Religious and Moral Issues
Part 5: Youthful Church Hopping
Finally I had so many questions about the Methodist worship service – the Apostles Creed, etc that I tried visiting other church worship services. After 45 – 50 years I don’t remember what all I attended. I THINK I went to Lutheran, Disciples, Babtist, Christian Science, Congregational, Evangelical and Reform etc. I think I did not attend Catholic, for I owned no hat to wear.
Rev Fish of the Congregational church took interest in me and one or the other of us suggested I attend his preparatory membership class. We misunderstood each other. He expected me to join Congregational church. That was within reason as far as I was concerned – but never reached my serious consideration.
A year or so before this searching I had been to a small youth SS class party at the teacher’s home near 4th and High Streets. I asked the teacher, out of simple curiosity, what that church at 4th & High was. I sensed a sort of embarrassment on her part as she sort of whispered in answer that it was Unitarian and they “didn’t believe Jesus was the Son of God” – or some such an idea.
So finally I attended the Unitarian church. Garth Johnson did not urge me to go there – so far as I can remember, I probably told him of my plans and then he indicated I would be welcome. And, maybe because of him, several people were very friendly and kind to me. I found my mind and my lonesome personality at home there. They seemed to treat me more as an adult than as a high school kid.
The minister, Robert Richardson, was an excellent speaker and minister. He and Garth Johnson were good friends. Mrs Emma Heller (Frau Heller) had (I think) both of them as roomers. She was a peach of an old woman and very kind to me. And I even met my husband-to-be, John Wells there at an Unitarian service later. After the service we walked along together on High street and to our separate homes. And he also talked with me as with an adult. I guess I was must use to being considered a dumb school kid. But really I was a Coed when I met him.
I reached a point where I actually went to the Trinity Methodist minister and told him I wanted my name removed from the church membership. I wonder if anyone had ever before approached him with such a request. He said he could not do that – unless I requested it in writing. I should have saved a draft of that letter which I wrote.
I really liked and admired the people of Trinity M.E. They had been very kind to me. It was a good church home. BUT I was a very sincere, honest, intense sort of person. I could not believe many of the things which seemed important in the Theology of that church.
As a high school senior, I wrote out a “Creed”, which I pasted into my beloved scrap book. It must be copied into this book as a very important part of this history.
By Dorris Willows March 15, 1933 -- This was typed and pasted into my scrap book with a heading of which I now forget the “Three Month” significance.
THREE MONTHS AFTER STARTING “CREDO”
I do not accept the Bible as the infallible book dictated by God. Rather, I find “My Bible” to consist of not only the grandest thots of the Bible but of the great thots of all the thinkers of the past and present as well. In this way, you see, it is not a finished, but an ever expanding book.
I do not accept Jesus as being the “Son of God” to any greater extent than any of us are capable of becoming. Rather, I believe that He grasped a greater conception of the “Ultimate Truth” as applied to every day life than most of us have succeeded in doing. Because of this, we are bound to rank his teachings and examples high among the world’s greatest.
I do not believe he died upon the cross as a propitiation for our sins or that we are forgiven because of his death. Rather, I believe that Jesus is our Savior because of his teachings. We are saved – lifted up – to a higher, noblier life because we live the principles expressed in his teachings and examples. Because he lived by and was willing to die in defense of his ideals we are inspired to follow them, and are made noblier and happier in the doing. When we become noblier and happier we make other that way too.
Immortality presents many perplexing problems but suffice it to say that I am interested at present in Social Immortality.
One of the greatest questions is that of God. Yes there is, I believe, some great “ruling force” (even those words hardly fit) in this universe. It seems to me that we can never quite come to the full realization of that “force” because, if we could, IT would no longer be the “ruling force.” We make wonderful descriptions and explanations (rightly so) of IT and by the time we fully grasp our explanations they no longer are grand enough. And we explain again upon still a greater scale.
Man is not to be condemned for his sins as pious people have so generously done in the past. Is it fair to condemn a baby because it cannot as yet walk – or a kindergarden youngster for not understanding Einstein? Then why condemn because the human race as a whole is only an infant upon this universe – both in time and in mannerism? The trouble with us is that prodigies of the race, such as Jesus, Plato, Lincoln, Pastuer, have shown us what man is capable of being and we are too prone to forget that such who are so advanced for this “age” are rare indeed!
This, then, is the answer to dogmatic creeds months after my first doubts forced themselves upon paper. What will it be a year from now? ---
--- Whee! It surprises me to think of any high school student writing such a Credo. What sort of a kid was I? No wonder I felt it important to withdraw from Trinity ME. It would be interesting if some of my earlier efforts at “Credo” were also in existence.
June 1933 I graduated from Keokuk Senior High college prep course. I placed in the top quarter of my class and was elected to National Honor Society. My paternal grandmother (Gma Huff) was here for the graduation.
Return to: Words Index Page
Return to: Dorris E. Wells