I just recently became interested in Mencken. I know little about him besides Rothbard, my favorite writer, claimed that his favorite writer was Mencken.
Let me guess, Mencken did not think too highly of Dreiser?
I love the quote. It completely sums up my confusion with the conflation of morals and the supernatural. I think most are afraid of the unknown aspect of death, and rulers have always exploited that fear to gain power. The State and Religion always worked together (be good, love the King, he is the embodiment of God here on earth, but mostly pay your taxes or you will go to hell) to acquire consent or acquiescence from the people.
When I ask Christians why I should label myself as one the answer is always for 'salvation'. The best definition I can get for that is everlasting life or heaven, or not hell. Which just sounds like a threat to me. If I could have 'salvation' as a deer or bird I'd say 'hell yeah!' but humans and their tendencies to murder, enslave, and dominate other for the sake of domination despite our ability to empathize has me too baffled to want more than one lifespan.
So you didn't study Chinese language? How will you communicate over there? It sounds utterly delightful. I love travel so darned much. I love to observe other cultures.
Want DP delivered to your inbox daily? Subscribe here: