i must be on the mend from this nasty cold: i can step outside my physical condition and fully embrace the curmudgeon within. today, i happened across a book of the gentle comments of h.l. mencken, the bitterest man ever to have popped from the warped womb which also gave us john waters (baltimore, for the uninitiated). in his own words:
79it says something about our present age—and not a good something—that most of the above views would be unprintable in today's america. unbelief is, today, the sin which dare not speak its name.
it is impossible to imagine the universe run by a wise, just and omnipotent god, but it is quite easy to imagine it run by a board of gods. if such a board actually exists it operates precisely like the board of a corporation that is losing money.
the chief contribution of protestantism to human thought is its massive proof that god is a bore.
the christian church, in its attitude toward science, shows the mind of a more or less enlightened man of the thirteenth century. it no longer believes that the earth is flat, but it is still convinced that prayer can cure after medicine fails.
the theory seems to be that so long as a man is a failure he is one of god's chillun, but that as soon as he succeeds he is taken over by the devil.
moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. the more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. all human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. the truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant, in this field as in all others. his culture is based on "i am not too sure."
the religious man, starting out with an outfit of irrational postulates and untenable hopes, tries to fit them into the facts of a harshly material world. in the process he must do violence to both. they can never march together; indeed they are intrinsically irreconcilable. a common way out of the dilemma is the resort to mysticism, which is simply an attempt to construct a non-euclidean world in which anything that can be imagined is assumed to have happened.