They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.
—1 John 4:5,6 (NIV)
Without realizing what was happening, most of us gradually came to take for granted the premises underlying this philosophy of optimism. We proceeded to live these propositions, though we would not have stated them as blandly as I set them forth here:
Man is inherently good.
Individual man can carve out his own salvation with the help of education and society through progressively better government.
Reality and values worth searching for lie in the material world that science is steadily teaching us to analyze, catalogue, and measure. While we would not deny the existence of inner values, we relegate them to second place.
The purpose of life is happiness, [which] we define in terms of enjoyable activity, friends, and the accumulation of material objects.
The pain and evil of life—such as ignorance, poverty, selfishness, hatred, greed, lust for power—are caused by factors in the external world; therefore, the cure lies in the reforming of human institutions and the bettering of environmental conditions.
As science and technology remove poverty and lift from us the burden of physical existence, we shall automatically become finer persons, seeing for ourselves the value of living the Golden Rule.
In time, the rest of the world will appreciate the demonstration that the American way of life is best. They will then seek for themselves the good life of freedom and prosperity. This will be the greatest impetus toward an end of global conflict.
The way to get along with people is to beware of religious dictums and dogma. The ideal is to be a nice person and to live by the Creed of Tolerance. Thus we offend few people. We live and let live. This is the American Way.
... Catherine Marshall (1914-1983), Beyond Our Selves, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1961, p. 5-6 (see the book)
Quiet time reflection:
Lord, keep me from adopting the world’s system.
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