Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mad Religious Publishing




I just know I'm going to get flamed for this... let me just be very clear at this point... I don't care!

So, there's almost nothing as capable of putting me in a good mood than running into a bit of mad religious publishing at the bottom of an auction box. It cheers me up no end. There's a kind of finicky detail and warping of reality in things like this that reminds me of the wall of photos and newspaper clippings you always see in the movies when we are taken inside the lair of a serial killer.

The Destiny of the British Empire as Revealed in the Scriptures. Christadelphian Publishing Office, London, 1941. 64pp in brown paper wraps. This pamphlet was originally published in 1866, when one might have thought that it would be rather more relevant too. It contains a fully realised political fantasy of the 'future' for "Britain and her possessions in India and elsewhere" which "constitute the territory spoken of by the prophet as 'Sheba and Dedan'" through a fairly convoluted series of predicted events we come to the crux of the matter when "the saints shall utterly abolish the British Empire, and reduce Britain and all her Colonies to perfect subjection to the King of Israel, then dwelling in Jerusalem"

PEARCE, W. Horace. The Vatican, Fascism and Nazism. The Protestant Truth Society, London, n.d. [post war]. 24pp in paper wraps. There's not much can be said about this that isn't said in that wonderfully cosy cover photograph. The general thesis is that WW2 was in fact a "war of the church" in which the Catholic Church lined up with Mussolini and Hitler to do bad things to Protestants.

HIORTH, Albert. Concerning Irrigation in Ancient and Modern Times. The Cultivation and Electrification of Palestine with the Mediterranean as the Source of Power. The Victoria Institute, London, 1923. Author's Copy. 24pp in brown card wraps. This is the best kind of mad religious publishing. At first glance it appears to be something else. Casually, you might look at the title and think it's archaeological or perhaps a civil engineering paper. In fact, in many ways it is both of those but also wonderfully bonkers. Perhaps best illustrated by the title of the fold-out map inside the back cover: "An attempt to record graphically the visions of Ezekiel 47 and Zechariah 14 as to their presumed scheme of irrigation and distribution of hydro-electric energy in the Holy Land"

But I don't want you to think I'm only into Protestant bashing here. The very best religious madness is to be found in some of the auto-cephalus (breakaway) catholic churches: and the very best piece of mad religious publishing I have ever seen came from this direction - I'm devastated to say that I don't still have it. I worked in France for a year or so as a younger man and at some point was handed a photocopied and stapled booklet extolling the the virtues of the auto-cephalus catholic church of something and saint somebody. The first few pages gave details of their churches, liturgy and hierachy and included numerous pictures of their, it has to be said very young-looking Archbishop. The second half of the booklet was an advert for a martial arts dojo run by said Archbishop who then appeared in similarly grainy photos wearing his gi and black belt: wonderful stuff.


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