Every-day Thoughts in Prose and Verse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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Our Empty Churches.
    A young woman has been telling us that New
Yorkers are pagans, because sixty-five per
cent of us do not go to church.
    But she need not worry about our souls.  They
are not going to perdition because the churches are
    There is a higher religious source than the pulpit,
which can be sought by every thirsting soul.
    It is the Great Fountain of Earnest Thought.
    Never before were individuals thinking so much
as to-day, never was there such concentrated
thought as now.
    It is curious to note how people who used to be
bigoted in their orthodoxy, and people who used to
be atheistical in their materialism are meeting on
the common ground of the Science of Thought--the
power of the human mind to connect itself with Divinity.
    Every day I am newly surprised to find people I
had supposed to be given over to creeds, or to
agnosticism, sweeping into line with the great army
of devout and forceful thinkers in this new school
of theology.
    They do not worry about the latest translation of
the Bible.  They do not waste mind force on argu-
ments about baptism.   They are not troubled over
the question whether Saturday or Sunday is the real
Sabbath day to be kept holy, for they feel each day
is holy.  They are not afraid of being "lost,"
because they have found themselves.
    They do not feel the need of confessing their
sins, because they are asserting their virtues every
hour, and temptations to sin are becoming more and
more unusual for them.
    They find no especial benefit in sitting in church
pews and hearing things they do not believe, or
which they already understand far better than the
speakers, when by sitting in the silence of their
own rooms they can obtain direct converse with the
Great Universal Mind.
    The man who takes a little time alone every day
to sit quietly and ask for spiritual enlightenment
will make more religious progress in a year, than the
man who goes to church for a lifetime and listens
to sermons which his intellect either does not grasp
or accept, and goes away thinking his same old
    The religion of blind believing is giving place to
the religion of right thinking, and it will do more
for humanity in the next fifty years than all the
churches have done for it in the last century.
    We are coming to understand that all the prayers
and baptisms and communions which churches
can bestow upon us will not make us Christians, so
long as we think mean, uncharitable thoughts of
one another, and permit our minds to be filled with
malice, envy, jealousy, gloom, and despondency.
    The gloomy Christian is a paradox.  The old
mournful theology is out of date.  We do not
believe we are poor worms sent to earth to suffer to
amuse a just God.  We do not believe we were born
in sin.  We believe we are part of a divine system,
and that we have a right to happiness, health and
success, and we go through the seven days of the
week thinking and talking it, and though we do not
go to church as often as our ancestors did, we be-
lieve we are much closer to God's ideal of real Chris-
tians than they were.
    The churches which have introduced these sane,
healthful, stimulating, and cheerful precepts into
their creeds are well patronized.
    When the others come up out of the valley of
superstition and preach these truths from the
heights, they will not lack audiences.
Every-day thoughts in prose and verse. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, 1901.
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