From: email@example.com (Voice O'Reason)
Subject: Food for thought
Date: 28 May 90 03:18:23 GMT
The following is an excerpt from an essay by H. L. Menken titled
"Poetry of Christianity". I hope that this provides some food for
thought for the readers of this newsgroup. --VOR
Men may live decently without it [religion] and they may die
courageously without it. But not, of course, _all_ men. The
capacity for that proud imperturbability is still rare in the
race -- maybe as rare as the capacity for honor. For the rest
there must be faith, as there must be morals. It is their faith
to live absurdly, flogged by categorical imperatives of their own
shallow imagining, and to die insanely, grasping for hands that
are not there.
Once, in my days as an activce journalist, I attended one such poor
fellow in his last moments. With the Seventh Commandment in mind,
he had butchered his erring wife, and was now about to pay his debt
to the Sixth. A devout Babtist, he was attended by a clergyman of
his faith, and gave over his last hours to prayers to and praises
of Yahweh who had dealt with him so cruelly. When, finally the
sheriff came to his cell and summoned him to the gallows he broke
into a loud, confident recitation of the Twenty-third Psalm.
Thus the last scene:
The march begins -- first the sheriff, then the condemned with his
arms bound, and then the clergyman.
The Condemned -- (Loudly) The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me lie down in green pastures. (They reach the foot
of the gallows.) He leadeth me beside the still waters. He
restoreth my soul. (They mount the steps.) He leadeth me in the
paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Yea, though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death (The sheriff binds his
legs) I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy
staff comfort me. (The sheriff adjusts the noose.) Thou preparest
a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest
my head with oil; my cup runeth over. (The sheriff signals to the
hangman.) Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days
of my life; and I will dwell in the house of ---
The drop falls.
As an American I naturally spend most of my time laughing, but that
time I did not laugh.
I used to think thereofore I was. I think.