Of Masons, Magic, Monks, Medicine, and Marriage

My maternal grandfather was a very practical man, an entrepreneur with a self-made fortune, a local mayor, philo-Dixiecrat, devoted to his wife and three daughters.  His habitual reading was the Raleigh paper and the local small-town daily (which, by some miracle, still exists).  He died when I was very small, and so I never had the good fortune to know him well.  His house, however, and especially its attic, had enough in it for me to have a certain clear impression of him, his tastes, and his accomplishments.  Or so I felt for some years.  The serenely accumulated notion I had of him was shaken one day in my middle-school years when, on a visit to my grandmother, I pulled from his still-untouched library shelf a volume entitled Morals and Dogma.  To me, these terms, when paired, had a distinctly Catholic ring, and so I was eager to see if my grandfather had had some Romish tendencies after all, something about as likely as his being a registered Republican.  I opened the book at random, without examining the title page or table of contents.  This is what I read:

To science nothing is impossible . . . it disposes at will of all forms, and distributes beauty and deformity as it pleases: it changes in turn with the rod of Circe, men into brutes and animals into men: it even disposes of life and death . . . This is what magic had been . . . when positive Christianity publicly...

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