Character, strength and maturity

“In a word, modern civilization demands character marked by a high degree of strength and maturity in those who would survive it.”

That was written 60 years ago by Lewis Joseph Sherrill (The Struggle of the Soul, p. 1), but it’s still true.

He continues with a tough diagnosis of the civilization. Remember, this was written in 1951, six years after the end of World War II and before the start of the now-storied, God-and-family 1950s.

“And yet, on the other hand, modern society is producing, in vast numbers, persons who are rendered deficient because they cannot achieve precisely that kind of strength and maturity which our civilization demands. Instead, while the civilization is requiring one thing in the character of men, the society out of which that civilization has arisen tends to produce the very opposite in the character of men.

“Moreover, this disparity between the demands upon human character and the sufficiency of human character, seems to be growing steadily as we advance further into our century.” (p. 1)

Sherrill said Americans at the beginning of the 1950s lived “in a time of trouble,” that they were “harassed by uncertainty, heartbreak and despair.” (p. 2)

But the author could see a new possibility.

“In this time of trouble many, to whom religion has been outside the bounds of personal experience, have sought to find reasonable grounds for hope, only to discover, sometimes to their frank surprise, that their quest has brought them face to face with a Reality which they recognize as God, but a God with whom they do not know how to deal. Others are discovering that religion, as they know it , is not sufficient for the new demands which life is placing upon them. Still others, already at home in the religious life, are finding in religion greater resources than they have ever known before, and are drawing more deeply upon these resources in their day of need. When all such facts are put together and carefully examined, there is much to justify those who say that we are in a time of turning to God.

“But man’s turning to God may prove to be only one side of something whose other side has an even greater significance. Is it possible that God is now confronting man, in this modern world, with deeper demand and with more hopeful promise than any of us has been able as yet to apprehend? Here again there is much to lead one to believe that this may be so.” (p. 2)

Today, we live in a new time of trouble, often harassed by uncertainty, heartbreak, and despair. Could it be that we stand at the cusp of an opportunity for renewed vigor in regard to the things of God–loving God and loving others as ourselves? And could it be, as in 1951, this represents a reaching for connection both by men and women and by God?

May we all grow in character, strength and maturity today. And may we pray that a new day of God and family may be upon us.

2 thoughts on “Character, strength and maturity

  1. I am 85 years old; about 1976 I read The Struggle of the Soul by L.J.S. and it changed my life. It gave me a life of purpose; to choose life as Saga, life as Treadmill or life as Pilgrimage. I chose Pilgrimage — to seek God, find God and then get to know God. (actually I think God found me first) L.J.S. became one of myl fetime literary mentors. I still read it.

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