Friedrich Nietzsche
Translation: H.L. Mencken


The fact that faith, under certain circumstances, may work for blessedness, but that this blessedness produced by an idee fixe by no means makes the idea itself true, and the fact that faith actually moves no mountains, but instead raises them up where there were none before: all this is made sufficiently clear by a walk through a lunatic asylum. Not, of course, to a priest: for his instincts prompt him to the lie that sickness is not sickness and lunatic asylums not lunatic asylums. Christianity finds sickness necessary, just as the Greek spirit had need of a superabundance of health--the actual ulterior purpose of the whole system of salvation of the church is to make people ill. And the church itself--doesn't it set up a Catholic lunatic asylum as the ultimate ideal?--The whole earth as a madhouse?--The sort of religious man that the church wants is a typical decadent; the moment at which a religious crisis dominates a people is always marked by epidemics of nervous disorder; the inner world" of the religious man is so much like the "inner world" of the overstrung and exhausted that it is difficult to distinguish between them; the "highest" states of mind, held up be fore mankind by Christianity as of supreme worth, are actually epileptoid in form--the church has granted the name of holy only to lunatics or to gigantic frauds in majorem dei honorem. . . . Once I ventured to designate the whole Christian system of training22in penance and salvation (now best studied in England) as a method of producing a folie circulaire upon a soil already prepared for it, which is to say, a soil thoroughly unhealthy. Not every one may be a Christian: one is not "converted" to Christianity--one must first be sick enough for it. . . .We others, who have the courage for health and likewise for contempt,--we may well despise a religion that teaches misunderstanding of the body! that refuses to rid itself of the superstition about the soul! that makes a "virtue" of insufficient nourishment! that combats health as a sort of enemy, devil, temptation! that persuades itself that it is possible to carry about a "perfect soul" in a cadaver of a body, and that, to this end, had to devise for itself a new concept of "perfection," a pale, sickly, idiotically ecstatic state of existence, so-called "holiness"--a holiness that is itself merely a series of symptoms of an impoverished, enervated and incurably disordered body! . . . The Christian movement, as a European movement, was from the start no more than a general uprising of all sorts of outcast and refuse elements (--who now, under cover of Christianity, aspire to power)-- It does not represent the decay of a race; it represents, on the contrary, a conglomeration of decadence products from all directions, crowding together and seeking one another out. It was not, as has been thought, the corruption of antiquity, of noble antiquity, which made Christianity possible; one cannot too sharply challenge the learned imbecility which today maintains that theory. At the time when the sick and rotten Chandala classes in the whole imperium were Christianized, the contrary type, the nobility, reached its finest and ripest development. The majority became master; democracy, with its Christian instincts, triumphed . . . Christianity was not "national," it was not based on race--it appealed to all the varieties of men disinherited by life, it had its allies everywhere. Christianity has the rancour of the sick at its very core--the instinct against the healthy, against health. Everything that is well--constituted, proud, gallant and, above all, beautiful gives offence to its ears and eyes. Again I remind you of Paul's priceless saying: "And God hath chosen the weak things of the world, the foolish things of the world, the base things of the world, and things which are despised":23 this was the formula; in hoc signo the decadence triumphed.--God on the cross--is man always to miss the frightful inner significance of this symbol?--Everything that suffers, everything that hangs on the cross, is divine. . . . We all hang on the cross, consequently we are divine. . . . We alone are divine. . . . Christianity was thus a victory: a nobler attitude of mind was destroyed by it--Christianity remains to this day the greatest misfortune of humanity.--

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