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Treatise on the Gods

4.34  ·  Rating Details ·  132 Ratings  ·  18 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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!!! Buyer beware. My copy of this used book (through Amazon) is missing about 30 pages, and another 30 are duplicated. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997 Second Edition.
I suspect every copy of that issue is the same, as I later saw a disclaimer on AbeBooks of "possible missing pages" from this book.
Sepia cover with Mencken open-mouth, cigar in hand, book on his lap.
This is a rock-solid 5-star book, even with the missing pages.
Though a layman to Theology, I have read a good bit, yet Treatise on
May 03, 2008 Graham rated it really liked it
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
Dec 17, 2009 Kevin rated it really liked it
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
Nov 18, 2012 Jamie rated it it was amazing
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
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
Bea Krauss
Aug 16, 2016 Bea Krauss rated it it was amazing
While we often think of Mencken as a reporter and a humorist, this book shows he was also a religious scholar, widely read in the history of religion and comparative religion. Yes, he is a bit of a skeptic, but his analyses and examples shed important light on today's religious conflicts.....and, importantly, on the common aspects of various religions. He has a humanistic view of the probable rise of religion, conception of afterlives and visions of heaven and hell. The book was a complete surpr ...more
Mar 01, 2012 Kennedy rated it it was amazing
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.
William Mann
HLM is a great essayist, too bad, since Christopher Hitchens died, there are not many like him left. Menchken spins his word webs around the pure and the pompous with unerring wit and an eye to ironic detail. Read on friends. It is always nice to know there is someone out there watching our backs, against all the fools who think they have all the answers in one little book.
May 05, 2010 J. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, 2010-reads
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.
Cliff Hirst
Mar 13, 2016 Cliff Hirst rated it really liked it
This book, published in 1930, is a vicious attack on organized religion, and contains an ugly anti-semitism. Despite that, it is a very entertaining romp, full of pithy skewerings of pastors and priests. Love it and/or hate it.
Noah Stacy
Jul 03, 2014 Noah Stacy rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, atheism
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.
Tyler Malone
Aug 31, 2011 Tyler Malone rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion
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.
John E
Oct 08, 2010 John E rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 03, 2010 Hadrian rated it it was amazing
The most damning critique of religion I've ever read.
Craig Bolton
Treatise on the Gods (Maryland Paperback Bookshelf) by H. L. Mencken (2006)
May 05, 2010 conor rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
When I am king this will be required reading by all of the youth.
Oct 23, 2007 Varmint rated it really liked it
Shelves: mencken
written as a series of obituaries for various world religions.

Bob Costello
Apr 24, 2012 Bob Costello rated it it was amazing
This is the book the put me over the edge and commit as a believer in God.
James rated it it was amazing
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Oct 05, 2009
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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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