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In On the Genealogy of Morals, Nietzsche argues that the ascetic nature of Christianity, with its emphasis on guilt, has been harmful for humanity, because it caused scholars to reject the classics and shamed people into conforming to behavioral norms. By labeling people as sinners, Nietzsche argues, Christianity has imposed a straitjacket on people that is worse than being imprisoned or oppressed politically. "Wherever he achieved mastery," Nietzsche writes, "the ascetic priest has ruined spiritual health." Art represented the only way out of this psychological straitjacket. Only through art could people reject the power of asceticism and embrace more creative impulses, what Nietzsche regarded as "pagan virtues."
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