Samuel Gandy - "Achieving a Living Faith" (December 5, 1965)
|(intense ambient music)
|It is a joy always
|to give thanks unto the Lord
|and to sing praises unto the name of the most high.
|And especially this day in this place
|with this people and it's chaplain,
|I rejoice in the opportunity and the privilege
|and the common praise of God.
|Let us pray.
|May the words now to be spoken,
|be acceptable in thy sight, oh Lord our strength,
|and our (indistinct).
|How may I find a faith that will give meaning to life?
|And that will endow human existence with purpose
|and with significance.
|During the last 20 years, this has then particularly
|the continuing quest of intellectuals and non intellectuals.
|And today we stand deep within this search for meaning
|and the hope that we might not alone
|endow our existence with this force
|and this factor for all of living,
|but particularly that we might discover some purpose
|and significance in the midst of all of the anxiety
|and desperation and confusion.
|How may I find a faith therefore
|that will allay this knowing desperation
|that comes from a felt need for being.
|And this felt need is made starkingly real
|by all of these exigencies says which crowd in upon us,
|both in our culture and in our personal experiencing.
|How may therefor fill this vast void
|that seems to swing around me with an engulfing effect,
|filling this void so that I can make sense out of it all.
|And that life itself
|for me shall not be a hopeless thing.
|Now, this faith, which I seek
|is not one that will give answers
|to casual living or to survival living.
|I don't need this.
|The fact is this is a part of the burden of my days
|that these answers come all too often
|and too quickly and too easily for me.
|Wherever I turn in the midst of my culture,
|I discover them and in my society,
|which is largely business oriented,
|particularly in its emphasis upon the success cult,
|answers do come very easily and very quickly.
|The faith that I seek
|is at a much deeper dimension of human need.
|I seek and answer or answers
|that will afford for me now
|that which will sustain, guide
|and nurture me for the rest of my life.
|Even though, as I seek this,
|I recognize that these answers are,
|this answer may in itself yield to clearer interpretations
|of reality as they break out upon me
|in my own time and generation.
|Now that's the kind of class,
|this kind of searching, this gnawing desperation
|to fill this void and to make real the need within me,
|in the quietness of my mind
|forces it upon me really the basic inquiry.
|The thing that is really disturbing me deep down underneath
|therefore is simply the inquiry
|of what is it really to live?
|And how may I therefore carve out of all of this mess?
|That dimension that will strengthen, sustain and nurture me.
|And it's the confusion for all age levels,
|but particularly for those in the limited years
|of their experiencing sometimes feel more desperate,
|for the quest seems much more immediate
|and the anxiety, a great deal more pressing.
|And there was a sadness here
|when the mind cannot explore adequately this quest
|so that the meaning can stand out clearly
|and one can be governed by this meaning, with intelligence
|and with the kind of direction that challenges
|and fills in with courage every bit of my living.
|Some years ago, there was an antidote on this confusion,
|and it came out of the great State of Texas.
|I presume it came from Texas
|because everything that I understand is big.
|But this was a young man who had purchased at that time
|a Coupe De Ville General Motors product
|with all of the extras and all that was necessary
|to make it a truly magnificent machine.
|And he supported himself around the ranches
|and the plains of Texas.
|And he said to one of his comrades one day,
|you know, if anything ever happens to me,
|what I'd like for you to do
|is to make sure that I am buried in this car.
|It is really a dream boat, isn't it?
|And as it happens,
|according to that adult and through course of time,
|death did catch up with him.
|And two grave diggers who were on the sidelines
|waiting until this being wrapped around
|and all of the magnificence of this Coupe De Ville
|could be interred a Lord into the grave.
|And one standing nearby was heard to say as they looked on,
|as the car was being lowered, man, that's living.
|This antidote seem to be always,
|to put up something of the confusion of the moment.
|And what we do in instances like this,
|it appears to me is that we do not turn within
|as some years ago,
|there was those who were
|seeking to promote this kind of challenge,
|and particularly to students
|in American colleges and universities,
|even some of our psychologists
|who are oriented a bit towards the spiritual quest.
|And that you can never find
|meaning to life's existence outside of the self.
|And then in the language of the Chinese poet Lao Tzu
|that you can't find it by looking outside,
|or peering through a window
|and you can't find it by running outside.
|As if in all directions
|and the hope that it might be discovered,
|but if you are earnestly seeking it,
|you must be quiet at the very center of your being.
|And in the cryptic expression
|of the last line of that magnificent poem
|describing this by Lao-Tzu, he concludes,
|the way to do is to be.
|One of my mentors some years ago
|in seeking to give expression to the kind of necessity of
|not just running around and running outside to find meaning,
|but to find it inside would dramatize this in part by
|telling the story of the old musk ox
|that had an insatiable desire in season
|for the smell of the aroma of musk,
|and therefore would take out to the field
|and looking under every cup of brush, rock
|and the hope that he might find the object of the quest.
|And then finally, after having run
|until he was thoroughly exhausted,
|lying prostrate with its tiny head
|nestled between its even tinier paws
|discovered there that musk was at it's own hide.
|The meaning of life is within you.
|But what is it really to live?
|Several summers ago, it was my privilege to be in London
|and to be at an audience that listened
|to an interview of the late psychologist Carl Jung,
|who was then speaking and writing
|in terms of the art of living.
|And I thought I'd probably I'd get
|some kind of index from this,
|but in trying to probe this basic inquiry
|on what is it to live and accepting the fact that
|living is not so much an accident
|as it is an art.
|The search therefor is to find out what really is an art.
|And I'm not sure that the late Carl Jung
|answered what an art is.
|And I've come to the conclusion upon reading again,
|that perhaps he was closer to what it could mean for me,
|he doesn't define what art is,
|he merely gives three aspects of it,
|what he calls the mastery of the theory,
|the mastery of the practice and making theory
|and practice a matter of ultimate concern.
|But then what kind of fear,
|and may I hold as an intelligent being
|functioning at the very center of my society
|and then in the next of the kind of world in which I live.
|So then I just don't come up
|with something that is transmissive,
|something that is purely stereotyped,
|or a kind of myth that is pleasant to hear,
|but has no real power to transform me.
|This is not an easy thing to come by.
|A theory that can guide and sustain and nurture.
|And after a great deal of searching in this direction,
|I've come up with the kind of feeling
|of the theory that seems to me not alone
|because I am under some ordination
|but in an honest and very genuine effort
|to find the source of this meaning,
|that a theory that makes sense
|and amidst exigent says of things and of experiencing,
|is still that kind of theory that first and foremost
|is rested from the funded experiences of human civilization.
|And when we look upon this sharpened and focus
|for the kind of giving
|and the kind of meaning that it may afford,
|we still come up with the same old language
|that it is in the power and the goodness of God
|that this kind of theory can be the main spring for the art
|and all of my living.
|Not because it is recorded,
|not because it has been passed on through the system
|in a tremendous heritage,
|but because in amidst of all of the perishing,
|it make sense.
|But even so that's power and the goodness of God
|must be demonstrated again and a gain
|and it must find a way of laying whole
|of my full consciousness and my devotion,
|which is another way of saying that I cannot snatch it from
|the funded experiences of the past alone,
|I must translate this into the experiencing
|of this moment in history for me.
|Which is still another way of saying that in this advent,
|it is the same old quest
|and the genuine accounting in history
|of one who was wrapped in swaddling clothes,
|and laid in a manger.
|If the power and the goodness of God as theory
|that can give guidance to me can mean anything, at all,
|it therefore assumes that in the nature of this power,
|it functions in history now,
|and that at the very center of it is goodness.
|And therefore this felt kneeing need
|agonized by the desperation of my quest finds an anchor
|through which it may continue its explorations,
|even for a clearer manifestation
|of the quest for all of my living.
|Now, this it seems to me is
|in part the kind of thing that really happened,
|the event that we will celebrate again this afternoon
|and leading up to its triumphant declaration
|later this month,
|that's what Jesus experienced in his will,
|assuming and accepting a theory of the power
|and the goodness of God was that this was the kind of theory
|that answers the deepest dimension of the human quest,
|which has never been,
|and probably can never be the acquisition of any thing,
|any one thing, any object or series of objects.
|What the human spirit is apparently,
|and every generation seeks desperately
|is to be at ease with itself.
|I almost said at peace,
|but peace has become
|quite a term lately,
|but to be at ease with itself, not comfortable,
|but the kind of easement that permits one to continue
|the exploration and the great quest.
|And what it does therefore,
|what it operates as it did for Jesus,
|was to satisfy this deep need, which is to overcome fear.
|And those of us who eat well and sleep well
|and have our being well in things,
|and may not recognize how really scared we are.
|But those of us who try to deal
|in the human experience by careful analysis,
|to recognize over and over again,
|that this is really the substance of the issue fear.
|Not the kind of fear that we gently
|talk about hither and yon, but the real fear of being.
|It is my opinion that a great deal of emphasis
|on the part of those now who are much younger than I,
|that's running out after what they call identity
|to find out who I really am.
|One of my nephews who was a senior at Havard
|has just invested his last
|social security earnings from his father's death,
|killed in World War Two,
|he's bought himself a car, he's got an apartment
|and and I said to him, Chuck, why don't you study?
|But he says, I got to find out who I am.
|I mean, that's, I don't know who I am.
|And so the lingo is a identity.
|You got to run around and do a lot of things
|to find out who you really are.
|Now that's a kind of finding out
|whether it's in terms of deepness
|or whether it's in terms of nothingness,
|shallowness, or nihilism or no way out or no exit,
|all of these manifestations of this quest,
|basically it is that I am afraid,
|but I cannot acknowledge this fear.
|So when Jesus began to issue for us
|with the word in his world,
|Kirby Page describes it very beautifully
|when he said that
|if you had been able to mingle imaginatively
|with the crowds about Jesus, you would have discovered
|that they were really pursuing the love of God,
|but they didn't know
|that they must first overcome their fear.
|Those men and women he says weren't victims,
|victims of foreign subjugation and domestic exploitation.
|Victims of poverty and of riches,
|victims of customs and of institutions, victims of hatred,
|and of lust, victims of frustration and of despair,
|victims of fear, of deeper fear,
|almost every person he said was afraid,
|afraid of somebody or of something.
|And the answer of Jesus to this condition of man
|was so simple that they who heard it
|probably failed to take note of it.
|He merely said, fear not,
|fear not those who can destroy the body,
|but after that, there is nothing more that they can do,
|but you fear God, which
|when translated for our modern listening would be
|fear whatever it is
|that will spiritually displace your stability
|so that you can no longer affirm from yourself
|at your very center.
|This is the fear.
|And he therefore went about seeking to cast out this fear
|and to fill up the void of desperation
|with an authentic hope grounded upon a theory
|that at bottom, life is good
|because God is all powerful.
|Now the mastery of this theory, which is its practice is
|a very difficult thing by which to come,
|but we must come to it.
|And here in is both the tragedy and the hope of our times.
|Decade ago, I was in the deep south
|in the hardcore area of New Orleans
|when the state of affairs and my thinking
|was more than I would like to describe here.
|When the whole essence of our
|democratic structure had been crumbled by
|the invasion of the sickness of the society at that point,
|but those of us who are Southerners, I am then,
|I knew that we had to work this through,
|dealt with it as best we could.
|But I never will forget one occasion
|when the American of Puerto Rican extraction
|number one of the Catholic churches
|in the Parish of Orleans,
|who decided that there was nothing in moral error here
|and broke across the taboos
|and insisted that her child
|should attend the nearest school.
|And when her neighbors and friends and colleagues
|hounded and haunted her
|and smeared her body and her house with tar,
|her only humble reply
|before her Archbishop Romell was simply,
|I don't understand this kind of hate.
|Few weeks later in the Fifth Circuit Court,
|the hearing by the US Commission on civil rights
|as to whether or not citizens of the United States
|were being denied the privilege of registering to vote,
|a long lean on tutored sharecropper from Northern Louisiana
|came down to the crescent city
|and sat in the court of the fierce Fifth Circuit.
|And it was evident that anything he said
|would not only be used against him,
|but what they virtually his death note in those days.
|But here he was by all of the standards ignorant,
|but something of this wisdom of which I speak
|that is not dependent upon the formal knowledge,
|but only upon the nurturing of the human spirit
|in the basic assumption that life at bottom is good
|and God is in history that has God is powerful.
|In determining among the (indistinct)
|when the chairman of that condition
|leaned across the huge mahogany desk
|and asked this obviously insecure and untutored
|citizen from the Backwoods of northern Louisiana,
|do you intend to go back even after they have shot at you
|and bruised you and beaten you and tried to register.
|And in his broken English, he said, yes, sir,
|I intends to do that, with no hatred, no bitterness,
|but a full certainty that as a man,
|this he must do for his dignity
|was based not upon the laws of the state,
|but the goodness of God.
|And he knew it.
|And he had to practice it.
|A few years ago, several decades,
|when I was up at Petersburg in Virginia,
|it was my first opportunity to meet a Zulu chieftain
|and all, but (indistinct) was a guest,
|not only at one of our major denominations in this country,
|but of the US State Department in the very early 50s.
|And here was this man educated
|at one of England's better universities, that other one,
|who was in every since a man of culture
|who knew how to hold his teacup and did hold it well,
|and who spoke and expressed himself with all brilliance,
|but in his own beloved South America,
|he was totally and fully displaced.
|And even today finds himself exiled.
|But here was a Christian man,
|a man who really believed this and practiced it
|because he won the Nobel Peace Prize,
|but I do not think these
|things too significant at the moment,
|except that in the presence of this man, you could feel it.
|And this is what I'm trying to say this morning,
|that we don't have to take anybody's word for it.
|And at this point I'm speaking primarily
|to my fellow students that never have we had it so good.
|We are overflowing with the abundance of opportunity
|and what the startling joy of privilege,
|both in formal learning and in the experiencing of this,
|if ever a generation could believe in the power
|and the goodness of God, instead of being beat,
|it ought to be rejoicing
|because everything seems to be favorable.
|For establishing the most authentic declaration of good.
|And since in this new period of history,
|we must do this largely
|and almost exclusively as an intellectual enterprise,
|only because to live today is to live by intelligence,
|you cannot live any other way.
|You can't get by anymore as you well know, no one can.
|That the students can provide the farm
|whereby both the theory and the practice
|can be made the alternate concern.
|And the alternate concern is not a futuristic concept.
|Alternate in this sense means now,
|(speaks foreign language).
|It is the here and now of this thing.
|And ultimately therefore is possible
|because the crises of the moment are for us,
|the laboratories by which we may go out.
|I fled finally from Dillard University in 1961
|into the so-called slums of south side of Chicago,
|really a blighted section of Kenwood,
|which was located on the east Berlin side of 47th Street.
|Because if you were on the west Berlin side of 47th Street,
|there was great deal of influence,
|but on the east side,
|just a block away from all of this influence,
|there was abject poverty and misery.
|I wanted to find out whether what I'd heard was true,
|whether it's true, that the so-called poor people
|really want to be poor and make it good so to speak,
|this is the lingo.
|And the people who feel that there are those on welfare
|who rejoice to be on welfare, they want to be on welfare.
|This is their way of moonlighting on their society.
|Only to discover that when you sat long enough
|in a filthy dingy, multiple room use, kitchen bed room,
|with five or six,
|some more children hugging around a mother
|with no father present,
|but she didn't want to be on welfare,
|that there's something about the human spirit
|that resists this.
|But often she was victimized
|snd there are students themselves who are not yet prepared
|to analyze their society sufficient.
|This is why I'm trying to say,
|ultimate concern means that as a student,
|I'm in a position to analyze my society,
|therefore I deal with my fears
|by the rendition of truth in every situation
|so that at least I articulate that which can give meaning
|because I have discovered it not only in my mind,
|but if I am a true believer,
|it has become the substance of my heart.
|How therefore may I find a faith
|that will give meaning to life
|and will endow it with purpose and significance?
|Let it be sad that an answer is present,
|and they who see move out knowing the risk,
|but they take the risk
|because their bosoms are filled
|with the essence of courage.
|fill us, we beseech thee with a hope everlasting
|that may send us forth now to do thy will in our time.
|And now unto him,
|who is able to lead you into creative living
|beyond all goals that you'll now see are even dream,
|unto God the author of life,
|and unto every single child of his
|be their dignity of person, nobility of spirit
|and conscientiousness of goal this day
|and then all of the days to come through Jesus Christ,
The preservation of the Duke University Libraries Digital Collections and the Duke Digital Repository programs are supported in part by the Lowell and Eileen Aptman Digital Preservation Fund