Spiritualizing Sherlock: Commentaries


‘Sherlock Holmes and Religion’

by Albert J. Menendez, Baker Street Journal 25 no. 2 (1975), pp. 80-83, 97.

Commentary by Elizabeth Fregoso

Author's final argument: Holmes is “probably to the left of liberal Protestantism and latitudinarian Anglicanism, but to the right of secular humanism. Possible he was a Unitarian or a liberal freethinker.” He was a “thoughtful but nondogmatic inquirer” of religious and philosophical affairs but likely professed no one religious affiliation.


  • Explores multiple religions in straightforward, easy-to-understand fashion
  • Quick read
  • Occasionally provide historical backdrop for some claims


  • Is not remarkably in depth — sums up a book's worth of points/analysis within two or three pages.
  • Does not include Islam, though it covers other major religions

Implications and Evidence:

  • SH was knowledgeable of multiple religions but held none as an affiliation.
    • Buddhism
      • Knowledge of the Buddhism of Ceylon (SIGN), music of the Middle Ages (BRUC) — may have implied “intellectual dilettantism or a genuine interest”
      • Spent time with the head lama (FINA)
    • Catholicism
      • Took on two cases at Pope's direct request, contrary to “no popery” sentiments of the time
      • Attended chapel service while at university (GLOR)
        • Was not Roman Catholic or Jewish, as members of these groups were not permitted to take degrees at either of these colleges during the times SH was attending
        • Possibly implies “a nominal attachment to the Church of England or a Protestant church”
      • No mention of SH having attended church
        • But Sundays are rarely mentioned in the canon and church attendance would not have much bearing on recorded cases
      • Biblical knowledge was “a trifle rusty”
        • Likely indication of disinterest in Christianity
    • Pantheism
      • “His disquisition on the moss rose ... seems to suggest a sentimental pantheism which was in vogue among many Victorians.”
    • Existentialism
      • Speech in RETI on the futility of life
        • May be a byproduct of mercurial temperament rather than religious statement
    • Intellectual Design & Divine Judgment
      • “What is the meaning of it, Watson? What object is served by this circle of misery and violence and fear? It must tend to some end, or else our universe is ruled by chance, which is unthinkable.” (CARD)
      • “The ways of fate are indeed hard to understand.” (VEIL)
      • To John Turner: “You will soon have to answer for your deed at a higher court than the Assizes.” (BOSC)
    • Traditionalism
      • Attributing surviving Reichenbach to “the blessing of God” (EMPT)
      • Refers to World War I as “God's own wind” (LAST)
      • Makes reference to the devil as “the Father of Evil” (HOUN)
    • Humanism
      • Holds Winwood Reade's The Martyrdom of Man in high regard (SIGN)
        • Though this may not indicate acceptance
    • “Situational ethicist” with no religious affiliation
      • Believed in “justifiable retribution”
      • Would on multiple occasions refuse to turn over wrongdoers to the police on his own judgement