Harry Emerson Fosdick

Harry Emerson
Fosdick
1878
1969

American Liberal Protestant Minister, Teacher, Author

Author Quotes

The all but unanimous judgment seems to be that we, the democracies, are just as responsible for the rise of the dictators as the dictatorships themselves, and perhaps more so.

Life is a library owned by an author. It has a few books which he wrote himself, but most of them were written for him.

The half is greater than the whole.

Men will work hard for money. They will work harder for other men. But men will work hardest of all when they are dedicated to a cause. Until willingness overflows obligation, men fight as conscripts rather than following the flag as patriots. Duty is never worthily performed until it is performed by one who would gladly do more if only he could.

The men of faith might claim for their positions ancient tradition, practical usefulness, and spiritual desirability, but one query could prick all such bubbles: Is it scientific? That question has searched religion for contraband goods, stripped it of old superstitions, forced it to change its categories of thought and methods of work, and in general has so cowed and scared religion that many modern-minded believers... instinctively throw up their hands at the mere whisper of it... When a prominent scientist comes out strongly for religion, all the churches thank Heaven and take courage, as though it were the highest possible compliment to God to have Eddington believe in Him. Science has become the arbiter of this generation's thought, until to call even a prophet and a seer 'scientific' is to cap the climax of praise.

Money is a person's personal energy reduced to portable form. It can go where he could not go; speak languages he could not speak; lift burdens he could not touch with his fingers; save lives with which he cannot deal directly.

The most extraordinary thing about the oyster is this. Irritation gets into his shell. He does not like them. But when he cannot get rid of them he uses the irritation to do the loveliest thing an oyster ever has the chance to do. If there are irritations in our lives today, there is only one prescription: make a pearl. It may have to be a pearl of patience, but…make a pearl.

No character is ultimately tested until it has suffered.

The process has now run full circle: Preaching originates in personal counseling; preaching is personal counseling on a group basis; personal counseling originates in preaching. Personal counseling imparts to the preacher a practical familiarity with human nature which he would not otherwise obtain.

All altruism springs from putting yourself in the other person's place.

No man is the whole of himself; his friends are the rest of him.

The real war is inward of which the outer action is but the echo and reverberation.

One of the most devastating experiences in human life is disillusionment. Of course there are some illusions the disillusionment of which is healthy. It takes two things to bowl over a tree - a heavy wind outside and decay inside. Much of the moral wreckage is caused by inner cynicism - a disgust with life's futility, an inability to see sense in it. A person in that mood is an easy mark for the next high wind.

When will the churches learn that intolerance, personal or ecclesiastical, is an evidence of weakness: The confident can afford to be calm and kindly; only the fearful must defame and exclude.

We used to say that we were punished for our sins, as though God were a judge on a bench who passed on the case and meted out penalty. The truth goes much deeper than that. We are not punished for our sins, but by them. It is our sins themselves that rise to slay us.

We have no definition of God; we have only a roadway that leads out toward God. We are convinced beyond peradventure that he who travels merely the path of electrons, atoms, molecules toward a vision of the ultimate misses it, and that he who travels the road of spiritual values – goodness, truth, beauty – finds it. The eternal and creative Power cannot be adequately approached through the metrical world alone; the innermost nature of the ultimate is revealed also in the personal world of spiritual values.

Two opposing mysteries are in the world – goodness and evil. If we deny God, then goodness is a mystery, for no one has ever suggested how spiritual life could rise of an unspiritual source, how souls could come from dust. If we affirm God, then evil is a mystery, for why, we ask, should love create a world with so much pain and sin? Our task is not to solve insoluble problems. It is to balance these alternatives – no God and the mystery of man’s spiritual life, against God and the mystery of evil.

The place where man vitally finds God... is within his own experience of goodness, truth, and beauty, and the truest images of God are therefore to be found in man’s spiritual life.

The first question to be answered by any individual or any social group, facing a hazardous situation, is whether the crisis is to be met as a challenge to strength or as an occasion for despair.

Religion is something that only secondarily can be taught. It must primarily be absorbed.

Prayer is the hospitality of the soul entertaining the Most High.

Our wills are the slaves of the accumulated influence of our interior companionships. What we can do is to get new mental images.

Only a theoretical deity is left to any man who has ceased to commune with God and a theoretical deity saves no man from sin and disheartenment.

One of the supreme hours of human experience arrives when a man gets his eye on something concerning which he is persuaded that is the eternal truth.

Moral evil is still the central problem of mankind.

Author Picture
First Name
Harry Emerson
Last Name
Fosdick
Birth Date
1878
Death Date
1969
Bio

American Liberal Protestant Minister, Teacher, Author