Sunday, October 9, 2016

A Morning Visit With John Arthur Gossip

I’m visiting with John Arthur Gossip this morning because I finally remembered that it was he who gave me that phrase, “When Life Tumbles In,” of which I wrote a few days ago. (It took a couple of days for me to remember, but it finally came to me).   Gossip (1873-1954) was a Professor of Christian Ethics at the University of Glasgow, served as a chaplain in Belgium and France during the First World War, and as a minister in various churches in Scotland.

Several of Gossip’s books came into my possession when I received those barrister bookcases from J. Earl Cummings nearly fifty years ago.  Since then I’ve collected most of his books. He has been a “friend of the written word” for a long time.

I tend to read his books (and sermons) as a form of devotional reading. This morning, I was struck by the following passages:

“For to exist in this distressful world, unmoved by all the hopelessness and miseries in which so many of our fellows start and spend and end their days, handicapped from their birth, and pursued by innumerable difficulties hour by hour, were to play the sorry part of the priest and the Levite, who awoke Christ’s scorn.”

“That is religion; to forget self, and to spend one’s being for God and for one’s fellows; and anything that does not lead to that, and end in that, is fatuous and futile.”

“This (spiritual adventure) is no hobby for one’s leisure moments, taken up at intervals when we have nothing much to do, and put down and forgotten when our life grows full and interesting…It takes all one’s strength, and all one’s heart, and all one’s mind, and all one’s soul, given freely and recklessly and without restraint.  This is the business of adventurous spirits; others would shrink out of it.”

John Arthur Gossip died when I was eleven years old, but he lives with me now at the age of 73, right here in my study this morning.  His words are as contemporary as today.  It is good to have him as a friend, to sit with him this morning, to listen to him, and to learn from him.

Glaciers in the Canadian Rockies

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