“A necessity or a danger”

When your grandfathers and mine said that a man’s religion was his own affair, they meant a quite sensible thing, though they expressed it loosely. They meant that some have a hobby of theology, and are always founding sects. And they meant that these should not be allowed to interfere with others who had other hobbies, such as the making of money (that widely extended English hobby), the winning of the Battle of Waterloo (that more exclusive hobby), the discoveries of Darwin (that unpopular hobby), and so on. But all that was only true while a commonplace, but common-sense, morality encircled and solidified the whole society. We live in a time in which religion can only be one of two things: a necessity or a danger.

We are so divided at the roots, we are so separated at the very starting-places of thought, that a religion can no longer be a hobby. A religion must be something either holy or horrible. To make humanity sacred may seem a simple ideal: translated into another language, it is a human sacrifice. To melt into the universe may seem an optimistic idea; translated into another language, it means suicide. As things stand just now, it is really more common-sense than mysticism to say that everyone’s belief is everyone else’s concern.

The Illustrated London News, 6 September 1913.

Published in: on October 8, 2014 at 10:06 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. I have a nice-sized quote from Ian Ker’s biography of GKC up at my blog, for October 13: http://www.reiterations.wordpress.com.

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