Archive for the ‘Christian Socialism’ Tag

Feast of Frank Mason North (December 17)   1 comment

Above:  Frank Mason North

Image in the Public Domain

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FRANK MASON NORTH (DECEMBER 3, 1850-DECEMBER 17, 1935)

U.S. Methodist Minister, Social Reformer, and Hymn Writer

The best of the liberal strain of Christianity has fought for humanitarian causes, including decent standards for low-income housing, workplace safety, and the abolition of slavery and child labor.  From that tradition came Frank Mason North, who understood that morality had to do with much more than personal peccadilloes, and that the Golden Rule applied to societies as well as to individuals.

North, who became a leading advocate of the Social Gospel and Christian Socialism, was a son of Charles Carter North and Elizabeth Mason (North).  Our saint, born in Madison, New Jersey, on December 3, 1850, graduated from Wesleyan University (B.A., 1872; M.A., 1875) and became a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church (1784-1939).  Through 1892 he served as a pastor, serving in Florida, New York, and Connecticut.

North worked beyond the parish level, starting in 1892.  He was an urban missionary headquartered in New York City, through whose harbor immigrants entered the country.  Social concerns, such as urban poverty, mattered much to our saint, also; he was active in the labor movement and the movement to end child labor.  As the Corresponding Secretary of the New York Church Extension and Missionary Society, he also edited the Christian City and helped to draft the Social Creed of the Methodist Episcopal Church (1908).  North was also a founder of the Methodist Federation for Social Service (1907).  Then, in 1912, North made the turn toward foreign missions.  He went to work for the denominational Board of Missions in 1912.  Later, starting in 1919, our saint served as the Secretary of the denominational Board of Foreign Missions.  This work led to him serving on the International Mission Council from 1921 to 1928.  Furthermore, North served on the Methodist Committee on Unification (1920-1928), ahead of the three-way reunion in 1939.

North was also an ecumenist.  He helped to found the Federal Council of Churches (1908) then served as its President (1916-1920).

North married twice.  His first wife was Frances L. “Fannie” Stewart (1848-1878).  The couple had two sons:  Adolphus Stewart (1875-1913) and Mason Longacre North (1877-1878).  North’s second wife was Louise J. McCoy, whom he married in 1885.

North, aged 85 years, died on December 17, 1935.

North’s reputation seems to rest primarily on one hymn, “Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life” (1903).  He wrote at least seven more hymns:

  1. O Master of the Waking World” (1928), a socially-conscious missionary hymn;
  2. Jesus, the Calm that Fills My Breast;”
  3. O Christ, My Lord, Whose Perfect Life;”
  4. The World’s Astir; the Clouds of Storm;”
  5. Thou Lord of Light, Across the Years;”
  6. Touch Thou, O Lord, the Century’s Crest;” and
  7. “Where Lies our Path, We Seek to Know.”

More of our saint’s hymns should become more popular.

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God of compassion and the Incarnation, we thank you for the life, work, and legacy of Frank Mason North,

who understood the importance of domestic and foreign missions, of ecumenism, and of social justice.

We also thank you for his enduring legacy of hymnody as we recognize the continued relevance of his texts.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Leviticus 19:1-16

Psalm 100

1 Corinthians 1:10-17

Matthew 28:16-28

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 4, 2019 COMMON ERA

INDEPENDENCE DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ADALBERO AND ULRIC OF AUGSBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ELIZABETH OF PORTUGAL, QUEEN AND PEACEMAKER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PIER GIORGIO FRASSATI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC SERVANT OF THE POOR AND OPPONENT OF FASCISM

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Feast of Frederick Denison Maurice (April 1)   3 comments

Frederick Denison Maurice

Above: Portrait (1854) of Frederick Denison Maurice, by Jane Mary Hayward

Image in the Public Domain

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FREDERICK DENISON MAURICE (AUGUST 29, 1805-APRIL 1, 1872)

Anglican Priest and Theologian

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INTRODUCTION

In 1843 Karl Marx called religion the “opiate of the masses.”  Indeed, one of the uses of religion by the powerful has been as just that, so that, for example, the peasants might not rebel again this year.  In the same year that Marx wrote his famous comment about religion Frederick Denison Maurice wrote,

We have been dosing our people with religion when what they want is not this but the living God.

–Quoted in Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 300

Although Marx opposed theism, Maurice favored it.

(John) Frederick Denison Maurice, son of a Unitarian minister, became a great Anglican divine.    Our saint, a native of Normaston, Suffolk, England, debuted on August 29, 1805.  His mother left the Unitarianism for the Calvinistic Baptists when he was ten years old.  That religious change disrupted the family’s harmonious home life.  Our saint, still a Unitarian as a young man, lived with an Evangelical (Low Church) Anglican family in London while preparing the study civil law at Trinity College, Cambridge University.  He graduated in 1827 but could not received his degree because he was a dissenter.  Maurice moved to London, where he edited the London Literary Chronicle until 1830.  Next he edited the Athenaeum briefly.  Then our saint, a newly-minted member of The Church of England, entered Exeter College, Oxford, to study for the priesthood.

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SIMULTANEOUSLY REVOLUTIONARY AND CONSERVATIVE

(“Conserve” is the root word of “conservative.”)

Maurice, a priest from 1834, was simultaneously revolutionary and conservative during an age when the spectre of the French Revolution (1789-1799) haunted the fears of many in Britain.  He served as the Curate of Bubbenhall, Warwickshire, then as the Chaplain of Guy’s Hospital.  In Subscription No Bondage, or the Practical Advantages Afforded by the Thirty-Nine Articles as Guides in All the Branches of Academic Education (1835) our saint defended the Articles as requirements in universities, an opinion he did not change.  From 1840 to 1853 he was Professor of English History and Literature (doubling as the Chair of Divinity from 1846 to 1853) at King’s College.  During this time Maurice began his service as the Chaplain at Lincoln’s Inn, for students.  Theological Essays (First Edition, 1853; Second Edition, 1854; Third Edition, 1871) prompted allegations of heresy and forced his resignation from King’s College yet not from the Chapel of Lincoln’s Inn.

Our saint’s theology of sin and the Atonement alarmed many people to his right.  Maurice noted that human sin was the actual beginning point for much of Christian theology.  He considered this an error.  The proper beginning of Christian theology, Maurice argued, was Christ, specifically his restoration of people to their true lives as bearers of the image of God.  God, our saint wrote, had created and redeemed all people in Christ, only in whom all people can find their proper identity.  Maurice defined sin as the refusal to acknowledge Christ as central, leading to the effort to establish false independence from God.  Thus Christ, in the thought of our saint, was the transformer and converter of societies.

Related to this theological position was the assertion that members of all social classes were “in it together,” to use words far less eloquent than Maurice’s.  Thus the proper solution to social problems, especially those related to class (in the rigid British class system and in the context of the economic chasm separating the haves from the have nots) was for people to become aware of their fraternity for each other across class lines and to act accordingly.  Our saint, with Charles Kingsley (1819-1875), a founder of British Christian Socialism, was therefore to the right of other Christian Socialists, for he disagreed on the topic of tactics.

Christian Socialism is the assertion of God’s order.  Every attempt to bring it forth I honour and desire to assist.  Every attempt to hide it under a great machinery, call it Organization of Labour, Central Board, or what you like, I must protest against as hindering the gradual development of what I regard as a divine purpose, as an attempt to create a new constitution of society, when what we want is that the old constitution should exhibit its true function and energies.

–Quoted in John C. Cort, Christian Socialism:  An Informal History (Maryknoll, NY:  Orbis Books, 1988), page 147

The revolution Maurice sought was first spiritual then economic and political, not the other way around.  Aubrey de Vere, a critic from our saint’s left, complained,

Listening to Maurice is like eating pea soup with a fork.

–Quoted in Cort, Christian Socialism (1988), page 142

Maurice sought reconciliation and unity yet found himself persona non grata in many ecclesiastical quarters.  On his left he faced allegations of heresy and sympathized with the oppressed and the downtrodden.  Our saint also encouraged his students to consider and act on the social implications of the Gospel, something which entailed changing society.  His theology of eternal life, grounded in the definition (knowing God via Christ) of that term in the Gospel of John, caused some to accuse him of heresy.  Maurice’s masterpiece, The Kingdom of Christ (First Edition, 1838; Second Edition, 1842–Volumes I and II), denounced religious partisanship and laid the foundations of Anglican ecumenism.  Although our saint affirmed Apostolic Succession and the episcopal office, he, unlike many Tractarians, refused to classify those who had abandoned those traditions as being outside the fold.   God was the only proper judge of that matter, Maurice insisted.

On the right Maurice, a Broad (as opposed to Low or High) Churchman, opposed Higher Criticism of the Bible and certain economic and political structures which many of his fellow Christian Socialists favored.  He also insisted on six signs of the Church:

  1. Baptism, which he called “the sacrament of constant union,”
  2. The Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed,
  3. The Book of Common Prayer,
  4. The Holy Eucharist,
  5. Holy Orders, and
  6. The Bible.

These were essential, our saint insisted.  Of the liturgy he wrote:

I do not think we are to praise the liturgy but use it.  When we do not want it for our life, we may begin to talk of it as a beautiful composition.

–Quoted in Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 300

Maurice practiced what he preached.  The Church, he said, must educate and stimulate the public conscience.  He fulfilled his role in that effort.  Our saint helped to found Queen’s College, London (1848), for women and served as its first Principal.  Six years later he helped to found the Working Men’s College, London, and served as its first Principal.  He also founded cooperatives for workers.

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OTHER DETAILS

Maurice’s career during his final years played out in London and Cambridge.  From 1860 to 1869 he was the Incumbent of St. Peter’s, Vere Street, London.  In 1866 he became Professor of Casuistry and Moral Theology at Cambridge.  And, from 1870 to 1872, our saint served as the Incumbent of St. Edward’s, Cambridge.

The definition of casuistry, according to Funk and Wagnalls New Practical Standard Dictionary of the English Language–Britannica World Language Edition (1956), is:

The science or doctrine of resolving doubtful cases of conscience or questions of right or wrong according to the injunctions or sacred books or of individual authority or social conventions, rather than on grounds of moral reason.

Maurice married twice.  His first wife, Anna Barton, died in 1845, leaving him to raise to young boys.  Our saint’s second wife was Georgiana Hare.

Maurice wrote and published much.  I found links to many of his works at archive.org during the research phase of the development of this post.  Others also wrote and published about him, both positive and negative.  I also found such works at archive.org.  I have decided, however, to forgo creating a catalog of those in this post and to refer you, O reader, to that website.

Maurice died at Cambridge on April 1, 1872, which was Easter Sunday, as he prepared to receive the Holy Eucharist.

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CONCLUSION

If I had established complete agreement with someone as a standard for sainthood, this Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days would never have come into existence.  Although I disagree with Maurice regarding much, I also agree with him regarding much more.  My bottom line is that Maurice was worthy of inclusion on calendars of saints.  I have therefore followed the lead of The Church of England, The Episcopal Church, and The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 17, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MARY CORNELIA BISHOP GATES, U.S. DUTCH REFORMED HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF FRANK MASON NORTH, U.S. METHODIST MINISTER

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Almighty God, you restored our human nature to heavenly glory

through the perfect obedience of our Savior Jesus Christ:

Keep alive in your Church, we pray, a passion for justice and truth;

that, like your servant Frederick Denison Maurice,

we may work and pray for the triumph of the kingdom of your Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Genesis 33:1-10

Psalm 72:11-17

Ephesians 3:14-19

John 18:33-37

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 301

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Feast of Thomas Hughes (March 22)   2 comments

Christ Church Episcopal, Rugby, TN

Above:  Christ Church Episcopal, Rugby, Tennessee

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-highsm-14791

Photograph by Carol M. Highsmith

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THOMAS HUGHES (OCTOBER 20, 1822-MARCH 22, 1896)

British Social Reformer and Member of Parliament

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Thomas Hughes was an Oxford-educated jurist, writer, and social reformer.  He joined the bar in 1848, the same year he became a Christian Socialist under the influence of Charles Kingsley and Frederick Denison Maurice.  Hughes became a Queen’s Counsel in 1869 and a Court Judge in 1882.  And he served as a Member of Parliament (from the Liberal Party) from 1865 to 1874.  His politics included pro-labor union, antislavery, and anti-opium trade stances.  His abolitionism led him to support the federal side in the U.S. Civil War, given the proslavery position of the Confederacy.

Hughes also wrote books.  Tom Brown’s School Days (1857), the volume by which he beame famous, was an autobiographical work of fiction about his time as a pupil at the Rugby School when Dr. Thomas Arnold (1795-1842) was the headmaster.  A sequel, Tom Brown at Oxford, was less successful.  Other works included:

  • The Scouring of the White Horse (1859), a vacation narrative;
  • Alfred the Great (1869), a biography;
  • Memoir of a Brother (1873);
  • The Manliness of Christ (1879);
  • Life of Daniel Macmillan (1882);
  • James Fraser, Second Bishop of Manchester (1887); and
  • David Livingstone (1890).

Hughes traveled to the United States several times.  One effect of these trips was the 1879-1880 founding of Rugby, Tennessee, a utopian colony (http://www.historicrugby.org/).  It was supposed to be a classless society with certain English customs, but it was over by 1887.

Hughes wrote one hymn, “O God of Truth, Whose Living Word” (1859), the text of which follows:

O God of Truth, whose living Word

Upholds whate’er hath breath,

Look down on Thy creation, Lord,

Enslaved by sin and death.

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Set up Thy standard, Lord, that we

Who claim a heavenly birth

May march with Thee to smite the lies

That vex Thy groaning earth.

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Ah! would we join that blest array

And follow in the might

Of Him the Faithful and the True,

In raiment clean and white.

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We fight for Truth, we fight for God,

Poor slaves of lies and sin.

He who would fight for Thee on earth

Must first be true within.

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Then, God of Truth, for whom we long,

Thou who wilt hear our prayer,

Do Thine own battle in our hearts,

And slay the falsehood there.

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Still smite! still burn! till naught is left

But God’s own truth and love;

Then, Lord, as morning dew come down,

Rest on us from above.

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Yea, come! Then, tried as in the fire,

From every lie set free,

Thy perfect truth shall dwell in us,

And we shall live in Thee.

This hymn seems to have fallen out of favor in recent hymnals.  I have surveyed my collection not found it in any volume published after 1940.  And rarely have I found all seven verses together, much less unaltered.

Hymns fall out of favor and utopian experiments fail, but that which compelled Thomas Hughes to work for a better, more just society persists.  The love of Christ persists.  May it compel us to leave our corners of the world better than we found them.  And, with God’s help, may we succeed.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 19, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SARGENT SHRIVER, U.S. STATESMAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT CAESARIUS OF ARLES, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; AND SAINT CAESARIA OF ARLES, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS

THE FEAST OF SAINT HENRY OF UPPSALA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT WOLFSTAN OF WORCESTER, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression.

Help us, like your servant Thomas Hughes, to work for justice among people and nations,

to the glory of your name, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

Feast of Charles Kingsley (January 23)   3 comments

Flag of England

Above:  Flag of England

Image in the Public Domain

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CHARLES KINGSLEY (JUNE 12, 1819-JANUARY 23, 1875)

Anglican Priest, Novelist, and Hymn Writer

Charles Kingsley, son of an Anglican priest, witnessed the Bristol Riots of 1831 when he was a boy.  The riots were related to denied demands to redistribute parliamentary seats, to establish proper representation.  Violence followed frustration and led to the destruction of property and the loss of life.  The riots made a deep depression on the young Kingsley, who had a sensitive nature.

Kingsley continued his education, which terminated formally at Magdalene College, Cambridge.  He, ordained priest in 1842, served as Curate of Eversley until 1844, when he became Rector there.  Later positions included chaplain to Queen Victoria (1859-1860), Professor of Modern History, Cambridge (1860-1869), Canon of Chester (1869-1873), and Canon of Westminster (1873-1875).

Kingsley, a British liberal, supported Darwinian Evolution (even in 1859, making him an early defender of the great scientist) and advocated for Christian Socialism.  Needless to say, he was no stranger to controversy.  He, a skilled novelist who wrote very descriptive passages, published Christian Socialist novels, including Acton Locke (1850) and Yeast (1851).  The politics of these novels led to Kingsley’s temporary inhibition by the Bishop of London.  The priest also wrote historical novels, including Hypatia (1853) and Westward Ho (1855).

James Moffatt, in his companion volume to the 1927 Scottish Presbyterian Hymmary, struggled with Kingsley’s Christian Socialism.  Moffatt commended Kingsley for being a

chivalrous friend of the poor (page 393)

yet wrote in a cautious tone regarding Christian Socialism.  Nevertheless, Moffatt did leave a final verdict:  Kingsley was a

courageous idealist

who sought to act kindly.

Yet, reality being as complicated as it is, acting out of idealism can prove difficult sometimes.  In 1865, in Jamaica, economic injustice mixed with frustrations led to riots in which innocent people died.  Finally, the colonial governor, Edward Eyre, sent in troops to end the uprising.  This action led to the threat of legal jeopardy for Eyre.  Some people sought to scapegoat Eyre, in fact.  Kingsley joined a committee to oppose this attempted scapegoating.  Perhaps nobody in the Jamaican events was on the side of the angels.  I suppose that Kingsley’s memories of the 1831 Bristol Riots influenced his thinking in 1866.  And I leave the final verdict to God.

Kingsley also debated with John Henry Newman; the latter was the superior controversalist.  But Kingsley did have a sensitive nature, one not well attuned to debating.  Yet, if you, O reader, ever found Newman’s Apologia Pro Vita Sua helpful, you have the debate with Kingsley to thank for that book’s existence.

On December 4, 1871, at the laying of the foundation for a new wing of Queen’s Hospital, Birmingham, a thousand-voice choir debuted a new hymn by Kingsley.  Hymnals omit the first two verses and entitle the hymn “From Thee All Skill and Science Flow.”  Robert Guy McCutchan, in his 1937 companion volume to the U.S. Methodist Hymnal (1935), quoted an unidentified source which called this hymn

the epitome of his [Kingsley’s] life, and a mirror of his mind and heart.  (page 453)

The full lyrics follow:

Accept this building, gracious Lord,

No temple though it be;

We raised it for our suffering kin

And so, good Lord, for Thee.

Accept our little gift, and give,

To all who here may dwell,

The will and power to do their work,

Or bear their sorrows well.

From Thee all skill and science flow,

All pity, care and love,

All calm and courage, faith and hope:

O pour them from above!

And part them, Lord, to each and all,

As each and all shall need,

To rise, like incense, each to Thee,

In noble thought and deed.

And hasten, Lord, that perfect day

When pain and death shall cease,

And Thy just rule shall fill the earth

With health and light and peace;

When ever blue the sky shall gleam,

And ever green the sod,

And man’s rude work deface no more

The paradise of God.

Charles Kingsley’s legacy is one of caring for others.  Jesus and the Hebrew prophets would have approved.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 30, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANDREW THE APOSTLE, MARTYR

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Almighty God, we praise you for hour servant Charles Kingsley,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up, in our own day, teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2o06), page 60

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Revised on November 21, 2016

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