Commonplace Book #179

1927: The union Thanksgiving service we attended this morning was full of the kind of self-righteous bunk which made it quite impossible for me to worship. There was indeed a faint odor of contrition in one of the prayers and in an aside of the sermon, but it did not spring from the heart. The Lord who was worshipped was not the Lord of Hosts, but the spirit of Uncle Sam, given a cosmic eminence for the moment which the dear old gentleman does not deserve.

It is a bad thing when religion is used as a vehicle of pride. It would be better to strut unashamedly down the boardwalk of nations than go through the business of bowing humbly before God while we say, “We thank thee Lord that we are not as other men.”

Reinhold Niebuhr, Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic, 119.