The Rev. A. Powell Davies (June 5, 1902-September 26, 1957) was remarkable in the way he could say and write deeply profound ideas in just a few, well-chosen words. This short piece is from the collection of his writings edited by Rev. Dr. Forrest Church, Without Apology: Collected Meditations on Liberal Religion by A. Powell Davies. In it, an affirmation, and a challenge.
Is This Your Religion?
by Rev. A. Powell Davies (June 5, 1902-September 26, 1957)
We are the consummation of thousands of years of religious history. We are thousands of years that have stripped off superstition and battled with tyranny; thousands of years that struggled to take fear out of religion–to take it right out of human life; thousands of years that have marched, sometimes joyfully, sometimes in agony, toward spiritual emancipation. We are indeed the consummation of something.
Yet in this world of blood and sorrow it is scarcely important, hardly worth mentioning, unless in addition we are the beginning of something, unless our religion is new–the religion that has always been new in every prophet who died rather than forsake it; the religion that has been buried over and over again in creeds and rituals and sacred sepulchers and yet has always come to life; the religion that today is new all over the earth, stammering itself into utterance in every language known to humankind.
The religion that says freedom!–freedom from ignorance and false belief; freedom from spurious claims and bitter prejudices; freedom to seek the truth, both old and new, and freedom to follow it, freedom from the hates and greeds that divide humankind and spill the blood of every generation; freedom for honest thought, freedom for equal justice, freedom to seek the true, the good and the beautiful with minds unimpaired by cramping dogmas and spirits uncrippled by abject dependence. The religion that says humankind is not divided–except by ignorance and prejudice and hate; the religion that sees humankind as naturally one and waiting to be spiritually united; the religion that proclaims an end to all exclusions–and declares a brother-and sisterhood unbounded! The religion that knows that we shall never find the fullness of the wonder and the glory of life untl we are ready to share it, that we shall never have hearts big enough for the love God until we have made them big enough for the worldwide love of one another.
As you have listened to me, have you though perchance that this is your religion? If you have, do not congratulate yourself. Stop long enough to recollect the miseries of the world you live in: the fearful cruelties, the enmities, the hate, the bitter prejudices, the need of such a world for such a faith. And if you still can say that this of which I have spoken is your religion, then ask yourself this question: What are you doing with it?
Source: “Is This Your Religion?” by Rev. A. Powell Davies, as presented in Without Apology: Collected Meditations on Liberal Religion by A. Powell Davies, Edited By Rev. Dr. Forrest Church.Tags: A Powell Davies, freedom, History, liberal religion, living faith