Monday, December 30, 2013

Monday, December 30, 2013

Say Not the Struggle Naught Availeth

Say not, the struggle naught availeth,
The labor and the wounds are vain,
The enemy faints not, nor faileth,
And as things have been they remain.

If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars
It may be, in yon smoke concealed,
Your comrades chase e'en now the fliers,
And, but for you, possess the field.

For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,
Seem here no painful inch to gain,
Far back, through creeks and inlets making,
Comes silent, flooding in, the main.

And not by eastern windows only
When daylight comes, comes in the light:
In front the sun climbs slow, now slowly;
But westward, look! the land is bright.


Arthur Hugh Clough (1819-1861)

Arthur Hugh Clough



What the Poor Hate

Pure and exalted atheists talk themselves into believing that the working classes are turning with indignant scorn from the churches. The working classes are not indignant against the churches in the least. The things the working classes really are indignant against are the hospitals. The people has no definite disbelief in the temples of theology. The people has a fiery and practical disbelief in the temples of physical science. The things the poor hate are the modern things, the rationalistic things doctors, inspectors, poor law guardians, professional philanthropy. They never showed any reluctance to be helped by the old and corrupt monasteries. They will often die rather than be helped by the modern and efficient workhouse.

G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sunday, December 29, 2013

From Pain and Sorrow

From the background of pain and sorrow often break out the noblest and most winning manifestations of humanity. The depth of human sympathy, the wealth of its love, is displayed in scenes of tribulation and need. The robes of charity show their whiteness amid the gloom of poverty and distress. Christlike patience is born of suffering, the soul shines out in its essential splendor through the medium of bodily anguish, and faith trims her lamp in the shadow of the grave. Shall we call this existence a trivial thing, whose very miseries are the occasions of the noblest triumphs, whose trials may be converted into divine strength, whose tears may change into celestial dew, and nourish flowers of immortal hope? 

Edwin H. Chapin (born December 29, 1814)

Edwin H. Chapin (1814-1880)


Truth Prevails!

I have nothing better to say than the truth, or what I hold to be the truth.  But why seek truths that are not pleasant?  We cannot help it.  No man can suppress the truth.  Truth finds a crack or crevice to crop out of; it bobs up to the surface and all the volume and weight of waters can not keep it down.  Truth prevails!  Life, death, truth—behold, these three no power can keep back.  And since we are doomed to know the truth, let us cultivate a love for it.  It is of no avail to cry over lost illusions, to long for vanished dreams, or to call to the departing gods to come back.  It may be pleasant to play with toys and dolls all our life, but evidently we are not meant to remain children always.  The time comes when we must put away childish things and obey the summons of truth, stern and high.  A people who fear the truth can never be a free people.  If what I will say is the truth, do you know of any good reason why I should not say it?  And if for prudential reasons I should sometimes hold back the truth, how would you know when I am telling what I believe to be the truth, and when I am holding it back for reasons of policy?

The truth, however unwelcome, is not injurious; it is error which raises false hopes, which destroys, degrades and pollutes, and which, sooner or later, must be abandoned.


M.M. Mangasarian (born December 29, 1859)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Religion of Humanity

The Religion of Humanity gratefully accepts the work of prophets and apostles in olden time, — not those of one religion alone, but the sages and spokesmen of all faiths. Yet it does not believe that the spirit of wisdom and power that spoke through them has gone so far away that it cannot reach the human mind today. It affirms that, to the willing car, to the open mind, the spirit of truth may yet come with all its ancient power. The Religion of Humanity has its Bibles, — not only the good words of one faith, but of all faiths, — the best words of all literatures, past and present. And it would use all these external helps, past and present, — the prophets, apostles, preachers, sacred words, illustrious examples of consecrated and noble living, — not to overawe and overpower with their authority the present mental and moral life of mankind, but rather to stimulate that life to a like self-reliance and to a nobler fidelity to those unseen inner laws that are stamped on each soul, — the law of Reason and the law of Duty.

William J. Potter (ordained December 28, 1859)


William J. Potter (1829-1893)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Friday, December 27, 2013

I Believe

I believe in myself.

I believe in my neighbor.

I believe in the unity of myself and my neighbor.

I believe in the progressive achievement of a universal community of human cooperation and fellowship.

I believe in love and intelligence as the most potent agents for developing the ideal world within the actual.

I believe in my universe as a kind of place that brings into existence all the values, purposes, and possibilities of human life.

I believe that human life is a growing point in the universe.

I believe that my life finds significance only as I identify myself with the creative process."


E. Burdette Backus (born December 27, 1888)



Thursday, December 26, 2013

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Uses of Memory

Great and manifold truly are the uses of memory! In its quiet chambers, I do not think we ever listen in vain for more than we have heard amidst the tumult of the world. Memory is not a mere storehouse for dead things; for in it many old things become new. It is a place of instruction in which we earn some of the chief lessons of life, — a confessional in which we have much to deplore and much good counsel to receive, — a sanctuary in which to sing hymns of gratitude and praise which had been left unsung, — a place of healing and rest for the broken spirit, — a place of blessed fellowship with beloved ones whom we can meet nowhere else in all that remains to us of time, — a place in the peaceful and silent retirement of which, after the wind and the earthquake and the fire, there comes to us the 'still, small voice.'


Thomas Sadler (1822-1891)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Abundant Spiritual Life

Jesus was not here to save men from the results of their sins.  Not for that did he live his wondrous life or speak his wondrous words.  He sought to fill them with that abundant spiritual life which casts out death; to save them from sin itself by surrounding them, and as it were saturating their souls, with a spiritual atmosphere in which sinful desires die.  To the reverent mind heaven here, heaven there, is primarily purity of heart, holiness of life, love embracing all our kind; and hell is corrupt appetite, is false purpose, is an unloving heart.

Grindall Reynolds (born December 22, 1822)

Grindall Reynolds (1822-1894)


Light To The Soul

If life goes on without any friction and without any disappearance of outward good, we come to feel that all the worth of living is centred in what we possess and enjoy. …  The kingdom of heaven longed for, to be purchased by all we have, is not within.  It is not faith, truth, and love.  It is without.  It is meat and drink.  It is found in strength of body, in fullness of granary, in abundance of enjoyment, and in these alone.  The rude shock which takes the health out of the bones, or makes the wisdom of the wise to be foolishness, or does anything to break up the smooth flow of the outward experience, certainly lets in light to the soul.

Grindall Reynolds (born December 22, 1822)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Saturday, December 21, 2013 — The Winter Solstice

The Solstice Unobserved

The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet. He is supported on crutches, but lacks so much support of muscle. He has got a fine Geneva watch, but he has lost the skill to tell the hour by the sun. A Greenwich nautical almanac he has, and so being sure of the information when he wants it, the man in the street does not know a star in the sky. The solstice he does not observe; the equinox he knows as little; and the whole bright calendar of the year is without a dial in his mind. His notebooks impair his memory; his libraries overload his wit; the insurance office increases the number of accidents; and it may be a question whether machinery does not encumber; whether we have not lost by refinement some energy, by a Christianity intrenched in establishments and forms some vigour of wild virtue.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)



Rich Season of Bounty

Welcome, rich season of bounty and good cheer! Wreathe every life with garlands of innocent mirth. Crown with green wreaths of joy the brows of those we love; weave in red berries of health, and the bright star of hope. Welcome blest season of peace, that bringst a truce to strife! And may thy white wings of peace spread over the waiting earth. Link all peoples and nations in the sure bonds of community, shed peace and goodwill, goodwill and peace, on all humanity."

Percival Chubb (1860-1960)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Thankful Heart

If one should give me a dish of sand, and tell me there were particles of iron in it, I might look with my eyes for them, and search for them with my clumsy fingers, and be unable to find them; but let me take a magnet and sweep it, and how it would draw to itself the most invisible particles by the power of attraction! The unthankful heart, like my finger in the sand, discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day, and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find in every hour some heavenly blessings: only, the iron in God's sand is gold.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809-1894)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Doing More Than Others

The fountain must be sweet, to send forth sweet waters; and the tree must be good, to yield good fruit. We must not be castaways if we would save others. If we would learn to do good, we must learn to be good; and that needs self-knowledge and the knowledge of goodness. If we neglect common duties, and everyday virtue, we shall rather be meddlers than helpers, when we would fain be benefactors: we may do a great deal that had better have been left undone. Our hurry, our ill-temper, our jealousy, our wrongheadedness, our self-regard, may jar, and break, and spoil the good we were trying to bring to others. We may disappoint them and ourselves too. If we would do 'more than others' and not be content with the goodness of publicans and heathens, let us strive to live as children of our Father in heaven, who is kind even to the unthankful and the evil.

Russell Lant Carpenter (born December 17, 1816)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Monday, December 16, 2013

Luminous Love

Love, amid the other graces in this world, is like a cathedral tower, which begins on the earth, and at first is surrounded by other parts of the structure. But at length, rising above buttressed wall and arch and parapet and pinnacle, it shoots sire-like many a foot high into the air, so high that the huge cross on its summit shines like a star in the evening sky, when the rest of the pile is enveloped in darkness. So Love here is surrounded by the other graces, and divides the honors with them; but they will have felt the wrap of night and of darkness, when it will shine, luminous, against the sky of eternity.

Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887)

Friday, November 29, 2013

Friday, November 29, 2013

The New Work of the Church

The church must shift its emphasis from the problem of saving the individual to the problem of saving society. …

Here is the world with its hungry to be fed, its naked to be clothed, its sick to be healed, its imprisoned to be emancipated.  Here is the world with its evils to be extirpated, its misery to be banished, its injustice to be cured, its sorrow to be turned to joy.  Here is the world with the strong preying upon the weak, … the rich grinding the faces of the poor, the few reveling in the luxury and ease which is builded upon the wretchedness of the many.  Here is the world with its international hatreds and racial prejudices, with its rotten politics and corrupt business, with its passion for riches and its lust for power, with its industrial injustice and its social inequality. …

The work of the church, I say, is the work of social redemption.  In the pursuit of this work, the true church will grapple with the problem of poverty.  It will accept the doctrine of the best social authorities of our time that poverty is due not to individual depravity or individual inefficiency, but to social maladjustment, and upon the basis of this doctrine will so readjust social conditions that poverty will be as impossible as wealth.  In pursuit of its true work, the church will enter upon the task of reconciling the hostile races of the world.  …

No longer will its work be done by priests who merely pray and preach, marry the living and bury the dead – rather shall this work come to be done by a new priesthood, which shall include not merely the minister, but the merchant also and the politician, the physician and the sociologist.

John Haynes Holmes, "The New Work of the Church," 1909

Holmes was born November 29, 1879


John Haynes Holmes (1879-1964)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Grandeur of Natural Selection

It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. ... There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

Charles Darwin (1809-1882)
On the Origin of Species

(Published November 24, 1859)


Ethics As Satire

Philosophers conceive of the passions which harass us as vices into which people fall by their own fault, and, therefore, generally deride, bewail, or blame them, or execrate them, if they wish to seem unusually pious. And so they think they are doing something wonderful, and reaching the pinnacle of learning, when they are clever enough to bestow manifold praise on such human nature, as is nowhere to be found, and to make verbal attacks on that which, in fact, exists. For they conceive of people, not as they are, but as they themselves would like them to be. Whence it has come to pass that, instead of ethics, they have generally written satire, and that they have never conceived a theory of politics, which could be turned to use, but such as might be taken for a chimera, or might have been formed in Utopia, or in that golden age of the poets when, to be sure, there was least need of it. Accordingly, as in all sciences, which have a useful application, so especially in that of politics, theory is supposed to be at variance with practice; and no people are esteemed less fit to direct public affairs than theorists or philosophers.

Baruch Spinoza (born November 24, 1632)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Self-Forgetful Souls

As my experience of human character has increased, I have learned ever more and more to love the presence of these self-forgetful souls, and to regard them as the very sweetest and brightest, and by far the happiest of mankind. Their pleasures lie in things that none can take from them, and that never are taken from them while life lasts. Their pleasures lie in the most blessed joy on earth, living for others, thinking of others, doing for others, in spreading around them happiness wherever they go, in making faces to shine with gladness as they meet them, in making all men the better for their presence. This divine and Christ-like occupation so engrosses them, that they never have a moment to spare to think about anything so uninteresting as themselves. For nothing is truer than that all the dullest moments of life are those in which we have no one but ourselves to work for or to please, and that all the highest, most delightful moments of life are those in which our thoughts and energies are carried away in a boundless love and service of others.


H. Enfield Dowson (1837-1925)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Blessed Influence

Blessed influence of one true loving human soul on another! Not calculable by algebra, not deducible by logic, but mysterious, effectual, mighty as the hidden process by which the tiny seed is quickened, and bursts forth into tall stem and broad leaf, and glowing tasselled flower. Ideas are often poor  ghosts; our sun-filled eyes cannot discern them; they pass athwart us in thin vapor, and cannot make themselves felt. But sometimes they are made flesh; they breathe upon us with warm breath, they touch us with soft responsive hands, they look at us with sad sincere eyes, and speak to us in appealing tones; they are clothed in a living human soul, with all its conflicts, its faith, and its love. Then their presence is a power, then they shake us like a passion, and we are drawn after them with gentle compulsion, as flame is drawn to flame.


George Eliot, a.k.a. Mary Ann Evans (1819-1880)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Cloud of Witnesses

We are compassed about by a cloud of witnesses, whose hearts throb in sympathy with every effort and struggle, and who thrill with joy at every success. How should this thought check and rebuke every worldly feeling and unworthy purpose, and enshrine us, in the midst of a forgetful and unspiritual world, with an atmosphere of heavenly peace! They are overcome — have risen — are crowned, glorified; but still they remain to us, our assistants, our comforters, and in every hour of darkness their voice speaks to us: "So we grieved, so we struggled, so we fainted, so we doubted; but we have overcome, we have obtained, we have seen, we have found, — and in our victory behold the certainty of thy own."


Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

All Souls Day — Saturday, November 2, 2013

I Cannot Think of Them as Dead

I cannot think of them as dead
Who walk with me no more;
Along the path of life I tread,
They have but gone before.

The Father's house is mansioned fair
Beyond my vision dim;
All souls are His, and here or there,
Are living unto Him.

And still their silent ministry
Within my heart hath place,
As when on earth they walked with me
And met me face to face.

Their lives are made forever mine;
What they to me have been
Hath left henceforth its seal and sign
Engraven deep within.

Mine are they by an ownership,
Nor time nor death can free;
For God hath given to Love to keep
Its own eternally.


Frederick Lucian Hosmer (1840-1929)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sunday, October 13, 2013



Our Endless Blessedness

The fulness of our spiritual life, the permanence of our religious hope and enjoyment — in a word, our endless blessedness — are best secured by our fidelity to great and holy principles through sorrow and death. What the world terms disappointment is not so in reality. The awards of heaven come not from our successes, as the world terms them, but from the strength and courage with which we have worked, suffered, and resisted.

George Brown (1810-1868)


Heavenly Stillness


To a brain wearied by the din of the city, the clatter of wheels, the jingle of street cars, the discord of bells, the tries of venders, the ear-splitting whistles of factory and shop, how refreshing is the heavenly stillness of the country! To the soul tortured by the sight of ills it cannot cure, wrongs it cannot right, and sufferings it cannot relieve, how blessed to be alone with nature, with trees living free, unfettered lives, and flowers content each in its native spot, with brooks singing of joy and good cheer, with mountains preaching divine peace and rest.

Olive Thorne Miller (1831-1918)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunday, September 29, 2013


Family Likenesses

Family likeness has often a deep sadness in it. Nature, that great tragic dramatist, knits us together by bone and muscle, and divides us by the subtler web of our brains; blends yearning and repulsion; and ties us by our heartstrings to the beings that jar us at every movement. We hear a voice with the very cadence of our own uttering the thoughts we despise; we see eyes — ah! so like our mother's — averted from us in cold alienation; and our last darling child startles us with the airs and gestures of the sister we parted from in bitterness long years ago. The father to who we owe our best heritage — the mechanical instinct, the keen sensibility to harmony, the unconscious skill of the modelling hand — galls us, and puts us to shame by his daily errors; the long-lost mother, whose face we begin to see in the glass as our own wrinkles come, once fretted our young souls with her anxious humors and irrational persistence."

George Eliot, a.k.a. Mary Ann Evans (1819-1880)



Saturday, September 28, 2013

Saturday, September 28, 2013


The Avenue of Sympathy

Here stands one of the noblest outlooks and entrances to your house. It is that avenue of sympathy by which you not only reach the common interests of mankind, but through some touch of fellow-feeling in yourself, enter into the faith of the faithful, the courage of the brave, the tenderness of the lover, the strength of the conqueror. Many a blessed revelation is given to the willing and waiting soul, but scarcely any that surpasses this, — the disclosures that sometimes come to us of the exquisite goodness in human hearts. Well for us, if we find out that goodness, because we have that in ourselves which is akin to it and calls it out. Well for us, even if it comes in response not to our sympathy, but to our defect and need, — the forgiveness of a pure heart that we have wronged falling upon us with its blessing, the help that answers our cry, the heart that takes upon itself our burden. Human help in our need, human forgiveness of our wrong-doing, human love in our loneliness : these are the sacraments through which, at their sweetest and purest, we feel a Divine help and forgiveness and love flowing into our souls.

George S. Merriam (1843-1914)




The Harvest of Life

The harvest is life eternal. But eternal life does not simply mean a life that lasts forever. That is the destiny of the soul — all souls, bad as well as good. But the bad do not enter into this 'eternal life.' It is not simply the duration, but the quality of the life which constitutes its character of eternal. A spirit may live forever, yet not enter into this. And a man may live but five minutes the life of divine benevolence, or desire for perfectness; in those five minutes he has entered into the life which is eternal.

Frederick W. Robertson (1816-1853)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday, September 27, 2013


Acknowledging Envy

We, who are ordinary people, are apt to develop a discontent that runs into envy and jealousy, until it becomes bitter and hard, and that destroys not only our own happiness, but is exceedingly unjust towards those in the presence of whom we are thus discontented and envious. Suppose a person is handsomer than I am, has more brain power, more money, occupies a more distinguished position in society. For what is such a person responsible ? He did not make himself handsome. He did not earn the money which he inherited. He did not manufacture the brain power which has come from his ancestors. These things are conferred upon him. It is not out of spite to us, that he is handsomer or richer or better endowed in any way. It is no personal injury to us, on his part, that he possesses these things. He is only responsible for the use that he makes of these endowments ; and, therefore, his responsibility may be larger and more critical than ours. But there is something unspeakably mean and little-souled in being bitter, envious, spiteful toward a person, because he is better off in any way than we are.

Minot J. Savage (1841-1918)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Sympathy In Little Things

We might see so much more beauty if we willed it. We might cause many unknown feelings to flower if we were not in such a hurry to feel strong ones. We miss in the swing of excitement many opportunities of giving sympathy in little things to those we love, which, if they had been used, would have added finer fancies, subtler and sweeter shades to our power of feeling. So many thoughts are just touched and laid aside, half thought and then forgotten, that it is pitiable how much is wasted in ourselves. We go through the meadows of our own hearts crushing with a careless step the flowers. There is no need to walk so fast.

— Stopford A. Brooke (1832-1916)



Saturday, September 14, 2013

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Facing the Future

Faith in the future means that one believes in the possibilities of the future, that one believes these possibilities can be made real, and that one believes that the future is consistently related to the past and the present, so that intelligent and loyal endeavor now will bear fruit in a future that shall be better than what has gone before.  Faith in the future means that it is possible to make long-range plans and work happily for their fulfillment even though one may not live to see it.  Faith in the future means confidence in the long-term stability of the universe, so that what one generation dreams of another generation may work for and still later generations see accomplished.  … Whoever plants a tree, or founds a school, or endows a laboratory, or enshrines an ideal in imperishable words, has faith in the future.  Whoever teaches a child that honor is more important than money, or kindness than brute force, or public service than private gain, has faith in the future.  That faith is among the most powerful of all forces in human experience.  It is the dynamic behind all progress.  Without it, the race would sink back into apathy and the dull contentment of fancied security, avoiding the hazards which alone make possible any real advance.  … Faith in the future means courage, more than anything else – the courage which Barrie called “the lovely virtue,” the courage that greets “the unseen with cheer,” that walks out into the darkest night with a quiet cheerfulness that transforms the face of the world until even the night is light about us.

Frederick May Eliot (born September 15, 1889)


Frederick May Eliot (1889-1958)


The Democratic Ideal

The democratic ideal, even in its present inadequate and half-developed form, has behind it the matchless energy of the divine will.  It may indeed suffer reverses, it may find itself betrayed by the half-hearted allegiance of timid souls, it may face the most serious difficulties in adjusting its program to new and unforeseen situations, it may have to fight for its very life against powers and principalities, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places; but it cannot be overthrown or destroyed, so long as faith in our own highest ideals remains in the soul …  To doubt that is to doubt the very foundations of all civilized religious faith, to surrender one’s birthright, and sink below … into the dark and noisome pit from whence, through thousands of years of infinite and painful endeavor, humankind has slowly climbed.

Frederick May Eliot (born September 15, 1889)


The Religion of a Citizen

The longer and more intimate my knowledge of … political and social lives, the more deeply impressed I have become with the critical importance of the part that the Church and religion must play in making popular government what it ought to be, and in vindicating it as the best kind of government that an intelligent people can establish.

The necessity for the infusion of the religious spirit into the prevailing morality, for the purpose of giving it life and persistent influence, is a fact that everyone who studies the life of a people from the standpoint of a responsible administrator of government must recognize.  There are doubtless many individuals who live a moral and upright life, who are not conscious of religious faith or feeling or fervor; but however this may be in exceptional cases, it is the influence of religion and its vivifying quality that keeps the ideals of people high, that consoles them in their suffering and sorrow, and brings their practices more nearly into conformity with their ideals.  

William Howard Taft (born September 15, 1857)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sunday, September 8, 2013


Devout Fellowship With God

It is impossible for us to make the duties of our lot minister to our sanctification without a habit of devout fellowship with God. This is the spring of all our life, and the strength of it. It is prayer, meditation, and converse with God, that refreshes, restores, and renews the temper of our minds, at all times, under all trials, after all conflicts with the world. By this contact with the world unseen we receive continual accesses of strength. As our day, so is our strength. Without this healing and refreshing of spirit, duties grow to be burdens, the events of life chafe our temper, employments lower the tone of our minds, and we become fretful, irritable, and impatient.

Henry Edward Manning (1808-1892)


Our Inheritance

To an unperverted mind and heart, the earth is sweet; and it is a pure pleasure to have a part in handling, improving, and using this whole stock of things we call our inheritance, — the materials by which we are fed and clothed, sheltered and served: the grains and fruits, the leather and wool, the cotton and silk, the wood and iron, the silver and gold. And when we operate on these materials through the useful and fine arts, when we mix mind and matter so as to create new forms and combinations for use and beauty, both life and the world grow rich and full of interest.

Charles G. Ames (1828-1912)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Saturday, September 7, 2013


A True Idea of Right

It is surprising how practical duty enriches the fancy and the heart, and action clears and deepens the affections. Indeed, no one can have a true idea of right, until he does it any genuine reverence for it, till he has done it often and with cost; any peace ineffable in it, till he does it always and with alacrity. Does any one complain, that the best affections are transient visitors with him, and the heavenly spirit a stranger to his heart? Oh, let him not go forth, on any strained wing of thought, in distant quest of them; but rather stay at home, and set his house in the true order of conscience and of their own accord the divinest guests will enter.

James Martineau (1805-1900)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Sunday, September 1, 2013


Distinguishing Between Selfishness and Self-Love

Let us distinguish between selfishness and self-love. Self-love is good and necessary; it makes a man value his own being, keep himself from harm, care for what belongs to him, use his opportunities, provide for his own welfare. He may do all this with perfect regard for justice and goodwill. He must either take care of himself, or be taken care of by others, or perish. Self-love thus saves him from being a burden. But selfishness is self-love carried to that excess which makes one blind to the rights of others and willing to inflict injury upon them to his own supposed advantage.

Charles G. Ames (1828-1912)

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Saturday, August 31, 2013


Two Mirrors

Now, therefore, see that no day passes in which you do not make yourself a somewhat better creature; and in order to do that, find out first what you are now. Do not think vaguely about it; take pen and paper, and write down as accurate a description of yourself as you can, with the date to it. If you dare not do so, find out why you dare not. … I do not doubt but that the mind is a less pleasant thing to look at than the face, and for that very reason it needs more looking at; so always have two mirrors in your toilet-table, and see that with proper care you dress body and mind before them daily. After the dressing is once over for the day, think no more of it. I don't want you to carry about a mental pocket-comb; only to be smooth braided always in the morning.

John Ruskin (1819-1900)


Favourable Chance

Favourable Chance is the god of all men who follow their own devices instead of obeying a law they believe in. Let even a polished man of these days get into a position he is ashamed to avow, and his mind will be bent on all the possible issues that may deliver him from the calculable results of that position. Let him live outside his income, or shirk the resolute honest work that brings wages, and he will presently find himself dreaming of a possible benefactor, a possible simpleton who may be cajoled into using his interest, a possible state of mind in some possible person not yet forthcoming. Let him neglect the responsibilities of his office, and he will inevitably anchor himself on the chance that the thing left undone may turn out not to be of the supposed importance. Let him betray his friend's confidence, and he will adore that same cunning complexity called Chance, which gives him the hope that his friend will never know. Let him forsake a  decent craft that he may pursue the gentilities of a profession to which nature never called him, and his religion will infallibly be the worship of blessed Chance, which he will believe in as the mighty creator of success. The evil principle deprecated in that religion, is the orderly sequence by which the seed brings forth a crop after its kind.

George Eliot, a.k.a. Mary Ann Evans (1819-1880)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Saturday, August 24, 2013

So Wondrous Is This Human Life

Several times in my life has it happened that I have met with what seemed worse than death, and, in my short-sighted folly, I said, "Oh, that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away and be at rest!" Yet my griefs all turned into blessings; the joyous seed I planted came up discipline, and I wished to tear it from the ground; but it flowered fair, and bore a sweeter, sounder fruit than I expected from what I set in the earth. As I look over my life, I find no disappointment and no sorrow I could afford to lose; the cloudy morning turned out the fairer day; the wounds of my enemies have done me good. So wondrous is this human life, not ruled by Fate, but Providence, which is Wisdom married unto Love, each infinite! What has been, may be. If I recover wholly, or but in part, I see new sources of power beside these waters of affliction I have stooped at.

Theodore Parker (born August 24, 1810)


Prophets and Protestants

Prophets and protestants these men were, but never iconoclasts. Their ideals were constructive. They were self-controlled, and avoided violent speech because they knew that exaggeration is an indication of weakness. They dwelt in temperate zones. They did not deal in criticism or invective. They did not scold or reproach their more conservative brethren. They broadened slowly from precedent to precedent. They fulfilled Goethe's saying: "He who wishes to have a useful influence on his time should insult nothing. Let him not trouble himself about what is absurd, let him concentrate his energy on this, — the bringing to light of good things." Their listeners were treated not as adversaries, not as unsympathetic jurymen who must be persuaded and converted, but as co-operative, friends. They did not threaten or try to humiliate their congregations. They conceived that their mission was not to antagonize older forms of faith, but to satisfy in a new way the ineffable longings which those older faiths once satisfied. Instead of directly attacking outgrown ideas, usages, or institutions, they tried to expel error by teaching truth. They desired not to destroy, but to fulfil. The method of destruction fastens instinctively upon the evils in existing conditions, and tries to abolish them by external assault. The method of fulfilment discovers and emphasizes the good in existing conditions, and tries to complete imperfect thought and conduct. We may be sure that the latter is the nobler method because of the nobler powers it employs. It is easy to criticize and denounce, it is easy to abuse society for its superstitions, its conservatism, or its provinciality; but to take the latent generosity of a community or an individual's half-conscious hope of better things and encourage it, to find the elements of good in the meanest emergencies and develop them, to catch the indefinite desires and ideals of a man or a nation and direct and uplift them,—that is hard and slow. The method of destruction requires a spirit intolerant toward error or falsehood, a keen sense of justice, and a vehement vigor. The method of fulfilment requires sympathy, patience, and hopeful persistence.

Samuel A. Eliot (born August 24, 1862)


Samuel A. Eliot (1862-1950)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday, August 23, 2013


Asking

We are always asking. We ask for truth with every inquiring thought. We ask for our daily bread by the industry of our hands. We ask for human friendship with our very eyes. And as life grows more real and deep, we ask for nobler kinds of good; for clearer minds and purer hearts, for the wisdom which is profitable to direct; for deliverance from inherited imperfections and personal selfishness; for larger powers and wide opportunities of service; for the insights of truth and beauty. And sometimes we dare to ask for more intimate communion with the Perfect Spirit in Nature, in humanity, and in our own souls.

Charles G. Ames (1828-1912)


Charles G. Ames

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


A Premonition of the Higher Life

There is a something which lays hold of us; there is a power working in the world which draws us out beyond ourselves; which is in us, but not of us; there is that in our midst to which we stand in the relation of pure passivity. We feel it in the voice of conscience, the imperious behest of duty. No man says 'must' to himself. 'Thou shalt' is greater than 'I will.' Here, already, is a premonition of the higher life, that tells us we are born of the Spirit.' Again, we feel the workings of the Spirit in the spectacle of human virtue, and the sight of a goodness and a greatness that is other than our own. It is not we that affect admiration, it is admiration that affects us. There is an involuntary outgoing of the soul towards all that is heroic in history and noble in our own generation. We do not will these emotions; they come upon us of themselves, like the rushing of a mighty wind, with the fire of an unbidden glow.

Edmund Martin Geldart (1844-1885)


The old Croydon Unitarian and Free Christian Church,
erected during the ministry of Edmund M. Geldart.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Wisdom Is Creative

We are told that the owl of Athena, goddess of wisdom, flew only in the evening. If this were true and the whole truth, wisdom would be useless, for it would mean that while we have to live forward, we can only understand backward. A far better appreciation of the nature of wisdom is expressed in the more modern definition: ‘Wisdom is knowing what to do next.  Virtue is doing it.’  In its essential nature, wisdom is creative.  It is not only a means of keeping life in touch with the past and of adjusting it to present situations, but through it we are enabled in increasing measure to forestall the future, to determine what coming situations shall be and to bring about the realization of our visions of human good.

In this crisis of human history it is supremely important that we shall be able to interpret this time, to see clearly what is at stake, and distinguish the great issues which demand immediate attention from the minor matters which can be put off until the victory of our principles has been achieved.

Clarity of vision is necessary if our people are to hold a great purpose resolutely to the end and achieve a victory which will be moral as well as material.

George R. Dodson (born August 20, 1865)



Monday, August 19, 2013

Monday, August 19, 2013


Chivalry

The essence of chivalry is to look out for the little ones. ... Chivalry is that in me to which everyone whom I have power to injure can appeal in virtue of that fact with the unspoken plea, 'You must use your power to bless!' Wherever a child can be helped, wherever a stranger can be guided, or a friend who is shy be set at ease, wherever a weak brother can be saved from falling and its shame, wherever an old man's step can be made easy, wherever a servant's position can be dignified in his eyes, — is the chance for chivalry to show itself. I do not recognize a different feeling in the one case from that which moves me in the other. The white-haired man, the tired errand boy, the servant-girl with the heavy burden, make the same kind of demand upon me; and all of them make more demand than the lady whose very silk will make people enough look out for her. They all challenge my chivalry, that is, my sense, not of generosity, but of obligation to help, just because I can give the help and here is one who needs it. Noblesse oblige!

William C. Gannett (1840-1923)



Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sunday, August 18, 2013


Difficulties of Love or Friendship

Often it is the safest way to shut the eyes and be half blind to many things in a friend's character, ... like pearls in the sea-shell — aberrations from healthful nature, if you will, but more tender and tinted with heavenlier iridescence than even the shell itself

Learn never to smooth away, through fear of results, the difficulties of love or friendship by concealment or a subtle suppression of facts or feelings. Reprove, explain, submit with all gentleness, and yet with all truth and openness. The deadliest poison you can instill into the wine of life is a fearful reserve which creates suspicion, or a lie which will canker and kill your own love, and through that your friend's.

Frederick W. Robertson (1816-1853)


Looking Above and Beyond

Nothing doth so much establish the mind amidst the rollings and turbulency of present things, as both a look above them, and a look beyond them; above them to the good and steady Hand by which they are ruled, and beyond them to the sweet and beautiful end to which, by that Hand, they shall be brought. Study pure and holy walking, if you would have your confidence firm, and have boldness and joy in God. You will find that a little sin will shake your trust and disturb your peace more than the greatest sufferings: yea, in those sufferings, your assurance and joy in God will grow and abound most if sin be kept out. So much sin as gets in, so much peace will go out.

Robert Leighton (1611-1684)