Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday, April 28, 2013

God Is Love

Love is the great central, essential fact of God's nature. God is love. All moral attributes are but inflections of love, as all colors are but rays of the pure sunlight. Justice is love looking upon the wronged and considering what it can and ought to do to right them. Mercy is love looking upon the wrong-doer and considering what it can do to cure him. Pity is love looking upon suffering and considering what it can do for its relief. Sympathy or compassion — one word is derived from the Greek, the other from the Latin — is love entering into the life of another and sharing it with him; it is experiencing with another; it is love rejoicing with those that rejoice, and weeping with those that weep.

Lyman Abbott (1835-1922)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Monday, April 22, 2013

Reason Over the Generations

Reason in a creature is a faculty of widening the rules and purposes of the use of all its powers far beyond natural instinct; it acknowledges no limits to its projects. Reason itself does not work instinctively, but requires trial, practice, and instruction in order gradually to progress from one level of insight to another. Therefore a single man would have to live excessively long in order to learn to make full use of all his natural capacities. Since Nature has set only a short period for his life, she needs a perhaps unreckonable series of generations, each of which passes its own enlightenment to its successor in order finally to bring the seeds of enlightenment to that degree of development in our race which is completely suitable to Nature’s purpose. This point of time must be, at least as an ideal, the goal of man’s efforts, for otherwise his natural capacities would have to be counted as for the most part vain and aimless. This would destroy all practical principles, and Nature, whose wisdom must serve as the fundamental principle in judging all her other offspring, would thereby make man alone a contemptible plaything.

Immanuel Kant (born April 22, 1724)

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday, April 21, 2013

An Answering Mercy

In every earnest life there are weary flats to tread, with the heavens out of sight, — no sun, no moon, and not a tint of light upon the path below; when the only guidance is the faith of brighter hours, and the secret Hand we are too numb and dark to feel. But to the meek and faithful it is not always so. Now and then something touches the dull dream of sense and custom, and the desolation vanishes away: the spirit leaves its witness with us: the divine realities come up from the past and straightway enter the present: the ear into which we poured our prayer is not deaf; the infinite eye to which we turned is not blind, but looks in with answering mercy on us.

James Martineau (born April 21, 1805)

An Immortal Growth

The germs of an immortal growth are within us now, and will spring up, not by the bruising and crushing of our nature, but by its glorious opening out. We are here to try and train our faculties for great achievements and harmonious residence within the will of God. Nor is the theatre unworthy of our best endeavours. Only let us not, in action or in suffering, sink down upon the present moment, as if that were all. Amid the strife and sorrow that await us, let us remember that the ills of life are not here on their own account, but are the divine challenge and god-like wrestling in the night with our too reluctant wills; and since, thus regarded, they are truly evil no more, let us embrace the conflict manfully, and fear no defeat to any faithful will.

James Martineau (born April 21, 1805)


How infinitely superior to our physical senses are those of the mind! The spiritual eye sees not only rivers of water but of air. It sees the crystals of the rock in rapid sympathetic motion, giving enthusiastic obedience to the sun's rays, then sinking back to rest in the night. The whole world is in motion to the center. So also sounds. We hear only woodpeckers and squirrels and the rush of turbulent streams. But imagination gives us the sweet music of tiniest insect wings, enables us to hear, all round the world, the vibration of every needle, the waving of every bole and branch, the sound of stars in circulation like particles in the blood. The Sierra canyons are full of avalanche debris — we hear them boom again, for we read past sounds from present conditions. Again we hear the earthquake rock-falls. Imagination is usually regarded as a synonym for the unreal. Yet is true imagination healthful and real, no more likely to mislead than the coarser senses. Indeed, the power of imagination makes us infinite.

John Muir (born April 21, 1838)

Home Going

The rugged old Norsemen spoke of death as heimgang — home-going. So the snow-flowers go home when they melt and flow to the sea, and the rock-ferns, after unrolling their fronds to the light and beautifying the rocks, roll them up close again in the autumn and blend with the soil. Myriads of rejoicing living creatures, daily, hourly, perhaps every moment sink into death’s arms, dust to dust, spirit to spirit — waited on, watched over, noticed only by their Maker, each arriving at its own heaven-dealt destiny. All the merry dwellers of the trees and streams, and the myriad swarms of the air, called into life by the sunbeam of a summer morning, go home through death, wings folded perhaps in the last red rays of sunset of the day they were first tried. Trees towering in the sky, braving storms of centuries, flowers turning faces to the light for a single day or hour, having enjoyed their share of life’s feast — all alike pass on and away under the law of death and love. Yet all are our brothers and they enjoy life as we do, share heaven’s blessings with us, die and are buried in hallowed ground, come with us out of eternity and return into eternity. ‘Our little lives are rounded with a sleep.’

John Muir (born April 21, 1838)

James Martineau (1805-1900)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Last Great Victory

When once the last great victory — the victory over Self — is won, and we surrender ourselves wholly to the love and service of Truth, then will the heavens open to us as to Jesus, within, above, and all around, and everything that is dovelike and tender will symbolize the Invisible, and in our inmost being will come a voice, beyond the power of mortal ear to hear, hailing us children of the Highest.

William Henry Furness (born April 20, 1802)

Christian Freedom

I entirely mistake the meaning of Christianity, if, so far from discountenancing, it does not demand perfect freedom of thought, and enjoin it as a sacred duty that, holding fast to that which is good, we prove all things. It breathes,, in the words of the great Apostle, 'not the spirit of fear, but of love, and power, and a sound mind.'

William Henry Furness (born April 20, 1802)

The Habitual Sense of Immortality

It is good for us to be brought under the habitual sense of immortality of all that we sum up in the word Heaven, as the kingdom of God, a realm of life in which His Spirit rules — not for lure or threat, but that our true nature may take its independent course in the simple faith that God is the instinct of our souls. The one right use of our faith in immortality is neither as bribe nor as menace, but simply to free us from all disturbance about the consequences of righteous action, to give us strength to look singly at the quality of our life^ not at all at its results. It is good for us to be wherever we may grow in this simple confidence in God and in goodness, and in whatever is involved in their eternity; to regard death as the day of our birth into a world where we shall enjoy and learn as we have affections, capacities, desires, habits of being, which will place us in fellowship with the light and love which alone have free course there; or where we shall suffer and learn as we have passions, habits, and desires which find not their home with God, in righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

John Hamilton Thom (1808-1894)

William Henry Furness (1802-1896)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Fellowship in Religion

Human Fellowship, in the broadest sense of the words, rests upon the great fact of life that the things wherein men are alike are greater than the things wherein they differ. Beneath all divisions into class and color and race and condition we strike the bedrock of human unity. Just as beneath all the multiform shows of Nature we strike, if we go deep enough, a unity of law and substance. “The solidarity of the human race” is the ethical phrasing of the science of evolution: and it is the modern translation of the New Testament gospel, “We are all members one of another.”

Fellowship in Religion is the recognition of the unity of mankind in its highest life. ... Fellowship within our own Religious Home is that near and dear tie of those who believe so much alike that they can be one in all things of word and deed. This Fellowship, to be truly helpful, must be upon the large and not the small elements of belief and of service.

Fellowship without our own Religious Home is sympathetic understanding of those from whom we differ, constant effort to join on with them, and keep company, where we can, all the more that at some roadways we must unclasp hands and walk apart for Truth’s sake.

    Anna Garlin Spencer (born April 17, 1851)

A Prayer

With eyes bright with the vision of the good life we seek; with minds alert and active in the search for the truth that shall make us free; with hearts responsive to the call to serve our neighbours in love; with reverence for all life—may we find true and lasting happiness and fulfillment in our relationships with one another.  Of all human associations, none is more beautiful, nor more sacred, than the free comradeship of men and women drawn together by their common devotion to a great cause.  Such an association we would like our church to be.

In a world where the channels of communication are clogged with lies, we would seek the truth, fearing no one.  In a world sick unto death with hatred and violence, we would bring love and conciliation and mutual helpfulness.  Into a world bewildered and confused, we would bring knowledge and understanding, that people may find their way to the necessary adjustments in a rapidly changing human world.

For these ends we seek divine strength and guidance.  May our bond of fellowship bear much fruit, by bringing us closer to the promised land, the land of our heart’s desire.  Amen.

Albert E. Kristj√°nsson (born April 17, 1877)

Freedom of Belief

We are resolved to protect individual freedom of belief. This freedom must include the child as well as the parent. The freedom for which we stand is not freedom of belief as we please, ... not freedom to evade responsibility, ... but freedom to be honest in speech and action, freedom to respect one's own integrity of thought and feeling, freedom to question, to investigate, to try, to understand life and the universe in which life abounds, freedom to search anywhere and everywhere to find the meaning of being, freedom to experiment with new ways of living that seem better than the old.

Sophia Lyon Fahs (died April 17, 1978)

Anna Garlin Spencer (1851-1931)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Song of Life

In the presence of death, we must continue to sing the song of life.  We must be able to accept death and go from its presence better able to bear our burdens and to lighten the load of others.  Out of our sorrows should come understanding.  Through our sorrows, we join with all of those before us who have had to suffer and all of those who will yet have to do so.  Let us not be gripped by the fear of death.  If another day be added to our lives, let us joyfully receive it, but let us not anxiously depend on our tomorrows.  Though we grieve the deaths of our loved ones, we accept them and hold on to our memories as precious gifts.  Let us make the best of our loved ones while they are with us, and let us not bury our love with death.

Seneca (died April 12, 65 C.E.)

Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 BCE - 65 CE)