Our New Religion
Man sleeps in the forest. When he awakens and realizes his power, then order is reconstituted. — Junger
OUR SUPREME NEED is for a new religion, a religion that is our own, consonant with all the best in our past, equal to all the exigencies of our present. But I am convinced that no amount of negative attack on the deficiencies of Christianity can ever of itself bring a better religion into being. And all my experience and all my thought, over a lifetime, completely and profoundly satisfy me that any real and final recovery of life, and the elevation and advance of life, can come only out of what is positive, out of some kind of gestation and birth. Let us count on the sun to put out the candle!
Yet how to come by the sun!
Our supreme need is indeed for a new religion, a new religion of our own. And certainly no amount of criticism of the old will of itself ever produce it. But it is no less certain that it is never going to appear because some man, or any number of men, stand up and cry, “Go to now, let us have a new religion!” It is not to be called forth by the magic of any incantation, however marvelous or importunate. Nor is it to be thought out in men’s heads, put together deliberately, promoted by paid secretaries, and enthusiasm for it whipped up in regional conferences, supported by tons of printed matter. Not at all. Our day is all too familiar with mechanics and antics of this kind, and with their futility. Anything consciously worked up and artfully fabricated, with a view to an end, would be artificial, and as such, totally devoid of life. Any real religion, really new, really our own, if it comes at all, will have to come gradually and organically, for a long time almost without anyone’s knowing of its existence, and taking a shape of its own, taking it silently and invisibly, mysteriously feeding on forces in the racial soul by which it has been conceived and within which it is moving toward birth.
In short, if such a religion comes — as I pray it finally may — it will have to grow — grow out of the living necessity of our people, out of their innermost mind and soul, as they are forced in mortal struggle to draw at last upon their ultimate resources, their own instincts, immemorial traditions and ideals — much as Jesus, perhaps, came out of the instincts and soul and accumulated tradition and gathering crisis of the Jewish people.
But this implies that it is not something for which we should wait, or dare wait, in the expectation that it will one day stand full-formed and among us. Rather, although for the most part unrecognized and inchoate, it is among us already, here and there and somewhat everywhere, a living, growing and moving force — long ago started, and quickened, and down through the centuries kept growing and moving by the daring efforts of one great mind of our blood after another. Even we may have a part in it — you, my reader, and I, and many another like us. More than we know, mayhap more than we dare dream, its final coming depends upon whether or not we faithfully do our part, however inconspicuously and unrecognized that part may be.
For verily, everyone of us who undertakes to be, in the profoundest sense, true to himself, to recognize and to throw off alien influences, to plumb and to set free the innermost being of our race as it seeks to find expression and come to flower in him, will be making his sure contribution toward the final consummation. He will be adding his modicum of experience and of strength by which the new life will take shape and build up size and energy to do something titanic, beyond the power of the old forms to contain, so that it will at last burst forth a new comprehension of life, a new vision, a new faith, a new discipline for every side of our life, personal and social, for man and woman and child, from the top to the bottom, for the lowest and for the highest.
Believe me, my friends, what I long lived for unconsciously and now knowingly give over my whole life to, even developing special eyes by which to detect each little sign of promise — that shall come. Out of the record of those men, and of those parts of their written works that prove the chief source of strength and guidance to our people through the fire and night that are ahead, we shall yet form our own Bible, our own Book of Life. Why should not the Laws of Manu or one or two of the books of Nietzsche be our Leviticus; Zoroaster or Aristotle our Moses; Homer and some of the Icelandic sagas our Exodus and Judges; Dante or Goethe’s Faust take the place of Job, and Shakespeare take that of Ecclesiastes; the Revelation of St. John give way to William Blake, the Psalms to the Songs of Kabir; and the Gospels of Jesus be supplanted by Nietzche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra, or by the record of some man or men yet to be born, whose life and teaching prove to be the most satisfying and inspiring epitome of our racial soul?
– William Gayley Simpson Which Way Western Man?
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