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)