Although Henry was had fervent interest in religion and studied throughout his life, we were never taught anything specific to believe. Stellium in Sagittarius, he was wide open to discuss the subject and people commonly were invited to his house to debate.
They showed up in droves. Young men with bibles showed up. Men and women came in pair or groups, and I specifically remember the Hare Krishna coming by repeatedly. They became friends with Henry as did the groups of hippies that lived in the commune type settings that were somewhat common in the era. Henry would travel to visit these various groups…large spiritual families you might say, frequently spending a night or two with them, discussing philosophy.
For all the exposure there were only two bits that stuck with me. The idea that the only sin was to hurt someone, I heard repeatedly. It appealed in its simplicity and it made sense to me, but more profound for me personally was the Thomas Paine quote on his desk. Henry did calligraphy and had various quotations framed around his house but the one I absorbed was this:
“The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.”
Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, 1794.
This was something I could grasp immediately. That’s what happened and the quote has stayed with me all my life. I feel pretty fortunate.
Here are some of Henry’s thoughts on religion:
Letter to “Jones” November 23 1953
“… But I must keep in mind that we must be prepared to give up all things except that little bit of personality that we have been able to develop. I think it is good discipline to teach one’s self to get in the habit of giving things up…
… You are one of the few persons I have been able to talk to of spiritual things. I hope we both have the foundation for spiritual development – a lack of hatred of enmity against any group or individual. That and to only send out good thoughts at all times…”
Letter to “Spencer” May 12 1956
“… I have tried to get [my mother] to use her own mind and make her own decisions. I have seen too many parents try to dictate to their children, especially in the field of religion. Religion is a personal matter and each person should be left alone to make his own choice.
Last night a man on the street (a fundamentalist of wide study) endeavored to prove that I was going to an everlasting punishment because I did not agree with his principals. However, I’ll have lots of good company, he said even Norman V. Peale was as equally doomed.”
Letter to “Webb” April 1 1965
“…That is why I like the Hindu philosophy. Over there they have the knack of being satisfied with very little, while over here in America too often it is always one mad scramble for something always bigger and better…”
Letter to my mother August 21 1956
“…He is a young man who is a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. He visited me several times last winter and has been here twice since I got here. Although I cannot agree with him on many points, he is interesting to talk to and he does not cuss or smoke. He would be a very fine young man if he did not pester people with so much theology and dogma…”
Letter to Fichy May 7 1959
“… My brother is a Presbyterian minister and I went to his services while at his home but the material splendor always seemed to crowd out a real spiritual atmosphere. And as I grow older, my conscience bothers me every time I buy something like a typewriter or a radio. It seems that it might be better to do without these things and give the money to those who need it for the necessities of life. Have you ever felt this way? Actually I think we should acquire only those things that aid us in serving our fellowmen better…”
“… All worldly goods are only temporary; all we take with us is the character or personality that we have been able to develop here.”
Catch up here – Henry in his own words…
In which house was his stellium, Elsa?
I love these posts about Henry. I wish that I had known him because he feels like a kindred spirit. Thanks, Elsa.
Marly – I don’t have a birth time for Henry. 🙁
I applaud your blog!
Dissident JW member speaks out.
The core dogma of the Watchtower organization is that Jesus had his second coming ‘invisibly’ in the year 1914.Their entire doctrinal superstructure is built on this falsehood.
Jehovah’s Witnesses door to door recruitment is by their own admission an ineffective tactic. They have lost membership in all countries with major Internet access because their false doctrines and harmful practices are exposed on the modern information superhighway.
There is good and valid reasons why there is such an outrage against the Watchtower for misleading millions of followers.Many have invested everything in the ‘imminent’ apocalyptic promises of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and have died broken and beaten.
Now if you wanted to know about the quality of a product,would you listen to the seller or a longtime customer?
Respectfully,Danny Haszard http://www.dannyhaszard.com
I love the photographs you add to the Henry files, too. They add so much atmosphere.
I’m glad Henry has his own area in the blog 🙂
I love his quote about parents and imposing religion on their children. I was raised Catholic, by parents who were fervently religious. When I had my kids, I knew I would not be raising them Catholic. How could I teach them philosophies I have no agreement with – homosexuals are evil, women are inferior, abortion is a sin, contraception is a sin, the list goes on… I am still not sure myself what “it” is all about, and I explore many philosophies. I raised my kids to be good people, respect others, and I have had nothing but praise for how they have turned out. My son will one day make his own decision – he did tell me awhile back that right now he supposes he is an atheist, because he has not found enough proof yet. He is only 18, and has his whole life to figure this out. More than anything as a parent I want him to make his own decisions and have his own thoughts, and believe in himself.
In was also raised catholic. But sometimes the order of nuns makes a difference in what the school teaches. As I learned when I changed to a catholic school on the North side of town.
My early days thankfully were knowledge and teachings from the Fransican Order. If you travel too some of the poorer regions in other countries (and I have done that) you will note that the Fransican Order make up a great part of that. The nuns were the first to abandon the habit and choose to wear pants and ride bicycles.
They also taught evolution. I think it was a very healthy environment for young women. Are focus was always to give to the poor.
On the North side of town there were more priests involved in the teaching process and the focus was not so much for the poor. They were obsessed with sex and the order of nuns were not the Fransican order
Once pope John came to be, he did not agree with the order of the Fransicans in regards to teaching and the school was forced to throw the Fransicans order out and substitute another order. They also changed the name of the school.
Not all popes are the same, nor is all sects of the catholic religon the same. All of the Fransican nuns were shipped over seas from my former school. I think the former Pope was a bit backwards and the new pope seems to want to embrace more of an educational focus.
After all he is putting solar panels on vatican City. My next trip to Italy will be very interesting. I can not wait to see what the panels look like..Time will tell.
The former pope in my opinion destroyed the educational systems. I also have a birds eye view from my Uncle in Rome who sent his son to a catholic school and saw a change in what the former pope made in policy. My uncle was extremely angry and called my mother every week complaining about that polish pope. He seems to be happier with the new pope.
I did not find the North Catholic School too be
a happy environment. I was one year behind in catholic teaching and 2 years ahead in math and science levels. ( when I change to the norht side catholic school.) After that experience I begged my mother to send me to the public Highschool.
I was still 2 years ahead in math and science and during Highschool I started to take college level and advance math and science so the FRANSICANS DID THERE JOB.
He is completely amazing. Do you ever try to figure it out? Sounds like maybe a 3rd, 9th, or 11th house stellium to me…. what an interesting man.
Well he was obsessed with health and diet so I figure Virgo rising or all those planets in the 6th…
I’ve long been drawn to letter writers. Henry reminds me of how letters consciously gather a person’s philosophy. I enjoy reading your grandfather’s letters and imagine his satisfaction viewing your contemporary letter-writing in this blog. I was blessed with an aunty who relished my letter writing as a young woman, watched my mother write notes in her beautifully penned script. Thank you Elsa this is a Capricorn worth knowing.
I love it all – he sounds very open and aware and also willing to share himself – fabulous 🙂
Hello! I also have a capricorn sagittarius stellium. i am approaching my saturn return and i have totally become like henry in the past couple years. huge 12th-11th stelliums. i almost teared up… he found words for all that unconscious questing. today i would call it syncretism, and with the uranus revolution in next ten odd years all of this world spirituality will blossom into the silver age revivify magic and the belief in good. my birthday is jan 4 1992 8:04am queens, new york. born right before a solar eclipse too. to me, the stellium is a burden of power. i am born under nememiah and guardian of those without selves. in that way i become aggresively dominant, otherwise very piscean.
Welcome, Mark. 🙂