The senator tells the same story that I have heard from contemporary friends who do not believe in life after death. And there is a special elitism reserved for the class, who will either patronize the God-fearing like the senator, or will castigate them and beckon them to be educated into the “right way of thinking”.
What is odd about this chapter is the response of the bishop who clapped his hands and proceeded to “congratulate” the senator on his wisdom and achievements. For the bishop was either extremely sarcastic, or merely rephrasing the senator’s sentiment as a way of demonstrated that he was listening indeed, and in this way loving. But with the emphasis of applause, I suspect the sarcasm. So I conclude that the bishop does not treat all people with equal honor. Perhaps a defect in his idyllic character?
Let’s try to rewrite. I would have expected that the bishop might respond: “Senator, you have expressed so eloquently the manner in which you stake your life on the materialistic viewpoint, standing to gain so much pleasure by it’s action. And since you have shown the kindness to allow those lowly ones to have their foibles and their monstrous myth, I might expect that you will afford me the same kindness and permit me to receive from you a gift for those same poor. You might find it humorous, I might find it fulfilling apart from pleasure, and those poor ones might find it sustains their lowly livelihoods for one more day.”