We’ve written about William Hale White before.  Each one of his six novels was written under a pseudonym, and not even his wife knew, until the end of her life, that he was the author of the celebrated “Mark Rutherford” novels.  He would go upstairs to his study each night after putting his wife to bed — she was an incurable invalid — and write these wise books.  Amazing story!  And yet he is almost completely unknown today.

Here’s a quote from his book “Mark Rutherford’s Deliverance” (1885), containing what may be an unarguable refutation of the contemporary attack on religion by ideological atheists. The author is describing an informal (i.e., non-church affiliated) Christian ministry, which he and a friend have been attempting in a rough and impoverished section of London:

220px-William_Hale_White00“Our main object was to create in our hearers contentment with their lot, and even some joy in it.  That was … the central thought of all we said and did, giving shape and tendency to everything.  We admitted nothing which did not help us in that direction, and everything which did help us.  I felt as if somehow, after many errors, I had once more gained a road, a religion in fact, and one which essentially was not new but old, the religion of the Reconciliation.  This surely has been the meaning of all the forms of worship which we have seen in the world.  Pain and death are nothing new, and men have been driven into perplexed skepticism and even insurrection by them, ever since men came into being.  Always, however, have the majority, the vast majority of the race, felt instinctively that in this skepticism and insurrection they could not abide, and they have struggled more or less blindly after explanation; determined not to desist till they had found it, and reaching a result embodied in a multitude of shapes, irrational and absurd to the superficial scoffer, but of profound interest to the thoughtful.  I may observe, in passing, that this is a reason why all great religions should be treated with respect, and in a certain sense preserved.  It is nothing less than a wicked waste of accumulated human strivings to sneer them out of existence.  They will be found, every one of them, to have incarnated certain vital doctrines which it has cost centuries of toil and devotion properly to appreciate.  Especially is this true of the Catholic Faith [White, a Protestant, is meaning the Christian Faith here, Mbird], and if it were worth while, it might be shown how it is nothing less than a divine casket of precious remedies, and if it is to be brutally broken, it will take ages to rediscover and restore them.  Of one thing I am certain, that their rediscovery and restoration will be necessary.”  (pp. 192-193, 1998 reprint)