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chuck under the chin.
This cynical view of religious emotionalism, and with it of the whole
stock of ecclesiastical balderdash, is probably responsible, at least in
part, for the reluctance of women to enter upon the sacerdotal career.
In those Christian sects which still bar them from the pulpit--usually
on the imperfectly concealed ground that they are not equal to its
alleged demands upon the morals and the intellect--one never hears of
them protesting against the prohibition; they are quite content to leave
the degrading imposture to men, who are better fitted for it by talent
and conscience. And in those baroque sects, chiefly American, which
admit them they show no eagerness to put on the stole and chasuble. When
the first clergywoman appeared in the United States, it was predicted
by alarmists that men would be driven out of the pulpit by the new
competition. Nothing of the sort has occurred, nor is it in prospect.
The whole corps of female divines in the country might be herded into
one small room. Women, when literate at all, are far too intelligent to
make effective ecclesiastics. Their sharp sense of reality is in endless
opposition to the whole sacerdotal masquerade, and their cynical humour
stands against the snorting that is inseparable from pulpit oratory.
Those women who enter upon the religious life are almost invariably
moved by some motive distinct from mere pious inflammation. It is a
commonplace, indeed, that, in Catholic countries, girls are driven into
convents by economic considerations or by disasters of amour far oftener
than they are drawn there by the hope of heaven. Read the lives of the
female saints, and you will see how many of them tried marriage and
failed at it before ever they turned to religion. In Protestant lands
very few women adopt it as a profession at all, and among the few a
secular impulse is almost always visible. The girl who is suddenly
overcome by a desire to minister to the heathen in foreign lands is
nearly invariably found, on inspection, to be a girl harbouring a theory
that it would be agreeable to marry some heroic missionary. In point
of fact, she duly marries him. At home, perhaps, she has found it
impossible to get a husband, but in the remoter marches of China,
Senegal and Somaliland, with no white competition present, it is equally
impossible to fail.
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