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mind's activities, is unthinkable. What begins must end. The flame of the candle goes out, though not one of its elements is lost. My consciousness, which is the flame of my body, ends at death, as a psychical process ceases. But whatever of energy was involved in it goes on forever. The sum of energy of the universe is constant.
I think as highly of the Bible as you do. It is the Book of Books, yet it is only a book — man-made. I fail to find any anchorage in any creed, or book, or system, but only in Nature as revealed to my own consciousness. I shall have a paper in the Atlantic Monthly by-and-by, in which I combat what Professor Osborn calls a biological dogma, namely that Chance rules in the world of life as in the world of dead matter. I cannot escape the all-embracing mind or spirit that pervades all living things. I have no purpose to convert you to my views of these great problems. Every man must solve the problems of life and death for himself. He cannot accept those of another.
(From Herbert D. Miles)
Thank you for your letter of 25th November. I had thought merely to write you an acknowledgment and wish you a happy journey to California. However, as you are open-minded, and Truth alone is what you crave, you will not mind my including some reflections upon your letter, without any expectation upon my part that you will care to continue the correspondence. I shall try to find your former articles to which you refer, and shall certainly read your coming one, in the Atlantic. I take it, however, that you have expressed to me the fundamentals of your beliefs or want of beliefs, and that all you have said, or shall say, must be merely elaborations.
May I say that I believe you are
really a pretty good Christian? as you are, of course, a better citizen than most'professing Christians' — not excepting myself. I can subscribe to, or pass as unimportant, your ideas as to the Universe being without beginning or end; that the Miracles are fables; that Man has 'fallen upward,' rather than as dogma has it; and, of course, that God is a Spirit.
But you jump from extolling the ancient Greeks to extolling the Chinese. You are not constructive. Perhaps you are not even fair to your own generation and people! Do not be merely destructive, I beg of you. Your views are good as far as they go, but are necessarily depressing. Do either create a better church, for unified work of its tremendously far-reaching kind, in 'anchoring' Society; create a better comfort than prayer; create a better instinctive hope than immortality; or encourage the Church, encourage our rising generation to stand back of it, encourage prayer, and encourage spiritual hopes and ideals! I wonder if you know what the Church is as a 'stabilizer,' in spite of its shortcomings; in spite of the slanders of it, often from lazy or misguided persons? What its real accomplishment is, in this country, and the sum of it?
What a responsibility, to print articles that may affect the rising generation against it, and to give nothing constructive in its place!
I want you to think again, as to your statement that civilization is not founded upon Christianity. I know you mean partly that Christianity is too good to recognize such a bad child; but, thinly watered as our practice of the Golden Rule is, civilization is founded upon Christianity. I do not think you believe that, if the chief part of the Aryan Race had originally drifted from Heathenism to Confucianism or Buddhism, — yes, or Pantheism, — instead of to the new Christianity, it would still have achieved, as now, the world-leadership in the arts and sciences which we call civilization. Perhaps you, and some other leaders in the sciences, do not know your own debt to Christianity.
Your letter which I am reviewing gives one an impression of a very good man striving to reconcile certain preconceived and rooted ideas, partly Agnostic, partly Christian, with life and history; trying to forget that the things material are the really temporal, and that there are things spiritual which, in the nature of what could constitute immortality, must be the things immortal.
I take it that you do not seriously consider things spiritual. You say the thought of life, without your body as the base for your mind's activities, is unthinkable. Of course, that merely proves a personal limitation, and a regrettable one. I wonder if you give serious place to the world's best Poets — who are unscientific, naturally — but spiritual? John Butler Yeats has recently written: 'Poetry is the champion and the voice of the inner man. Had we not this champion to speak for us, externality would swamp the world, and nothing would be heard but the noise of its machinery.' If the thought of living forever makes you tired, as you say, then perhaps the noise of the machinery, — very pleasant machinery, much of it, — being all you have listened to, has worn you out!
Pardon me if I say that I do not think your articles are 'stabilizers'; or that they bring hope, or comfort, or happiness; or replace the want of these with anything more than 'the noise of the machinery.' I would not take seriously, if I were you, the approval you cite from the majority of your correspondents. If you will reflect, you will agree, I am sure, that after a speech upon, say, Tariffs, Temperance, or
what not, — things upon which the world is divided into two or more camps, — those who rush up to grasp the speaker's hand are those who always did agree with him, or those who wished uneasy doubts, or unstable convictions, bolstered up.
I am sincerely glad that you can subscribe to 'most of the articles in my creed, or "Anchor."' But please do not call my Anchor a creed. Creeds, as you know, are not based upon 'indisputable fact.' That in my church was made in the third century; we have learned something since. They should be anchors. In mine are Church, Prayer, Immortality. I fear you leave these out. You apparently refuse to contemplate a world made up of Pantheists, which could, and would, say, and act, 'After us, the deluge.'
No, I do not think that Darwin, Huxley, et al. would have been safe men to administer our human affairs, since you ask. Roosevelt, of a later civilization, knew all that they did and much more; he was a Christian and an administrator for you. Emerson may have praised Pantheists at one period of his life; hardly when he was at his best.
Well, a happy winter to you in California. I see that I am trying to tie you to all of my Anchor, believing that, in the winter of your years, you are still pliable. If you are, you are a wonder! But do consider the'inner man' spoken of by Yeats; and the effect of your articles, if not constructive.
(From John Burroughs) La Jolla, California, December 29, 1919. I with my son and four friends, have been here a week, and we are very happy. The world here is all sun, sky, and sea, never a cloud in sight, and the Pacific breaking its long roll upon the rocks one hundred yards below us. In February we go to Pasadena until spring.
Referring to our correspondence of a few weeks ago, and your statement that you did not think Huxley, Spencer, et al. would be safe men to administer our human affairs, and that our civilization is based upon Christianity — I wonder if you remember that the founders of our government, Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, did not accept Christianity? They were Deists. Both Franklin and Jefferson spoke very disrespectfully, not to say contemptuously, of the Christian scheme of salvation; and Washington said in so many words in a message to Congress, 'The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.' The founders of the Republic were free-thinkers. Washington entertained the infidel Volney at the White House, and had the works of Voltaire in his library. He gave Volney a letter of recommendation to the American people, in which he said that, if men are good workmen, 'they may be Jews or Christians, or they may be Atheists.' Jefferson quotes Gouverneur Morris as saying that 'General Washington believed no more in that system [Christianity] than I do.'
You confound our ethical system, which we all accept, with Christianity. Our ethical system is the growth of ages. What is true in Christianity is not new, and what is new is not true. Our civilization is founded upon reason and science. I have said in one of my printed articles that 'a man is saved, not by the truth of what he believes, but by the truth of his belief.' His creed may be perfectly absurd, like that of the Christian Scientists, but if it affords him an 'anchorage,' if he can fit it into his scheme of life, that is enough. The religion of the Greeks and Romans was not ours; but see what nerves, what poets, what philosophers, developed under it!
The religion of ancestral worship of
the Japs and Chinese saves them. The mass of our own people believe in Christianity on Sundays (or used to before the automobile came in); but how few of them practise it in their daily lives. They practise the square deal, because it is good policy; it pays best in the long run.
(From Herbert D. Miles) Abbeville, N.C., January 12, 1920. My pleasure in having your letter of a few days ago was not unmixed with a certain feeling of guilt, in view of the possibility of our questions being too complicated, and your strength too limited, to attempt adequate discussion in writing — a view that is held I am sure by Dr. Barrus, from whom I have recently heard. It is charming, as you say, at La Jolla, with 'never a cloud in sight.' I am a little prejudiced, even in this January season, in favor of my home country here in Asheville; the clouds over the great old Blue Ridge mountains, which are falling back tier upon tier in the distance to the west, from my windows, are ever-changing visions of beauty, and fall upon real trees, in their shadows, — something that you have few of in California, except in spots, where you have the greatest in the world, — and our occasional rough and cold day serves to make even more delightful our usual bright and lovely days, of the temperature of the northern May.
Without prolonging what we shall not allow to degenerate into an argument which would convince neither of us, allow me merely to comment upon your new remarks. I have a feeling that you constantly miss something vital, in your line of thought and your conclusions; that may be characteristic of the Pantheist! You say, apparently in contradiction of my insistence that civilization is based upon Christianity, that Washington, Jefferson, and others did not accept Christianity; and you go on to quote Washington as to the government of the United States. Without going into any dispute as to all this, are we to assume that you consider civilization to have begun with the establishment of the United States? I would say rather that these gentlemen of history, without doubt virtuous and great, made the same error that John Burroughs — also without doubt virtuous and great — is making: that they wholly failed in realizing the debt they were under to that slowly developing, but none the less potent and true thing — Christianity! How many practise Christianity in their daily lives is beside the mark. Would you condemn a great physician because (as is usually the case) he fails to practise what he preaches? That is, would you damn his science? You say that civilization is founded upon 'reason and science.'. Well, does that damn Christianity? You say that our ethical system is the growth of the ages. What of it? Do Christians claim that we would have no ethical system without Christ and the Christian principles? By no means. But we would have Athens and the Roman Empire over again — and the Hun.
In a nutshell, my dear Mr. Bur
roughs, — to put it in that perfectly frank manner at which neither of us has taken offense, — your writings upon religion have pleased you, and, as with anything you write, they have been received with respect; but they have shown us a God, near in the sense of his being in a spadeful of dirt, but billions of miles away and terribly nebulous, when it comes to having a Father to whom to pray. You may like that, but it is bad for the rest of us; you have, therefore, done much harm and disturbed much fairly earned peace of mind — innocent though you undoubtedly have been of any such intention. You have missed the bull's-eye. This is: 'Love the Lord thy God with all thy mind, and with all thy heart, and with all thy soul; and love thy neighbor as thyself.' I do not mean to imply that you have not personally, in your life, done all of that; I mean that the teaching of Pantheism puts God, as I have stated, billions of miles away, — a nebulous thing, — regardless of the theory of his being in all Nature; a theory which Christianity embraces, for that matter. We cannot love, in that manner so completely pictured in the above quotation, a Pantheistic God — which is why I hold that you miss the bull's-eye.
BY ARTHUR SHERBURNE HARDY
'WHY should n't I, if I want to?'
The reins fell on Billy's rough back with an emphatic slap, but met with no response. The shaggy hoofs continued to pound the frozen road with the stolid indifference to stimuli born of the conviction that in the long run a steady gait was the part of wisdom.
The road covered two miles for the arrow's one, with that contempt for grade and distance which characterized the early settler, who first chose his dwelling-place and compelled the road to follow. Between the low stone walls, whose boulders were continually evincing a desire to return to their earlier resting-places, down the rocky pitch to the creaking bridge in the meadow, and up again through the moaning forest, it wound its way, mysterious, unending.
'I can — if I want to.'
Approving this sentiment, Billy, halfway up the hill, stopped and, pulling the reins through the saddle rings, reached for a tuft of withered grass, which all summer long had escaped hoof and wheel, to perish in the winter.
'I might — if I was n't fifty.'
At fifty, when it was too late, past prudence seemed a mockery — a gate to happiness locked by prudery. Rebecca sighed. If she could stand at that gate again!
'Indeed I would!'
The reins tightened with a jerk, haunches flattened instantly, and legs strained to the load.
But was it happiness? Of course it was. Everything beyond the gate must be.
Nearing the top of the hill, the white finger of the spire rose slowly above the sky-line, then the roof, other roofs, straggling fences, the schoolhouse — duty! On the whitewashed wall behind the teacher's desk, Rebecca saw the motto, — her own handiwork, —
Be Good and You mil be Happy.
Had n't she been good? When would she be happy?
In village parlance Rebecca' ran' the farm — one of those hilly rock-strewn farms demanding constant prodding to prevent it from' running out.' Down by the brook in the birch woods were pleasant places — pools of dark silent water, where the brook brooded before deciding to take the leap to the next one, to pause again, out of breath; shallows where it sang to Rebecca, who never sang except at seven-day intervals in the church choir. The brook was always singing, even in winter, cheerily, to the shivering birches.
But pleasant places produced nothing. Pleasant places never did. Alluring, they bred idleness, all that brood of prohibited pleasures generically grouped by the minister under the word 'sin.' The bare upland pasture where the cows grazed, the shed where they were milked, the barn-cellar where the pigs wallowed, the chicken-yard bereft of grass, the vegetable patch, with its tat