A Christmas Sermon - Robert Louis Stevenson At this time of year I usually try to read something seasonal, and something Gutenberg, so this fulfilled both of those. (Here's the Gutenberg link, and also reference link from GR'er who reviewed it.)After reading Augustus Hare's autobiography (that's the edited-to-be-shorter version) this really seems like a response to all those people of the time who were into denial as a major part of their religion. And specifically lecturing others on what they should be denying themselves - whether it be food, pleasure, etc. - because then you didn't have to commit what we'd consider to be a major sin having to do with sex, death, and so on just to be considered in the wrong. It's almost a relief to know that everyone wasn't running amuck like the people Hare had to grow up with. (Maybe I've just read way too many stories of overly-religious-in-a-bad-way Victorians. I mean, I assume that those folk are outliers, but always wonder if that's just me being hopeful.)A sample of Stevenson here:"...A strange temptation attends upon man: to keep his eye on pleasures, even when he will not share in them; to aim all his morals against them. This very year a lady (singular iconoclast!) proclaimed a crusade against dolls; and the racy sermon against lust is a feature of the age. I venture to call such moralists insincere. At any excess or perversion of a natural appetite, their lyre sounds of itself with relishing denunciations; but for all displays of the truly diabolic—envy, malice, the mean lie, the mean silence, the calumnious truth, the backbiter, the petty tyrant, the peevish poisoner of family life—their standard is quite different. These are wrong, they will admit, yet somehow not so wrong; there is no zeal in their assault on them, no secret element of gusto warms up the sermon; it is for things not wrong in themselves that they reserve the choicest of their indignation. A man may naturally disclaim all moral kinship with the Reverend Mr. Zola or the hobgoblin old lady of the dolls; for these are gross and naked instances. And yet in each of us some similar element resides. The sight of a pleasure in which we cannot or else will not share moves us to a particular impatience. It may be because we are envious, or because we are sad, or because we dislike noise and romping—being so refined, or because—being so philosophic—we have an overweighing sense of life's gravity: at least, as we go on in years, we are all tempted to frown upon our neighbour's pleasures. People are nowadays so fond of resisting temptations; here is one to be resisted. They are fond of self-denial; here is a propensity that cannot be too peremptorily denied. There is an idea abroad among moral people that they should make their neighbours good. One person I have to make good: myself. But my duty to my neighbour is much more nearly expressed by saying that I have to make him happy—if I may."I found this interesting, though I didn't rate this highly - but then there wasn't much of it. (I can't imagine rereading it unless it comes up in a conversation/discussion of some kind.) But if you're interested in Stevenson and his thoughts, or of a critique of an aspect of the religion of his times, then it's definitely of interest.