Saturday, January 18, 2020 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

William Mountford

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To understand at all what life means, one must begin with Christian belief. And I think knowledge may be sorrow with a man unless he loves.
--
Quote reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895). p. 364.

 
William Mountford

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The problem with Christian belief--I mean real Christian belief, the belief that there is a God and a devil and a heaven and a hell--is that it is not a fashionable thing to believe.

 
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Many of our attempts to understand Christian faith have only cheapened it. I can no more understand the totality of God that the pancake I made for breakfast understands the complexity of me. The little we do understand, that grain of sand our minds are capable of grasping, those ideas such as God is good, God feels, God loves, God knows all, are enough to keep our hearts dwelling on His majesty and otherness forever.

 
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Well, granted that it was only a dream, yet the sensation of the love of those innocent and beautiful people has remained with me for ever, and I feel as though their love is still flowing out to me from over there. I have seen them myself, have known them and been convinced; I loved them, I suffered for them afterwards. Oh, I understood at once even at the time that in many things I could not understand them at all ... But I soon realised that their knowledge was gained and fostered by intuitions different from those of us on earth, and that their aspirations, too, were quite different. They desired nothing and were at peace; they did not aspire to knowledge of life as we aspire to understand it, because their lives were full. But their knowledge was higher and deeper than ours; for our science seeks to explain what life is, aspires to understand it in order to teach others how to love, while they without science knew how to live; and that I understood, but I could not understand their knowledge.

 
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Her statistics were more than a study, they were indeed her religion... Florence Nightingale believed and in all the actions of her life acted upon that belief that the administrator could only be successful if he were guided by statistical knowledge. The legislator to say nothing of the politician too often failed for want of this knowledge. Nay, she went further; she held that the universe including human communities was evolving in accordance with a divine plan; that it was man's business to endeavor to understand this plan and guide his actions in sympathy with it. But to understand God's thoughts, she held we must study statistics, for these are the measure of His purpose. Thus the study of statistics was for her a religious duty.

 
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