Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Jesse Halsey
Cincinnati c1932
Twenty years very soon in one pastorate, my only charge. Seeking to determine a modus operandi for the next decade. In spite of the action of most churches as they choose young ministers, believing that the next decade should be the most useful of life—I am just fifty—I have tried to put down in black and white just where my major interests lie.

Some of them, unconsciously likely, are indicated by the boards and committees on which one serves. First, not foremost, I am an erstwhile Rotarian (and I, on occasion, read Mencken and his ilk, often jealous I fear they are so smart). It was discipline; to sit between two strangers, a Jew and a Catholic, and with a sign “Clergyman-Protestant” plastered over one’s front, to overcome the prejudice and make a meal time conversation of mutual interests. Good discipline I say and with “Billy” Phelps my membership in the church and in the Rotary while surprising to my friends, never elicits my excuses.

The Maternal Health Centre met yesterday. I should have been there—and wasn’t, an emergency hospital call kept me away. A part of the maternal health work is a birth control clinic. What possible interest has a protestant minister in this? Partly, I confess, my initial interest came from a violent attack on the clinic by the Catholic Archbishop. I agreed with him—but not for long. With contraceptive information in the hands of our upper groups are we to be swamped by the numbers of illiterates, morons and the less favored? Lincoln came from the lower stratum? Maybe. The [Rev. John] Wesley from a huge family? I know it. But common sense seems to indicate that science should aid nature. That man better help himself. So far as ethics is concerned—Christian Ethics—morality, peace of mind, harmony, domestic felicity—would all be conserved if contraceptive information of the most approved methods were put in the hands of every woman at the time of her marriage.

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