H.L. Mencken, The Anti-Christ, and The Beginning of a Reading Journey

I had a customer recomment that I read Anti-Christ by Friedrich Nietzsche. It is Nietzsche's treatment of Chsitianity. I will deal more with this in the coming days as I continue to read the book and it challenges my thoughts.

The introduction alone is worth the price of admission. H.L. Mencken is no lightweight himself. In the introduction he writes:

An idea is an idea. the present one may be right and it may be wrong. One thing is quite certain: that no progress will be made aginst it by denouncing it as merely immoral. If it is ever laid at all, it must be laid evidentially, logically. The notion to the contrary is thoroughly democratic; the mob is the most ruthless of tyrants; it is always in a democratic society that heresy and felony tend to be most constantly confused. One hears without surprise of a Bismarck philosophizing placidly (at least in his old age) upon the delusion of Socialism and of a Frederick the Great playing the hose of his cynicism upon the absolutism that was almost identical with his own person, but men in the mass never brook the destructive discussion of their fundamental beliefs, and that impatience is naturally most evident in those socities in which men in the mass are most influential. Democracy and free speech are not facets of one gem; democracy and free speech are eternal enemies. But in any battle between an institution and an idea, the idea, in the long run, has the better of it. Here I do not venture into the absurdity of arguing that, as the world wags on, the truth always survives. I believe nothing of the sort. As a matter of fact, it seems to me that an idea that happens to be true--or, more exactly, as near to truth as any human idea can be, and yet remain generally intelligible--it seems to me that such an idea carries a special and often fatal handicap. The majority of men prefer delusion to truth. It soothes. It is easy to grasp. Above all, it fits more snugly than the truth into a universe of false appearances--of complex and irrational phenomena, defectively grasped. But though an idea that is true is thus not likely to prevail, an idea that is attacked enjoys a great advantage. The evidence behind it is now supported by sympathy, the sporting instinct, sentimentality--and sentimentality is as powerful as an army with banners. One never hears of a martyr in history whose notions are seriously disputed today. The forgotten ideas are those of the men who put them forward soberly and quietly, hoping fatuously that they would conquer by the force of their truth; these are the ideas that we now struggle to rediscover. Had Nietzsche lived to be burned at the stake by outraged Mississippi Methodists, it would have been a glorious day for his doctrines. As it is, they are helped on their way every time they are denounced as immoral and against God. The war brought down upon them the maledictions of vast herds of right-thinking men.

I couldn't agree more with the statment about denouncing things as being immoral. If all we do is claim something is immoral without an attempt to explain why it is such, our statement really carries no weight. Unless it is with a person who is already a Christian, saying the Bible says something is immoral also carries no weight. It would never hurt to explain to a Christian why something is moral or immoral. There is a reason why God forbids or allows all actions. It doesn't hurt us to try to figure out why. In doing so, I think we get a glimpse of the heart of God.

As for democratic society being the place where heresy and felony are linked, I guess the writer did not live to see the world today. I would say that in Muslim dictatorships the two are linked much more than in democratic societies.

As for the thought that men never talk about the subjects that can be destructive for their faith, I think I would have to agree. There are tough issues with the Christian faith. Too bad that we usually ignore them. That causes us to not have a well thought out belief on those issues when they come up in conversations with non-believers. We try to say that those subjects are unimportant. But if a person is bringing it up, then that is an important subject. Maybe we need to frame the subject differently to view it in a different way. But many tough issues of being a Christian are usually blindly believed, which leaves us open for being mocked by people who don't believe what we believe. If they want to mock the gospel because we are living it out, then that is a shame but it is fine. If they mock us for being ignorant of the reasons for us believing the things that we believe, then it is a shame on us.

I guess my next couple of posts are going to give my fame to the writings of Nietzsche. That might be a result of these posts, but it is not my intention. My intention is to share what I discover as reasons some people dislike Christianity and what we, as Christians, can do about those.

Watch out for the potholes.