Joseph McCabe (1867-1955) was one of the most prolific authors of all time. He was brought up as a Roman Catholic, worked on Latin documents, and made himself very well-informed about Christianity, but turned against it. But he was extremely naive about Jews; bear this in mind.

Click for Detailed notes on McCabe - scroll down for selections from A Rationalist Encyclopaedia (1948).

Here's the full A Rationalist Encyclopaedia (about 1.3 MBytes; Word format; includes notes on some of its limits)

Luther, Martin, D.D. (1483-1546)

J. McCabe, Saints. From Rationalists Encyclopaedia

Saints. In the strict Catholic sense of the word these are men and women who wrought miracles during life or, through their remains, after death. When the Roman Church makes or declares a Saint to-day, it (in its notices to the Press) conceals the fact that it claims to have proof of these miracles, in the most literal meaning of the word, and represents that it simply declared More or Joan of Arc, for instance, to have been of saintly character. [See Canonization.] It is one of the arguments for the uniqueness of the Church, in its literature to-day, that it alone has produced such crowds of saints. For the early period vast numbers of these, especially the martyrs [see] , are fictitious, or the title is awarded quite recklessly. Nearly all of the first fifty Popes are saints, yet the only three whose character is fairly well known - Victor, Callistus, and Damasus - were very far from saintly. The title continued to be awarded recklessly or put upon fictitious personalities all through the Dark Age. During the later Middle Ages [see], when the general character was extra-ordinarily lecherous and cruel, almost any man or woman who strictly observed the Christian code, particularly in regard to chastity, was a saint. The joke was current that chastity was called "the angelic virtue" because only angels could observe it. In the last two centuries, when the Roman Church has had far more members than it ever had before, saints have been remarkably rare, and they, like ghosts in haunted houses, grow less and less numerous as the general intelligence and character improves. It is, however, seriously asked at times whether the Roman Church did not produce a very large number of men and women of "beautiful life"; whether other religious organizations or cultures did as much; and whether a rich inspiration of character would not disappear if the Roman Church perished. A realist would be tempted to reply, briefly, that in point of fact the Catholic body in our time has no higher general character, and no higher proportion of exceptionally fine characters, than any other Church or the churchless majority; and that, as regards the past, Buddhist or Moslem literature and the Chinese and Japanese annals make just such claims as do Catholic works. If a direct reply is desired, we have first of all to set aside the mass of fiction in "lives of the saints." Biography is quite generally mendacious, at least in its suppressions, and this is particularly true of ecclesiastical biography. Next, we must conceive clearly what we mean by a beautiful character. Most of the saints won their haloes by self-torture, or "mortifying the flesh," because a hundred-fold reward in heaven was promised. When we reflect that Christianity controlled all Europe for eleven centuries, and nearly half the civilized world for three further centuries, we are puzzled that so very few logically carried out the implications of their faith. Certainly the type of character of the "great saints" (Benedict, Gregory, Hildebrand, Innocent, Francis, Dominic, etc.) will disappear, and to the profit of civilization. There remain a few characters of exceptional kindliness, generosity, truthfulness, etc.: few, that is to say, comparatively to the vast numbers of Roman Catholics.
      Apart from the fact that here also the promised heavenly reward must not be forgotten, it is absurd to suggest that such characters are inspired in any unusual number by the Catholic faith; and far too often even these virtues are allied with pious sourness, bigotry, and injustice to those who do not share the creed. But the general reply is in each person's experience and in modern literature. The type of character that the modern world needs, and would miss, is the man or woman with a strict sense of justice, truthfulness, and honour, warm sentiments of friendliness and generosity, impatience of untruth and dishonesty, and a willingness to work for the betterment of the world. Hundreds of men and women in this book, and hundreds of thousands of their followers, displayed those virtues, often heroically. Rationalism, in proportion to its numerical strength, produced them in the van of every reform-movement a hundred times as prolifically as any other culture.


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