Saints and Revolutionaries, by Olaf Stapledon


THE two outstanding characteristics of our age are the revival of violence, of conflict, and the revival of religion. The revival of conflict is obvious enough — conflict between classes, between parties between races, between nations. The revival of religion is not so generally recognized. The reason for this is that for most Europeans and Americans — and it is their philosophers who are foremost in formulating and describing the clash of ideas — religion still means Christianity: and the religions of the new conflicting forces are at the antipodes to Christianity.

There is to-day no more important conflict than the conflict of ideas. It was possible for intelligent men in the nineteenth century to think that conduct could be divorced from belief. Indeed it was a common opinion: and it was as wrong as it was common. We see all over the world the disastrous consequences of the attempt to separate conduct from creed.

The most extreme conflict is that between those who believe in the world of freedom and those who believe in the world of fate. Between the disciples of reason and the instruments of the unconscious. Between the children of the: spirit and the servants of the machine.

The Editor of this series is a Christian; but he would not put forward the arrogant and ridiculous claim that no religion but Christianity is opposed to the worship of the mass and of a mechanical determinism, which are our peculiar foes. In the present conflict those who are not against the spirit are for it; all those who believe that. there is a world other than the sensuous, phenomenal world are on the same side. This is a series of books by those who are opposed to the forces in life which seek to destroy the dignity of the individual soul and to exalt the machine: who are opposed to the attempt to exalt violence above justice; and to the tendency to substitute persecution for argument.

The contributors will include historians, philosophers, men of science and theologians; but the chief aim of the series is to form a focus for the creative artists.

Each volume might be called "I Believe" The books, that is, will not be essays in opinion or conjecture; not experiments in speculation or desire, but adventures in faith. They will express the authors' innermost convictions. Some of the books will deal at large with the world of reality; others with certain aspects of it. Some of the authors have taken, as a starting-point and motto as it were, a clause or a phrase from the historic creeds of Christendom; others write from the standpoint of their own individual interpretation of philosophic, religious or historical subjects.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00