One old Italian master felt quite sure

He saw the Virgin in his paramour.

The Christian artist paints a grotesque creature, Whose three dim faces make a larger one.

When I am studying to get clear that feature It seems confused, the colors must have run:

And though the picture to the Christian preacher Is just as clear as is the noon-day sun,

Perhaps it's like that fabled Eastern kind

Of crystal that reflects the gazer's mind.

In the World's salon, ranged as chance may fall, Hang the hard tasks of many a master soul:

Confucius' grand lineaments of the All; And Buddha's quiet, convoluting Whole;

Isaiah's concept, grand, divinely tall;

Saint John's weird vision on the mystic scroll;

And that bold, simple sketch, scarce understood,

Drawn by the Man of Nazareth with his blood.

(Ah, Man of Nazarethl might I hear thee talk On such a little, common life as mine!

I'd rather with thee to Emmaus walk Than see thee turning water into wine.

Not at my small ambitions wouldst thou mock, And thou wouldst link my puny life with thine.

I'm often weary gazing at the skies;

Oh, let me joke a bit, although time flies).

But hung with these, incongruous and obscene, In Mormon's face brute, sensual passions lurk;

The master touches of the Galilean

Are rudely caught in Mary Eddy's work;

The gaudy daub of Dowie there is seen;

The glowering fiend of the old Scottish Kirk;

And that calm, world-wise face, whose every line

Shows the Pope's touch both simple and sublime.

Still hangs one canvas, old as Babylon,

Old when Cathay was young, old as man's thought. The unfettered soul who touched it first was gone

Before the God-Hope was a common lot. When Plato passed a rude outline was done,

And Darwin's stroke made clear the face he sought But James, though working with a finer touch, Has, so far, left the picture one great smutch.

Enough of this: I'll call a spade a spade, And say religious theories, all compact

Before the "Origin of Species" made

Creation's dawn grow dim far ages back,

Must be re-writ or on the book-shelf laid: Belief must square with scientific fact.

On Galilee we hush the waves' turmoil

By pouring from a can marked "Standard Oil."

Why in religion must we bear the weight Of all th' exploded theories of the past?

We let our churches day by day relate Stories at which all reason stands aghast.

Laws change like language with the changing date; E'en Aristotle's Physics could not last;

Yet many a man who studies meteorology

Still prays for rain by orthodox theology.

Man has been studying since we know not when The great enigma of We-Know-Not-What:

If the enigma be beyond his ken,

How can he know of that which he cannot?

Or if his reason cannot know it, then Unreasonable must be his future lot.

Reason, perchance, may stray when we go hence,

But here on earth hold still to common-sense.

With stout old cable Reason, anchor Hope, Snug swings our vessel in this pleasant lea.

We'll heave the anchor home, not cut the rope When our Commander signals, "Put to sea."

Sun, moon, or stars will shine, why need we grope? Our ship's well found, so cast the broad sails free.

No hardy sailor shuns the ocean wide,

Nor need we fear Eternity's strong tide.

"This view," the Church cries, "is materialistic, Man's soul requires the need of revelation;

To reason add the wisdom spiritualistic; In God alone is found our true salvation."

But I will hold to facts and shun the mystic; Facts, facts, and facts alone give explanation.

Without more facts where is the certainty

That man has claims on Immortaility?

"This very word 'immortal'," some object,

"Proves that the fact exists somehow, somewhere."

Immortal means not mortalf why inject A meaning in the word fact finds not there?

The future holds the hope that we expect, And clearer vision may this truth lay bare;

And truths may gather till the human mind

Some knowledge sure of the Eternal find.

Our fathers called a continent the World, But added next a new world to the old;

Then learned the Earth a globe and found it whirled About the Sun, till next them science told

That the great sun itself through space is hurled Towards other suns, and these again are rolled

Through greater space, where distance nothing seems,

And numbers grow as vague as thoughts in dreams.

These vaults of heaven have countless stars, and yet Few facts are known of one or many stars;

Nor will it help Astronomy to get Imaginary ditches dug on Mars;

And Lowell might be saner if he let

The future learn what lack of facts debars:

Gyrating mercury or a new glass eye

May help our children into space to pry.

The Ptolemaic theory is discarded,

Copernicus is open to rejection, And Euclid's laws are not so closely guarded

But that Einstein to them may find objection. If Science clings to Falsehood she's retarded.

If our Theology had an injection Of scientific serum, 'twould avail To cast up more than "Jonah and the Whale."

Man thought and dreamed for centuries of flying, But had to wait for Orville Wright's bi-plane;

For centuries mankind has hoped that dying They should not die, but pass to life again.

Buddhist or Christian, fools or wise are trying To build a theory that will stand the strain.

Why in this wide and most important field

Must sense, to nonsense; fact to fable yield?

One may for Wright or Zeppelin take Jules Verne,

And sail in fancy over land and seas; And some may hope of Paradise to learn

From priests and prophets who their fancies please; But if the aviators quickly spurn

What Science as sheer foolishness decrees, Then surely those who seek the Future Life Should to their creeds apply the pruning knife.