Carmen Ariza Part 156
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"And there," commented Carmen, with a dreamy, far-away look, "we have what Padre Jose so long ago spoke of as the 'externalization of thought.' It is the same law which Jesus had in mind when he said, 'As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.'"
"Yes," said Hitt. "For we know only what enters our mentalities and becomes active there. And every thought that does so enter, tends at once to become externalized. That is, there is at once the tendency for us to see it visualized in some way, either as material object, or environment, or on our bodies. And it is the very activity of such thought that const.i.tutes the human mentality, as I have already said."
"And that thought is continually changing," suggested Father Waite.
"Just so. Its very lack of true principle requires that it should change constantly, in order to simulate as closely as possible the real. That accounts for the fleeting character of the whole human concept of man and the physical universe. The human personality is never fixed, although the elements of human character remain; that is, those elements which are essentially unreal and mortal, such as l.u.s.t, greed, hatred, and materiality, seem to remain throughout the ages.
They will give way only before truth, even as Paul said. But not until truth has been admitted to the human mentality and begins its solvent work there, the work of denying and tearing down the false thought-concepts and replacing them with true ones."
"And will truth come through the physical senses?" asked Miss Wall.
"No, decidedly no!" said Hitt. "The physical senses testify of nothing. Their supposed testimony is the material thought which enters the human mentality and becomes active there, resulting in human consciousness of both good and evil. And that thought will have to give way to true thought, before we can begin to put off the 'old man'
and put on the 'new.' Human thoughts, or, as we say, the physical senses, do not and can not testify of absolute truth. They do not know G.o.d."
"Ha!" exclaimed Haynerd, rousing up. "There goes the Church, and original sin, and fallen man!"
"There is no such thing as 'fallen man,' my friend," said Hitt quietly. "The spiritual man, the image and likeness, the reflection, of the infinite creative mind, is perfect as long as its principle remains perfect--and that is eternally. The mortal man never was perfect. He is a product of false, suppositional thought. He is not and never was man. He did not fall, because he has had no perfection to lose."
Reverend Patterson Moore, who had sat a silent, though not wholly sympathetic listener throughout the discussion, could now no longer withhold his protest. "No wonder," he abruptly exclaimed, "that there are so few deep convictions to-day concerning the great essentials of Christianity! As I sit here and listen to you belittle G.o.d and rend the great truths of His Christ, as announced in His Word, the Bible, I am moved by feelings poignantly sorrowful! The Christ has once been crucified; and will you slay him again?"
"No," said Carmen, her eyes dilating with surprise, "but we would resurrect him! Don't you think you have kept him in the tomb long enough? The Christ-principle is intended for use, not for endless burial!"
"I? My dear Miss Carmen, it is I who preach the risen Christ!"
"You preach human theology, Mr. Moore," returned the girl. "And because of centuries of such preaching the world has steadily sunk from the spiritual to the material, and lip service has taken the place of that genuine spiritual wors.h.i.+p which knows no evil, and which, because of that practical knowledge, heals the sick and raises the dead."
"You insinuate that--?"
"No, I state facts," said Carmen. "Paul made some mistakes, for he was consumed with zeal. But he stated truth when he said that the second coming of Christ would occur when the 'old man' was put off. We have been discussing the 'old man' to-night, and showing how he may be put off. Now do you from your pulpit teach your people how that may be done?"
"I teach the vicarious atonement of the Christ, and prepare my flock for the world to come," replied the minister with some heat.
"But I am interested in the eternal present," said the girl, "not in a suppositional future. And so was Jesus. The world to come is right here. 'I am that which is, and which was, and which is to come,' says the infinite, ever-present mind, G.o.d!"
"I see no Christianity whatsoever in your speculative philosophy,"
retorted the minister. "If what you say is true, and the world should accept it, all that we have learned in the ages past would be blotted out, and falsehood would be written across philosophy, science, and religion. By wafting evil lightly aside as unreal, you dodge the issue, and extend license to all mankind to indulge it freely. Evil is an awful, a stupendous fact! And it can not be relegated to the realm of shadow, as you are trying to do!"
"Did Jesus regard it as a reality?" she asked. "You know, Duns Scotus said: 'Since there is no real being outside of G.o.d, evil has no substantial existence. Perfection and reality are synonyms, hence absolute imperfection is synonymous with absolute unreality.' Did Jesus know less than this man? And do you really think he looked upon evil as a _reality_?"
"He most certainly did!"
"Then, if that is true," said the girl, "I will have to reject him.
But come, we are right up to the point of discussing him and his teachings, and that will be the subject of our next meeting. Will you join us, Mr. Moore? It is love, you know, that has drawn us all together. You'll come?"
"It's an open forum, Moore," said the doctor, patting him on the back.
"Wisdom isn't going to die with you. Come and get a new viewpoint."
"I am quite well satisfied with my present one, Doctor," replied the minister tartly.
"Well, then, come and correct us when we err. It's your duty to save us if we're in danger, you know."
"He will come," said Hitt. "And now, Carmen, the piano awaits you. By the way, what did Maitre Rossanni tell you?"
"Oh," replied the girl lightly, "he begged me to let him train me for Grand Opera."
"He said I would make a huge fortune," she laughed.
"And so you would! Well?"
"I told him I carried my wealth with me, always, and that my fortune was now so immense that I couldn't possibly hope to add to it."
"Then you refused the chance!"
"My dear Mr. Hitt," she said, going to him and looking up into his face, "I am too busy for Grand Opera and money-making. My voice belongs to the world. I couldn't be happy if I made people pay to hear me sing."
With that she turned and seated herself at the piano, where she launched into a song that made the very Reverend Patterson Moore raise his gla.s.ses and stare at her long and curiously.
Man reasons and seeks human counsel; but woman obeys her instincts.
Carmen did this and more. Her life had been one of utter freedom from dependence upon human judgment. The burden of decision as to the wisdom of a course of action rested always upon her own thought. Never did she seek to make a fellow-being her conscience. When the day of judgment came, the hour of trial or vital demand, it found her standing boldly, because her love was made perfect, not through instinct alone, but through conformity with the certain knowledge that he who lacks wisdom may find it in the right thought of G.o.d and man.
And so, when on the next day she joined Hitt and Haynerd in the office of the Social Era, and learned that Carlson had met their terms, eagerly, and had transferred to them the moribund Express, she had no qualms as to the wisdom of the step which they were taking.
But not so her companions. Haynerd was a composite picture of doubt and fear, as he sat humped up in his chair. Hitt was serious to the point of gloom, reflecting in a measure his companion's dismal forebodings.
"I was scared to death for fear he wouldn't sell," Haynerd was saying as the girl entered; "and I was paralyzed whenever I thought that he would."
Carmen laughed aloud when she heard these words. "Do you know," she said, "you remind me of Lot's wife. She was told to go ahead, along the right course. But she looked back--alas for her! Now you two being started right are looking back; and you are about to turn to salt tears!
"Now listen," she continued, as Haynerd began to remonstrate; "don't voice a single fear to me! You couldn't make me believe them true even if you argued for weeks--and we have no time for such foolishness now. The first thing that you have got to do, Ned, is to start a little cemetery. In it you must bury your fears, right away, and without any mourning. Put up little headstones, if you wish; but don't ever go near the place afterward, excepting to plant the insults, and gibes, and denouncements, and vilifications which the human mind will hurl at you, once the Express starts out on its new career. Good is bound to stir up evil; and the Express is now in the business of good.
Remember, the first thing the Apostles always did was to be afraid.
And they kept Jesus busy pointing out the nothingness of their fears."
"Business of good!" retorted Haynerd savagely. "I guess we'll find ourselves a bit lonely in it, too!"
"True, humanly speaking," replied the girl, taking a chair beside him.
"But, Ned, let me tell you of the most startling thing I have found in this great, new country. It is this: you Americans have, oh, so much animal courage--and so little true moral courage! You know that the press is one of the most corrupt inst.i.tutions in America, don't you?
The truth is not in it. Going into thousands of homes every day, it is a deadlier menace than yellow fever. You know that it is muzzled by so-called religious bodies, by liquor interests, by vice-politicians, by commercialism, and its own craven cowardice. And yet, Ned, despite your heart-longing, you dare not face the world and stand boldly for righteousness in the conduct of the Express!
"Now," she went on hurriedly, "let me tell you more. While you have been debating with your fears as you awaited Mr. Carlson's decision, I have been busy. If I had allowed my mentality to become filled with fear and worry, as you have done, I would have had no room for real, constructive thought. But I first thanked G.o.d for this grand opportunity to witness to Him; and then I put out every mental suggestion of failure, of malicious enmity from the world, and from those who think they do not love us, and with it every subtle argument about the unpreparedness of the human mind for good. After that I set out to visit various newspaper offices in the city. I have talked with four managing and city editors since yesterday noon. I have their viewpoints now, and know what motives animate them. I know what they think. I know, in part, what the Express will have to meet--and how to meet it."
Both men stared at her in blank amazement. Haynerd's jaw dropped as he gazed. He had had a long apprentices.h.i.+p in the newspaper field, but never would he have dared attempt what this fearless girl had just done.
Carmen Ariza Part 156
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Carmen Ariza Part 156 summary
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