Finally we have to record what is perhaps the most curious and the most significant item in the whole phenomenon of changing ethics, the ever growing number of barrels of holy water with which business is being sprinkled-nay drenchedmerce is taking upon itself all the sanctions of the church, and so slowly [. ] To the older ethics this alliance between business and religion appears as cant and hypocrisy, but to the new it is accepted as sound and self-evident doctrine (Chase, 1936 , pp. 403–405).
Meshing religion with business which becomes the trend of 1920s America: the clergy-both Protestant and Fundamentalist-adopts the latest marketing techniques in order to boost their own spiritual message:
Modern Religion promoted by the Reverend Harry Emerson Fosdick and other liberal Protestant clergy, rejected literal interpretations of the Bible and embraced the notion that Christianity could co-exist with science […] new diversions tempted many members of their congregations to skip church in order to go to the movies, play golf, or take a Sunday drive. The Fundamentalist movement produced several famous ministers who, ironically, spread the gospel using modern show business techniques (Drowne Huber, 2004 , p. 20).
Along these lines, in Babbitt religion is promoted as though it were a business, and believers are regarded as consumers. Babbitt advises Eathorne to “[drum] up customers or -members” and to recruit “a real paid press-agent for the Sunday School-some newspaper fellow” (188). Using attractive headlines and up-to-date news Babbitt commercializes religion. For example, the Biblical story of Jacob is turned into an adventure: “Jake Fools the Old Man; Makes Getaway with Girl and Bankroll” (189). Likewise, in Main Street, the comparison of metallic mechanical components with the sacred objects used in church proves this: “To [Will] motoring was a faith not to be questioned, a high-church cult with electric sparks for candles, and piston-rings possessing the sanctity of altar-vessels; his liturgy was composed of intoned and metrical road-comments” (202). Like Will and Babbitt, Lewis and his wife were fond of motors. According to Mark Schorer “The general fuss that the Lewises made over their Ford was silly” (237). 28
The new position of science has a profound influence on people’s ways of thinking. Science as the new God of Americans in an era of mass production and materialism is in the ascendant. Many people seem to believe everything that is thought to be scientific. I am, and you are and you are and-” (Fitzgerald 16). This affiliation with the Nordics seems to foreshadow the Nazi doctrine: Nordicism is a philosophy that considers the Nordic race as part of the Caucasian race and thus it composes a supreme race (Gregor, 1961 , pp. 352–360). According to James Gregor, such ideology “involves the belief that men of the “Nordic Race” -tall, slender, fair-skinned, blond, blue-eyed, narrow–faced, narrow-nosed, long-headed individuals […] are the creators of civilization, and their passing marks are the passing of civilization” (1).
A major concern that permeates the novels is the antagonism between religions: Christianity versus Judaism and Protestantism versus Catholicism. This antagonism enhances xenophobia and racism. At the beginning of the twentieth century, there was a large increase in the number of Catholic immigrants into the United States, and the Catholic Church was a concrete symbol of these newcomers. Many of the Protestant old-timers resented the Catholics, fearing that they would outstrip their religion and identity. In Main Street Mrs. Warren points out that she and her husband oppose Catholicism (137). The citizens of Gopher Prairie attend the Baptist Church: aunt Bessie tells Carol that she should go to church with her (73). Aunt Bessie also states that the good influence of religion is that it keeps “the lower classes in order.”
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