Author: Edward Carpenter
Finally available, a high quality book of the original classic edition of Pagan and Christian Creeds Their Origin and Meaning. This is a new and freshly published edition of this culturally important work by Edward Carpenter, which is now, at last, again available to you. Enjoy this classic work today. These selected paragraphs distill the contents and give you a quick look inside Pagan and Christian Creeds Their Origin and Meaning: One connecting religious rites and observations with the movements of the Sun and the planets in the sky, and leading to the invention of and belief in Olympian and remote gods dwelling in heaven and ruling the Earth from a distance; the second connecting religion with the changes of the season, on the Earth and with such practical things as the growth of vegetation and food, and leading to or mingled with a vague belief in earth-spirits and magical methods of influencing such spirits; and the third connecting religion with mans own body and the tremendous force of sex residing in it-emblem of undying life and all fertility and power. ...The process of the evolution of religious rites and ceremonies has in its main outlines been the same all over the world, as the reader will presently see-and this whether in connection with the numerous creeds of Paganism or the supposedly unique case of Christianity; and now the continuity and close intermixture of these great streams can no longer be denied-nor IS it indeed denied by those who have really studied the subject. ...Though the worship of Sun-gods and divine figures in the sky came comparatively late in religious evolution, 1 have put this subject early in the book (chapters ii and iii), partly because (as I have already explained) it was the phase first studied in modern times, and therefore is the one most familiar to present-day readers, and partly because its astronomical data give great definiteness and proveability to it, in rebuttal to the common accusation that the whole study of religious origins is too vague and uncertain to have much value. ...It is obvious that these three streams would mingle and interfuse with each other a good deal; but as far as they were separable the first would tend to create Solar heroes and Sun-myths; the second Vegetation-gods and personifications of Nature and the earth-life; while the third would throw its glamour over the other two and contribute to the projection of deities or demons worshipped with all sorts of sexual and phallic rites. ...But when you reflect how rapidly legends grow up even in these days of exact Science and an omniscient Press; how the figure of Shakespeare, dead only 300 years, is almost completely lost in the mist of Time, and even the authenticity of his works has become a subject of controversy; when you find that William Tell, supposed to have lived some 300 years again before Shakespeare, and whose deeds in minutest detail have been recited and honored all over Europe, is almost certainly a pure invention, and never existed; when you remember-as mentioned earlier in this book (1)-that it was more than five hundred years after the supposed birth of Jesus before any serious effort was made to establish the date of that birth-and that then a purely mythical date was chosen: the 25th December, the day of the SUNS new birth after the winter solstice, and the time of the supposed birth of Apollo, Bacchus, and the other Sungods; when, moreover, you think for a moment what the state of historical criticism must have been, and the general standard of credibility, 1,900 years ago, in a country like Syria, and among an ignorant population, where any story circulating from lip to lip was assured of credence if sufficiently marvelous or imaginative;-why, then the legendary theory does not seem so improbable.