Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wednesdays with Words: The Rector of Justin, by Louis Auchincloss

"There is no real distinction between the pulpit and the classroom. I tried to put God into every book and sport in Justin. That was my ideal, to spread a sense of his presence so that it would not be confined to prayers and sacred studies and to spread it in such a way as to make the school joyful." He shook his head ruefully. "Oh, if I could have done that, Brian, Justin would have been the model for all preparatory schools!"

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

His principle reason, however, for giving so much care and devotion to the chapel service was that he regarded it as the keystone of his educational plan. God might indeed be everywhere, but he was particularly in chapel when masters and boys worshiped together.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

"And none of us is a Christian until he has accepted the parable of the laborer in the vineyard. Until he is willing to share the kingdom of God equally with those who have toiled but a fraction of his working day. Until he has recognized that it would not be the kingdom of God if there were any differences in it."

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

When I left, I asked him if I could make a habit of driving down to see him every Saturday afternoon, and he consented . . . . And then in a burst of gratitude and because I had been overwrought by his news [of his impending death], I subjected him to one of my silly fits of conscience. Oh, the egotism of the neurotic!

"Unless you think I'm only coming to collect your last words!" I exclaimed. "Perhaps I am. Perhaps, God help me, I am!"

"Coming to see me is a good deed, Brian," Dr. Prescott replied gently. "It gives me great pleasure, therefore it is good. You worry too much about motives. Suppose your motive is selfish. Very well. But now suppose yourself an inquisitor of the Middle Ages who would burn my living body to save my soul. The motive might be good. But what about poor me at the stake! Do you imagine the good Lord will reward the inquisitor more than you? Of course not. Some of the intrinsic goodness of a good deed must seep into the motive, and some of the bad of a bad deed. Keep doing good deeds long enough, and you'll probably turn out a good man. In spite of yourself!"

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

We like heroes in shirtsleeves, or, in other words, we don't like heroes. But things were not always that way, and today is not forever.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

But I must stop rambling. I must cease my everlasting speculations. If I am ever to write anything, even if I give it my whole lifetime, I must still make a beginning. I must still make a mark on the acres of white paper that seem to unroll before me like arctic snows.


6 comments :

  1. Wow, we could talk about each and every one of those for a long time! I'm particularly struck by the workers in the fields and the doing everything with joy ... Wow, I say again.

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    1. This is one of my Kindle reads -- I got it free, but I don't know if it still is. It was such a good book, such a great look at what it means to be a teacher.

      Goodbye, Mr Chips is still my favorite "school" book, but this one was very good.

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  2. 'Some of the intrinsic goodness of a good deed must seep into the motive, and some of the bad of a bad deed.' There's something about this quote that intrigues me but I'll have to sit on it to get my mind around it.

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  3. “Keep doing good deeds long enough, and you'll probably turn out a good man. In spite of yourself!"

    Love that line!

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  4. Oh my goodness. This is a book I've been meaning to read for years and years. I need to bump it up the stack after reading this!

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