This I Believe

Bird, Remsen Du Bois

  • Remsen Bird explains that though there are many problems in the world which challenge his convictions, he nevertheless believes that God brings truth, beauty, and righteousness into the world, acting through those individuals who show love and care for others.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Dr. Remsen Bird was president of Occidental College in Los Angeles for twenty-five years. He was born in New York City and graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary. For many years he was a professor of church history and he served a term as president of the Association of American Colleges. Now in retirement he devotes himself to causes which improve understanding among peoples. Here are the personal beliefs of Dr. Remsen Bird.
As I look back over the decades of my life, I recall incidents in joy and in sorrow which make clear to me that I have always been quick to believe. Perhaps I was born that way. Also, I am not a very introspective person. I am quick to act, not so quick to analyze. It has never been easy for me to get down in precise creedal phrases the basis of my belief. Even though belief comes readily, it is pressed about by recurring doubts. How can a universe express the will of a divine being when that universe brews such a caldron as there is of trouble, hatred, greed, malice, and evil speaking? Can all this evil be due to the fact that man is free, and in his freedom he bends to wickedness, choosing through the millennia to work what is wrong?
How can a loving creator make a world cursed by so dreadful a disease as poliomyelitis, which attacks little children?
Yes, there are heavy times of dark brooding, of not knowing, of not being able to tie things together. Yet I hang on to the idea that there is a power working through creation, making for a world of righteousness, of order, beauty, and unity. This belief receives justification for me when I observe persons I know, or of whom I’ve read, whose lives shine with wisdom, beauty, holiness, concern for their fellow men. These devoted ones from whose belief I draw my belief—that one living creature can manifest the force of inner goodness, can exhibit the healing power of love—is sufficient evidence for me that the universe contains and expresses a Divine Being working out through it an increasing purpose.
And here I pin my faith.
In the darkness of doubt, in the severe trials of our troubled day, with a strong awareness of personal limitations, I find faith constantly surges up in me. It is evident to me that they who seek to experience the force of love that is in the universe receive it in themselves. Someone long ago wrote, ‘No man hath seen God.’ If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. Also, how can a man say he loves God whom he hath not seen, and does not love his fellow man whom he hath seen? I have recurring doubts, it is true, when I observe in nature the working of pestilence and when I observe what evil man has wrought on his fellow men.
I have never been able to find a solution to the world’s dilemma. If God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all, then how can there be so much darkness round about?
But despite all this and my own sense of frequent failure to measure up, I put my trust in this God, revealed in man, and I hang on. I pray to this unseen presence, and I see sufficient evidence in me and in so many others, in all lands, among all peoples, that life so lived produces results which strengthen and which justify that belief.
Those were the personal beliefs of Dr. Remsen Bird of Carmel, California