This I Believe

Sackville-West, V. (Victoria)


  • Vita Sackville-West describes her belief in an impersonal force, and her belief that, contrary to organized religion's creed, humans are insignificant specks in the galaxy.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Vita Sackville-West, the daughter of an ancient and distinguished English family, is an author, poet, biographer and columnist. Her books have dealt with such diverse subjects as life in her family's historic home, and the life of Pepita, the famous Gypsy dancer who was her maternal grandmother. Her beliefs, like her books, are unusual and thought-provoking. Here is Vita Sackville-West.
My religion, if I have one, is of the profoundest humility. It can be resolved into the few words: I simply do not know. Who am I to pretend to know? I am less than a speck of dust on a speck of a satellite revolving
round a speck of a star, which we on Earth are pleased to call the sun—but which in fact is only an insignificant member of one galaxy in a universe which we know to contain a million of other galaxies of equal size—whose origin is obscure to us but whose date is supposed by present-day scientists to go back to four billion years.
These figures give me a sense of proportion, quite different from the comfort and creed of the Christian church, which tells me that I am all-important to a Creator who cares for me individually with loving kindness and mercy. I am quite prepared to believe in something, which we conveniently call “God,”—but thereby I mean something inexplicable and
incomprehensible to our human minds, something which I would prefer to call “X,” or the “originating force,” or the “mathematical mind,” or what you will—that there is a something behind the creation, an absolute abstract, if you like, to which in our human dread and weakness we must give a personal name, and to which we must attach such human attributes as mercy and justice and loving kindness, for which nature shows us no justification at all. Of that I can have no doubt whatsoever. It is an inescapable conviction.
My only quarrel is with man’s interpretation of these mysteries: that is, the interpretation of the great organization of the churches and in particular with the theory of man’s redemption through Christ. The beautiful figure of Christ
appears to me as a necessary device to soften our terror of an unknown creator, a gentle link, a semi-human advocate.
I believe in what we call goodness, or essential and ultimate perfection. This, of course, raises the great problem of evil. Is there any such thing as regards the universe at large? Or does it merely affect the life on our small planet in the imperfections of mankind and the apparent cruelty of nature? I like to believe so. But this again must take its place among the unresolvable mysteries. It seems to me, however, that there can be no room for any fundamental blemish in a creation of such unimaginable magnitude and invention.
And I believe, in the last resort, that everything is of a piece and that the gigantic pattern could be seen had we but the vision and the knowledge to perceive it. I believe that there exists no necessary discrepancy between science and religion; but I must insist again that by religion, I do not here mean our human theology, but a far greater and humbler faith in an ultimate wisdom.
There the creed of Vita Sackville-West, a leading Englishwoman of letters, who is married to the diplomat and author Sir Harold Nicolson. They have two sons: one a publisher and member of Parliament, the other a magazine editor.