Perhaps it is his knowledge of all this petty misery and sordid unwholesomeness which makes him disposed at times, in spite of an almost rollicking temperament, to take dismal and despairing views of the religious future.
I have heard him say with some bitterness that people do not know what Christianity is, that it has been so misrepresented to them, and so mixed up with the quarrels of sectarianism, that the heart of it is really non-existent for the multitude. He speaks with impatience of the nonconformist churches and with contempt of the Anglican church. We are all wrong together. Organised religion, he feels, is hanging over the abyss of destruction, while the nation looks on with an indifference which should complete its self-contempt.
His quarrel, however, is not only with the churches, but with the nation as well. He regards the system under which we live as thoroughly unchristian. It is the system of mammon—a system of frank, brutal, and insolent materialism. Why do we put up with it?
His religious sense is so outraged by this system of economic individualism that he bursts out with irritable impatience against those who speak of infusing into it a more Christian spirit. For him the whole body of our industrialism is rotten with selfishness and covetousness, the high note of service entirely absent from it, the one energy which informs it the energy of aggressive self-seeking. Such a system cannot be patched. It is anti-Christian. It should be smashed.
He plunges into economics with a good deal of vigour, but I do not think he has thought out to its logical conclusion his thesis of guild socialism. Perhaps his tone is here more vehement than his knowledge of a notoriously difficult science altogether justifies.
He opposes himself to the evolutionary philosophy of the nineteenth century, and is ready to defend the idea of a Fall of Man. His contribution to theology is a quibble. The old dogmas are to stand: only the language is to be adjusted to the modern intelligence. You may picture him with drawn sword—a sword tempered in inquisitorial fires—standing guard over his quibble and ready to defend it with his spiritual life.
His opinions are apt to place him among minorities. He was against the War, and during that long-drawn agony attracted to himself the mild attention of the authorities. I believe he likened the great struggle to a battle between Sodom and Gomorrah. However, he was careful not to go so far as Mr. Bertrand Russell. As he himself says, “I don’t mind dying for Jesus Christ, but not for making a silly ass of myself.”
He occasionally writes reviews for The Nation, and has published a number of uneventful books. His writing is not distinguished or illuminating. With a pen in his hand he loses all his natural force. He writes, I think, as one who feels that he is wasting time. Like Mr. Winston Churchill, he diverts his leisure with a paintbrush.