W. Somerset Maugham on theocracy

From The Razor's Edge, published in 1944:

"D'you remember how Jesus was led into the wilderness and fasted forty days? Then, when he was a-hungered, the devil came to him and said: If thou be the son of God, command these stones be made bread. But Jesus resisted the temptation. Then the devil set him on a pinnacle of the temple and said to him: If thou be the son of God, cast thyself down. For angels had charge of him and would bear him up. But again Jesus resisted. Then the devil took him into a high mountain and showed him the kingdoms of the world and said that he would give them to him if he would fall down and worship him. But Jesus said: Get thee hence, Satan. That's the end of the story according to the good simple Matthew. But it wasn't. The devil was sly and he came to Jesus once more and said: If thou wilt accept shame and disgrace, scourging, a crown of thorns and death on the cross, thou shalt save the human race, for greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Jesus fell. The devil laughed till his sides ached, for he knew the evil men would commit in the name of their redeemer."

And, on the next page of the same book:

"I couldn't but surmise that the devil, looking at the cruel wars that Christianity has occasioned, the persecutions, the tortures that Christian has inflicted on Christian, the unkindness, the hypocrisy, the intolerance, must consider the balance sheet with complacency. And when he remembers that it has laid upon mankind the bitter burden of the sense of sin that has darkened the beauty of the starry night and cast a baleful shadow on the passing pleasures of a world to be enjoyed, he must chuckle as he murmurs: Give the devil his due."

Dominionism, Ralph Reed, Glenn Beck, and Santorum didn't exist when Maugham wrote this.


0 #3 James M. Martin 2012-04-11 14:08
Maugham's tale of the spiritual awakening of a war-weary young man who travels to the Himalayas and obtains sartori is a wonderful tale that has attracted such stars as Tyrone Power and Bill Murray, but this highlighted passage indicates he was far more than the peripatetic story teller he's usually considered. It is interesting that he met the occultist Aleister Crowley at some point in his career and from that meeting produced a short novel, "The Magician," in which A. C. became "Oliver Haddo." Crowley used the name as a pseudonym to keep it from appearing that he wrote every article in a magazine he edited. I am not so sure that even Crowley, who hated Maugham, would disagree with this passage.
0 #2 Eric Arthur Blair 2012-04-11 07:46
Dominionism has roots that go back farther than 1944.
0 #1 Cujo359 2012-04-08 17:18
"Dominionism, Ralph Reed, Glenn Beck, and Santorum didn't exist when Maugham wrote this."

They existed, I think. They just had different names, and in some cases, different bodies.

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