MONDAY, FEBRUARY 11
MEN AND WOMEN GROWING TOGETHER
The nearer society approaches to divine order, the less separation will there be in the characters, duties, and pursuits of men and women. Women will not become less gentle and graceful, but men will become more so. Women will not neglect the care and education of their children, but men will find themselves ennobled and refined by sharing those duties with them; and will receive, in return, co-operation and sympathy in the discharge of various other duties, now deemed inappropriate to women. The more women become rational companions, partners in business and in thought, as well as in affection and amusement, the more highly will men appreciate home.
— Lydia Maria Child (born February 11, 1802)
A HIGHER POWER
There is a great directing head of people and things — a Supreme Being who looks after the destinies of the world. I am convinced that the body is made up of entities that are intelligent and are directed by this Higher Power. When one cuts his finger, I believe it is the intelligence of these entities which heals the wound. When one is sick, it is the intelligence of these entities which brings convalescence. You know that there are living cells in the body so tiny that the microscope cannot find them at all. The entities that give life and soul to the human body are finer still and lie infinitely beyond the reach of our finest scientific instruments. When these entities leave the body, the body is like a ship without a rudder — deserted, motionless and dead.
— Thomas Edison (born February 11, 1847)
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 12
FROM A LETTER TO ASA GREY
With respect to the theological view of the question: This is always painful to me. I am bewildered. I had no intention to write atheistically, but I own that I cannot see as plainly as others do, and as I should wish to do, evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars or that a cat should play with mice. ... On the other hand, I cannot anyhow be contented to view this wonderful universe, and especially the nature of man, and to conclude that everything is the result of brute force. I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what we may call chance.
— Charles Darwin (born February 12, 1809)
THE OBJECT OF GOVERNMENT
The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves - in their separate, and individual capacities. In all that the people can individually do as well for themselves, government ought not to interfere. The desirable things which the individuals of a people can not do, or can not well do, for themselves, fall into two classes: those which have relation to wrongs, and those which have not. Each of these branch off into an infinite variety of subdivisions. The first - that in relation to wrongs - embraces all crimes, misdemeanors, and nonperformance of contracts. The other embraces all which, in its nature, and without wrong, requires combined action, as public roads and highways, public schools, charities, pauperism, orphanage, estates of the deceased, and the machinery of government itself. From this it appears that if all men were just, there still would be some, though not so much, need for government.
— Abraham Lincoln (born February 12, 1809)
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 13
Genuine orthodoxy is catholic and charitable, as well as true and pious. … Sectarianism is the bane of the religious world. Mystical preaching can never be estimated at too low a value. It is a deception practiced upon the community, for which a dear price is paid, not only in money, but in peace, morals, and happiness. The miserable declamation, which is handed down from one generation of ministers to another, is a most impudent caricature of God and man, of time and eternity. A multitude of ministers must of course be excepted from this censure; but I do not know any whole sect of them deserving the exception. Many ministers of all sects are good men and ornaments to the world; but others are tares mingled with the wheat, corrupting the fields of religion with the noxious seeds which they profusely scatter over the soil. All that I would say to my late congregation would be to repeat the instructions which closed my ministry with them. Observation, common sense, reason, pure morals, our natural and irradicable affections when cultivated and sanctified by intelligence and benevolence, the social virtues, a catholic temper, patience under the contemplation of the follies and prejudices of society, at the same time a love of truth and a judicious zeal for its defence and propagation, piety united to philanthropy, such a mode of Christian faith as makes it harmonize with the works and providence of God, such an interpretation of the bible as does not institute a war between the revelation by book and that by nature, the language of encouragement from the lips of moderation and experience, a deaf ear to the habitual crimination of others' motives, a strong reliance upon the wisdom of God in the constitution of things, a steady belief that all will come out right at last, good nature and complacency when many about us are angry, and a persevering pursuit of some useful occupation that will afford us a competency in life, are the elements of a wise, religious, and truly orthodox man, and will lead to present happiness and future salvation.
— Horace Holley (born February 13, 1771)
Immortal happiness is nothing more than the unfolding of our own minds, the full, bright exercise of our best powers; and these powers are never to be unfolded, here or hereafter, but through our own free exertion. To anticipate a higher existence, while we neglect our own souls, is a delusion on which reason frowns no less that revelation. Dream not of a heaven in which you may enter, live here as you may.
— William Ellery Channing (1780-1842)
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14
FAITH WORKING THROUGH LOVE
So perfectly are we the offspring of a Power that loves us, that the guiding rule of duty is the guiding rule of love. When any doubt arises as to what course of conduct it is right to follow, one directing law has never yet failed—let us do to others as we would have them do unto us. Let us imagine ourselves suffering what we are inclined to inflict, and our lips will be dumb when they should be dumb, and our hands still when they should be still. Let us ask how we can do good to others, and we shall have the least possible difficulty in the right conduct of our own lives. The law of righteousness is not hard, abstract, cold, bitter; it is the very law which binds heart to heart. Surely we must be loved beyond measure by the God who made us, when the ordainments of His sovereign righteousness are hidden in the depths of our own mortal love! Not only is the path of duty found by taking our brethren [and sisters] into the counsel of our hearts, but love and duty are so blended that the very life of one is the life of the other.
— Henry W. Crosskey (1827-1893)
RELIGION IN A TIME OF WAR
We may look to the gradual emancipation of religion from dogma and tradition and its vindication as a spirit and a life. Nothing in all the years has done so much to facilitate this process as this titanic struggle in which we are engaged. On all sides men are expressing dissatisfaction with the traditional beliefs and conventional church activities, not because they have lost faith in God, but because they see that these do not express adequately his character and purpose. ... Already we are beginning to realize how petty have been our little controversies over forms and creeds. The men who are fighting in the trenches do not ask whether their comrade-in-arms is orthodox or heterodox, Christian or pagan. … The men and women behind the lines who are trying to bind up the wounds of the war-ravaged nations are learning the same lesson. They know that love wears no label, and that sympathy knows no creed. Can we think of those who have passed through these great experiences, who have seen God face to face and lived, ever again doubting his reality or questioning his power? As soon think of them doubting the reality of the air they breathe or of the light by which they see. Out of this baptism of blood there must come a new baptism of the spirit, the result of which will be such a revival of spiritual religion as the world has never known.
— Augustus P. Reccord (born February 14, 1870)
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 15
THE MATHEMATICAL LANGUAGE OF THE UNIVERSE
Philosophy is written in that great book which ever lies before our eyes — I mean the universe — but we cannot understand it if we do not first learn the language and grasp the symbols, in which it is written. This book is written in the mathematical language, and the symbols are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures, without whose help it is impossible to comprehend a single word of it; without which one wanders in vain through a dark labyrinth.
— Galileo Galilei (born February 15, 1564)
ADVICE TO A YOUNG GIRL
Create all the happiness you are able to create: remove all the misery you are able to remove. Every day will allow you to add something to the pleasure of others, or to diminish something of their pains. And for every grain of enjoyment you sow in the bosom of another, you shall find a harvest in your own bosom; while every sorrow which you pluck out from the thoughts and feelings of a fellow creature shall be replaced by beautiful peace and joy in the sanctuary of your soul.
— Jeremy Bentham (born February 15, 1748)
IN DEFENSE OF ELIZABETH CADY STANTON
The one distinct feature of our Association* has been the right of the individual opinion for every member. We have been beset at every step with the cry that somebody was injuring the cause by the expression of some sentiments that differed with those held by the majority of mankind. The religious persecution of the ages has been done under what was claimed to be the command of God. I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do to their fellows, because it always coincides with their own desires.
— Susan B. Anthony (born February 15, 1820)
* National-American Woman Suffrage Association
THE HOPELESS QUEST
Religion is the vision of something which stands beyond, behind and within the passing flux of immediate things; something which is real, and yet waiting to be realized; something which is a remote possibility, and yet the greatest of present facts; something that gives meaning to all that passes, and yet eludes apprehension; something whose possession is the final good, and yet is beyond all reach; something which is the ultimate ideal, and the hopeless quest.
— Alfred North Whitehead (born February 15, 1861)
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 16
Fair Harvard! we join in thy Jubilee throng,
And with blessings surrender thee o'er
By these festival rites, from the age that is past,
To the age that is waiting before.
O relic and type of our ancestors' worth
That hast long kept their memory warm,
First flow'r of their wilderness! Star of their night!
Calm rising thro' change and thro' storm.
To thy bow'rs we were led in the bloom of our youth,
From the home of our infantile years,
When our fathers had warn'd, and our mothers had pray'd,
And our sisters had blest thro' their tears.
Thou then wert our parent, the nurse of our soul;
We were molded to manhood by thee,
Till freighted with treasure thoughts, friendships and hopes,
Thou didst launch us on Destiny's sea.
When as pilgrims we come to revisit thy halls,
To what kindlings the season gives birth!
Thy shades are more soothing, thy sunlight more dear,
Than descend on less privileged earth.
For the good and the great, in their beautiful prime,
Thro' thy precincts have musingly trod,
As they girded their spirits or deepen'd the streams
That make glad the fair city of God.
Farewell! be thy destinies onward and bright!
To thy children the lesson still give,
With freedom to think, and with patience to bear,
And for right ever bravely to live.
Let not moss-covered error moor thee at its side,
As the world on truth's current glides by
Be the herald of light, and the bearer of love,
Till the stock of the Puritans die.
— Samuel Gilman (born February 16, 1791)
Conscience should be a prophet rather than a historian. It should stand in the bow of the vessel to pilot it, not in the stern to cast the log. There are a great many persons to whom conscience is only a police officer: it hales them before the court after the deed is done, and submits them to inquisition to determine whether the doing was right or wrong. The time to interrogate conscience is in the morning before the day begins. It is well to forecast the day; to consider beforehand the questions that are likely to arise, to demand of conscience its judgments on those questions, and so to be prepared to meet them with some measure of provision. This is better than to wait till the day is over and then pass its events in review and call on conscience to pass judgments on what can no longer be changed. That also may be sometimes wise, but chiefly as a preparation for similar events that are likely to recur in ensuing days. Conscience is intended to be our guide rather than our judge; and a judge only that it may be a better guide.
— Lyman Abbott (1835-1922)
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 17
SUMMER DAWN IN VIRGINIA
O summer dawn!
Fresh and fair thy beauty lies
O'er all the scene of amber eastern skies:
New, young, glad presence pure! like Paradise!
Kindling my inmost soul with the sweet trance
Of peace and joy and heavenly influence.
Such fine enchantment is thy power o'er ill,
To silence thou hast hushed the whip-poor-will:
No right has selfish misery to moan,
And mar the harmony of holy morn.
The mocking-bird tunes up her matins many;
The soft brown wren sings, Cheerily! Cheerily!
I fain would bear celestial love, so born,
A charm, through all the cares and toils that throng,
To plume the day with tender grace, O summer dawn!
— Sallie Holley (born February 17, 1818)
A LETTER TO MRS. MILLER
Your great, loving, tender heart came to my door last evening in shape of a box full of the nicest and best things. How did you ever learn to be so full of kindness and human sympathy? There doesn't seem to be a single chord of ordinary selfishness about you and all your make-up. It is delightful to me to receive your generous gifts and still more precious to have your love and interest. Every item in the box will make some human heart beat with gladness. You never forget to do a liberal and unselfish act. Sometimes I wonder how you ever got to be so unselfish and thoughtful for other people's happiness. Was it the result of conflict, or did it come to you by the grace of God at birth? You seem to me a miracle of self-command and I believe that 'He that ruleth his own spirit is greater than he that taketh a city.' I am very grateful to you for all your unending kindness to me.
— Sallie Holley (born February 17, 1818)
THE IMPORTANCE OF STORY
How can the Universe tell its own story save by making use of human speech; how convey its meanings to finite minds save by employing a thinker to declare them? So long as the story remains unspoken, unwritten, can we say it exists at all? Does not the significance of things become a story by the very process which ends in the movement of an intelligently guided pen over a sheet of paper, in the reading of printed types, in the utterance of recognised vocables; and until this process has been accomplished is not the “meaning” a mere promise or unrealized potency? Can we learn the history of the world, and of human life, otherwise than by reading, or hearing it spoken? How, then, can we receive it without the intermediation of a writer, a speaker?
— L.P. Jacks (died February 17, 1955)
Better that the nation grow poor for a cause we can honor, than grow rich for an end that is unknown. Who can regard without deep misgiving the process of accumulating wealth unaccompanied by a corresponding growth of knowledge as to the uses to which wealth must be applied? This is what we see in normal times, and the spectacle is profoundly disturbing. Far less disturbing at all events is that process of spending the wealth which we have now to witness.
— L.P. Jacks (died February 17, 1955)
CHARACTER IS THE FINAL TEST OF RELIGION
Unitarians believe that character is the final test of any[one]’s religion, the most important fruit of religious experience and practice, the goal of all religious education. Unless religion develops character in men and women, it seems to us to be something less than religion; and no matter what the other products and by-products of religion may be, without character its primary purpose has been defeated and its chief value lost. … Civilization becomes a mere delusion, unless it is based upon character in the people who create it and are responsible for it. The long record of history is the inescapable and irrefutable proof that when character fails all is lost.
— Frederick May Eliot (died February 17, 1958)
|Sallie Holley (1818-1893)|