The Man Who Hated God - A Short Story by Winifred Holtby - lead work in her collection Truth is Not Sober and Other Stories - first published 1934 - Blackthorn Press has republished this collection with a very informative introduction by Jack Bliss
Born June 23, 1898 - Rudston, England
Died - September 29, 1935 - London
1936 - Her highest regarded work South Rising was published posthumously
Winifred Holtby was a tireless campaigner for the rights of women, minorities and was deeply disturbed by the rise of Fascism. If she were living now living in America she would be a supporter of the progressive ideas of Bernie Sanders. Jack Bliss goes into depth on her politics. She spent time in South Africa and was appalled by the treatment of Africans.
The opening lines in “The Man Who Hated God” without a doubt draw you in:
“ONCE upon a time there lived a man who hated God. He was quite impartial in his detestation. He hated Jehovah and Allah, and Christ and Brahma, and Buddha and Vishnu, and Siva and all their prophets. He hated them for really excellent reasons. The idea of God was, he considered, responsible for the great evils which men endured upon earth. Believing in the existence of another world, they made no effort to improve their life in this one.”
The man had a very good heart and began to make it his life work “to set free his fellow countrymen from their abominable superstitions.”. He gave up his happy life to try to help others. Everywhere he talked of how religious dogmas have been used through history to get people to accept being dominated by the upper classes. Gradually he became so admired that he became the leader of his country with millions of followers.
One day he finds himself in a boat with the Buddha, Visnu, Jesus, and a few others. He did not understand where he was. Then somehow the boat passes a country with statues all over of him. School children are required to memorize his sayings, and anyone who does not have a picture of him in their home can be shot. To his horror he has been transformed into what he most hated “A God”.
The story can be read in under five minutes. It reads for me in the style of a fable.
There are thirty five stories in the collection of 198 pages. For sure I will read them all. I acquired the Kindle edition for $2.95
In his introduction Jack Bliss highly endorses the biography by The Clear Stream by Marion Shaw. Luckily that is also available as a kindle for $2.95.