This I Believe

Pittenger, Lemuel Arthur


  • L.A. Pittenger, president emeritus of Ball State University's Teacher College, describes how his faith was challenged by tragedies and illness, but ultimately strengthened, and he states his beliefs in a creator, in the ultimate order of events, in the thereaputic effects of nature, in the importance of the family, and in the necessity of repaying one's community with service.
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And now, This I Believe, the living philosophies of thoughtful men and women, presented in the hope they may strengthen your beliefs so that your life may be richer, fuller, happier. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Upon the solid base of almost 80 years of living, well over half of which have been spent in educating others, L. A. Pittenger, President Emeritus of Ball State Teachers College in Muncie, Indiana, has built a sturdy structure of belief. This is his credo.
When I began teaching at 19 years of age, I possessed an absolute faith in God and life. Early in my
profession, a promising boy became a murderer and a beautiful girl was drowned on the eve of her graduation. I could not understand why a just God permits such tragedies, and I questioned my faith. Later, I suffered an almost fatal illness that drove me from the schoolroom to a farm, where, with the help of my family, I fought my way back to health and an active, public life.
It was during this struggle that my beliefs became clear and dynamic. I believe that there is a power that created and continues to create all things, establish the laws by which chaos is transformed into natural order, and determines in ways not always clear to me that all things work together for good. In this belief I find a
unity and a harmony of life that I have never discovered in human reason, a faith that overcomes confusions, fears, and despair, and a purposeful meaning for my daily living.
I believe so thoroughly in the therapeutic effects of nature on my body and mind that I am compelled to keep close to her. She feeds my body, stimulates my imagination, challenges my intellect, relaxes my tense nerves, and requires of me a sane attitude toward life. Since our manmade world has been developed from an understanding of the laws of nature, I am constrained to keep my feet on the ground and to leave the soil of my acres better than when they came to me.
I believe the family is the primary and most important unit in the development of society. As a teacher, legislator, and a father, I have wished for the time when every child might have a good home. I think the bond of common understanding necessary for the building of a good home is the recipe for peace among nations. From the family come the psychological basis for social law and order, and the hope of brotherhood among the peoples of the Earth. Schools, churches, and other agencies can educate the child, but its character has been determined in the home.
When I think of what others have done for me, I am amazed at my indebtedness, and I know that I never can pay it in full. In addition to my special task, I must aid the unfortunate, take an interest in good government, and actively support every cause that will better my community. I believe that I dare not shirk my community responsibilities, lest I lose the sense of belonging to the group, of being useful to others, and enjoying the wholesome regard of my fellow citizens.
Those were the beliefs of L. A. Pittenger of Selma, Indiana. Now in his eighth decade of life, Mr. Pittenger has retired from teaching but continues to be active in community affairs and to manage his own farm.