Signs of the Times

[From the Evening Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Dec. 8, 1924]

A just God, said Dr. Charles W. Eliot, of Harvard, would not inflict on one of His creatures either eternal torment or eternal rest. For himself, at least, an everlasting freedom from work would not be heaven. "To me," he said, "such a heaven is unthinkable. My greatest happiness is in pleasurable activity. Joy in work is my ideal of existence, here or hereafter."

This may not harmonize with the ideal of a lot of Dr. Eliot's fellow-Christians. Rest has been, perhaps, the thing chiefly associated with heaven in the minds of Christian folk from the beginning, when they have contemplated the life hereafter. Yet reason, human nature, and religion all suggest that perhaps Dr. Eliot is right, and his own attitude is not so exceptional as it seems. To any normal child, inaction is torment. The child's notion of happiness, like the Harvard sage's, is usually activity, in some form or other. Perhaps it is so, too, with really normal and healthy grownups. People seldom turn their thoughts heavenward until they are sick or tired or disappointed with life; then rest seems to be the great desideratum. After death, no doubt, there will be rest for them, in some abode or other. But after they are "rested up," from the labors of earth, will not the eternal urge move them to action again, like a vigorous child newly risen from sleep?

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May 2, 1925

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