Author Topic: J.M. Barrie, Religious Beliefs?  (Read 1295 times)

TheWanderer247

  • Member
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 4
    • View Profile
J.M. Barrie, Religious Beliefs?
« on: September 19, 2019, 08:18:41 PM »
I'm aware of his upbringing where his family initially hoped he would become a preacher, and his earlier works tended to be Christian in nature, however it seems its an "unknown" answer these days as to what he believed as he got older.

I find it immensely intriguing because he was great friends with the likes of Wells & Shaw who fit into either the agnostic or atheist camp, but was also friends with Chesterton the foremost Christian defender of the faith in that time period. With all these great minds debating the big questions of the day, as well as the great questions of philosophy, it's quite odd that there seems to be "radio silence" from Barrie himself.

I was curious if Mr. Birkin, or others "in the know", have the faintest idea as to Barrie's worldview actually was. Was he a Christian? Was he agnostic? Was he atheist? Was he a deist?

andrew

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 251
    • View Profile
Re: J.M. Barrie, Religious Beliefs?
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2019, 07:35:55 AM »
I asked Nico who couldn't remember JMB ever going to church, nor did he ever discuss it with him (although Nico himself was quietly religious in that he went to the local C of E church on Sundays). But he thought Mackail had it about right, remembering that Mackail knew both Barrie and the Llewelyn Davieses well, so here's what Mackail has to say (p 56):

"As with scores of other young Scotchmen if not with all of them, his family’s form of religion had been driven in so far and so firmly that questioning and experiment were equally impossible. Church-going was as inevitable as Sunday itself. Other denominations were, quite simply, for those who had been brought up in them. More imprisonment? His soul hadn’t noticed it yet, or rather, perhaps, had accepted obedience to what was expected of it without positively involving his mind.

His church-going broke off and ceased when he left Scotland—though it was resumed, as long as his mother was alive, at his old home—as naturally and easily as if it had never been driven into him at all. He never mocked; the moral principles which it formalised or ritualised were an unshakable part of him until the end. But, put to the test, the perpetuation of childish beliefs—which bring peace, comfort, and self-satisfaction to so many—could no longer accompany the queer development of his intellect. In this, at any rate, he grew up, or—if you prefer it—remained always too young for spiritual understanding. During all the best-known part of his life he varied, one might say, between stoic philosophy and brief but natural and human moments of secret panic and terror. His mind wasn’t a religious mind, though his pen and that largely subconscious part of him which so often guided it could touch notes of deep religious sincerity."


TheWanderer247

  • Member
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 4
    • View Profile
Re: J.M. Barrie, Religious Beliefs?
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2019, 06:53:32 PM »
Thanks for the reply. I'm reminded of someone like Twain, who so many secularists claim as their own. A man who questioned & doubted & critiqued, but regardless had strong ties to the Christian denomination he grew up with until the day he died. It's not for anyone to say whether someone is saved or lost, because only they & Jesus Christ Almighty God knows where they stood. Barrie strikes me as a man who probably shrugged off the totalitarian aspects of religion, all the while pursuing answers to unsettled questions in his heart & mind.

I read somewhere that he liked Nietzsche, and it makes me wonder on some level whether G.K. Chesterton didn't write numerous essays about the irrationality of nihilism & Nietzsche himself, because of his friend Barrie's interest in the man.

I read an article sometime ago on the STAND TO REASON website entitled, "Sympathy For Hook," and it was a rather Christian perspective on Peter Pan, and whether consciously or unconsciously Barrie basically created something of a conversion story, much like Ebenezer Scrooge's own; that Hook had to die, in order for Mr. Darling to be the father he always should have been. That it's no coincidence in the play's history that the actor who portrays Darling is also the same actor who portrays Hook. The old man must die in order to be born again, is clearly a Christian theme, whether Barrie intended it to be that or not.

Again, many thanks for the reply!
Jesus bless you and your family