Signs of the Times

["H. S." in the Mentor, a monthly magazine contributed to and printed by inmates of the Massachusetts State Prison at Charlestown]

Not for months had I gone to the weekly chapel services. My mind seemed to have become a troubled sea of vaguely understood doubts: wave upon wave of uncertainty, of frank disbelief, of mental uneasiness, had flowed over and swamped my usual serenity. The faith I had first found at my mother's knee, the faith which many years of churchgoing had strengthened, had passed out of me. My mental curiosity having been aroused by words which I had heard repeatedly—"evolution," "survival of the fittest," and kindred expressions—I read the books I was told would help me: and gradually, as undreamed-of ideas and speculations entered my mind, my faith in the invincible power and goodness of an omnipotent God departed and left me in a state of mind which I now know to have been caused by a species of mental emptiness. I mean, the eternal truths about life and the hereafter, my faith in a just God, had been taken away from me; whereas the ... speculations with which I had replaced them failed to fill the vacancy thus created. I was like a person who, on exchanging a loaf of good bread for a loaf of what he supposes to be fine pastry, discovers too late that the pastry is merely a gilded imitation.

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March 21, 1931
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