Shuck and Jive

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Meaning of Life, Part 45

In my reading and personal encounters, I am heartened by the number of people who see their religions clearly and remain strong in their faith without requiring departures from factual reality. Consider Myles Horton, one of the great social activists of the twentieth century. He was born into a Calvinist family in Savannah, Tennessee, not far from the birthplace of Sir John Templeton and Dayton, the site of the Scopes trial. His mother was a pillar of her church, the kind of woman whom everyone in the community leaned upon for advice and support. As soon as little Myles was old enough to read the catechism, he went to his mother for advice. Here is how he recalls the event in his autobiography The Long Haul:
One day I went to my mother and said, "I don't know, this predestination doesn't make any sense to me, I don't believe any of this. I guess I shouldn't be in this church." Mom laughed and said, "Don't bother about that, that's not important, that's just preacher's talk. The only thing that's important is that you've got to love your neighbor." She didn't say "Love God," she said "Love your neighbor, that's all it's all about." ...It was a good non-doctrinaire background, and it gave me a sense of what was right and what was wrong.
Horton founded the Highlander Folk School in 1932, which taught leadership and organizational skills to both blacks and whites in defiance of segregation laws. According to social commentator Bill Moyers, "He's been beaten up, locked up, put upon and railed against by racists, toughs, demagogues, and governors." He did not require complicated beliefs that depart from factual reality and neither did his mother. p. 265

David Sloan Wilson, Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin's Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives

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