Religious Items

In an article in the (Unitarian) Christian Register headed, "About Righting Things," the Rev. Dr. Samuel A. Eliot says: "One of the oldest Aryan words that has come down to us is rita; that is, the root of right, rightness, and righteousness, as well as rites. The primitive meaning was straightness, 'with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.' As the stars went straight ahead, so should man move in his career. Crookedness was held to be the soul of wrong-doing. It was also symbolized by the serpent. Truth, on the contrary, was straightness, and allowed no prevarication. The first moral distinction was crystallized in the word 'upward-looker,' as distinguished from the man who simply saw the earth. Straightforwardness with upward looking became the core of religion. The narrower interpretation of rita into rite, or ceremonial, soon followed. But the glory of the old He-brew prophets was their constant exaltation of spirit rightness as superior to formal riteness. Prayers are held to be inferior to a pure heart. The ways of the Lord were always right ways; that is, straight and true."

After having had charge of the chapel services at Harvard University recently for a few weeks, the Rev. Dr. Lyman Abbott gave expression to the following opinion based on his observation of the students: "I have come away with two previous convictions greatly deepened and intensified. First, that this is pre-eminently a religious age; that especially thoughtful young men are thinking on the problems of the religious life; that if they are sceptical it is because they are too serious-minded and too true to accept convictions ready made, traditional creeds for personal beliefs, or Church formularies for a life of devotion. Modern scepticism is not indifference; it is not the product of a scoffing spirit or a careless indifferentism. Such Scepticism there there doubtless is. But the questioning characteristic of our age is that of souls profoundly alive to the realities of life and determinedly discontented with aught but verified and assured truth."

The Congregationalist publishes the following: "President Angell of the University of Michigan, formerly United States minister to China, in the course of a recent address on china and its future, said this, which must be taken as suggestive of the evil always wrought by excessive emphasis on theology. While hairs are being split the opportunity goes by. He said: Two hundred years ago the Chinese empire came within an ace of becoming a Roman Catholic nation. One of its prime ministers was a Roman Catholic. The Christian ideal, the promise of a future, the whole spirit of advancement was at the point of acceptation by the Celestials. The culmination of that triumph in behalf of a great people failed because of a theological dispute which disrupted the work—the incomparable work—of the European churchmen.' "

May 9, 1901

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