Commonplace Book #186

1928: Arriving at_______today, I was put up at the luxurious home of a very charming potentate of the local pulpit. I was driven to my meeting in a big Packard car (a gift of the congregation, my host informed me) with a liveried chauffer at the wheel. I don’t think I would have reacted so strongly against this kind of life if I hadn’t been reading Savotorelli’s Life of St. Francis on the way down and was inclined to look at the world through the little brother’s rather than my own eyes.

To object to this kind of luxury for ministers, and not voice the same objection in regard to the standards of living among laymen, may seem to involve us in a moral dualism. But I am no longer afraid of dualism. We might well have more of it. It will be long while before we can conceive laymen of the spiritual implications in standards of living in a civilization which knows of no other way to give a man a sense of achievement than to let him advertise it by outward show. But ministers ought to know better.

Reinhold Niebuhr, Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic, 145