Newspaper Archive of
Arkansas Catholic
Little Rock, Arkansas
April 9, 1927     Arkansas Catholic
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April 9, 1927

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THE GUARDIAN BELIEVING AS ONE PLEASES. By Conde B. Pallen, (Copyright by the Author, Papers subscribing entitled only to serial rights in their respective papers.) One morning I sought a seat in the smoker on the 8:30. There I found my friend Thompson busy over his newspaper. I sat down beside him, bidding him good morning. "Hello!" he exclaimed, looking up with a radiant countenance when he saw me. "What do you think, I broke into " m the nineties yesterday. (He was talking golf, a game which I myself indulged, rather immoder- omD u about to say: that every man has the right to follow his own conscience. But has every man the right to make whatsoever kind of conscience he instance upon this or th:',t moral act. We are in the habit of speaking of conscience as some sort of a distinc- tive and separate human faculty, but it is really only our judgment of the right or wrong of a moral act in given circumstances. All you need to determine a moral judgement in any particular instance is your intel- ligence duty informed by moral prin- is simply man's intellect, informed lpocket in my position would, for Le instance in a thieves' slum, where the formed or misinformed. by his knowledge of ~he moral law, c~)ulct do it with perfect ease and you appropriation of other people's prop- words, he has a false passing judgment ]n any parLicular not know it. He might know the pre- erty without being caught is looked that I mean to point cept against stealing, and yet steal, l upon as a brilliant social virtue, i conscience is not a Here his will overrides the light of shining with the crowning distinction in man. blindly his knowledge. Or he might have been of cleverness. In that case his intel- straining him under brought up in an environment, forligence is not enlightened, is unin- , (Continued On pleases? Has a man the right to form ciples. I know that it is a common his conscience without regard to the notion that conscience is a sort of moral law, namely the dictates of a needle in a moral compass, somewhat properly informed reason. There are the Ten Commandments, for in- stance, the great basic principles of Christian morality. Do you believe in the immorality that obtains be- ond Suez, 'where the flying fishes play and there ain't no ten command- ments,' as Kiplin puts it in his Man- dalay? Do away with the ten com- mandments and you have moral anar- chy.*' ately, I am afraid) I was immediate- Thompson looked reflectively out ly regaled with an elaborated ac- of the window. I seemed to have in the: human compound of body and soul, which swings right or left under the compulsion of some sort of mys- tic moral magnetism. As a matter[ of fact, it is nothing of the kind. I know, for instance, the moral pre- cept "Thou shald not steal:" I am tempted to purloin your pocket-book, which happens just now to be in your side pocket within ready abstraction, for I saw you put it there when you 3aid the conductor; but I forebear, not because there is some mysterious monitor within me which blindly de- count of Thompson's achievement on made some sort of an impression. the links the day before. He had his score card with him and went over it, hole by hole. Golf talk by a de- votee is like the perennial flow of Tennyson's brook, "Men may come and men may go," etc., and my friend Thompson was a devotee and some- thing of a duffer at the game. So his break into the nineties was an achievement far him. I listened with becoming interest, and as I had no dubious tale with which to parallel his, I left him talk himself out. "'Wonderful," I said. "You'll be getting down to scratch (a word not to be taken literally: it is a metaphor of the links before long." '"Well, it's darn good for me," he said with eminent enthusiasm and returned his score card to his pocket. He then resumed his newspaper and I plunged into mine. After a little while, he turned to me again and pointed to a picture of Plus X in his paper. It accompanied a news item about the Pope's Ency- clical on Modernism, which the news- papers were chronicling at the time as a special sensation in the relig- ious world. "You know," said Thompson, "that old Pope of yours has a wonderfully benevolent face. He seems to be a fine old man. You know," he went on as if apologizing for the admis- termines my oresent abstinence from "Don't you think that conscience is your property, but because I know a God-given faculty, by which every the moral law and choose not to rob man is to guide---" '- you. What is called conscience is . "Just a moment," ! interrupted, "I fi~ade up of two factors: my knowl- nave heard that before. But don't edge that to steal from you here and let us take conscience, in the sense now is a violation of the moral pre- m which you are using it, for grant-Jcept in this given instance. I could, ca. conscience in the last analysis if I wanted to, but I won't. A pick- ~ T T T T T T T T T T T T T ~ ~ T T T T T T T T R. R. Ellis President J. L. Bomar, Vice-Pres. & Mgr. W.K. Love, Vice-Pres. G. S. Paschal, Asst. Mgr. J.C. Hedges, Sec. & Treas. HESSIG-ELLIS DRUG CO. OF ARKANSAS Wholesale Druggists IMPORTERS AND MANUFACTURING CHEMISTS 113-115 EAST MARKHAM STREET LITTLE ROCK, ARK. sion, "I am very liberal-minded. II "I~'I~~~'~'I~~~'H~"I"I~u.I~*O.I~.M~.I.~ believe in letting every man b~lieve] as he pleases. That's real broad,l mindedness." Now Thompson was aI . very fine fellow. I liked hiih. He had[ Where Little Rock meets some very admirable traits. What] g for a he was trying to do was to put me~ l~l~e,.~as me ,s at my ease, even though I was a[ ]~ b-uncheons, 40c Catholic. He wanted to show me that to $1.oo his broadmindedness included even /~}[~J] Dinners, 75c to $1.35 the Catholic Church. ~/ "Well, frankly," Isaid, "I don't agree with you.'~ ~ j(--~~ He gazed at me in profound as- measure. "I mean," I went on, "that I don't believe that everybody has a right to believe what he pleases." Thompson looked at me almost aghast. He could scarcely credit his senses. Was I as narrow-minded and bigoted as all that, I could .read in his face, as plainly as if he had spoken it. "Do you think that everybody has the right to iflterpret the Constitu- tion of the United States as he pleases, and to put what constructior be pleases on its articles, or on the statues?" I asked. "But that is very different," he answered. "That's law, : that's not religion.. I was talking about reli- gi:on." "I know you were. But why do you draw the distinction? Is religion a matter of less moment in our lives than law?" "No, I don't meant that," he re- plied. "I understand perfectly' that as a practical proposition we could not let everyone construe the law as he pleases. That would put every- thing at sixes and sevens and create endless confusion. It would be so- cial anarchy." "But when everyone believes as he pleases in religious matters, does not that put everything at sixes and sev- ens religiously and make endless con- fusion? Look at the six and seventy sects that Omar Khayam flouts so contemptuously. So old Omar ~be- ']~eves as he pleases, and he believes in Wine. For that matter, look at :~'the six hundred and seventy sects, and, you have a welter of religious babel." "But the whole modern world," retorted Thompson, "believes in reli- gious freedom. "Pardon me," I answered, "but it seems to me that the whole modern world believes in religious confusion. When you say religious freedom, you mean that you don't believe that the civil authorities should constrain anybory legally to any particular religious belief. 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