, abuse, and even death, as in our great labor wars, has left him to do as best he may. More, the Church, and particularly the Roman Catholic Church, is more concerned with a system of sins, confessions, judgment, punishment and rewards relating to the hereafter than it is with the world of to-day, its economics, polities, sociology and government; that is, in any honest or helpful way. More, it leaves, as it always has, the underdog to suffer as he may here, the while it seeks to turn his eye on supposed grace hereafter. So true is this that from an American Federation of Labor symposium on religion, influenced, of course, by the current religious attitude of Americans and their churches in general, I gather that its chief philosophy is that the poor should help the poor, since the rich will not, neither their trusts, banks nor government, and that in doing so they will bring about a Christlike contentment, if not better wages. And more than that, questioning a religionist voicing such views on a street corner a few years ago, I found from his own confession that he was then and there being paid by a certain religious organization to preach such views. But who was financing the religious organization? I have often since wondered!"


"And of course, and long since (always, in fact, I judge), politicians enlisted the
spell and domination of the Church as a means of finding favor with the people.
By this method, and under the leadership of President Harding and Secretary Hughes, the Washington Treaties relating to the Great War became very popular. And S. Parkes Cadmiln, a very popular if not any too well-informed, and maybe (I do not know) too sincere, Englishman functioning as a minister in the United States, has expressed the highly ideal economic view (an epitome of that of hundreds of ministers in America and elsewhere to-day, I think) that the Golden Rule is at this hour in practice because millionaires give to charity! Well, that makes this dear United States of ours a Utopia, doesn't it? And this book a joke! Just the same, though, if at another time this same Cadman had called the Communistic theory of Marx a very powerful economic analysis--which he did--how would he reconcile our present corporate economic state with that or with the Golden Rule? And if he could not, should not that cost him his present American religious prestige? I hope so!

P.S. I have tried here, by facts, to show the subtle relation of money and economic policy to religion and capital, also that capital has changed religion into a far different thing from the teachings of Jesus Christ. In conclusion now I offer the conviction that in due time this particular alliance of Church and capital is quite certain to result in the downfall of religion in its present secretarian and dogmatic form. And, may I add, good riddance! """"""""""

A few sections of that bear reiterating: """And of course, and long since (always, in fact, I judge), politicians enlisted the spell and domination of the Church as a means of finding favor with the people." Few Americun scribblers, even with an Ivy league pedigree, had a heart like that.............

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