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)