Hypocritical Christianity Exposed in Bernard Shaw's Major Barbara
Bernard Shaw reveals in his plays a type of religious standard that is not unlike Christianity but with what most people see as a stereotypical view of hypocritical Christianity. Shaw's concept of Crosstianity , as he calls it, shows a religion in which the church preaches what the rich and powerful tell it, scoundrels are treated as equals, and punishment is concerned with prosecution rather than salvation. "Poetic justice" rules judicial retribution rather than redemption. Everyone is inherently the same.
The scene in Major Barbara in which Bill Walker is dealt with for his attack on the shelter is revealing about the concepts of Crosstianity. Walker expects that he should be punished equally to his crime and even desires this to relieve his guilt. If Barbara had allowed him to pay for his abuse of Jenny and the old woman monetarily or physically, that would have been Crosstianity. He would have released his guilt and gone on his way without any real change in his moral character. However, Barbara does not allow that. She adopts the role of Christ in order to change him. Faced with his "unbearable moral inferiority," Walker's conscience punishes him more than the traditional means would. The methods of Crosstianity would have taught a lesson to others about the merits of committing a crime, instead of the culprit himself.
Shaw's view of Crosstianity allows that every person has the capacity for good or evil. Still, it also admits that a wealthy "scoundrel" is seen more highly to the public than a poor one. A man with a bullying nature may be praised if he is a lawyer but would be ostracized if he is homeless. This idea extends itself to the belief that all people are inherently the same, which is not a far cry from Christianity's "all men are children of one father." Also,...