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From the Bottom Up eBook

Derry Irvine, Baron Irvine of Lairg
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 213 pages of information about From the Bottom Up.

The Church of the Ascension is the real Cathedral of New York.  What matters it about Canon, Chapter, Dean and Prebend?  A cathedral is a church of the people—­all the people!

CHAPTER XXII

MY SOCIALISM, MY RELIGION AND MY HOME

My vision spiritual came to me out of the unknown.  The facts and experiences of life led me to Socialism.  In each case it was a rebirth.

“The Way” of Jesus was at first a state of mind; it had no relation to a book; it had no connection with a church.  Socialism is a passion for the regeneration of society, it is a state of mind, a point of view.  The religion of the peasant Saviour and the movement for industrial democracy expand as they are understood.  Both thrive under opposition and are retarded only by unfaithful friends.  I caught the spirit, then studied the forms.  I got tired of doling out alms.  It became degrading to me either to take them from the rich or to give them to the poor.  Almsgiving deludes the one and demoralizes the other.  I had distributed the crumbs that fall from rich men’s tables until my soul became sick.  I expected Lazarus the legion to be grateful; I expected him to become pious, to attend church, to number himself with the saved, and he didn’t.

Almsgiving not only degrades the recipient but the medium also.  The average minister or missionary is looked upon by the middle and upper classes as a sort of refined pauper himself.  So, like a mendicant he goes to the merchant and trades his piety for a rebate of ten per cent.; or he travels on a child’s fare on the railroads.  I have scores of times given away my own clothes and have gone to the missionary “Dorcas Room” and fitted myself out with somebody’s worn-out garments; and I, too, was expected to be grateful and to write of my gratitude to the person who, “for Jesus’ sake,” had cleaned out his cellar or garret.  In the West I have been the recipient of Home Missionary barrels packed in some rich church in New York or New England—­annual barrels in which there is usually a ten-dollar suit for the missionary, bought by some dear old lady to whom all men were alike—­in size.  This whole process is hoary, antiquated, stupid and degrading.

My Socialism is the outcome of my desire to make real the dreams I have dreamed of God.  It came to me, not through Marx or Lassalle, but by the way of Moses and Jesus.  Twenty years’ experience in reform movements taught me the hopelessness of reformation from without.  It was like soldering up a thousand little holes in the bottom of a kettle.

For a hundred years men and women have been begging the industrial lords to spare the little children of the poor.  Have they?  Ask the census taker.  Millions of them are the victims of the sweater—­the dealer in human endurance.  The cure for child labour is justice to the father, and justice to the father is his full share of the good things of life.  As long as he has to pay tribute to a horde of non-producers, who have merely invested in his endurance, so long will he be unable to keep his child at school.

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