View Full Version : Mencken week.

05-21-2012, 02:06 AM
Mencken week: Day 2
The Mencken quotes this week will all, of course, deal with religion and theology. Here’s your Sunday lesson, from Mencken’s Notebooks, p. 373:

It is often argued that religion is valuable because it makes men good, but even if this were true it would not be a proof that religion is true. That would be an extension of pragmatism beyond endurance. Santa Claus makes children good in precisely the same way, and yet no one would argue seriously that the fact proves his existence. The defense of religion is full of such logical imbecilities. The theologians, taking one with another, are adept logicians, but every now and then they have to resort to sophistries so obvious that their whole case takes on an air of the ridiculous. Even the most logical religion starts out with patently false assumptions. It is often argued in support of this or that one that men are so devoted to it that they are willing to die for it. That, of course, is as silly as the Santa Claus proof. Other men are just as devoted to manifestly false religions, and just as willing to die for them. Every theologian spends a large part of his time and energy trying to prove that religions for which multitudes of honest men have fought and died are false, wicked, and against God.

And here is a ten-minute clip of what is said to be the only record of Mencken’s voice. This was made on June 30, 1948. On Nov. 30 of that year, he suffered a stroke that rendered him unable to read or write (and barely able to speak) for the last eight years until he died—especially horrible for someone like Mencken. The thing that surprised me was that he sounds like a normal guy: I guess I expected some booming, portentous voice.

He never spent a day in college; he was an autodidact.

05-21-2012, 02:47 PM
Mencken was a brilliant commentator, with a gift for turning a phrase. I used to think he was overly misanthropic, but have now decided he had it about right about our species and its so-called civilization.

I have grown ever more pessimistic and cynical about our prospects, which attunes me further to his view point.

We no longer need divine intervention to obliterate mankind, as we are more than capable, and far down that road, of doing it ourselves.

05-21-2012, 05:41 PM
Mencken defined the socialist as “a man suffering from an overwhelming conviction to believe what is not true.”

At least he got this right.

05-21-2012, 06:36 PM
Faith iz an unshakeable beleef in something u know to be untrue.

05-22-2012, 09:40 AM
As Mencken was an equal opportunity cynic, I expect he said bad things about capitalism as well.