Everyone confesses that exertion which brings out all the powers of body and mind is the best thing for us; but most people do all they can to get rid of it, and as a general rule nobody does much more than circumstances drive them to do.
--Harriet Beecher Stowe, abolitionist and novelist (1811-1896)
(102:2.7-8) Evolutionary man does not naturally relish hard work. To keep pace in his life experience with the impelling demands and the compelling urges of a growing religious experience means incessant activity in spiritual growth, intellectual expansion, factual enlargement, and social service. There is no real religion apart from a highly active personality. Therefore do the more indolent of men often seek to escape the rigors of truly religious activities by a species of ingenious self-deception through resorting to a retreat to the false shelter of stereotyped religious doctrines and dogmas. But true religion is alive. Intellectual crystallization of religious concepts is the equivalent of spiritual death. You cannot conceive of religion without ideas, but when religion once becomes reduced only to an idea, it is no longer religion; it has become merely a species of human philosophy.
Again, there are other types of unstable and poorly disciplined souls who would use the sentimental ideas of religion as an avenue of escape from the irritating demands of living. When certain vacillating and timid mortals attempt to escape from the incessant pressure of evolutionary life, religion, as they conceive it, seems to present the nearest refuge, the best avenue of escape. But it is the mission of religion to prepare man for bravely, even heroically, facing the vicissitudes of life. Religion is evolutionary man's supreme endowment, the one thing which enables him to carry on and "endure as seeing Him who is invisible." Mysticism, however, is often something of a retreat from life which is embraced by those humans who do not relish the more robust activities of living a religious life in the open arenas of human society and commerce. True religion must act. Conduct will be the result of religion when man actually has it, or rather when religion is permitted truly to possess the man. Never will religion be content with mere thinking or unacting feeling.
Harriet Elisabeth Beecher Stowe was an American author and abolitionist. She came from the Beecher family, a religious family, and became best known for her novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), which depicts the harsh conditions experienced by enslaved African Americans. The book reached an audience of millions as a novel and play, and became influential in the United States and in Great Britain, energizing anti-slavery forces in the American North, while provoking widespread anger in the South. Stowe wrote 30 books, including novels, three travel memoirs, and collections of articles and letters. She was influential both for her writings and for her public stances and debates on social issues of the day.