Monday, January 16, 2012

Jesse Halsey On the Necessity of Religious Ethical Advance

Most great periods in religious ethical advance have been made in times of depression and crisis. Israel came out of Egyptian bondage to create a new ethical religion. The highest reaches of Old Testament religion are found in the later chapters of Isaiah where the product of the exile had not of the prosperous times of King Solomon. The Reformation gave [light] to Europe out of the darkness of the Middle Ages as did also the glories of The Renaissance. The great religious movement under the Wesley’s of England in the eighteenth century came out of a sterile dead deism. If we fail God and our fellows in this time of crisis we will be the first generation of Christians who have not been able to make Spiritual capital out of a depression.

Anyone who is discouraged ought to read The Epistles to The Hebrews or The Book of Revelations where flaming Christian faith rose its ray of hope against the dark clouds of contemporary conditions. Our time has shown how inevitable and necessary are religious principles in the ordering of life. The extravagances of the last decade, the injustice that has made life as hard as possible for so many, call us back to an old-fashioned honesty emphasized in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus says, “Let your Yea, Yea, and your Nay, Nay.” We condescendingly say, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least,” but that is the whole economic basis of the present day [National Industrial] Recovery Act [June 1933], to make the least have purchasing power so that all may share. It will not do for a few privileged; it must be everyone that has something to spend. Someone has said that Christianity at home is chaos. We must put our shoulders to the wheels and not fail.

Just as one might stand in Alms Park and be told that once upon a time long ago the Tusculum Hills came together, the Ohio flowed north by the route of the Miamis into the Northern lakes, undoubtedly it is true that the geological changes determine the course of the river, but it is equally true that the river itself is created by the innumerable little streams that feed it and the little springs that feed its tributaries. We are like those little springs. There are enough evils that pollute the stream of life. We must keep it pure at the source. Every individual has his responsibility, not in a wide area, but in his own place to contribute the best, and only the best. 
--Reverend Jesse Halsey c1933

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