“At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the Great War (World War I) ends. At 5 a.m. that morning, Germany, bereft of manpower and supplies and faced with imminent invasion, signed an armistice agreement with the Allies in a railroad car outside Compiégne, France. The First World War left nine million soldiers dead and 21 million wounded, with Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, France, and Great Britain each losing nearly a million or more lives. In addition, at least five million civilians died from disease, starvation, or exposure.”
This is the background for The World Within, 1918, an early book by the prolific and respected Quaker author, academic, and social activist Rufus Jones. These quotes from the “Introduction” speak not only to history, but to the rebuilding to come after the Covid-19 pandemic. mjd
We must restore trust and confidence in a living God who is not off beyond and above the storm and stress of life, but in the very pulse and flow of it all, and whose will for a good world is the deepest reality of our universe. … we shall, if we are wise, care more than ever for the central realities by which men live. St. Augustine was right when he said: “My life shall now be a real life, being wholly full of Thee.”
I have always believed and maintained that the apparent lack of popular interest in (religion) is largely due to the awkward and blundering way in which it has been presented to the mind and heart of those who all the time carry deep within themselves inner hungers and thirsts which nothing but God can satisfy.
The easy, inherited, second-hand faith will not do for any of us now. … We demand something real enough and deep enough to answer the human cry of our soul to-day. We need to be assured that we do not in the last resort fall back on the play of molecules but that underneath us are everlasting Arms. We want to know not only that there is law and order but that a genuine Heart of Love touches our heart and brings us calm and confidence.
Mountain peaks and stars can not embody love and sympathy–they can embody only energy. Love and sympathy, tenderness and patience, forgiveness and grace are traits of character, attitudes of a personal spirit. If they are ever to be revealed, they must be revealed in the life of a person.
Now once there was a Person who felt that his life was a genuine exhibition of the divine in the human, the eternal in the midst of time. He lived and died in the consciousness that through his life he was showing God to men; that his love was a revelation of the real nature and character of God; that his sympathy for the weary, heavy-laden, sin-distressed, heart-hungry people of the earth was a true unveiling of the heart of the universe.… He felt this, and consecrated his life to this deeper revelation of God. Some have doubted and some have been perplexed, but there have always been some…who profoundly believe that here in him is the personal character of God revealed to us. However leaden and pitiless the march of the universe may be at other points, at this one point, at least, love and tenderness break through and enwrap us. This God who is unveiled in Christ is the God our world needs to-day.
…through him can come afresh to us the God whom our chemistry and astronomy were too limited to reveal–we can see him in the face of Jesus Christ.
– Rufus M. Jones, excerpts, Introduction of The World Within, 1918.
That which was from the beginning,
which we have heard,
which we have seen with our eyes,
which we have looked at
and our hands have touched—
this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.
The life appeared;
we have seen it and testify to it,
and we proclaim to you the eternal life,
which was with the Father and has appeared to us.
We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard,
so that you also may have fellowship with us.
And our fellowship is with the Father
and with his Son,
We write this to make our joy complete.
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you:
God is light;
in him there is no darkness at all.
I John 1:1-5