Back in 1922, American essayist H. L. Mencken wrote a little essay titled "Memorial Service". Here's how he began: Where is the graveyard of dead gods? What lingering mourner waters their mounds? There was a day when Jupiter was the king of the gods, and any man who doubted his puissance [power] was ipso facto a barbarian and an ignoramus. But where in all the world is there a man who worships Jupiter today? And what of Huitzilopochtli [wee-tsee-lohpoch'-tlee]? In one year-- and it is no more than five hundred years ago--50,000 youths and maidens were slain in sacrifice to him. Mencken went on to name a total of 189 pagan gods.1 He told how millions worshipped them; how men laboured for generations to build them vast temples; how priests, evangelists, bishops, and archbishops served them; how to doubt them was to die, usually at the stake; how armies took to the fields to defend them against infidels; and how villages were burned, women and children slaughtered, and cattle driven off. All these, he pointed out in conclusion: were gods of the highest standing and dignity--gods of civilized peoples--worshipped and believed in by millions. All were theoretically omnipotent, omniscient, and immortal. And all are dead. The death of the gods
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