Now The Plain Truth About Herbie;
He Was Just Plain Nuts!!
"There can be no doubt that as a matter of fact that a religious life, exclusively pursued, does tend to make the person exceptional and eccentric," the American psychologist and philosopher William James wrote nearly a hundred years ago.
There are individuals "for whom religion exists, not as a dull habit, but as an acute fever," he said.
This is what I read in the Faith and Values section of the Columbus Dispatch under an article entitled: Religious Fervor, Instability Long Related. The quote was taken from his book, The Varieties of Religious Experiences Published in 1902. The book was an instant success and by 1935 had gone through 38 printings.
I called the library and I was informed they did have the book. An hour later I sat down and read the particular section from whence the quote was taken. Here it is in all its entirety:
On page 15 under the heading Religion and Neurology it states: "There can be no doubt that as a matter of fact that a religious life, exclusively pursued, does tend to make the person exceptional and eccentric. I speak not now of your ordinary religious believer, who follows the conventional observances of his country, whether it be Buddhist, Christian, or Mohammedan. His religion has been made for him by others, communicated to him by tradition, determined to fixed forms by imitation, and retained by habit. It would profit us little to study this second hand religious life. We must make search rather for the original experiences which were the pattern setters to all this mass of suggested feeling and imitated conduct.
These experiences we can only find in individuals for whom religion exists not as a dull habit, but as an acute fever rather. But such individuals are 'geniuses' in the religious line; and like many other geniuses who have brought forth fruits effective enough for commemoration in the pages of biography, such religious geniuses have often shown symptoms of nervous instability. Even more perhaps than other kinds of genius, religious leaders have been subject to abnormal psychical visitations. Invariably they have been creatures of exalted emotional sensibility. Often they have led a discordant inner life, and had melancholy during a part of their career.
They have known no measure, been liable to obsessions and fixed ideas; and frequently they have fallen into trances, heard voices, seen visions, and presented all sorts of peculiarities which are ordinarily classed pathological. Often, moreover, these pathological features in their career have helped to give them their religious authority and influence.
If you ask for a concrete example, there can be no better one than is furnished by the person of George Fox. The Quaker religion which he founded is something which it is impossible to overpraise. In a day of shams, it was a religion of veracity rooted in spiritual inwardness, and a return to something more like the original gospel truth than men had ever known in England. So far as our Christian sects today are evolving into liberality, they are simply reverting in essence to the position which Fox and the early Quakers so long ago assumed. No one can pretend for a moment that in point of spiritual sagacity, Fox's mind was unsound. Everyone who confronted him personally, from Oliver Cromwell down to county magistrates and jailers, seems to have acknowledged his superior power. Yet from point of view of his nervous constitution, Fox was a psychopath of the deepest dye."--unquote.
It is really uncanny how everything William James said in the above quote fit Herbie the Pervie to a T. He heard voices. God spoke to him. He was fervent in his belief that he was chosen by God. He led a discordant inner life. He was eccentric (told his daughter that God said it was OK for Herbie to diddle her. Kept a masturbation log). Was emotional. How many time have you sat through one of his asshole sermons when you weren't yelled at? He was subjected to "all sorts of peculiarities" as we all well know. If Herbie and his Worldwide Church of God had existed during the era of William James, I'm sure James would have classed him more screwier than George Fox.
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