Couldn’t be bothered seeing QandA through last night…

Boring, boring, boring.

My own tweet: #QandA Turned off after 15 minutes. Total waste of space. A non-event. Pell comes across as plain dumb and smug, Dawkins nothing new to say. Except I wrote “spece”…

Round and round we’ve gone and go.

Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument
     About it and about; but evermore
Came out by the same Door as in I went.

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THE PAGE COMPANY
BOSTON MDCCCCXVIII

THE PATRIOT’S RELIGION AND IDEALS

Who seeks and loves the company of great
Ideals, and moves among them, soon or late
Will learn their ways and language, unaware
Take on their likeness.
—President Samuel V. Cole.

THE Venerable Bede wrote of a king of Northumberland and his counselors as debating whether the emissaries of Pope Gregory should be allowed to present to their people the Christian faith. A gray-haired Chief told of a little bird, which on a stormy night flew into his warm, bright dining-hall. It was a sweet moment for the bird, but his surroundings were unnatural. He was frightened, and presently out he flew into the storm again.

"He came out of the dark, and into the dark he returned," said the old Chief. "Thus it is with human life. We come we know not whence. We depart we know not whither. If anybody can tell us anything about it, in God’s name, let us hear him."

And thus came the missionaries into Britain and made it a so-called religious nation.

Our religious journals have discussed from many standpoints the possibility of making our own a religious nation. A formally "established" religion is especially forbidden us. We all admit this to be wise, and that Church and State should be separate. Yet there are few thoughtful people who do not realize that each individual has his spiritual part, which must be fed and nourished, and that this cannot be done by culture alone. When a series of sex-films was on display in New York, and good people were wondering whether more of good than bad would result to the young who flocked to see them, one distinguished man said to another, "Knowledge alone will never make men virtuous,"—and no truer word was ever spoken, as the spectacle of highly educated Germany amply proves.

We are told that there are other forces than the love of God and the desire to serve Him, which may elevate and redeem mankind. That old Gospel, we are told, is outgrown. By other means, character, the banishment of injustice and crime and the establishment of universal brotherhood can be just as well secured.

First, Science was to do it. "From Huxley’s ‘Lay Sermons’ of 1870," says the Christian Work, "to the latest fulmination of Professor Haeckel, we have been hearing that Science was the true Messiah, the eliminator of all evil." Science was to be taught to our children in the place of the outworn fables of the Bible.

Then came the prophets of Education. Herbert Spencer and his followers informed us that education was the panacea for all ills. Educate the people as to what is best and they will choose the best.

The prophets of Culture came next. All that was necessary to bring in the millennium was the diffusion of art, literature, music, philosophy. The mastery of the world by supermen was to be the religion that should create a strong and virtuous nation. Not meek men, not suffering Christs, but giant men, by force summoning perfect character and perfect efficiency out of erring humanity.

Economic Reform was the idol of the next decade or two. If we could get an eight-hour day, one day’s rest in seven, a good wage, plenty to eat and model tenements, then religion, as the Church views it, would be superfluous.

During the last forty or fifty years, all of these gospels have been given a fair trial. "Science," says Dr. Frederick Lynch, "has driven the classics out of our colleges, and has almost become the text-book of our Sunday Schools,"—and yet it has worked little improvement in our national morals, and is just now devoted chiefly to the inventing of machines and chemicals for the slaughter of mankind. Even airships have apparently been used mostly for dropping bombs on playgrounds and nurseries. Education was never more general. Education has stood next to the army in the consideration of Germany. Many of our principal cheap politicians and grafters are educated men.

Culture, too, is almost universal. Every town has its library and its women’s clubs; and Chautauquas in summer and courses of lectures and concerts in winter, are provided in our smallest villages. Germany has boasted of her culture, and we are proud of ours,—but it seems to have done little more than "to veneer the barbarian" in them and in us.

All of the high-sounding promises of Economic Reform have failed as utterly. Germany’s fine insurance plans, England’s old-age pensions, the higher wages, shorter hours and better homes of the working people, have proven but vanity. "Be happy and you will be good" is not the great slogan of redemption, after all.

Sects are vanishing, and that is well. But the great ideals of the Bible, the great Pattern of the life of Jesus Christ, these are and ever must be the inspiration of the passion for righteousness which we long to instill into our children. Science, Education, Culture, Economic Reform—these are good and necessary things,—but they are, each and all, only parts of the greater Gospel, and that is what we must teach our children, if we are to make them good citizens; for, as a community without a church goes to pieces, so does character without religion.

Familiarity with the Bible is one of the essentials to this teaching. Besides its ethical and spiritual power, its stories, its poetry and its great essays furnish so much literary culture that a man thoroughly conversant with them is essentially a cultured being.

One of our distinguished statesmen wandered into a backwoods church, where he heard a well-expressed, logical and highly spiritual discourse from a man who bore every mark in his outward appearance of having always lived in the locality. Upon inquiring where this remarkable preacher gained his knowledge, he found that he had always lived in an obscure hamlet and that his library consisted simply of his Bible and his hymn-book.

Abraham Lincoln obtained his wonderful literary style largely from his study of the King James Bible. Webster recommended it as a model of condensed, dignified and vivid expression. Thousands of our best writers and orators are indebted to it for the high quality of their style, and many have so testified…

And so on, and much of this is just as tacky and specious in 2012 – even when channelled by the likes of George Pell, even if he is a Papist — as it was in 1918.