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Treatise on the Gods

4.31 of 5 stars 4.31  ·  rating details  ·  106 ratings  ·  14 reviews
With a style that combined biting sarcasm with the "language of the free lunch counter," Henry Louis Mencken shook politics and politicians for nearly half a century. Now, fifty years after Mencken’s death, the Johns Hopkins University Press announces The Buncombe Collection, newly packaged editions of nine Mencken classics: Happy Days, Heathen Days, Newspaper Days, Prejud ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published September 8th 2006 by Johns Hopkins University Press (first published 1930)
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Christopher Myrick
Blunt, forthright, funny and -- at times -- forgiving of those who suspend reason. Mencken strays toward the hypothetical in discussion of origins of religions, particularly in preliterate societies, but is joyously blunt on the contemporary variants of his time ((published 1930). Dismissive of attempts to reconcile religion and science, dismissing Gould's non-overlapping magisteria nonsense more than a half century before it was coined. Particularly scathing toward US protestant fundamentalism ...more
This book is divided into five large chapters, each one being different in subject and tone. Mencken's "Treatise" begins with an exploration of the origins and evolution of religion, and while he draws on some of the anthropological and archaeological evidence then available, much of his writing on the subject are his own personal speculations and conjectures as to how religion, the concept of gods, and theology arose and developed. These two first chapters lacked much of the renown Mencken wit, ...more
Quite the detailed critique of religion, nearly as fresh now as it was when it was written over 50 years ago. One good example, from the final chapter:
One of its basic postulates that the whole process of nature is a sort of continuing miracle, and that it thus establishes the existence of an omnipotent and irresponsible God, -- in brief, of the chartered libertine who is the hero of the Old Testament.The error here, of course, consists in confusing what to simply marvelous with what is actuall
Treatise on the Gods is a well organized trip through the beginnings and evolution of religion. He prefaces the book with his distaste for converts and conversion and states this book is not for believers. Also Mencken remarks that the Earth is large and there is enough room on its epidermis for all of us.

The first chapter is speculative, but is a very plausible explanation of the origin of the occupation of the priest. Leveraging humans hyper-sensitive agent detection and lack of understanding
Noah Stacy
Mencken's prejudices and some of his facts are umistakably dated, and inevitably peek through here and there. For all that, he remains engaging, intelligent, and enjoyable. Highly recommended for the more serious atheists and agnostics.
Amazing treatise on the evolution of religion and brief history of the Christian Church. Written over 80years ago, this single book covers a lot of ground of authors like Gibbon, Hitchens, Dawkins and Ehrman. One disagreement with the book, I don't think the bible as literature, is as quite as good as H.L Mencken suggests.
Treatise on the Gods is a mix of Frazer, William James and Bart Ehrman, but without convention or inhabitation. I noticed some fact discrepancies, but he makes his points with style. I furiously scribbled all kinds of great quotes out of this book and I will add a few here eventually.
John E
A wonderful, speculative history of the origin and development of religion. It becomes more Christianity centered as the book progressed -- understandable considering he was an American. A must read for all interested in religion.
Tyler Malone
An indispensable critique on the creation and rise of religions, to the then-state of the 'twenties Christian faith; as well as a book by a man who loved to think and read for himself. A fine testament to heresy.
Craig J.
Treatise on the Gods (Maryland Paperback Bookshelf) by H. L. Mencken (2006)
Bob Costello
This is the book the put me over the edge and commit as a believer in God.
When I am king this will be required reading by all of the youth.
written as a series of obituaries for various world religions.

The most damning critique of religion I've ever read.
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Henry Louis "H.L." Mencken became one of the most influential and prolific journalists in America in the 1920s and '30s, writing about all the shams and con artists in the world. He attacked chiropractors and the Ku Klux Klan, politicians and other journalists. Most of all, he attacked Puritan morality. He called Puritanism, "the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy."
At the height o
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“The Jews could be put down very plausible as the most unpleasant race ever heard of. As commonly encountered they lack any of the qualities that mark the civilized man: courage, dignity, incorruptibility, ease, confidence. They have vanity without pride, voluptuousness without taste, and learning without wisdom. Their fortitude such as it is, is wasted upon puerile objects, and their charity is mainly a form of display.” 0 likes
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