OF THE MANY PROBLEMS that confront us today, none is more vexingthan that of the relation of Christianity to Western Civilization. None,certainly, causes more acrimonious controversy and internecine hostilitybetween the members of the race which created that civilization. Nonemore thoroughly counteracts their common interest in its preservation andrenders them impotent and helpless. And that is not remarkable: what is inquestion is the essential nature of our civilization, and if there is noagreement about that, there can be no effective agreement on otherquestions.Around 1910, Georges Matisse, in
Les Ruines de l’Idée de Dieu
,*predicted that by 1960, at the very latest, the only churches left in thecivilized world would be the ones that were preserved as museum piecesfor their architectural beauty or historical associations. The scientific andhistorical knowledge accumulated by our race had rendered belief insupernatural beings impossible for cultivated men, and universal educationwould speedily destroy the credulity of the masses. "We have climbed outof the dead end of the dungeon into which Christianity cast us. The man of today walks in the open air and the daylight. He has won confidence inhimself."
* Paris, Mercure de France, s.a. All translations from foreign languages in these pages aremine, unless otherwise noted.
In 1980, especially in the United States, there was a massive "upsurge" of Christianity. In November, one of America’s many bawling evangelists,Oral Roberts, had an interview with Jesus and took the opportunity toobserve that Jesus is nine hundred feet tall. That datum so impressed hisfollowers that within two weeks, it is said, they supplied him with an extra$5,000,000 to supplement the $45,000,000 they give him annually. A littleearlier, another holy man, Don Stewart, reportedly made the big time inevangelism (i.e., an annual take of more than $10,000,000) by distributingto his votaries snippets of his underwear, which True Believers put undertheir pillows, since the bits of cloth that had been in contact with his fleshhad absorbed the mana of his holiness. And in the quadrennial popularitycontest to determine which actor was to have the star role in the WhiteHouse, all three of the presidential candidates deemed it expedient toannounce that they had "got Jesus" and been "born again."More significantly, in both England and the United States, a considerablenumber of men who have received enough technical training to be calledscientists, have been hired or inspired to prove the authenticity of the HolyShroud of Turin by "scientific" proof that the coarse cloth was discoloredby supernatural means, the mana of divinity. Some of these scientists, it is