BY CRUDE EMOTIONALISM

                        by Joseph McCabe

                     GIRARD  -- : --  KANSAS

                          ****     ****


     I    The Alleged Beautiful Services ...................... 1

    II    There never was a Catholic art ...................... 7

   III    Few Poets and Vapid Hymns .......................... 13

    IV    Masses Composed by Skeptics ........................ 19

     V    Why a dead Language is Used in the Liturgy ......... 23

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                            Chapter I


     In approaching this subject it will be useful to state again
the angle from which I write the present series of booklets. It is
to show that the scandalous action of the Vatican and most of its
national hierarchies which I traced in the first series of booklets
was just what you would expect if you know the Church of Rome. It
is not a religious body like any other, and the venerable antiquity
of which it is so proud merely recalls, to the informed mind, the
violence and unscrupulousness of the methods by means of which it
has survived. Its path through the ages is marked, not by the
flowering of new cultures or new civilizations, but by the graves
of rival religions and of masses of rebels. It consists essentially
of a Black International which in every age wages an economic
struggle for survival and has, in view of the absurdity of the
creed on which it lives, to use violence and deception to hold 

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together the body which supports it. However many million devout
laymen and however many thousand sincere priests there may be in
the world this is its broad structure, and only when you see that
can you understand its proved action in modern life.

     Some American apologists have pleaded in excuse for their very
un-american efforts to suppress criticism that the critics would
like to drive a wedge between the Catholic laity and their priests.
The man who could succeed in doing this would render an outstanding
service to the country. We say that the international army to which
their priests belong is Fascist. The name "Fascist" was, it
appear's, taken from a bastard Italian word (fascio) which means a
bunch or a group, but it goes back ultimately to the emblem of
authority, the axe and the rods, in the ancient Roman army. That
emblem is so characteristic of the Roman Church that, we saw, even
while. it protested in a dozen tongues -- English, French, German,
etc. -- that it is now tolerant and humane it still claimed in
Latin its possession of the axe and the rods. In an age when the
Fascist banner seemed destined to float over three continents it
threw off the mask of meekness and openly joined the aggressors.

     This involved a larger use than ever of its second weapon,
suppression of truth and mendacity, in the lands that were not yet
conquered, and I have endeavored to expose this and enable the
reader to understand the Church. In the world at large it is,
instead of being the impressive institution it represents in
America, a tragic-comic spectacle. If you grant it the 250,000,000
subjects it claims today, one-third of these are men and women who
curse it in their hearts and go to church only under the shadow of
its bloody emblem of the axe and the rods, and more than a third of
the remainder are either children or illiterates. The only point of
serious interest is how it keeps in its fold in America and Britain
so many out of the teeming millions who have come from less
educated lands, and I have, I think, explained this. There remain,
however, two elements of explanation that are so frequently claimed
that we must examine them. The first is the fairly common opinion
that the Church of Rome appeals to the heart and, the emotions, far
more than any other Church does, and this, it is thought, distracts
the mind from the intellectual absurdity or moral repulsiveness of
its doctrines. The second is the familiar cry -- the parrot-cry,
one might justly call it -- that it "does good," and on a scale
that ought to impress even the skeptic.

     Postponing the question whether the Church has rendered a
service to art itself we may consider first the sensuous appeal
which it makes, and against Protestant writers confesses that it
makes, to the general body of the faithful. That this is one
element of it, success in inducing millions to continue in the
profession of beliefs which are as incongruous in our modern world
as an iron-clad knight would be, we fully admit. Statistics, it is
true, do not show that the sensuous services give the Catholic
Church any advantage over the leading Protestant Churches except in
a preponderance of female church-goers over males, but in fact a
high proportion of Catholics would tell you that the character of
the services attract them. It is, part of my work to warn folk
against generalizing from one or a few cases, but it may be of
interest to give one. I have a neighbor, an elderly woman, a bombee

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of shattered nerves, who was brought up a strict Roman Catholic.
Intelligence and education poor. She is ready at all times to join
her son (a full apostate) in cursing the Pope and the priests, and
she incurs eternal damnation cheerfully most Sunday mornings by
refusing to go to mass. But she often does go, and she explains
that it is because she "likes the services." I should add that she
has a dull and lonely life.

     What is important here is not the type but the psychological
factor. We must not exaggerate it. About a third of the Catholic
body discharge only the minimum of obligation and attend a "low"
mass (without music) on Sundays. They take no part whatever in it
and do not understand a word of the priest's Latin gabbling; and
instead of having any sensuous or artistic enjoyment they just
kneel uncomfortably and impatiently until it is over. The church
itself which they attend is "artistic" only to a low taste, like
the "best room" in the apartment of workers or small-middle-class
folk with more money than education. A few of these may also attend
the evening service. It is nearly all in Latin and they take no
part in it, but the sanctuary is gay with surplices and silk, the
altar ablaze, the service and choral, and the sermon usually short.
If the alternative is anything like that of the old lady I have
quoted, to be left alone in a drab room, one usually prefers to be
"a Catholic." Remember that it is cheap -- two cents or a nickel.
These folk are not interested in doctrines. The "real presence" of
Jesus on the altar, which seems almost grotesque when you coldly
dissect the dogma as a theologian does, is vague in their minds.
The church is "the house of God," and they do not make the
theologian's subtle distinction between God and Jesus or between
the human and divine persons in the "hyostatic union" of the
theological Jesus.

     This one-third of the Catholic body is, numerically, the chief
source of leakage. To them the religion is, as I said, a practice
or a sentiment, not a belief. Where there is no particular
emotional response to the rhetoric of the pulpit and the weekly
paper about the Holy Faith and Holy Father and the devouring thirst
of the world and the devil to destroy them they are easily drawn
off. The men and youths and many of the young women secede as soon
as they get a live faith and ideal like Socialism. Others just
drift away if the general atmosphere is non-Catholic. In a Catholic
country these folk are held by the gaiety of the show. The wine-
shop and the church are the two bright spots in their heavy lives.

     The nice-minded skeptics who resent this coupling of the wine-
shop and the church, who (with no knowledge of Catholic life) say
that "religion" is the real uplift in these people's hearts and it
is wicked to try to remove it, may be recommended to read some such
book as Prof. J.L. Mecham's Church and State in Latin America
(1934). He has the very correct professorial attitude -- you try so
hard to stand up that you fall backward occasionally -- especially
as his university (North Carolina) publishes the book. It is mostly
concerned with history but incidentally it tell's Some painful
truths about the Church in those Catholic countries, to which the
Catholic likes to refer you if he thinks that you know no more than
he does about them. The clergy are admitted to be, as a body,
sensual, lazy, and grossly ignorant. The bishops are fanatically 

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conservative and more attentive to their political interferences
than to the moral and spiritual welfare of the mass of the people.
The Indians, the vast majority of the population of Latin America,
are at the lowest level of ignorance and superstition, ready at any
time to serve the political purposes of the hierarchy, though often
barely Christian in religion and permitted by the priests the
wildest license. The Church festivals are orgies. In fact,
Professor Mecham approve ugly quotes from another authority,
"Bacchus is the one absolute and essential God. Sex-morals are as
usual, inadequately and therefore untruthfully discussed in the
book, but I have elsewhere shown that the general attitude is such
that priests and monks indulge in the most open and ingenuous
fashion. A more candid, and worse picture will be found in Braga
and Grubb's work, based on intimate knowledge, The Republic of
Brazil; and for a concrete richly-informed picture of the state of
the people and the brutal exploitation of them by unscrupulous
priests see Alan Hillgarth's novel The Black Mountain. And remember
that these books were written and published before the victory of
clerical Fascism in Latin America. In most republics the situation
is worse today.

     To these 60,000,000 or so Catholic worker's and peasants of
Latin America add those of Cuba and the Philippines, the rural
parts and small-town populations of Italy, Spain, Portugal, and the
Portuguese. French, and Belgian colonies. I gave an authentic
picture of life in such regions in Book IV of this series. The
entire body of Catholics coming into this category are considerably
more than half the whole number of the Pope's subjects; and you may
not be disposed to put the majority of the Catholics of Eire,
Poland, Hungary, Mexico, Quebec, Slovakia, etc., on a much higher
level. Then remember that half the remaining Catholics, of the
world are children, and that half the adult Catholics of the United
States come from some such environment and to a great extent
reproduce their old atmosphere in American cities. The conception
of them -- as so many tens of millions of simple folk elevated for
an hour above their daily level by beautiful services in which they
absorb themselves every Sunday and Holy Day is as ingenuous as the
Sunday School idea of George Washington.

     As I said, the Catholicism of this larger half of the subjects
of the Black International no more requires study than does that of
children. It is an ingrained attitude or set of practices,
protected from interference from the rebel who appears here and
there by the power that the priest's have: a power which in all
Catholic countries Fascism has made absolute. To an extent their
minds are drugged on Sundays and Saints' Days, but it is hardly
necessary in their case. It is at the higher levels that the
intellectually depressing effect of the Catholic services becomes
important, and the more artistic they are the more effective the

     Two illustrations of the truth of this at once occur. I have
not the Catholic Who's Who for America but the situation is much
the same as in Britain, and I have already pointed out that,
confining ourselves as far as possible to the same cultural level
converts to the Church from the world of art are three or four
times as numerous as from the scientific world. It would be quite 

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natural to suggest that artists feel the charm of the beautiful
services more than scientists, but it is a poor compliment to pay
to any artist of distinction to suggest that he will enter a Church
and on his knees make a solemn declaration of literal belief in all
its doctrines, repeated one by one, just because its churches and
services are artistic. He is free at any time to attend the
services and, if he feels inclined, see a pretty symbolism in them,
but if he calls himself a Catholic he in the same breath denies
that he takes a symbolic view of the services and doctrines. That
is a comprehensive and deadly heresy in theology; though, of
course, we are aware that a priest will, to secure or retain the
name of a distinguished artist for the Church, not press him about
his beliefs any more than he will be too inquisitive about a
wealthy man's amorous adventures.

     The truth is, however, that it is not the higher artistic
sensitiveness but the comparatively lower intellectual vitality or
equipment of the artist that explains why he is willing to make a
profession of the creed I described in an earlier book. Probably in
most cases these artist-converts flatter themselves that they have
one sound reason which may be classed as intellectual. They are
convinced the Roman Church has been, and is, a great inspirer of
high art, and this at least predisposes them to endorse a creed
that, in marked contrast to science, has had, they say, so
beneficent an influence. Catholic literary artists have written
this, and I have heard them say that art and the love of beauty are
in danger of perishing in our drab, cold, materialistic age and
they must rally to the Church as the best guarantee of survival.
G.K. Chesterton, who when his earlier good nature was dissolved in
the acid of the Holy Faith wrote of its critics as "mad dogs," was
strong on this point. It is, as I will show presently, a sheer
fallacy. But the artist who enters the Church in such a frame of
mind loses any inclination to criticize. He has taken an opiate.

     The second illustration is the preponderance of women over men
in the richer and more artistic Catholic churches. Here I rely
neither on impressions nor on the common belief that women are more
religious than men. In the less artistic Protestant churches there
is no material disproportion of the sexes, and it is not notable in
the poorer Catholic districts. A Strict census of church-goers,
spread over six months, in the city of London (England) in 1903
proved this. In the whole city (6,250,000 people) 372,264 men and
607,257 women attended church. But the disparity of the sexes was
far and away the greatest in the artistic churches of the rich West
End of London. In two Anglican churches there were 160 and 249 men
and 886 and 1,034 women. In three Romanist churches there were 267,
276, and 237 men and 1,105, 807, and 701 women. In Methodist and
Baptist churches in a poor quarter there were 3,336 men to 4,127
women. It is clear what conclusion we must draw from such figures.
Educated men are far less disposed to let their intellectual life
be stupefied by emotional satisfaction. Religion, again, is a
practice or an emotion rather than a belief.

     The Church professes that it appeals to the emotions only as
a preliminary appeal to the intellect. That is clearly false. It
appeal's to the senses because if they find an attractiveness in
the services less demand need be made upon the intelligence of the 

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worshiper. To contrast the Protestant version of Christianity with
the Roman as cold and unemotional is absurd. The Protestant service
makes a very powerful appeal to the emotions of a believer. The
prayers are heavily emotional and are not muttered in a tongue that
any of the laity understand. The congregation silently takes part
in them, and the emotions stirred are then released in the
community-singing of the hymns, of which there is very little In
the usual Catholic service. It would not be inaccurate to say that
the Protestant service appeals to the emotions through the ideas or
doctrines which are embodied in the prayers, hymns, and sermons,
while the Catholic service aims at a direct gratification of the
senses by florid music, flowers, candles, colored silks and white
robes, ornate altars, incense, stained glass, and a general
artistic scheme according to the cultural quality of the
congregation of each particular church.

     In this sense it stupefies the intelligence or dulls its
alertness and critical tendency by ensuing this gratification of
the senses or, in wealthier churches, of the esthetics sense. A
friend of theirs once gave me the broad explanation of the
Catholicism of Belloc and Chesterton that they regard a Catholic
church as a center of light, warmth, and color in an materialistic
world. One might carry the analysis further. One does not today
suffer economically and socially by joining the Catholic Church as
one does by quitting it, as Chesterton found. Soon after his
conversion my mail brought me, doubtless because some careless
person had simply taken a list of names and addresses from Who's
Who, an appeal by a group of important Catholics for a subscription
to a large fund to provide Chesterton with a basic income for the
rest of his life. But we have in an earlier book considered the
Church as a mutual aid society.

     The field here is so large, the variety of types so great --
from Seymour Hicks or Charles Laughton to the Irish dock-laborers
or the Italian street-vendors of New York, from St. Patrick's
Cathedral to the dauby, garnishes of a poor Polish chapel -- that
it is difficult to cover the facts usefully with a formula. The
title I have given this chapter is the one usually selected by
critics of the Church. It is valid if by "stupefying" we mean that
the emphasis of faith is deliberately transferred from the
intellectual confrontation of doctrines to the enjoyment of
sensuous experiences as a discharge of religious duty. A writer who
was intimate, and on the whole sympathetic, to Italian life, Axel
Menthe, has said that most of the uneducated or poorly educated
Catholics rarely thought about Jesus or anything but the cult of
Mary and the saints. For the majority everywhere the doctrinal
ideas retire behind a vividly colored screen of emblems, symbols,
statues, pictures, and material rites and ceremonies. It is one of
the reasons why those doctrinal ideas, which seem so crude and
outrageous when you consider them apart from the churches services,
linger in a world to which they are as alien as the ten-gallon hat
or the crinoline.

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                           Chapter II


     That, a Catholic reader would say, is such nonsense that it is
impudent to ask people to read it. Better informed folk will say,
with a smile, that it is an uncontrolled expression of my anti-
Papal complex or at the best a paradox. Not a bit of it. It is a
plain statement of fact, and my habitual readers will know that I
have very closely studied the history of art, especially during the
Middle Ages, and discussed it in earlier works. Let me first make
a distinction which is elementary yet is quite commonly overlooked,
and not infrequently by writers on art.

     When you pass along the streets of a city you notice that,
generally speaking, banks and insurance corporations have more
artistic buildings than the others. Is there some artistic
inspiration in the money-business, something that you would call
financial art? You know the answer. They just employ art more than
other concerns because it pays them to do this. Never mind for the
moment what their conception of art is. It may be block glass and
chromium steel or a gothic sky-scraper. The point is that the
diverse artistic effort in a collection of buildings expresses the
resources of the business and the particular utility it finds in
the employment of art. Well, the richest employer of artists is and
always's was the Catholic Church, and no other business in the
world derives so much profit from the employment of art as it does.
It no more inspires the art than a funeral-furnisher does. If there
is anything in its doctrines that may in any sense be said to
inspire art it is just in those bastard dogmas in which the
original Christian ideas are mixed with Greek or Roman mythology or
medieval barbarism.

     The history of Catholic art, even as it is known to every
educated man, confirms this, and the more closely you study it the
clearer the truth becomes. There was no art in the service during
the first three centuries. Naturally, says the apologist. The
faithful were fugitives from the police, holding services that were
necessarily simple in the catacombs. . . . Rubbish. There were only
a few years out of the 250 (from Nero to Constantine) when they had
to dip underground, They hated and feared art. It was what the
devil employed to make paganism attractive to keep the Greeks and
Romans out of the Church. What happened in the 4th Century, when
the Roman Church got freedom and wealth, was not that it began to
inspire an art but that it began to rob the pagans of their art,
The official Book of the Popes, composed in Rome from the early
Middle Ages onward, has preserved an extraordinary list of the
artistic furniture (silver, altars, statues, etc.) that the Emperor
Constantine lifted from the pagan temples of Rome and donated to
the new Christian churches. And when, decade after decade, the
Romans still clung to the old religion, the Christian leaders, who
were now fully-pledged Fascists since they had taken over the axe
and the rods, emptied the gods and goddesses, the holy water and
incense, the vestments and ritual, from the temples into the
Christian conventicles on the other side of the street and nailed
up the doors of the temples.

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     The eastern Churches were still so rooted in the anti-artistic
tradition that they generally preferred to burn the temples and all
their artistic paraphernalia. Pagan temples were not meeting-houses
in which folk sat or stood in rows with long faces chanting
doggerel or listening to some professional teacher of virtue. They
were art-museums. Those gay old stories of Zeus and Aphrodite, of
Apollo and Athene, had in four or five centuries "inspired" a
wonderful art. In a century or two sculpture, painting, and
architecture had made more progress than the more ancient world had
made in 3,000 years. And it was mostly stored in the temples for
the people to admire and enjoy. From about 390 to 420 most of these
went up in smoke. Priests and monks, with the new Fascist powers
that the bishops had wheedled from the emperors, led mob's to the
attack, and all over the Greek world there was such a holocaust of
art as Goths and Vandals never perpetrated.

     At least, the apologist might say, the Roman Church did better
than the Greek. It preserved and Christianized the art. To what
extent we need not inquire. The point here is that it did not
inspire a new art but, in the words of one of the leading art-
historians, Luebke, "put on the corporeal garment of ancient and
decaying art." If you prefer me to quote a Catholic historian of
art, Dr. F. Von Reber says in his History of Medieval Art (p. 73)
that "the general debasement of art and the conceptions of
Christianity worked together to destroy that perfection of outward
appearance which is the vital principle of all art." In any case,
the zeal for art, in the corrupt Roman Church of the 4th Century
and Europe passed into the artistic hell of the Dark Age.

     I have often illustrated the way in which the Black
International has succeeded in recent years in poisoning the wells
of public information by references to the latest edition of the
Encyclopedia Britannica. The boast of British Catholics that they
"revised" it is only too true. Amongst other changes notice that
"Dark Ages," on which there had previously been no article, now bag
a short notice from one of the professors of history of a second-
rate British university. I suppose they had to pass over Oxford and
Cambridge to find a man who could please Catholics. This man
solemnly says, with all the superciliousness of his school that the
phrase Dark Ages -- being a continuous period we ought to call the
Dark Age -- used to be applied by writers who judged life by the
classical standard of art and letters, to the period from the 5th
to the 15th Century. He seems to be unaware that it was the Father
of Catholic History, Cardinal Baronius, who first used the phrase;
that, it does not simply designate the scarcity of art and letters
but of all civilization; and that no responsible historian carries
it as far as the 15th Century. It is, he says, now "obsolete";
whereas it is fully vindicated in the greatest historical work in
the English language, the Cambridge Medieval History. The only
sense in which it could now be used, he says, is that the period,
has loft us only a very scanty and poor historical literature to
inform us about it; and he does not reflect that this is precisely
one of the symptoms of its degradation. But it is wrong to apply so
opprobrious's a word to "one of the great constructive periods in
human activity." This man is President of the British Royal
Historical Society!

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     I must refer the interested reader to other works in which he
can read about the total collapse of the fine Greek-Roman
civilization and the five or six centuries of moral, social, legal,
political, and economic, as well as cultural, debasement that
followed. It is enough that art was dead, except amongst the anti-
Papal Ostrogoths and Lombards of North Italy, until, in the 11th
Century, Greek art was introduced into Germany by a royal marriage,
and it was not until a century later that Europe generally began to
cultivate art. Professor Stenton is right that this was "one of the
great constructive periods in human activity." He merely forgot to
add that this was wherever the Roman Church did not exercise power.
Under the Moslem, from Spain to Eastern Persia, the earth shone
with a brilliant art from the 8th Century onward.

     But the great art of the Middle Ages! That is what the
apologist and the artistic converts to the Church have in mind: the
Gothic cathedrals of Europe, the superb paintings and statues, the
work in gold, silver, and bronze, the tapestries and stained
windows, the lace's and embroideries. Certainly a period of superb
artistic creativeness, and because a half or more of the works of
art then created are religious the apologists and the religious-
minded artists clap their hands and cry: See what our religion
inspired, see what the world has lost in discarding it!

     I will not be tempted to reply that according to very many
art-authorities of our time we, especially atheistic France, have
created a greater art, because I must confess to an incurable
enthusiasm for medieval cathedrals, paintings, and sculpture. But
this art, is just as inspired in its "profane" as in its "Sacred"
achievements: as great in its civic halls as in its cathedrals, in
its painted Venuses and sinful princes as in its Madonnas and
saints. And when you call the sacred part of it Catholic art,
because it represents ideas or personalities of Catholic theologY,
remember the elementary distinction between an art inspired by
Catholicism and one merely employed by the Church. Nearly every
modern historian of art or expert on the Renaissance has pointed
out those facts. I have quoted a dozen of them in earlier works on
the subject, of which a summary is given in Little Blue Book No.
1136, Medieval Art and the Church. Even Lord Leighton, the
distinguished British painter and head of the Pre-Raphaelite
School, says that during the early development of Italian painting
the Church was a blight on the art and that it attained greatness
only when the humanism of the Renaissance began to replace religion
as its inspiration. (Addresses Delivered to the Students of the
Royal Academy, 1896).

     The Catholic artists and men and women of artistic
sensitiveness but very little knowledge of the broad history of art
or the lives and opinions of the great medieval artists feel that
in this field the Church will find its most powerful argument. It
is very little use asking them to study the leading modern
authorities on the subject. They just kneel in rapture in a
medieval cathedral or before a sacred painting, and because we no
longer build such cathedral's or paint such pictures they say: Here
is the glorious flower of the Catholic spirit. They would say just
the same about a fresco by Pinturicchio (a skeptical, dissipated
artist employed by one of the most flagrantly immoral of the Popes 

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to paint his, the Pope's, mistress as the Virgin Mary) in the
Vatican, or a painting by Paolo Veronese (who was dragged before
the Inquisition for the irreverence of his art) or Filippo Lippi (a
loose friar who seduced a nun and lived for years with her while he
painted beautiful religious pictures). They would glow with fervor
and pride before one of the great religious paintings of Rubens and
then (I hope) blush with a sense of sin before the same artist's
"Venus and Adonis," which is equally "inspired." They encourage the
police to prevent the reproduction and sale today of the classical
studies in which most of these great artists revelled, and then
they have copies exhibited everywhere of the religious pictures
which the rich churches and convents of Italy commissioned them to
paint. The same bishop or cardinal would employ the same artist to
paint a Leda and the Swan for his dining-room or library and a Holy
Family for his chapel. The artist did equally fine work in both
fields -- no expert has ever claimed that there is less
"inspiration" in the profane than in the sacred work of Renaissance
artists -- but the religious market was much the larger and richer.

     The all-pervading fallacy of all this slush about Catholicism
and Renaissance art is the supposition, which too many American
historians now encourage, that the later Middle Age (say about 1150
to 1550) was a period of general piety and loyalty to the Church's
commands. If that were so, the modern "psychological" historian
would have a nice problem in explaining how that was just the
period of the worst and most protracted degradation of the Papal
Court, and why the one period of great art in Rome itself coincides
with the most openly immoral and skeptical stretch of medieval
Church history. Not only, all the leading authorities on the
Renaissance (Burckhardt, Symonds, Hudson, and the Cambridge
History) but the special Catholic authority on the period, Dr.
Ludwig Pastor, make this quite clear. In respect of cruelty,
dishonor, injustice to the weaker, and especially sexual freedom
and sodomy, it was a more vicious age than any period of ancient
civilization that was ever half as long.

     A second fundamental fallacy, which well illustrates the
difference between the artistic and the scientific mind and the
greater readiness of the former to accept the claims of the Church,
is the lack of testing and verification, in plain English, the
failure of the artist to check his impression by testing it from
various angles. If it occurs to a scientific man that a certain
agency is the cause of a particular phenomenon he holds his tongue
until he has convinced himself by a series, of check-studies that
it explains the whole phenomenon and no other agency does.
Scientific method is in this just the clarification of common-
sense. Applied to our present subject it would inquire whether an
artist is more inspired in sacred thin in profane subjects and
whether and to what extent great religious works of art were
produced by men of little or no religious feeling. We saw how
ludicrously the protagonist of Catholic art fails to do this. But
the common-sense inquiry would go much further. Was the European
Renaissance the only great, or the greatest, period of artistic
creation? And was there a religious inspiration in the other great
periods, Greek, Chinese, Persian, and Arab? The plain conclusion
emerges that if a man is a great artist it does not make any 

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difference to his inspiration whether he has to paint a branch of
cherry blossoms or a Buddha, a courtesan or a Virgin Mary, a
peasant or a Christ. The Parthenon is the greatest religious
building that was ever raised, and Pheideas its creator, was a

     Of the medieval cathedral in particular I have written much
elsewhere and must be content with two points. It is obvious that
if we have here a case of religious inspiration it must have been
in the architects. But they are unknown. I cannot find that any
writer on art has tried to compile even a short list or a
biographical study of them, and the only such architect of whom I
have found definite information, the architect of Speyer cathedral,
was a roistering irreligious German bishop who was just as good at
building a military fort or a castle. The second point is that
modern experts on the Gothic style never notice religious
inspiration, in their studies. The development of the style, on
utilitarian as well as aesthetic lines, was spread over two
generations and mainly occurred in the most frivolous and
licentious region of France. The chief significance of it is that
wealth was at this period rapidly expanding in Europe, and the
clergy and monks got the most of it and wanted fine churches. It
was a sound investment.

     Another obvious cheek on this superficial Catholic theory is
to inquire why great art so notably decayed after the 16th Century.
In that pretentious collection of essays by American apologists,
Catholic Action (2 vols., 1935), there is a section on "Catholic
Action and Culture." The artistic convert who looks to it for what
he believes to be the grandest argument for the Church, its
inspiration of art, will be bitterly disappointed. The writer
dismisses it in a few colorless lines, and the sterilization of
Catholic art after the 16th Century is airily explained by saying
that "we have not yet recovered" from the blight which the
Reformation brought upon art. If the writer does not know that
French painting (Poussin, Lorraine, Watteau, Greuze, Fragmard,
etc.) and British painting only became great after the Reformation
and was almost entirely humanist or naturalist, while Spanish and
Italian art died though the countries were hermetically sealed
against Protestant influence, he ought not to 'Mention the word

     Looking for some serious recent Catholic reply to my question
why, if the Catholic creed inspires art, it so conspicuously failed
to do so in Italy, Spain, and Portugal when the Renaissance was
over, although the Catholicism of those countries became stronger
than ever, I find only two French works. The first, L art religieux
apres le Concile de Trent (1932) by Emile Male, is a large work on
religious art after the Council of Trent." It does not admit on my
contention. For Spain and the Netherlands (steeped in Spanish
culture) it reminds us of Velasquez, Murillo and Rubens. Yes: but
they belong essentially to the Renaissance, which was late in
Spain, and after them, Spanish art was vapid until the skeptical
days of Goya (a quite blasphemous painter). As great painters of
Spain and Italy the author gives Montanes, Pedro de Mena, Minana,
Crespi, Dolci, Giordano, Caroselli. ... I hope you have heard of

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     The second book, La decandence de I'art sacre (1931), by A.
Cingria (a Catholic) grants my whole contention. It is enough to
translate the title, "The decadence of 'Sacred art." The kind of
question that the author sets out to answer is: "Why do the
majority of Christians now like ugliness"? He doesn't know. Let us
put him right to some extent. They do not like ugliness except in
the sense that a church in a poor uneducated district naturally
reflects the poor taste of the worshipers. But Catholics would be
only too pleased to have great art once more if they could get it.
The Roman Church in America is many times as rich as the Italian
Church was during the Renaissance and would pay ten or a hundred
times as much as a medieval church or monastery did. They cannot
get it. They have to import pictures from Spain, Italy, and
Germany; and we should smile at the idea that the non-Catholic
atmosphere of America prevents a Catholic artist from being
inspired by Catholic ideas. The Church in Germany until a few years
ago was as rich as the American. The Church in Spain and Spanish
America is rich. But in the debauched monasteries of Germany and
South America, where the Renaissance atmosphere of drink and sexual
license is richly reproduced, no great art is produced.

     Quebec is a medieval area with ideal Catholic conditions. Its
Church is so rich that it is as zealous against Communism as Wall
Street is. Cardinal Villeneuve, defending illegal acts against
critics of the Church by the Catholic mayor of Montreal, said that
above the laws of Canada is "the Law of Nature"; in the same sense
as the Church overrides all modern civil law and claims to put folk
to death on religious grounds. The taint of Protestantism never
reached Quebec. Its people are poor and fanatical: its priests are
rich, ignorant, and intolerant. But did you ever see any work of
art that was produced in Quebec?

     This artistic argument for the Church is futile because even
if we could admit that it inspired great art in the later Middle
Ages yet must add that it has no such inspiration today there does
not seem to be much gain to the Pope. The claim is clearly
rhetorical. Every man with what we may call average information
knows that the production of great art is not continuous but is
richest in certain definite periods that last a few centuries and
then decay. There have been three in the history of China, three in
that of Persia, two in the long history of ancient Egypt, one in
Greece, one in the Moslem world, and so on. Europe got the
conditions for its second golden age of art in the Middle Ages. It
came to a close like all other such ages, though it began and ended
later in France, England, and Spain than in Italy. It took so very
largely a religious form because the Church was the richest
employer and in so sensual and voluptuous an age it had a more
extensive use than ever for art. This is what most of the chief
historians of European art say. And remember always something which
it is not their business to say but is of vital relevance to the
Catholic claim of religious inspiration: that there is not in the
whole history of religion, as far as we have positive knowledge or
even ground for suspicion, so profound and general a religious
corruption -- of Popes, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests,
monk, and nuns -- as there was during the age (1300-1600) of
supreme Catholic art. That nut wants some cracking.

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                           Chapter III

                    FEW POETS AND VAPID HYMNS

     Two of the arts, literature and music, deserve special
consideration. Both arts had their richest efflorescence after the
Reformation; both ought to be of special value in the service of
religion; and, while the plastic arts are scarcely suitable for
illustrating most of the Catholic doctrines, literature and music
are much better suited for the expression of ideas. In regard to
literature, moreover, we have a much broader test of the Catholic
claim. Even most folk with a fair general culture have to look to
the verdict of experts for an appreciation of painting or
sculpture. How many ever saw a picture, or a copy of a picture, by
one of the Spanish or Italian artists whom Male presses upon us as
"great painters" who worthily sustained the tradition of Catholic-
inspired art? How many, when they see a collection of reproductions
of the religious work of, say, Raphael, Pinturicchio, L. da Vinci,
Lippi, Botticelli, Veronese, and Murillo, have the least idea which
of these men really had deep religious feeling and which had not?
On the other hand, most people have a wider knowledge of books and
authors, and every Catholic knows, and ought to have some idea of
the artistic value of, the kind of literature which above all ought
to show Catholic inspiration, the hymns that are sung in church.

     In regard to literature as a whole I have repeatedly pointed
out that Christendom did not produce a book that in the general
opinion of cultivated men and women could be called "great" between
Augustine's City of God (written about 412) and Dante's Trilogy
(about 1300). No one, in fact, now reads Augustine's work as
literature, and Dante's work, to which Goethe and other critic's of
the highest rank denied the title of greatness, has rather an
esoteric circle of readers. Let us, however, pass them as great
Catholic literature. It is far more notable, when you are
discussing the question of religious inspiration, that the Catholic
world failed to produce a single work of high rank during the
intervening 900 years. Of what other civilization since the Greeks
created a great literature can you say that?

     We saw the apologist for the Dark Age, Prof. Stenton,
admitting that the stretch of seven centuries after the Fall of
Rome was "dark" in the sense that it has left us very little
literature to throw light upon it. Who ever heard of a civilized
period of seven centuries without a literature? It wrote books, of
course. The whole output is preserved in the Migne Library, but if
you cut out the theological works which not even a priest now reads
-- Gregory, Anselm, Bernard, etc. -- you have a thin collection of
weird treatises and chronicles, mostly written in a barbaric (often
grotesquely ungrammatical) Latin, that makes you smile at the
apologists for the Dark Age.

     From about 1100 a very different literature began: troubadour
songs, ballads, epics, light stories, and so on. Yes, but it was so
pervasively licentious and crude in its moral sentiments that the
Church, when it began to use its axe and rods, regarded the whole
movement as a revolt against Christianity and gradually
exterminated it. A religious profession who resents my 

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characterization of the period -- which, by the way, is the same as
that of every recognized European authority on it -- told me to
read a recent French work, de Rougemont's Passion and Society, for
the corrected historical appreciation of the period. The book is
one of those freak originalities that the authorities ignore. It
takes troubadour literature in its final and feeblest stage, when
a few French and Italian poets were trying to save their art from
the Church by taking religious themes, and it falsely represents
these as typical troubadour literature. It describes as mystic in
the religious sense the greater poems of the whole literature, The
Romance of the Rose, whereas all experts recognize that "the rose"
is sex.

     If the apologist wearily grants that Europe in the Dark Age
was so low, economically and culturally, that we cannot expect even
religion to inspire a literature and insist that no power or agency
could have raised Europe afresh more quickly than the Church did,
the answer is that just during this period the Arabs and Persians,
starting to rebuild civilization long after the Church did, created
an amazingly abundant and brilliant literature -- poetic,
historical, scientific, and theological -- which Spanish Catholics
and Moslem fanatics later destroyed. And if the apologist says that
at all events after 1300 Christian Europe produced a great
literature he runs into the difficulty I explained in the last
chapter: How on earth does the Christian religion inspire a great
literature only in the period when, according to all historical
authorities, religious feeling and moral idealism were at their
lowest ebb?

     How many of the most distinguished writers between Dante and
Rabelais could even plausibly be claimed to show the inspiration of
the Catholic creed! Certainly not Chaucer, the greatest poet of
that period. The highest British authority on him, Prof. Lounsbury,
shows that he did not believe in immortality and, quoting the
poet's words, asks: "Can modern agnosticism point to a denial more
emphatic than that made in the 14th Century of the belief that
there exists for us any assurance of the life that is lived beyond,
the grave?" (Studies in Chaucer, II, 515). Not the two greatest
Italian writers, for Petrarch's best work was inspired by illicit
love and he scourged Papalism as no modern does, while Boceaccio's
great work is as far removed from religion as is that of Zola. Can
anyone find the spirit of the Church in Froissart's blood-soaked
Chronicle or in the defiant ethic of Villon's poetry'! In the anti-
ecclesiastical work of Valla, the purely scientific (a real anti-
clerical) work of Bacon, the comedies (often very loose) of Ariosto
or Benvenuto Cellini? The Catholic can have Tasso -- who reads him
anyway? -- and the Samma of Thomas Aquinas, but he will hardly
claim Erasmus or Rabelais as inspired by religion.

     It is time the writers who fancy that Gothic cathedrals and
religious paintings prove that there is a rich inspiration in the
Catholic creed tried to explain to us why it so dismally failed to
inspire great or artistic writers, especially poets. They never
attempted it. they speak of this period (1100-1500) as the Ages of
Faith they are mainly thinking of France and Italy. Isn't it
peculiar that of the artistic writers of the two countries, who
were numerous enough, three or four were "obscene" for every one 

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who wrote stuff a modern nun would read? Quite a number of them
wrote vindications of what the Church called vice, even unnatural
vice, and comedies which would make a patrolman blush were written
and played in the Papal Court itself, while the great works of
religious art were being produced in other parts of the Vatican or
the city. Your Catholic friend who says to you, with an air of
common-sense; that in spite of all this talk Catholic art, and a
very great art, is there for any man to see, is thinking chiefly of
Rome, of St. Peters and the Vatican. Well, ask him to reflect on
this singular fact: Practically all this Roman art was created
under three Popes (Alexander VI, Julius II, and Leo X) of
notoriously vicious character and at a time when the Papal Court
and the clergy of Rome were steeped in what he calls immorality.
And, except for the fact that two out of the three Popes were
sodomists, which the Catholic apologist will swear black is white
to disprove, he need not read McCabe to learn this but will find it
in the most learned and authoritative Catholic history of the
period, that of Dr. Ludwig Pastor, which has been translated into

     It is hardly surprising that the writers of the time did not
look for inspiration to the Catholic creed. The best of them, like
Picodella Mirandola, looked to a blend of Plantonism and primitive
(decidedly not Papal) Christianity. But most of them concentrated
on sex or, as they called it, love. They wrote the most brazen
erotic literature that had yet appeared, and some of the hottest of
them were patronized and rewarded by the Popes. Your professors of
European history do not tell you these things. They may mention
Macchiavelli, who was really more poisonous than the erotic
writers, but they prefer to enlarge on the pretty religious
sentimentality of an ignorant friar (the Little Flowers of Francis
of Assisi) and the work of Dante. They do not care even to point
out that Dante succeeds only when he is illustrating a concrete and
repulsive doctrine like hell, and that his poetic inspiration
evaporates when he tries to glorify the purely spiritual realm of
paradise. The Catholic creed inspires one in the same sense as the
Greek mythology did or the bastard Buddhist religion of Asia does.
Tell the artist that Buddha, Christ, Moses, or Mary was above the
common human level and he will set his imagination to create a
superman or a superwoman: Zeus or Jehovah, Athene or Mary.

     I said that if these Catholic apologists and artistic folk who
blat about medieval art were quite honest they would try to explain
why it was most "Inspired" when Italy, or Rome in particular, was
most immoral (not merely in respect of sex). They would, have a
still more awkward moment if they tried to explain why it
shrivelled up as soon as the morals of Rome and the Papal Court had
to be comparatively reformed because half of Europe was now
Protestant and cynically watching the Popes. It was the same with
literature as with the other arts. Italy, Spain, and Portugal
became more Catholic than ever. Except that the brazen parade of
sexual freedom had to be suppressed in Rome there was little or no
change of the moral level but skepticism, which had abounded during
the Renaissance, was extinguished and Protestantism truculently
excluded. And art above the level of mediocrity died. It is almost
a commonplace of the best recent histories of art that a human
factor -- a great new wealth with its accompanying sense of 

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freedom, adventure, emancipation, and enjoyment -- had quickened
the blood of Europe during the later Middle Ages and evoked its art
as the spring-warmth quickens the circulation of the plants and
causes the flowers of summer. The soil of strictly Catholic
countries froze again, and there was no great literary art until a
new human factor, the vision of a better world, fired the blood
again in the second half of the 18th Century.

     But the absurdity of the Catholic argument, if you can call it
an argument, is shown by the record between the Reformation and the
Revolution, as it is shown wherever you test it by facts. A new
Dark Age settled on Italy, Spain, and Portugal, and Germany was
reduced almost to barbarism by the religious wars. In England, on
the other hand, art burst into full blossom as soon as the Catholic
creed was fully extinguished. No one who knows the history of
England would expect it earlier, but the point is that once England
got the conditions of an artistic age, which Italy had enjoyed much
earlier, it did not make the slightest difference that there was
now no Catholic faith to inspire it or Church to employ it.
Literary art, in particular, burst into bloom with the robust
Protestantism, richly leavened with skepticism, under the skeptical
Elizabeth. From Shakespeare, Marlowe, Spencer, and Bacoi, to
Swinburne, Carlyle, Ruskin, and Dickens, England -- anti-Papal
England -- created a great literature.

     France has been a mixed country ever since the rise of Calvin.
Until the later years of Louis XIV -- say to 1685 -- it had a very
large and influential Protestant element as well as much
skepticism, and after the death of Louis and his Jesuits, male and
female, skepticism spread very widely. But though the Church
controlled the majority it did not inspire the art. Literary
historians assign as the greater writers from the Reformation to
the Revolution Montaigne, Rabelais, Descartes, Pascal, La Fontaine,
Corieille, Racine, Boileau, Moliere, Montesquieu, Voltaire,
Rousseau, and Diderot. Eight out of the 13 were skeptics: two
(Descartes and Pascal) were regarded with more than suspicion by
Rome: two only, Racine and Corneille were good Catholics, but they
found their inspiration chiefly in Greek tragedy.

     Then came the new spring, the stirring of the blood of the
race which we broadly call the passion for freedom and democracy,
that is still raging. As the Church of Rome was, and is, bitterly
opposed to it we do not look for many Catholics amongst the greater
writers of the last century and a half. The question is not whether
you can name one or two Catholic writers of the first rank -- a
Chateau briand, a Newman (though his title is much disputed by
critics), a Mistral (a sort of Catholic) -- but why, when the Pope
claimed still to rule half the white world, there are only these
three amongst a hundred writers as distinguished as they in France,
Britain, America, Germany, Italy, Russia, and Scandinavia. And how
do even these compare in inspiration with Byron, Shelley,
Swinburne, Goethe, Schiller, Nietzsche, Ibsen, Dostoievsky,
Pushkin, Hugo, Carlyle, Shaw, D'Annunzio, Galdos, and a score of
others? Catholic literature as a whole is the flattest, stalest,
feeblest of all literature that takes itself seriously. They have
to ask us to accept Chesterton, Ronald Knox, Noyes, and Joyce
Kilmer as "great writers." And do not forget that the Church has 
far more money to pay for art today than it ever had before. It
would give a million dollars for a great artist.
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     Ours will probably be described in historical manuals of the
future as an age of mediocrity. Statesmen, artists, and scientific
and literary men reach no peaks. Possibly the highest ability
enters the business world, where the reward is greatest, but we
have to remember that both in art and letters the man of
outstanding ability is sure of recognition and will certainly not
starve in an attic.

     If any reader is still inclined to wonder if I have not
yielded in part to prejudice in assigning the relative positions of
Catholic and non-Catholic writers let me recall that I have in an
earlier booklet followed a high and most impartial authority in
estimating the writers of the last forty years: the Nobel Prize
Committee. If anything the Committee, though it is supposed to be
guided by national committees of great weight and impartiality, is
prejudiced in favor of religious writers and, while it has had to
award the great prize 27 times out of the 37 to skeptics, it has
excluded skeptics whom the critics would put high above some who
were selected. Yet in this selection of the world's greatest
writers during the last 40 years we have only four who seem to be
in some literal way Catholics, though they were certainly not
inspired in their work by the Papal creed. The Pope claims the
allegiance of half the population of Europe and America but counts
-- in some cases dubiously -- only one-ninth of their greater
writers; and the award would have been more in accord with the
general view of literary critics if these four Catholic writers had
been replaced by my four selected from Wells, Conrad, Meredith,
Zola, b'Annunzio, Sudermann, Galoz, Ibanez, Santayana, Gorki, and
A. Tolstoy: all skeptics and not in favor in pious Sweden.

     The most deadly reply to the Catholic argument here, the
immediate reply to those who talk about the warmth, colorfulness,
and emotional richness of the Catholic atmosphere, is the relative
fewness of Catholic poets, especially of poets who show any sort of
indebtedness to Catholic belief for their inspiration. In the large
volume of distinguished poetical literature of Great Britain they
can claim only that of Dryden, who was a skeptic until his later
years and would in any case hardly be called inspired. In the
German-speaking area of Europe, which has always been one-third
Catholic, the record is not better. But it is enough to point out
that in what the Church claims as Catholic countries the majority
of the more distinguished poets during the last century and a half
have been anti-Papal and very few since Dante and Tasso can be
claimed to show Catholic inspiration in their work. Yet in literary
art we have one of the most effective tests of the Catholic claim.
A church may commission a man to paint a picture or carve a statue
but you cannot -- except where a Poet Laureate turns out verse to
order -- pay a poet to sit down and write a poem. You can neither
open the fount of inspiration with a golden key nor, in the case of
a true poet, close it by opposition it is arrant nonsense to say
that poets have "not yet recovered from the blight which the
Reformation brought upon art." A hostile world inflames the true
poet. Shelley was greatest in his Prometheus, Swinburn in his Songs
before Sunrise, Goethe in the first part of Faust.

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     Most conspicuously is the failure of the Papal creed to
inspire poetic art shown in the cabe of hymns. The great majority 
of the hymns in a Catholic hymn-book are very poor stuff and many
of them are so vapid that one is forced to conclude that even
priest-selectors would never have included them if they had plenty
of good material to select from. In preparing a small popular work
on Rome (The Popes and Their Church) some years ago I looked
through an American Catholic hymn-book and selected a few gems. I
doubt if even the Salvation Army would (apart from the Mariolatry
of it) tolerate such doggerel as:

                The earth is but a vale of tears
                            O Maria!
                   When this exile is complete
                            O Maria!

                     O the blood of Christ!
                  it Soothes the Father's ire:
         Opes the gates of heaven, Quells eternal fire.
           Oft as it is sprinkled On our guilty beans,
           Satan in confession Terror-struck departs.

It is a conglomeration of rotten sentiments, wooden verse, and even
bad grammar. The mechanical grind of the verse-maker runs through
the book, and his insincerity is matched by the insincerity of the
singers. A very popular hymn for services for young women (children
of Mary, etc.) has the refrain:

     Holy Mary, let me come: Holy Mary, let me come
     Soon to be happy with thee in thy home.

Not a girl of the hundreds of thousands who sing that means what
she says, or, in fact, does not feel exactly the opposite
sentiment. Grown-up men and women lustily sing:

O Paradise, O Paradise,
'Tis weary waiting here;
I long to be where Jesus is,
To feel, to see him near.


Arm for deadly fight, earth and bell unite,
And swear in lasting bonds to bind me;
Raise the cross on high, Jesus is our cry,
With Jesus still the foe shall find me.

Large numbers of the hymns chant this glorious fight against the
world -- most of the men make for the nearest beer-house when the
service is over and the girls hurry to keep their dates -- the
flesh, and the devil. It helps to keep up the prestige and
importance of the clergy. They not only lead the troops but are the
only channels of the supernatural force (grace) without which the
fight is hopeless for the ordinary man.

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     This theme runs through the whole collection. Catholics are,
you may have found, as cheerful and sinful as other folk, yet you 
would imagine from merely reading their hymns ("hell is raging for
my soul," etc.) that they were a portentously serious and
puritanical body of men and women. Next time your Catholic neighbor
presses you to read his literature, while refusing to read yours,
ask him to lend you his prayer-book and hymn-book. But I wager that
he won't.

                           Chapter IV


     The hymn is not so important in a Catholic as in a Protestant
church. It had no place in the ritual as it was finally evolved in
the Middle Ages; in accordance, of course, with the blue-prints
entrusted to Peter by Jesus in ancient Galilee, The faithful were
to assist AT, not assist IN or take part in the ceremonies, as I
will consider in the next chapter. We are told in Pliny's letter to
the Emperor Trajan that the early Christians met to "sing hymns to
Christ as God." -- probably chanting psalms in the Jewish tradition
-- but the "mass" was at that time not developed. When it was, the
faithful were in much the same position as skeptics in a theater,
watching a performance in strange costumes at the far end of the

     Into all that, however, we cannot enter here but must confine
ourselves to the actual use of the art of music in Catholic
services today; and the chief question that interests us about it
is whether in the case of this art at least the Catholic creed has
not simply employed but inspired the artist.

     Music would lend itself to such inspiration more easily than
any other art. No painter or sculptor has ever given us a Jesus or
Mary that we could plausibly imagine in a Judaic environment, and
Michael Angelo's "Last Judgment" and Ruben's "Descent of the Cross"
are human scenes into which the spectator must read the Catholic
idea. Literary art is more complete to express idea's or dogmas,
but the expression can be immensely enhanced if it is associated
with noble music. If Catholicism inspires art, therefore, we should
look for a body of it in music corresponding in magnificence to the
great architecture, sculpture, and painting of the Middle Ages;
especially as, notoriously the chief attraction of the non-
Catholics whom it is hoped to convert to the wealthier churches is
"the fine music." Instead of having to listen, as one does in most
non-Catholic churches, to communal singing which, while it is more
enjoyed by the congregation itself, is rather artless than artistic
to the outsider, though it may be relieved at one point by a
professional soloist whom you may have heard in a cabaret the night
before, you can hear, well rendered if the church is not poor,
often with orchestral accompaniment, some of the finer compositions
of masters of music.

     Here you get the most decisive -- and the most deadly -- test
of the claim that the Roman religion inspires art. Not relying on
my memory of church-experience 50 years ago I take from a recent
authoritative publication the names of ten of the greatest 

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composers of masses, litanies, and shorter pieces that are used in
Catholic churches today: Beethoven, Berlioz, Cherubini, Dvorak,
Gounod, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Verdi, and Weber. All these are
included in the Catholic Encyclopedia and it is claimed, especially
or by implication that they were Catholics.

     Yet no less than six of the ten were apostates -- Beethoven,
Berlioz, Cherubini, Haydn, Mozart, and Verdi -- in some cases
notoriously apostates, and some of the others were not clearly
orthodox. Gounod alone can be quoted as a man of real Catholic
piety -- in spots. You will read in biographies of him how at one
time he got so religious that he began to study for the Church: how
one day, when he asked Sarah Bernhardt if 'She ever prayed and she
said, "Me pray! Never, I'm an atheist," he fell upon his knees
before her and, to her disgust prayed for her for quarter of an
hour: and so on. Yes, and in the same biographies you will read
about his various little mistresses and his superficial changes of
mood. In all his work, says one authority, he "hovered between
mysticism and theatricality." Another authority says "between
mysticism and voluptuousness's," In his sacred work, says the
Catholic Encyclopedia sadly, he "did not penetrate the spirit of
the liturgy": which is a flat denial of Catholic inspiration. It
was such music, fine as it is, as Counod's Messe solennelle and Ave
Maria that moved the distinguished scientist Claude Bernard (also
claimed as a Catholic, of course, though a well-known apostate) to
say that Catholic services are just "opera for servant girls."

     The most flagrant cases of Catholic misrepresentation are
those of Beethoven, Cherubini, and Mozart. Beethoven's Mass in D is
coupled by authorities with his famous Ninth Symphony as "the most
gigantic of all musical designs." It is not, like Brahms's' Mass,
a Protestant composition but was intended, when he began to compose
it, to be performed at the installation of the Catholic Archbishop
of Olmutz and is today one of the richest treasures of the Catholic
repertory. But almost any biography will tell you that at that time
Beethoven had already abandoned his Catholic faith and adopted
Goethe's Pantheism, in comparison with which he thought the
Christian creed tawdry. His friend and chief biographer, A.
Schindler, and Nohl in his preface to Beethoven's Brevier (1870)
state this, and Sir G. Maeferren, who describes the Mass as
"perhaps the grandest piece of musical expression which art
possesses," says (Imperial Dictionary of Universal Biography) that
he was "a free thinker." He was persuaded, as some other
distinguished freethinkers were to accept the sacraments before
death, but all admit that he looked upon them as, at the best,
symbols. Nohl says that when the ceremony was over Beethoven
murmured, in the old Latin theatrical phrase, "Applaud, friends,
the comedy is over," but the better-informed Schindler says that in
these words Beethoven referred to the approaching close of his
life. It is at all events agreed that he had very seriously, on
philosophic grounds, discarded Catholicism 30 years before he wrote
the Mass and, unlike other artists, he never wavered in his

     Cherubini, though his name is not as familiar to our
generation as those of Beethoven and Wagner, composed five masses,
two Requiems (or mass for the dead), and a very large number of 
pieces for Catholic use. A critic pronounces these "the most 

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important works of their age," and Gounod who agrees, quotes
Beethoven saying chiefly with an eye to his religious work, that
Cherubini was "the greatest master of his age." But it is
undisputed that he abandoned the Catholic religion before he
composed any of this sacred music. He lived in Paris in the
revolutionary days and devoted his great talent to the
revolutionary cause. It was after the Restoration, when he was
superintendent of the royal chapel, that he wrote masses, etc., but
he never returned to the faith. His British Catholic biographer
Bellasis admits that he did not receive the sacraments before death
and quotes the reluctant testimony of his Catholic daughter that he
was "not mystical but broad-minded in religion." Another biographer
observes that his sacred music was "not created by faith in and
love of what he composed."

     Mozart, who composed 15 masses and a very large amount of
other Catholic pieces, had so decidedly rejected the Catholic creed
in early manhood that when he was dying he refused his wife's
entreaty that he would see a priest, and his apostasy was so
notorious that when the wife herself asked a priest to come the man
refused, and the great musician wag buried without ceremony in the
common grave of the poor. So his chief biographers Wilder and
Ulibichev, and the facts are undisputed. The latter quotes Mozart
saying in reference to his early Catholic belief: "That is all over
and will never come back" (I. 243). He had become a Freemason
before he was thirty, at a time when the Church regarded
Freemasonry as a device of the devil, and to the end of his life he
remained at the most a Deist. As is well known, he composed one of
the most beautiful and most frequently used masses of the dead, and
the circumstances throw an ironic light on this question of art and
Catholicism. A rich musical amateur, Count Walsegg, secretly paid
Mozart, who was desperately poor, to compose the mass and let
Walsegg put his name on it. Shortly afterwards the great artist
died and was "buried like a dog."

     Let me further illustrate this point from the biography of
another great musician. I do not suppose that the German Requiem of
Brahms is used in Catholic services, as the music is set to texts
from the German translation of the bible, which Catholics are
forbidden to read, but it is just as "inspired" as Mozart's mass.
Yet Brahms was an Agnostic, as he repeatedly tells in his letters
(Letters of J. Brahms, Eng. trans. 1909). The instructive point is
that it is obviously the thought of death that inspired the music,
not the Catholic doctrine about death. In almost his last year of
life Brahms wrote and composed his "Four Serious Songs (Ver Emate
Gesange). The writer on him in the Encyclopedia Britannica calls
these his "supreme achievement in dignified utterance of noble
thought." It warns you to read some of these musical critics with
discretion. The words of the songs plainly reject the idea of
immortality, and Brahms admitted in a letter to Herzogenberg that
that was his intention.

     Haydn composed even more masses and other church music than
Gounod or Cherubini, and he is still a high favorite in the
Catholic repertory. In the Catholic Encyclopedia he is, of course,
a loyal, if very amorous, son of the Church, though Mendelssohn's
opinion that his sacred music was "scandalously gay" is quoted, and

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we get the usual caution that it is better as art than as an
expression of Catholic ideas. In point of fact he was, like Mozart,
a Freemason, and a Mason was to Rome in those days what a Bolshevik
is today.

     Verdi, has given the Church a mass for the dead, a Te Deum, an
Ave Maria, a Stabat Mater and other sacred compositions, and he is
feebly claimed in the Catholic Encyclopedia. It is a particularly
brazen claim as, while such claims are usually in the case of great
artists or scientists based upon the fact that the last sacraments
were daubed on them while they were unconscious or administered to
gratify Catholic relatives, Verdi stipulated in his will that he
was to be buried without "any part of the formulae" (F.T.
Garibaldi, Giuseppe Verde., 1903, p. 235). He was a man of more
solid character than is usual in the operatic world -- he gave
2,000,000 lire to build a home for aged and ailing musicians. --
and wrote his mass for the dead only to honor his dead friend
Manzoni. He was a moderate anti-Papal in the political struggle and
was often assailed by the clergy.

     A full inquiry, which naturally cannot be made for the purpose
of writing one chapter of a booklet, into the lives and sentiments
of all the leading composers of Catholic music would clearly be of
considerable interest. I happened to have made some inquiry at an
earlier date as far as these masters are concerned, and the results
are quite enough for my purpose. The Church employed them and did
not clearly inspire a single one of them. Like the painters of the
Renaissance, whose art was equally great in depicting courtesans
and saints, pious scenes and bacchanalian scenes, they were
"neither Christians nor pagans but artists" as Symonds says. If you
commission an artist, or if he himself proposes, to express the
super-human, his own belief in the matter is not concerned.

     Anyone who has heard one of these florid masses in a Catholic
church feels that it is mainly, as in the opera-house, a commercial
use of art. I was attached, as a priest and professor, to a middle-
class suburban chapel in London for some years. As I have
explained, the only obligation of the people was to bear a mass
every Sunday morning, and the great majority discharged this, in
spite of the general disposition to be longer abed on Sundays, by
assisting at a short early mass. There was no music, and the
"sublime" service was gabbled through by the priest in 25 minutes.
At 11 there was a sung or "high" mass, and this -- it might have
been called the Dress Parade -- all the more comfortable
parishioners attended. Several times a year an orchestra was
employed and one of the classical masses was sung. It doubtless
gave many a heightened idea of the solemnity of the feast, but from
the clerical angle it had only one aim: money. Very special
collections, sometimes taken by the monks themselves, were made,
and the extra hiring of singers and musicians was far more than

     The singers of these masses and other choral services are,
even on ordinary Sundays quite commonly non-Catholics. They are
just professional singers, and the question of combining a moderate
wage with efficient work is regarded as more important than the
question of their religion or irreligion. I never heard of one 

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being "converted." Near the church to which I was attached was a
popular beer-house of a superior type, and the pietists of our
congregation sent in scandalized protests that after the Sunday
services they had to see the whole body of singers repair noisily
to the Saloon Bar. They never understood a word that they sang;
for, as I said, the English hymn has a very small place on a
Catholic Sunday evening service and none in the morning service.
The whole performance is, in fact, sheerly theatrical. Even the
priests at the altar -- there are usually three -- have a bench in
the sanctuary and at intervals in their very sacred manipulations
they retire to sit on this while the choir sings, with senseless
repetitions (to give the composer elbow-room) and long-drawn
phrases, certain parts of the mass. It is fine music; and it makes
a mockery of the sense of the ritual from a religious viewpoint.
Catholic's sometimes feel this.

     My father used to tell of an experience of this kind. He once
took a country cousin, a Catholic, to one of our swell morning
services. When the choir finished the piece they were singing (in
the ritual it was a simple recital of the creed) for the second or
third time and went back to the middle once more, the man, who was
moving restlessly in his sent, whispered to my father: "Damn it,
Bill, why don't they say Amen and 'a done with it."

                            Chapter V


     The reader must not lose sight of the guiding idea of this
booklet. It is an examination of the claim that the Catholic creed
inspires great art: that it was the main inspiration of the superb
art of the Middle Ages, and that the general mediocrity, or the
lower general level, of art since the 16th Century is due to the
destruction of the influence of the Church over half the world.
This is one of the smooth generalizations which an age that has
become, for not very creditable reasons, complaisant to the Church
accepts too easily from the apologist. As history it is on a level
with the mendacious claim that the Roman Church gave the world
schools broke the fetter's of the slave, and inspired mercy and

     Specially rich periods of artistic, production have always
been limited in point of time. They may last 50 years or several
centuries but they end in mediocrity. Such periods are also
commonly periods of growing skepticism -- compare the great art-
period of China, Athens, Persia, and Arab Spain and Sicily -- and
the greater artists share this with the general educated class. But
the temples and priesthoods are the richest employers, and the
artist is concerned only that his art shall do justice to his
subject. He may in a sense find an idea (of a Mother of God, for
instance) inspiring though he does, not regard it as a truth or as
an idea corresponding to reality. I have given ample evidence of

     As to the common Catholic sophism that the reduction of the
Pope's sphere of influence accounts for the cessation of medieval
art we saw that the answer is easy. Two arts, literature and music,

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have been far greater since the Reformation than they were in the
Middle Ages, and they ought to be particularly useful for
expressing religious ideas. But Catholics have had a miserably
small part in proportion to their numbers, in the finer creations
of those arts. The medieval Church employed but did not inspire
artists -- a rare Fra Angelica does not alter the general truth --
and it is plausible to think that the immense reduction of its
wealth after the Reform affected this. But their reduction does not
explain the death of art in Catholic, Spain or the predominance of
secular art in France. Anyhow, the Church is now richer and more
powerful than ever, and the non-Catholic world has been duped or
bribed into such an attitude that it would welcome Catholic
artistic production of a high order. You cannot even speak of the
chill of a hostile environment, even if you think that such a thing
does prevent a great artist from expressing himself. Yet the
Church, while it boasts that it has more members than ever and
certainly has far more wealth than ever, cannot inspire great art
in its own body. Four-fifths of its best modern art, its music, was
composed by the type of men it professes's to abhor above all
others -- apostates'. "The Church and its great art" is part of the
dupery it practices on the modern mind. But if I had been content
to say so boldly, or to refer the reader to other writings of mine,
I should have been unconvincing, so in this booklet I have had to
give considerable detail. I trust it has interested the reader.

     There remains the question why the Roman Church employs a dead
language, Latin, in its services. It is, of course, not unusual for
priests to continue to read the sacred books of a religion in the
language, which may otherwise be dead, in which they were written.
The Jews still have the Old Testament read in Hebrew: the Moslem
even in Turkey and elsewhere read the Koran in Arabic. But in the
Church of Rome practically the entire service on Sundays and the
morning service on all days is in Latin. The Greek Church and its
various national daughters have the services in ancient Greek, but
their motive is the same as that of the Roman hierarchy. It is not
as is sometimes suggested, in order to affirm and sustain the
international or Catholic character of the Church. lt has a double
object. Locally it helps to maintain the very emphatic line that is
drawn between the clergy and the laity and strengthen the position
of the former as a separate and very much higher caste; and,
especially, it is one of the most effective means of reminding
Catholics everywhere of their connection with and object dependence
upon the Vatican and the Papacy.

     A Catholic church has the upper (away from the door) end, or
usually about a fourth or fifth of the area, isolated by a
decorative low iron rail beyond which the laity must never go. Most
of this is empty space to add to the impressiveness of the altar at
the extreme end at which, raised by a number of steps above the
body of the church, the priests, in vestments of colored silk --
the color changing according to the saint, or mystery honored on
that day -- over long white linen robes, the priests perform their
ceremonies. Remember the Catholic belief that on that altar Jesus
Christ is physically and bodily present under the "accidents" of a
wafer or very thin cracker, and you will realize the feeling,
almost of awe, with which the devout Catholic follows the
evolutions in the distant sanctuary. The setting is exactly the 

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same as in a theater, and, though the body of the church is not
darkened, at the evening service the light about the altar is
increased by an immense number of candles in shining brass
candelabra, flowers are used lavishly, and the sanctuary is
gradually filled with a slight haze from the fumes of incense. It
is a continuation of the old pagan tradition. So the priests of
Isis or Mithra once impressed their followers. Indeed it goes back
to the sacrifices in the Jewish temple, the pageants on the great
festivals of ancient Egypt, even the mysteries performed at the
summit of lofty pyramid temples in ancient Babylon and Assyria
while the crowd stood in silence in the court-yard. To some extent
the modern theater, which was not in its beginnings a revival of
the Greek theater, is developed from this clerical show. Simple
theatrical features were added to the ceremony in the sanctuary to
please the totally illiterate congregation and out of these
developed the early "miracle play." Large numbers of non-Catholics
attend Catholic services, generally standing near the door, just to
see the quaint free spectacle at the far end of the church.

     The use of Latin has an obvious advantage in spectacles of
this sort, but it has others which are not obvious. The morning
service, the mass, is so rigorously confined to Latin that in my
sacerdotal days we had to chant even the final prayer for the king
in Latin! On Catholic doctrine there is no disadvantage whatever in
this use of Latin. The mass is not a "Service" in the ordinary
sense. What happens in the mass is that the priest offers a real
sacrifice to God. Don't ask me to explain here how Jesus Christ
(God) is offered to a God who is not Jesus Christ, as in what sense
it is a real sacrifice. I did enough cold dissection of the amazing
doctrines of the Roman Church in the 16th book and do not care to
return to that tedious occupation. It is enough to say that the
Church theory is that the priest in every mass "repeats, the
sacrifice of Calvary" an all that the people have to do is to be
present on their knees with bowed heads and silent lips..

     When this "solemn sacrifice" is in modern times accompanied by
the operatic music of Gounod or Haydn, when the priests interrupt
the solemnity in various places and sit while tenors and bass and
perhaps violins and cellos, distort the language of the prayers
into musical arabesques, the result is really so fantastic and.
irreligious that Pius X, the blunt old peasant Pope of 40 years
ago, issued a ukase that this sort of thing must stop. He wanted to
bring the Church back to the use of plain chant, the simple musical
notation used before operatic music was invented, at least as it
was improved by Palestrina. For once a Pope found that he was not
really an autocrat. Even in the Church the power of the purse is
greater than the terrific powers granted in theory to the Pope. The
financial loss in every country would have been immense. There
would be no more "opera for servant girls"; no more "beautiful
services" for artistic converts and neurasthenic ladies.

     This concealment of the mutilation or massacre of the liturgy
in musical services by keeping the words in Latin is balanced by
the advantage in low (or unsung) masses. I explained in an earlier
chapter that, although this is a long series of prayers and
addresses to the Almighty of a solemnity in accordance with the
Catholic theory of the mass, the people are impatient and are apt 

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to complain of any priest who does not "get through" in less than
half an hour, usually 25 minutes. The young priest has to practice
for weeks before he says his first mass. He has to learn to say the
prayers, some of which change with the calendar, at -- I have just
tested by experience -- about 200 words a minute. It is, perhaps,
fortunate for himself that the words are in Latin, for, although he
is supposed to understand the very elementary Church Latin, he is
less sensible of the meaning, except in the slower and more solemn
passages, than he would be if they were in English.

     The advantage in helping to link the entire Church with Rome,
the home of the Latin tongue, is just as obvious. I have
occasionally made light comments on the American apologists and
priests -- if not bishops and cardinals -- who are so blatant in
stressing the harmony of their faith with American ideals that they
swear they would cut the connection with Rome or (which is the same
thing) defy the Pope if he gave orders inconsistent with the
American spirit or Constitution. Would they, on that highly
fantastic hypothesis, abandon the use of Latin in the services? On
what ground could they retain it? And if they turned the liturgy
into plain American how would the archaic sentiments sound, and how
would the mutilation of the words by priests at the altar or by
non-Catholic singers in the choir impress the faithful?

     They could retain it only on one ground, and it is the chief
reason why the Church retains it today in every country. It is part
of the paraphernalia that makes a separate and very superior caste
of the priests. Like the black cassock or black suit, the reversed
collar, the shaven poll which he is supposed to have, the
incongruous title of "Father" for a man who professes to think
paternity a weakness of the flesh, the ancient Roman (or possibly
Persian and Egyptian) garb he wears at the altar, the dividing
sanctuary line, the "blessing" which a good Catholic (on his or her
knee's) is supposed to ask when he enters a house, and so on, it
marks him off as a member of a sacred caste. In a Catholic country
his indulgence in drink does not matter -- little notice is taken
of this even in Eire -- and his amorous adventures are judged very
humanly. As he repeatedly reminds them in sermons, his character as
a man has nothing to do with the mystic and august character which
"Holy Orders" have conferred on him. He can absolve sins or in
certain cases refuse to absolve them and leave a man under sentence
of hell. He can work the stupendous miracle of transubstantiation.
When countries are still solidly Catholic, and equally illiterate
and densely ignorant, he encourages the belief that his magical
powers go far beyond invisible results like absolving sins or
turning a bit of paste into the living body of Jesus. His curse may
be a very real thing. His prayers -- at from a quarter to one or
two dollars a time -- are more effective than the services of a
doctor or a veterinary surgeon and must be secured for a vast range
of purpose's, from blessing a new house or a new churn or fishing
boat to success in an impending examination, the detection of a
thief, curing a woman of sterility, or painlessly removing a gall-

     We need not, however, go back once more into "the really
Catholic world"; though you will not forget that these are
conditions in which two-thirds of the Pope's subjects live. Our 
broad conclusion must be that instead of the Church of Rome 

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rendering a notable service to the race and to civilization in
inspiring art it has in every age used such art as was available
for the usual purposes of the Black International: the protection
or augmentation of their power and wealth. It has not rendered, a
service to the exploited mass of the people by bringing color and
warmth into their drab lives by its services but has used art, if
you can give that title to the decorations and services of the
average Catholic church, to distract their attention from the
absurdity of its doctrines and the extortions of the priests. In
nine-tenths of its sphere of influence it uses debased forms of art
to help to prevent people from reflecting, during their one hour a
week in church, that what they are taught to call their faith is an
idle and, in proportions to their resources, costly compliance with
the traditional customs in which they were reared; and in the
Churches of the more comfortable one-tenth it uses art, like any
other employer and from almost any source, to help in sustaining
that uncritical attitude which enables the apologist to foist
amazing untruths and sophistry even upon the educated layman.
Religion may or may not be "the opium of the people." Catholic art
certainly is.

     It is a familiar Protestant charge that religion in the Roman
Church is mechanical, materialistic, a matter of physical acts and
sensuous titillations. It is an entirely just charge as far as the
great majority of the faithful are concerned. The Black
International has in its own interest enacted that it is compulsory
under the direct penalties that a man shall be in the church,
looking on at a ceremony, which he only half understands, for half
an hour once a week. The rest is voluntary and has to be made
attractive. I have in Eastern Europe seen men standing outside the
wide-open doors of a cathedral, some of them smoking cigarette's,
listening to the distant mass. They are within the Catholic law.
Religion is to them not a set of beliefs but a small number of
compulsory movements. For the majority of the others it is a series
of ceremonies which they usually -- there are, of course, special
festivals at rare intervals which rouse real fervor -- follow in a
frame of mind which it would be difficult to analyze and the clergy
have no desire to analyze. People are "doing their duty." And if
anybody thinks this a superficial statement of the situation let
him wait until in the next book we squarely face the claim that the
Church at least renders a great social service or "does good."

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