Witing in 1939

I was talking with one of the teachers at school. He was describing his position on abortion. He opposed it, but was in a quandary about how he felt about abortion in the unique cases of rape or the health of the mother. I mentioned the facts around Beethoven’s birth. That helped him somewhat. As he continued talking to the students in the room he came back to be addressing me as a pastor this time. I was under the influence of a book by James Reid published in 1939 called "Why Be Good". I answered that sacrificial love is always better than selfish love. This all happened as President Obama reasserted the Democratic preference for wider availability of abortion options worldwide. The teacher came back that afternoon and gave me a sincere thank you, saying he knew abortion was always wrong but he was never able to give others or himself an acceptable answer. Sacrificial love is that acceptable answer in all cases. Here are some notes from the book:


He wrote this on the eve of WWII. He is hoping to see a return to Christian civility that will influence the nations. As a British citizen he, as most of his compatriots, saw WWI as a watershed moment never to be repeated. He would be extremely disappointed.


Here is his definition of goodness: “It is what our souls see to be good; and the only reason why we choose it and follow it is in that fact.”


“If goodness is to become the guiding principle of life, it must be seen in its true place, as the way of life that follows from a right relationship between us and God. What we call goodness cannot be separated from the view of life as fellowship with God in an eternal order into which He brings us in Christ. Only as we come into our place in that fellowship can we find the principles which guide our lives,…”


“A ship without a pilot, flying with all sails set before every wind that blows, may be a very glorious sight, but there is only one end to that kind of voyage.”


“…having won the freedom to do what they wish and to have no master save their mood, they are full of contrary moods and do not know what they wish to do. We have come to see that Huxley was right when he said that ‘a man’s worst difficulties begin when he is able to do as he likes.’”


Speaking of sex: “It is the strongest instinct we have and it has most power of producing strain and unhappiness when there is no knowledge of how it should be regulated.”


“The pre-requisite of being master in the house of our life is to believe that our impulses and desires are finally in our own control, and the man who gives up this claim to freedom and believes that he must succumb to the impulse which makes most appeal to him at the moment will soon cease to have any personality at all”.


“Witreg is perfectly right, ‘Since Christ came into the world, there has no longer been a world without Christ; He entered into it life a dye, the stain of which no amount of washing will remove; like a drop of God’s blood which remains ineffaceably there.’”

“A life without purpose comes to be not worth living. And there are countless people who find it meaningless. They hurry from one excitement to another trying to get a kick out of life. But in vain.”


“The only definition of goodness for each of us in the long run is that it is what we feel we ought to do or to be. What is the origin of this sense of obligation? Why is it that people in various ages, and in widely separated spots on the earth, have felt the compulsion to live in one certain or to follow certain rules which are virtually the same?”


“It blurs the distinction between various kinds of pleasure. For pleasure may be had on different levels. The prodigal in the far country had one kind of pleasure; and back home again, reconciled with his father and intent on service, he had another kind of pleasure.”


“Man is also a creature of will and purpose. He can make plans and carry them through. …He can order and direct his own life to some definite end of his ambition.”


Speaking of the Sermon on the Mount: “It is more like a series of dramatic illustrations flung out of His glowing mind of the kind of way in which a man will act who has His spirit of goodness; and the effort to take some of these illustrations literally and make them rules of conduct is futile.”


“Modern translations of the New Testament have gone back to the word love, which is the real rendering of “agape”. But when the Bible was translated into Latin, the word for love had been so corrupted with vicious and degrading associations that it could not be used, and the translators used the Latin word caritas, which those who made the Authorized Version in 1y611 translated charity. The fact that we have been able to go back to the word love shows how the influence of Christianity has cleansed it.”


…personality in His sense, which is manhood and womanhood at its best, is the capacity for right social relationships and conduct. It is the growth in us of the true goodness which is love.”


“To be good is to do the things which, if we possessed His spirit, we would do.”


“The place of religion in the world has been to fertilize all the energies of the human mind and spirit”.


For life at its best, as Jesus say, and He is supported by the best psychology., is love. To be released from ourselves into the love of others is the way of mental and spiritual health. It is the secret of true freedom.”


“The right management of personal relationships is the most important and the most difficult part of the art of life.”


“To make what in life and in novels is so often called love a pretext for sex relationships is to clutch at the shadow and miss the substance. It is this sanctity of love as a spiritual union which is the real safeguard of home and of all that it can bring to husband and wife.”


“As Mr. Julian Husxley says, ‘To love one woman fully is to wish not to love any other woman fully.’”


“The true aim of parental care is so to train the children that the early dependence will give way to a companionship in which affection is strong because it is free, and all are united in a fellowship which shares the same loyalty,…”


“The way out of all of these troubles is through a love which is big enough to be unselfish, strong enough to trust, and is free from all unworthy anxiety, because it is leaned from Christ. This love seeks to guide through frankness and persuasion.”


His definition of home: It is for the development, through those intimate relationships where we can be our unfettered selves, of the character that will enable us to be members of the larger community.”


“The only advances the world has known have come through the inspiring power of personality. We cannot get away from this, whatever be the structure of society. One soul lights up another, like flame kindling flame. As the spirit of Christ, though our loyalty to Him, takes possession of us we become kindling points of that spirit in others.”


“It is because His spirit has permeated our traditions and our ideals that our civilization is as good as it is. It is still true, and may be stated without fear of contradiction, that the best type of men in our own country are Christian men, and that all the great steps in social reform and the elevation of the social and individual conscience have come through Christian faith. The fact that there are mangy good people who make no religious profession is easily accounted for. They are living on inherited spiritual capital, and that capital has been provided by those personalities whose lives were controlled, directed, and inspired by Christian faith.”


“They are kept going on the level of decency and respectability by ideals which have been created by faith but are no longer inspired by it. The deeper springs of character have not been set going; and this can be done only by religion.”


“For those who think that Jesus came merely to show us what goodness is and to bid us practice it, are missing the whole point. He came, and He gave His life, to reveal to men the nature and reality of God.”


“Many people fail to understand that religion is not merely a theory about God; it is an experience of God. It is not that we assume His existence, His love and then try to live in the light of this assumption; it is an experience by which we become conscious of God working in our life, inspiring and comforting. It is a fellowship with God as real as fellowship with a friend in which mind and spirit act and react on one another.”


“A pessimist is a man who sees the hard and tragic facts of life, unlit by any religious faith.”


“The modern world with all its activities is for many people a vast machinery of escape from ourselves and from the God who is trying to make Himself known to us.”


“It is the restoring of a fellowship with God in which nothing henceforth stands between His love and us. But the result of the restoration is that a new force enters our life, and through us, our world. God comes into it through this fellowship, in the new life which he creates and inspires with all the activity to which it leads. There is a new situation in which the very past itself can be transformed, and the consequences that remain are made to serve God’s purpose in our lives.”


About hansston

Pastor a church in Sparta.
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