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Protestantism notes


John S Moore




220  Someone on TV last night apparently criticised Foxe’s Book of Martyrs for being too one sided, which is like criticising the writings of Lenin for being too communist or too left wing.





33 So I am a protestant but not a Christian. I protest myself right out of Christianity. In this I am working fully in the great tradition of the one great period of religious genius in the history of my people. It is the decay of Christianity and consequently of he fully articulated reaction against it, the invidious Catholicisation of modern Protestantism, that make modern Christianity so evil. Much Protestantism led into atheism or agnosticism but then the moral force, the energising motive that led it to fight against Papism were lost. So papism sneaks a surreptitious hold on the unconscious mind.

So hurrah for the protestants of Northern Ireland. Their fight is not my fight but it is the ghost of a fight that I still believe in. the sovereignty of individual conscience. All strength to it in fighting against the insidious structures of Christian guilt deeply embedded in the unconscious. Insofar as it suffers from and overcomes this threat, Protestantism is one of the flowers of history {Milton}. Mere atheism in the early days was generally inadequate to defeat the Christian structures that were so deeply embedded in the mind and the emotions.

Then consider the USA. Protestantism got there but it seems to have hardened into some crude basic Christianity. Remove all the Catholicism, go far away from its moral and cultural reach, and what is the raison d’etre of Protestantism? Christianity there just becomes another dead plant. If Protestantism is to accomplish itself it needs Catholicism and all its evil that it may triumph over it. See why the culture of the USA is so highly moralised. It happened in other protestant countries of course, parts of Germany, Wales perhaps. The dead hulk without the Catholicism it was to react against. Protestantism as new oppression. To be liberating it needs the catalyst of Catholicism Put the two in mutual antagonism and you can get an effective escape form the oppression of Christianity itself. And such escape, such overcoming are really what life is all about, they are the whole purpose, the meaning of life.





216 Billy Graham the evangelist. He did not come across on TV as an unsophisticated man. Almost like one engaged in gaining recruits for protestant Christianity, a kind of recruiting sergeant, hooking them in with his evangelical part then letting them construct whatever sophisticated or unsophisticated variety or Protestantism they like


306 My real objection to socialism is that it has a conception of the nature and purpose of human life which it tries to impose upon all of us. It is this that I strongly object to, in this that I discover oppression. It is against this that my protestant conscience revolts.





168 The Northern Irish protestants. Ugly they may be, but I think their historical cause, their antipapism, has a lot of value in it. Hatred of Catholicism, of the Pope, surely that is a great part of the libertarian tradition? The Catholics see it differently, but |I do not see why we should misread our history just because of them.





171 Bayle, concept of religious toleration. Is Catholic intolerance of Protestantism worse than vice versa? It can be. Take the ideal of toleration. Protestantism in essence is closer to that ideal than Catholicism. As with communism and capitalism it is more oppressive for communism to suppress capitalism than vice versa.

A spirit of authority versus a spirit of freedom. The latter may suppress possibilities, say Catholicism, to which it feels no inclination. This is oppression, but it is not as bad as the Catholic exaltation of the principle of spiritual authority for its own sake.

Sometimes the suppression of heresy may have seemed like the elimination of alien and tedious nonsense. Bayle, she says, was not an atheist but his anti Catholicism struck Frenchmen as anti Christian.

The protestant revenge, the Huguenot revenge, stimulating the eighteenth century enlightenment from Holland.

Bayle’s residual Calvinism leading him to attack facile optimists and deists. His exaltation of the power of God, perhaps recalling Ockham.

Bayle’s defence of toleration, or the basics of conscience. The obvious immorality of recantation against conscience (for which one should be dammed). His pessimism, characteristic of his age, perhaps. A deeper sounder psychology than that which prevailed later in the eighteenth century.





81 Taine I never found that good Very talented but no genius. His ideas on English Protestantism. Because he favours this for reasons of his own he romanticises it.

I think, and hope he exaggerates the universality of Christian belief. He sassy it is changing, but I doubt if it was ever as universal as he says.

There are other strange features of his portrait of high Victorian life. So much of what he describes I recall as surviving into the sixties at public school But the way he describes it is far from as I perceived it. Is this just because when I encountered it it was worn out? He portrays these values, like Thomas Arnold’s values, as if they fit.

What Matthew Arnold described as philistinism as if it simply expressed the energies of the people.

A journalistic portrait that hides the repression that Victorian moralism was widely felt to embody.

Muscular Christianity was never the feeling of entire nation. I get a sense of superficiality. Of course things change and high Victorianism was only a phase. But were these phenomena ever taken with the wholehearted commitment he seems to suggest?

Idea of Christianity as the ideology of democratic morality. Christianity as popular morality. A collective self righteous feeling. Taine recognises only one side of English Protestantism. The idea that there was at one time no opposition or or resentment of this spirit.

Undersexed idea… As if everyone was adjusted to this ‘Victorianism’ and only a later generation found it oppressive. Basic moral ideas of Christianity. Morality itself is something useful and valuable. Morality of he weak is a different question, Christianity like identified with crude clichés and the prejudices and beliefs of the common people. Like ‘reasons of the heart’. This English Victorianism had a Europe wide influence. The hatefulness of Christianity was partly this. So Taine’s enthusiasm is partly misplaced. Christianity became the ideology of democratic prejudice, of the values of inferiority and the beliefs of the stupid. Idea of rightness of the common man. Popular journalism.





141& Protestantism as essentially horror at persecution and inquisition. Though they did it themselves to some extent.

The revulsion I feel for inquisition and religious persecution. In defence of what? Of a nothing, a lie. What is there in Catholicism that could justify persecution? In Spanish church architecture there is triumphalism. Think of this as a common emotion, even a racist feeling.

The freedom of princes.

Spanish values. Superstition. In what sense are aristocratic values compatible with such superstition and how far?

Spanish darkness. The tenebrism of Zurbaran. Darkness of superstition and magic.

Social class in history, Marxist history.

William the Silent like Mao Tse Tung old values realised in the fulfiller and destroyer of the old.

Bourgeois culture. In what respect might bourgeois culture seem a falling off from aristocratic values, with their power fully to satisfy the imagination? In what sense was the Netherlands conflict a struggle between aristocratic and bourgeois? Or is this inappropriate? For it was not just the rich bourgeoisie who went for Protestantism. Nor did the common people make heroes out of rich merchants. The slightly repellent concept of he bourgeois makes it inappropriateness to speak of bourgeois culture as Marx does …. Etc etc. There is an extent to which we are inevitably northern protestants. We desire values to be fully articulated. We have a concept of individual sovereignty. We accept that it is possible to live and gain much pleasure and satisfaction without that concept. But we could not or certainly should not conceive of dispensing with it in order to do so.


163& William the Silent as hero. Motley as more inspiring than Plutarch. Despite what Nietzsche says it is hard not to see Protestantism as an advance. When we admire the Borgias et al we are not admiring the explicit and stated ideals of a society only the raw nature which seems to defy those ideals.

Borgia culture. Neo pagan but he supported the Inquisition because it brought in revenue.

There is indeed a certain paganism in treating all ideals as simply vehicles for human energies, a paganism that is ingrained, almost racial…. Is not what we admire in the Borgias the defiance of Christianity? Is this not the explanation of the pleasure we feel in them? That they have overcome something we find oppressive. And could the renaissance in fact have continued this work abolishing Christianity?

I suspect that more was needed and that  mere republicanism was inadequate to the task. Carducci, remember, praised Luther in his hymn to Satan. Luther was no simple revivalist.  …Protestantism is articulation. It is overcoming on a more than merely personal level. A revolt against the Christian society insofar as it means spiritual authority. Republicanism as such does not abolish spiritual authority, its offensiveness has not been felt strongly enough. Escape is possible only on a personal level.


178 Visited the City Free Temple, or whatever it is called in Holborn. Look at the interior of a non conformist church, the prominence given to the pulpit. Think of the Union Chapel at Highbury. In this there is definitely a certain poetry. Think of the free church preachers thundering from the pulpit. Think of what went on in their minds. I being so used to the Anglican church, the non conformist church is a kind of democratic protest. A republican quality. See how it could thrive in America. Think of he emotions it engenders. Feelings of power in the simple doctrines.

Yet  another sense one dislikes it. When one thinks too specifically of the priests and the congregation. The religion, it appears, is anti sex. The poetry belongs to a part of the mind temporarily distracted form sex.

In terms of one’s familiarity with Anglican and Catholic churches a bizarreness. Recalling something like Picasso’s distortions. The very democracy of it playing fast and loose with immutable tradition. I mean what we think of as religion, or a church interior is fixed as the shape of the human body is fixed, the bizarreness of the free church is that it seems to create democratically a tradition in the way one wants it.

Interiorising the Biblical message. The authorised version.

I would say Luther was not entirely a fool. He did not delight in the neopaganism of Rome. But he Rome of those days asked for and demanded dupes.

I would not want to I introduce any Hegelian progress nonsense but think the protestant revolt against spiritual authority was definitely a good thing.

The Italians of he renaissance are in some respects innocents, Christianity was certainly a presence. The restoration of paganism was not really on. The revolt against authority was not a revolt against a chimera or a crass misunderstanding. There is something Socratic in it. You can live within a framework including certain basic myths of that framework and pursue personal ambition within it. Or you  can try to change that framework, including some of the myths, especially when elements of it clash strikingly with your will.

Calvinism of William the Silent. Freedom of conscience becoming itself a religious ideal


183& Protestantism as enshrining a myth referring to self consciousness. Instead of a freedom based on cynicism, living amid superstition etc. A myth actually expressing this freedom. As distinct from myths which do something quite other. It seems to me to suggest a means of reordering society in accordance with the will, instead of merely living in a timeless conservative framework.

The conservatism of Catholic tradition.

The religious content of Reformation I understand primarily as myth.

As the Greek myths offered a pictorial means of understanding certain human realities, the same can be said of much of the Biblical material that resurfaced at the Reformation. Thus I see some power in the myth, even in such a book as Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. For what are we to make of immutable tradition.? It has its pressure points, whatever may be said in its favour. It depends upon its police. The ideal of a rational tradition, this is protestant.


205 Think of the intense hedonism of the rococo, that Nietzsche sees as a way back to the Greeks. But how much of this hedonism was clearly and consciously inspired by libertine philosophers like the grossly materialistic La Mettrie? If there is a state of mind you desire to promote I say it is best to do it directly by means of rational philosophy and not by irrational magic.

So the rococo is not really a Counter Reformation spirit at all, rather a protestant spirit as the French enlightenment was obviously protestant.





24 Nietzsche on the Reformation, suggesting Luther should have been burned like Huss, thus allowing the enlightenment to occur 100 years earlier. I approve the Reformation. Protestant freedom essentially anti-Catholic feeling in the name of freedom of conscience.

Where was freedom of conscience in the renaissance?

A principle of inwardness, multidimensionality.

Nietzsche praises the shallow Voltaire. Science is shallow, he is prepared to admit. Deep feelings belong to religion, which is illusion. He is for science, for rationalism, enlightenment.


40 Greece, the tragic impulse. The urge to tyranny is tragic, because it leads to conflict, with inevitable disastrous consequences. Nero was the fulfilment of one strain in classical civilisation. Individual tyranny as supreme satisfaction. Or perhaps certain concepts can deepen or extend the possibility of experience. Mathematical concepts famously extend the number of things one can do. Spengler has a lot to say about the limitations of classical culture, of its lack of an infinite. Perhaps freedom is such a concept, freedom or sovereignty of conscience. This is its rational formulation, but most of its emotional context can be contained in a pre rationalistic religious form.

A way out of an impasse. Impulses to which Luther and Calvin spoke.


45 Catholicism has a better survival record than Protestantism. The basic protestant impulse is getting forgotten, as Catholic and protestant tolerance are put on the same level. Seventeenth century English Catholicism was heroin and worse. Now we tolerate Catholics, and the protestant impulse of hatred for presumptions of spiritual authority, is regarded as uncharitable.

Individual freedom of conscience is the foundation of all I hope for.


93 The power, the convincing quality of early Christianity was based upon what we can now see as scientific mistakes. The original authority claimed for it was the authority of science, it was an interpretation of the world that claimed to be scientifically true. It was persuasive, it had emotional force, apparent history and facts to appeal to. The moral idea of the virtue of authority was something which crept in later. Protestantism was essentially a reaction against it. I conceive this protestant idea to have the highest value. That there is something worth caring about.

The Roman Empire was tolerant. Intolerance was introduced, the principle of spiritual authority and repression.

In this modern society we are supposed to care about some things and not to care about others. The orthodoxies in this sense can seem quite arbitrary, senseless. It seems people adapt themselves, even their deeper feelings and concerns, to those expected of them by some party in the state. According to what I suggested was the basic impulse of Protestantism this must be bad.

In the lack of a dogmatic church it can seem to be fatuous. The journalist who writes what he does not believe, does not this deserve them name of sin?


109& Authority in the ancient world was founded upon power or accident of birth. The Catholic church rejected natural power, and set up a supposed authority in dogmatic religion. In perceiving the speciousness of the ground the protestant comes into power. An alternative ground, based on a sort of honesty. It is as if the pre Christian set up has returned, newly self conscious in the face of error. In a world riddled with error and superstition truth has a natural right to rule.

A right superior to the old pagan right of superior force. Because force is not what is claimed but a specious right.

The power of the Catholic hierarchy is not simply nature and pagan power. It is founded on lies, deception, superstition . It refutes itself,

I believe the renaissance was not sufficient, that the Reformation was necessary. Christianity had to be undone on a mythic level. Luther was merely the last in a long chain of heretics… Protestant Europe has not been always or necessarily socialist and democratic, It has its own forms of authority, its own heroism and adventure. Nietzsche's own anti Christianity is part of that movement.


Some might say that Lecky is a compendium of Victorian protestant prejudices. Protestantism as a clear perception of the spuriousness of the Catholic claims to authority.

All religious feeling still takes a Christian form and colouring. Christian myth and symbolism is the form which religious experience takes. If we analyse that experience from a scientific point of view we may discover all kinds of natural instincts satisfying themselves in a purportedly Christina guise. Protestantism becoming the expression of a demand for power.

In fact this is potentially an unprecedented liberation of the human spirit. All authority is in fact questioned, Authority in every field. So alternatives present themselves in every case. This is not merely rebellion against authority, which as Nietzsche pointed out, was a feature of he Italian renaissance.


134 The so called work ethic. Abortions of people, life long slaves, devotees of duty, turning up on religious programmes praising the virtue of work. Insofar as Protestantism was Christian revival it was philistine and repressive. Insofar as it is Christian, ie morally repressive, it is evil. Insofar as it is protest, ie rejection of spiritual authority, it is admirable,.


139& There is a variety of protestant Christianity which seems to have nothing whatever to recommend it, which seems to be merely an ideology offering justification for being a psychological abortion, immersed in work with an undeveloped soul or personality. and an obsession with duty. Christianity as a supposed self denial, a religion of self denial, for others that is, of those things one has not been able to enjoy. There is nothing good about this religion. It is priggish repressive hypocritical oppressive and potentially diabolical.

… When Nietzsche and Crowley attack Protestantism presumably what they have in mind is the type of the Christian prig, which has undeniably dug itself well into the societies of the protestant west. It is only one type and certainly does not exhaust Protestantism. Many other types flourish in our society. But this type is particularly powerful and successful because it is devoted to work.





50 Protestantism and popular liberty. Luther, Cromwell. It may be used for opposite purposes, as with Chamberlain. Hints of liberty even in the rawness of its will to power. Chamberlain on Scotus and Ockham, whom he favours, as breaking out of the oppressive grip of Aquinan orthodoxy. I must admit that his viewpoint does accord with my prejudices. The coarseness of an unwillingness to conform.


199 Protestantism as Chamberlain see it. I agree with him to a certain extent. Look where tolerance leads. I would put the fundamental religious value as a kind of individual sovereignty.      There is a conception of the essence of all evil that is protestant, religious, and sees it as embodied in certain policies. As in something like the Inquisition. The idea that we should tolerate this principle and its expression is one that brings out the deepest conflicts in society. The so called tolerance promoted by the Catholic as if his values are the real fundamental ones. Whereas his ‘tolerance’ represents the most basic assault on the essence of our belief. Our belief he despises and seeks to colonise.


206 Basic civil war in this country, symbolised by Catholic v protestant. Irreconcilable concepts of evil and therefore what it is worth fighting to the death for. Differing concepts of freedom that keep up a constant tension.

Looking for insights. How the Irish troubles may eventually resolve themselves. A seeming victory for the republicans, disappearance of protestant cause. Yet ultimately a hollow victory as Catholic belief gets eroded and English cultural domination becomes ever more pervasive.

England has been the leading protestant nation in history. This Protestantism is expressed in contemporary atheism, agnosticism and religious indifference.


222 In European society there exist different parties, different ideas of the meaning of civilisation. Like the Catholic opposition. The protestant tradition to be seen in terms of a revolt in favour of freedom. Chamberlain says that the princes started it, not the Emperor. One could see it as an anti Christian movement. But rather than that one could see it as using all the material of Christianity to express a different impulse. A much clearer concept f the significance of Protestantism. Why people like Luther begin on the level of myth yet come to have a much wider significance.


224 England’s historic destiny. The leading protestant power. Culturally the leading protestant nation, whose ideas have been taken over into the US. Significance of Protestantism. Chamberlain not far off the mark. Related to the whole development of scientific knowledge and political freedom and the other appurtenances of modern civilisation, Of modern civilisation as we want to give it to the world.


227 Protestantism. If it represents something significant, how can that come out of the system of lies that is original Christianity? Should we think of it as lies or differently as something neither true nor false, something pre true, a kind of creative despotism? That truth is a value that emerges from competition, from resistance to despotism. God could even be redefined in this way.


295 Nietzsche says of the Reformation that it was a vulgar and plebeian version of the renaissance. I still think he has this excessively German perspective. The Italian renaissance was arbitrary and despotic. As spectacle it was of course wonderful. Chamberlain would trace the Reformation  back, among others, to William the Conqueror and his refusal to swear fealty to the Pope. I cannot see just plebeian ignorance. What of the scepticism of the Italians? How admirable how superficial? Aretino. A brilliant superficiality, politically confused.

The plays of Shakespeare, Expression of England’s protestant destiny. Why England has lost her way in the world. Lost sense of her world mission,. Memories of the fires of Smithfield. Protestantism may well be an offshoot of Catholicism….


251 Protestant urge for freedom, essentially a moral urge. Based on hits own conception of truth. Yet its opponents see it as wickedness and blasphemy, miserable crime. The person whose belief it is has no right to a hearing, not right to liberty or even life.


277 Benda shows that certain ideas have become clustered together, such as monarchism, hatred of the working class and authoritarianism. This is something that has damaged the French monarchist cause just as the Irish problem has damaged both the reputation of the Catholic Irish and the concept of Protestantism as a cause. Benda’s concept of the ideal unity of all ‘clerks’ as with his admiration of Aquinas lays him open to the criticism of someone like Chamberlain, that he supports the values of the Latin chaos, essentially authoritarian.

Yet much of what he says is sound. Someone needed to warn against the alarming tendencies of pre war France. The pre Vichy syndrome. What is the best protection against that? A hatred of oppression that needs to be focussed on some specific cause that is worth rioting about. This the spirit of protestant England. I would say that purports to be universal.





219 The prohibitionist idea that it is possible to lay down a pattern of happiness to which we have a right to expect everybody to adapt. This is the most fundamental  offence against freedom. Such freedom would be such a basic right that it is irrelevant if utilitarian disadvantages are present. We could think of it as the heart and essence of Protestantism, of the identity which we should preserve at all costs. The principle expressed by prohibition is most odious. Some societies express such an odious principle as the very foundation upon which everything is based. Where there is a true spirit of freedom it is rooted in long tradition, not in shallow rationalistic ideas.


310 The carol service. Once in Royal David’s City “Christian children all must be mild obedient good as he”. That someone could write such rubbish just shows what sorts of people used to oppress children in England.

Blasphemy is genuine religion. Affirmation takes many forms, always over new obstacles. For one generation to want to transmit its experience to another a certain amount of bad needs to be transmitted, Christianity can seem a kind of abscess, drawing poison from far afield. To hate it is an emotion that can be very productive. Simply to eliminate it is hardly an adequate or progressive response, it creates no dialogue. Crowley’s image appeals on a universal, religious level. One must not simply lash out and destroy something one has reason to hate. One should respond with pagan rites. The protestant struggle. Essentially the struggle to make your own religion.





370 Idea of freedom through yobbishness. The voluntary yob. Freedom the god. Protestantism, give a bit of mythology to play with and see what develops form that. Freedom. The loa yobbo. A god is a creation produced by an enormous concentration of emotion, The god yobbo. Seen as the expression of a certain kind of affirmation. Even the sense of freedom. Freedom itself being the true religious value. Gilbert and George. Private Eye reviewer’s attack on Eddings, a sword and sorcery writer, for promoting “perverted religion”. Perverted religion actually sounds something quite interesting Orthodox religion I find really hateful. Protestantism protests. In Protestantism found the true affirmation, the true liberation, Yobbishness is actually the heart of the English character.





66 Forms of anti Christianity. One may hate Christianity because one wants to replace it with another religion, like Islam or some secularised form of Judaism. Or one may hate it for protestant reasons. As the papacy itself came to be seen as an oppression, so does Christian doctrine itself.

Catholicism, spiritual authority derives from the church hierarchy, ultimately from the pope. Erastiainsm puts it in the hands of the secular authorities. Presbyterianism democratised in the hands of church elders. Idea of early Protestantism, that spiritual authority was written down in the Bible. This authority was used against the hierarchy. A natural step further was to subordinate this authority to the ‘inner light’ as the Quakers did. As in Protestantism the Pope became Antichrist, so in the tradition of western Christendom Christian doctrine itself became identified as anti life. The one great iniquity under the new form taken by the spiritual quest.


164 Reformation. How protestant theology became necessary after Henry’s reforms to reassure the people who would otherwise feel bereft.





65 Protestantism  a ‘wrangling club of half thinking pedants, half taught geniuses and untaught egotists of every type’(Dobell). The half taught geniuses, Boehme, Blake, Bunyan. But there are highly taught geniuses, Milton, Calvin, Hooker. Protestantism a phase in the emancipation of religious experience. Dostoyevsky quotes Sidney Dobell as saying Protestantism will survive because it is educational. This seems to me sound Religion, justice, ethics, spirituality, potentially autonomous spheres.


126 Clark on books in the average English household in the early 18th century. Bunyan and Paradise Lost. See what was said about Protestantism educating. Milton could be profoundly educative in some one sense. Going far deeper than the Bible, into fundamental Christian mysteries.


167 Manon Lescaut Moral tale, Catholic work by which I mean there is a consciousness of sin in its pursuit. One of the self justification that characterises the protestant and becomes so pronounced in Nietzsche and myself





300 The Catholic refusal to understand the protestant case for freedom. Scepticism as a relativism on which the Catholic case depends. Jesuits. Failure to perceive authoritarianism as tyranny.

Catholic concept of heresy. Deviation from an official line as inherently sinful or criminal;. Mandeville writes of the principle that that no man be  coerced against his conscience as essential to a free society. The Catholic may cynically laugh at such a principle. The protestant idea that freedom and sovereignty of conscience are really central is not taken head on by the Catholic. He reserves the right to suppress heresy, though he may tolerantly refrain from using it. It is self evident to him that there are values more important than freedom, that freedom is only a luxury that needs to be put it  in its place. To the protestant sovereignty of conscience is the source of all values, for the Catholic the source is derived from outside. He is happy to submit to a principle of authority. Submission to authority is natural and good to him.


306 Catholic v protestant. Catholic attitude to culture. The necessity of rules. That dogmas are much like rules of grammar and language. That to insist they be changed for some ideal of freedom is absurd, vulgarly personal ambition.





37 See the law of Thelema as a development of Protestantism, certainly of Miltonic Protestantism. Thou has no right but to do thy will. Here I stand I can do no other. Osborne’s Luther. We may speak of a man following his conscience or of a man following his true will. What is ‘my God’, but my innermost satisfaction?  To pursue that can be construed as the supreme virtue even as leading to saintliness, whereas the pursuit of ones ‘own will’ is regarded as the height of evil. Where is the difference? Perhaps that the one who uses the God idiom is expected to be afflicted with inhibition.

The God of the OT was a racial, nationalistic god. What was godly was what served the nation. Few scruples stood in the way of this end. God stood for the collective will, the morality needed to bind a people together.

Protestantism substitutes individual will for collective will.

Ancient and modern Puritanism. The great modern puritan is perhaps the Ayatollah Khomeini. The motives that inspired Cromwellian Puritanism are perhaps not much different from those that inspire this modern one, namely hatred of what is seen as frivolous, decadent distraction. American trash culture demoralising youth.

What Protestantism became was something crude and repellent, as we see in The Way of All Flesh (Butler). That does not alter the fact that for a while it was something extremely liberating, especially in England,.





49 “I shall assume without argument that there is such a thing as the protestant ethic’ (Christopher Hill)

I question this assumption. There lurks the suspicion of a certain kind of fallacy behind this to which I would like to give a name. In trying to make a point one presents a natural state of affairs as if it were the outcome of some provisional historically conditioned ideology. The protestant ethic is an invention of left wing historians, We do not find any direct articulation of it in the literature of the period in which it was supposed to be dominant.  Etc etc


176 English history, the protestant Reformation. Why English history as such? Because I happen to be English? Well what is there in the world? Basically the English and the French. The French Reformation was the revolution, much of the content of which was shallow and rationalistic.





76  Protestantism as a kind of resistance. Culture as a kind of resistance. Cultural forms which are self subsisting, detached for any need to belong to a grand synthesis. All the time Catholicism struggles for supremacy hoping for the extirpation of Protestantism. The priestly motive. Attacking the self subsistent. How can the priest be resisted unless there is a good motive for hating him? And how can one hate what is simply religiously tolerated?


155 The demand for freedom, not just a demand for economic exploitation. Not ‘Jewish’ in Marx’s sense. But it is in another sense protestant. Whatever good Marx may seem to realise there is another way of valuing which can realise as much good. The hated of what seems to be his tyranny us not basely selfish. It can provide a foundation for everything or almost everything. Whatever good the tyrant offers it offers in a different way. Yet whoever Satan is he is not God’s little brother. His grievance is to do with a sense of his privileges having been infringed, Sense of a truth that has bee n curtailed not a new power that has to be established. It did not create a universe. But it did well with where it is.


331 Smollet’s fascinating picture of 1760s England. Clinker the Methodist preacher disturbing the turnkey who wants his charges to die like true born Englishmen rather than canting weavers. Idea of the ‘patriot’. Presumably some kind of Wilkite, protestant, liberty obsessed, proto imperialist….and how is one to see Dickens? Dickens' Christianity. Has the Methodist movement played a part in bringing this about?.... Bramble's idea that the mixing of the classes as at Bath will make us ludicrous to other nations. What he says about the abuse of the ideals of liberty and the protestant religion. See what happened and how things changed, How Christianity became more of a curse. How did morality and manners change? The sabbatarianism of Schopenhauer’s English education… Georgian brutality. Irrelevance of Nietzsche John Wesley. Eighteenth century England and its vigour. Where worry about demoralisation seems somehow irrelevant.  Yet the threat of the mob was still something strong and feared. Yet the democratic threat was not the same thing. It did not mean quite the same depressing demoralisation.

What happened,. The Wesleyan Christianity which overran the country and indirectly much of the protestant world,  Which originated in Oxford (the most Christian city in the kingdom, according to Hardy). Is the Christianity the essential bad thing that was introduced, this tremendous encouragement to the over sensitivity of the female and ignorant? This that made English Protestantism such a poisonous brew. 18th century culture, like a reliving of the Italian renaissance, Savonarola, Wesley St Paul. How an admirable pagan culture falls to evangelical fanaticism. The brutality of it that upsets us. Its hangings. Yet perhaps the worst part of this is an oversensitivity to it…Wesleyism a reaction against paganism, not against popery.





325 Difference between Russian identity and English identity. A state of being versus a state of struggle. try to trace this to religious defences, orthodoxy versus Protestantism. Protestantism may be seen as a religious form that transcends Christianity. Thus the English may no longer be Christian while remaining protestant. The essence of Protestantism being protest. Protest against a form of authority.

The concept of freedom only has meaning in terms of struggle against its antithesis. So the myth has to be constantly renewed. A people guided by a myth of freedom must constantly fight to renew it, it cannot settle into a state of being. Being is precisely what the Russian seeks in the people. Karatsyev. Pierre's inspiration, some silly old peasant, mild, resigned, religious,

Morality. Virtue. The disharmony of morality with the will.   Morality experienced as a coercive pressure . Morality virtue. Against morality, evil, the Devil. Identify the coercive element in all that is expected of you. What is desired of you, what women desire of you. Idea that one should think and feel other than as one does think and feel.

All these coercive factors should be made explicit. Thus what is demanded of you may be easier to resist. etc etc





131& So the French Nietzsche, the French De Sade are different from the English versions. They each exist in a different political and cultural context. The English de Sade, even, is not politically irresponsible. Their thought is integrated into the particular type of society with all its power structures. Catholic v protestant. Irresponsibility of the child. This does not mean the protestant is necessarily repressed and inhibited, because that is not our psychology. Will to power is the thing, the overcoming of resistance, not the release of dammed up energy.

The Catholic carnival. Running amok, power is preserved, not really threatened.


250 The protestant impulse and the freedom impulse. The contradictions. The intolerance (of Catholicism) that creates what eventually may seem a superior more powerful and free position. What in England led to religious indifference. Scotland took a different route. But can the history become so well known as to become a trap?


255& Protestantism. Like the mission to rid civilisation of superstition. And then after that, comes romanticism. ‘No Popery’ is a fight to clear the state of a present danger. What no longer threatens may be romantically enjoyed.





80 The extent to which Protestantism was admirable can be seen if we treat Christ as a mere symbol, standing for instinctual truth perhaps.


128 Nietzsche on  Luther. Not appreciating Luther. Struggle through a new set of obstacles.


163 At least Protestantism presented an ideal of the strong, self sufficient individual, which is not too far removed from the superman. It cuts out the crap about religious authority. The aim of a good practical psychology being to free from one’s personal problems and turns one into a self determining superman.





55 The other idea of religion, like religion as esoterism. The view of religion primarily as morality, a product of our own rebellious protestant spirit. The coercive aspect is something we resist. And we want the whole of history and nature to be covered by our scientific principle, we don’t want to spare any bit for miracle.


151 Communism, Catholicism, Protestantism. All radically different perspectives, like different loyalties. Loyal to some sort of tyrant, some assertion of naked power. Back to certain acts of violence perpetrated by Henry VIII.


231 Thoughts on English freedom. Pre protestant, pre Henry VIII, pre Magna Carta. England and France in symbiosis. Just as the French monarchy arose in resistance to England and English invasion, so ultimately English freedom developed as part of a desire to assert cultural independence & follow a slightly different cultural path.  Thus early English gothic, Wells, Lincoln, Worcester. A  healthy and admirable spirit of emulation and good Eris.





117 Calvin. A great man if a sinister one. Reducing Christianity to a more logical if more sinister creed. Interesting from the viewpoint of the will to power. That man’s mind exerted a fascination over those of many others. His hard austere vision. But there is a difference between intelligent people feeling a fascination for such an outlook and being brought up in it, taking it for granted as presuppositions. The vision ceases to be fascinating and becomes narrow repressive and ugly. A fascinating idea can become to a later generation an oppressive monstrosity. Religious beliefs as the debris of history. The excitement of Calvinism initially as a kind of fascism. Calvin as a man trying to impose his vision upon humanity…





136 See Titian’s portrait of a wealthy family at prayer. To a northerner it looks like a picture of gross hypocrisy. We conceive religion as something to govern the whole of one’s life, piety not as something to be switched on and off. So Protestantism makes possible a severe self discipline.


187 Protestantism emancipation from gregarious values. The Latin temperament is in some ways less free than the northern because it tends, due perhaps to its greater gregariousness, to adhere more faithfully to publicly accepted values. There is more of a participation in a public culture and less obstinate eccentricity of tastes and values.





281 Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. Something very attractive about the old England that shines through these pages…. Etc etc


310 Foxe’s English Reformation. Rejection of spiritual authoritarianism.





103& Protestantism, a movement from below, associated with individualism stimulated by the reading of the Bible. Movement to individual self sufficiency, asocial.





13& Protestant countries have a Hebraic fear of decadence.. what is decadence? Decadence in fact is almost identical with Roman Catholicism, with penitence and the cult of the Virgin Mary. Communism is merely an extreme version of Christianity. In looking back on the past we tend to underestimate the hatred protestants used to feel for Catholicism. What is Gibbon’s decadence but that? Why did so many of the English decadents become Catholics? It was not the pride of a Milton’s Satan, or the crimes of a Jack the Ripper, but the self abasement and moral weakness of the Catholic. Not really the proud harlot of Babylon but the natural harlot of Spain.


Protestant, Hebraic and Roman ideas of decadence.





58  English revolution v French





325&. Abiezar Coppe. English Protestantism. The true understanding of the Hebrew prophetic writing (perhaps the uncensored) in learning how to do it oneself.

Influence on Blake or similar response to scripture? Then Crowley.


340 Bunyan. See why they sent him to prison with attitudes like that. Attacking the worldliness of the clergy.





70 Filled with the sprit of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. Take the protestant as simply the mythological prototype of the dissident. Out of this I form my own ideology, which acquires a national tint. Becomes an aspiration to freedom in an older, simpler sense.


Guenon. Arrogance of the man in his pretence to exclusive wisdom. His Catholicism. His characterisation of the idiocy of Protestantism. The French reaction to the seeming stupidity of the innumerable sects. How can truth be so divided?... Guenon’s vision of esoteric truth. So open to criticism, and I don’t mean philosophical in the sense he attacks. What I call ‘protestant’ or ‘dissident’ method is another way of arriving at truth. These may be outer husks but what of it?


174 Protestantism was an intense moral seriousness but it contained different strands and went in different directions. But then I see morality as freedom, self assertion, not inhibition and restraint. This is the level on which we need to deconstruct Christianity, and honour the Borgias. William the Silent as a hero like Achilles. Aristocratic values, fighting for what one believes in. Fighting anyway, The champion of whatever values with happen to believe in, Against Spain and the Inquisition


323 Protestantism, different aspect, interpretations, lines of possible development. One line leads back to Judaism. But the antipapal aspect of it can easily relate to an anti demiurge, and Ialdabaoth perspective. Not mere opposition but reinterpretation. Recognising that papist culture is in many ways rich and valuable. In extracting this, romanticism.





23 English ideas of freedom, the connection with Protestantism. Hildebrand and the papally sanctioned Norman Conquest as a proto crusade. Idea that this brought about a lasting sense of resentment against he papacy. Roots of English ideas of freedom in anti French bias.


82 The extreme of Protestantism in the Cromwellian revolution. Anti Catholicism, anti semitism, condemned as bigotry. Yet the significance remains. Reading Thomas Vaughan, more sense of the strength of the idea of protestant England. The tension that kept England together. The protestant sects at one end, keeping up a revolutionary pressure.


315 J C Powys says that much evangelical Protestantism was based not on the Bible but on Paradise Lost, Sublimity here. But with respect to the Bible, sublimity is what remains of the authority that has been taken away.


324 The protestant project, putting an end to Christianity. A large historical pattern harder to escape than seems.





295, In our secularised protestant society there is a swarm of so called experts trying to direct people’s lives in accordance with their own ideals. Teachers therapists, social workers, sexologists, socialist ideologues. Our society teems with repulsive grotesques, much as in Dickens’ day.

Attitudes to the underclass. Darwinist attitude. Let them breed and die. See them as the common people, perhaps in need of the harsh moralistic remedies offered by protestant religion.

Without some moral code enjoining restraint, it is said, they succumb to vice. Drink drugs, idleness, dissipation.

Look at the values in the minds of the educationists. Before we accept their claims that what they do is necessary. Ever keen to imprint themselves on the minds of the young. They resemble the religious sects except that they probably have less sympathy and understanding.


350 a portrait of Elizabeth of Bohemia, the winter queen. By Honthorst. Heir of Elizabeth I the protestant alternative to the Habsburgs.





134 Two forms of anti Christianity, anti-clericalism, which is found in Catholic countries, and the anti-religious prejudice which is essentially protestant. What do most of us think of the pope? We dislike him. Is that because we have outgrown all religion, even our Protestantism? No it is the same impulse that created Protestantism in this country in the sixteenth century I find Christianity obnoxious for sound English protestant reasons. A matter of conscience.

JSM 2007