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Aaron, Lester | to Mother, Father, and Fan, 1920 November 10

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14 Story Street,
November 10, 1920.

Dear Mother, Father, and Fan:

After what I said about Herbert Adams Gibbons last evening, I was very much amused when your letter of Monday came this morning, Mother, with the comment that his address was "one of the finest, deepest, and most scholarly talks" that you had ever listened to. I am glad you liked him; I can't hand him too much, but there is no doubt about it that he has a good line and on the Palestinian question on that is quite in line with what most of the congregation think on Zionism. I haven't read all his books, but I have read part of "The New Map of Europe" which is quite readable and interesting, though the map that he called new was the map that followed the Balkan wars. The addresses I have heard him deliver were on "The Caillaux Case" in which he didn't prove very much and on the problems that were facing France at the close of the war--a lecture which I thought could have been done very much better. Howsoever, i am glad he made a hit.

Evidently from your letter, Mother, you thought I used Sunday to rest up. I have been resting up since then. I slept again this afternoon for a couple hours, in spite of hammering outside my window. I am feeling fine and looking forward with keen and eager anticipation to the approaching week-end. Please don't worry about my economizing, Mother; that is the one thing I am worrying about--the speed with which that bank account of mine is being reduced. Which reminds me--My Princeton bank-book is in the left hand drawer, I think, in my bureau--will you please mail it to me right away to Princeton, if you can find it? I don't need it, but I'd like to have it.

I am enclosing a letter to the State Board of Law, Examiners. You may have attended to it already--I don't know. Anyhow, if you think it is worth while doing, will you send it in when you get home, Father? I haven't been here long enough to have any idea whether I'll last through the three years or not. I am told that a fee of $25 is to be paid now and another fee of $25 when the exams are taken. It seems to me that that is horribly expensive when there is so very little chance of my ever going into law. If we lived in Ohio, it would be different--it costs 50c to register there. I think it is awfully foolish to blow in $50 just for mental satisfaction; however, perhaps you may feel otherwise, so I am enclosing the dope. All I have to say is that we certainly live in a highly capitalistic commonwealth.

Harold sent word that he got seats in the wooden stands. I hope that you haven't told him or you, Fan, Lucy that I am taking Grace to the game. I think he'll probably take a Hebrew fit when he hears that I am taking any one, and I'd like to see the expression on his face when he finds it out--it ought to be something to laugh at for two weeks afterwards.

Love, [Lester]


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He Sounds High Note in $3,000,000
Unitarian Task is to Reach the
Reaction from War Makes Religion
Former President Obliged to Speak

Eloquent was the appeal made by former President William H. Taft at a meeting in the First Church, Berkeley and Marlboro streets, last night in behalf of the great Unitarian movement for the raising of #3,000,000 to extend the work of the Church in the United States. He emphasized the fact that the Unitarians are not to proselyte or to win people from other churches, but to reach those whom other churches may not be able to influence, and at a time when humanity is suffering the reaction of the World War.

Mr. Taft's visit to Boston naturally stimulated widespread interest in the First Church meeting. The church was filled long before the meeting started and disappointed persons repaired to the Arlington Street Church, where Mr. Taft spoke again.

When the former President arrived at the Back Bay station at six o'clock he was met by Samuel Carr, who took him to the Carr home, 403 Commonwealth avenue, where he was to be a guest for the night, Mrs. Carr being a cousin of Mr. Taft. After a brief rest, Mr. Taft went to the Vendome to dine with 100 or more Unitarians who are active in the plans for raising the #3,000,000 fund. There were remarks by Ernest G. Adams, Richard M. Saltonstall and Mr. Taft.


Progress in the Family

In the beginning his address at the church, which was entitled "The Great Adventure," Mr. Taft aroused laughter by saying:

"I am honored to be allowed to speak to you under these circumstances; I am greatly honored to be in the pulpit of the First Church of Boston. I am going to make an assertion that I hope is true. It would be dreadful to make a mistake about it. My father was interested in genealogy and he told me that one of my ancestors was John Wilson, the first minister of The First Church of Boston. He was not a Unitarian (laughter). And if that statement be true, then we have made progress in the family.

Continuing, Mr. Taft said:

"We Unitarians believe that the time has come when our Church should take affirmative and militant methods against the inertia and indifference of irreligion. The breaking away of Channing and the Unitarians who followed him was not a negation of religion, as many people seem to think you don't know. You in New England don't understand the ignorance that there is in parts of the country with reference to Unitarianism. If you want to find it out, run for President. (Laughter.)

"Their religion was not and it not atheism or infidelity. No one can read Channing's sermons or the sermons of any other Unitarian who is true to the doctrine of the Church, and say truly that God and Jesus are not fully in the Unitarian faith, and that they are not worshipped with the same reverence and the same love and the same anxiety to conform to the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man as in any Orthodox communions. The Unitarian schism grew out of a desire and a determination to maintain a religious frame of mind and religious life without the necessity of intellectual acquiescence is a dogma and creed which it was impossible for a Unitarian to square with his reasoning and conviction, and therefore, with his conscience. Unitarians are Christians.


Reaction from the War

"The war has left the European countries and this country in a critical situation. We have a frightful lack of seriousness-extravagance, luxury and a turning again to the things of the world in a way that is most discouraging. But it is only temporary, I am convinced. It is only getting over something in a way of the fullness of heart and soul that poor human nature cannot stand too long; there has to be a little reaction from it. But the lessons of the war have not been lost; as is now, when there is danger that they may be lost, that we need this forward march, this movement in the interest of religion, to stir the indifference and the inertia of men who have left the Church on excuse that they do not believe in the creed or dogma, and have given up religion altogether on that account.


Now a Militant Religion

"Now, that is the reason why the Unitarian Church is moving. That is the reason why the Unitarian Church is changing from its former quiet method of pursuing its belief and its worship and its religion-a method that has, in certain respects, been most useful in this community. It has liberalized religion, it has introduced Unitarians into other churches. It has introduced Liberalism into these churches because there are many men and women there who are earnest members of the Church but who are earnest members of the Church but who could not stand a spiritual cross-examination without disclosing that they are real Unitarians. But now it is necessary for us to do more, it is necessary for us to go forward, and to take our place in the militant religions, and show to the world the faith that is in us by our missionary work in the fields where we ought to succeed.

"As we have gone on, we have found that to keep the Church clear and free from fault, as well as to satisfy the spirit of liberty, we must have freedom of religion and each man must be permitted to worship God as he chooses. The Church and the State are separated. No one would have this otherwise, but we must recognize that in this great freedom of religion, made one of the cornerstones of our liberty, is the disadvantage of our not being able, through governmental agencies, to associate the teaching of religion with the primary education of our children.

"What I mean is this: That without religion in the schools, the teaching of morality, good, is nevertheless lacking in the fire, it is lacking in the inspiration, and we attempt to substitute for it Sunday schools and home influence. But the trouble is that for those children that need most religious influence there is no home influence and is no Sunday school influence. Therefore, where freedom of religion prevails, where religion cannot be united by the Government with education, the burden upon the churches to make up for this lack is greater, and the danger from a failure of the churches is more threatening.

"General education has stimulated inquiry into the basis of religious belief. It has made them much more sympathetic and much more willing to recognize the usefulness of Unitarian churches, and has unified the effort to spread religion. The incident that was mentioned by the last speaker, Mr. Adams, in which the Inter-church movement is said to have left out the Unitarian Church is one of those awkward incidents-not awkward for us, but awkward for those who found it necessary to make the exclusion. They didn't want to do it, I am sure-the great majority of them didn't, but there they had that creed, and when they go to the stage, when they get to where the cross-examination began, why, then they had to enforce the letter. I presume that was their situation. Therefore, let us sympathize with them; don't let us get angry at them. (Laughter.) Half, more than half, of the people of the country are not in churches, and many of these, though intelligent and educated, become indifferent to religion.

"Now it is within the field of missionary work to such 'heathen' as these that the Unitarian Church has, we believe, a great future. We ask them only to subscribe to the doctrine of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, to take in and act upon the pure preaching and practice of Jesus, to admit its fundamental truth, its beauty, its far-reaching benefit. We ask them to unite with us in the worship of God, and in the study and understanding of the teachings of Jesus. and in self elevation by this study. Ours is a call to the unconverted."