Page images
PDF
EPUB

they do thru the guaranty of the merchants, or a percentage on concessions, or both. I am told that no town whose business is on an absolutely safe and secure footing ever resorts to a street-fair. The street-fair comes in when a rival town seems to be getting more than its share of the trade. When the business of Skaneateles is drifting to Waterloo, then Skaneateles succumbs to a street-fair. Sanitation, sewerage, good water supply, and schoolhouses and paved streets are not the result of throwing confetti, tooting tin horns and waiving the curfew law. Whether commerce is effectually helped by the street-fair, or a town assisted to get on a firm financial basis through the ministry of the tom-tom, is a problem. I leave the question with students of political economy and pass on to a local condition which is not a theory. The religious revivals that have recently been conducted in various parts of the country were most carefully planned business schemes.

C One F. Wilbur Chapman and his corps of well-trained associates may be taken as a type of the individuals who work up local religious excitement for a consideration.

Religious revivals are managed very much as are street-fairs. If religion is getting at a low ebb in your town, you can hire Chapman, the revivalist, just as you can secure the services of Farley, the strike-breaker. Chapman and his helpers go from town to town and from city to city and work up this excitation as a business. They are paid for their services a thousand dollars a week, or down to what they can get from collections. Sometimes they work on a guaranty, and at other times on a percentage or contingent fee, or both. Towns especially in need of Mr. Chapman's assistance will please send for circulars, terms and testimonials. No souls saved-no pay. The basic element of the revival is hypnotism. The scheme of bringing about the hypnosis, or the obfuscation of the intellect, has taken generations to carefully perfect. The plan is first to depress the spirit to a point where the subject is incapable of independent thought. Mournful music, a monotonous voice of woe, tearful appeals to God, dreary groans, the whole mingled with pious ejaculations, all tend to produce a terrifying effect upon the auditor. The thought of God's displeasure is constantly

dwelt upon—the idea of guilt, death and eternal torment. If the victims can be made to indulge in hysterical laughter occasionally, the control is better brought about. No chance is allowed for repose, poise or sane consideration. When the time seems ripe a general promise of joy is made and the music takes an adagio turn. The speaker's voice now tells of triumph-offers of forgiveness are tendered, and then the promise of eternal life. The final intent is to get the victim on his feet and make him come forward and acknowledge the fetich. This once done the convert finds himself among pleasant companions. His social station is improved people shake hands with him and solicitously ask after his welfare. His approbativeness is appealed to—his position is now one of importance. C And moreover, he is given to understand in many subtile ways that as he will be damned in another world if he does not acquiesce in the fetich, so also will he be damned financially and socially here if he does not join the church. The intent in every Christian community is to boycott and make a social outcast of the independent thinker. The fetich furnishes excuse for the hypnotic

processes. Without assuming a personal God who can be appeased, eternal damnation and the proposition that you can win eternal life by believing a myth, there is no sane reason for the absurd hypnotic formulas. We are heirs to the past, its good and ill, and we all have a touch of superstition, like a syphilitic taint. To eradicate this tyranny of fear and get the cringe and crawl out of our natures, seems the one desirable thing to lofty minds at But the revivalist, knowing human nature, as all confidence men do, banks on our superstitious fears and makes his appeal to our acquisitiveness, offering us absolution and life eternal for a consideration—to cover expenses. As long as men are paid honors and money, can wear good clothes, and be immune from work for preaching superstition, they will preach it. The hope of the world lies in withholding supplies from the pious mendicants who seek to hold our minds in thrall. This idea of a divine bankrupt court where you can get forgiveness by paying ten cents on the dollar, with the guaranty of becoming a winged pauper of the skies, is not alluring excepting to a man who has been well scared. Advance agents pave the way for revivalists by arranging details with the local orthodox clergy at Universalists, Unitarians, Christian Scientists and Befaymillites are all studiously avoided. The object is to fill depleted pews of orthodox Protestant churches—these pay the freight, and to the victor belong the spoils. The plot and plan is to stampede into the pen of orthodoxy the intellectual unwary-children and neurotic grown-ups. The cap-and-bells element is largely represented in Chapman's select company of German-American talent: the confetti of foolishness is thrown at us we dodge, laugh, listen and no one has time to think, weigh, sift or analyze. There are the boom of rhetoric, the crack of confession, the interspersed rebel-yell of triumph, the groans of despair, the cries of victory. Then come songs by paid singers, the pealing of the organ -rise and sing, kneel and pray, entreaty, condemnation, misery, tears, threats, promise, joy, happiness, heaven, eternal bliss, decide now-not a moment is to be lost, whoop-la you 'll be a long time in hell! All this whirl is a carefully prepared plan, worked out by expert flim-flammers to addle

« PreviousContinue »