Bouck White

American author and novelist (1874-1951)

Charles Browning "Bouck" White (October 20, 1874 – January 7, 1951) was a Congregational minister, an American socialist, a Jesusist, an author, a potter, and a recluse.

Bouck White



The Call of the Carpenter (1914)

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  • This is one of the mutterings which they are muttering today: "The social well-being of the people, the upward movement of the non-propertied or labour classes to material welfare, is continually being obstructed by conceptions of political subserviency and passive obedience to despotic authority, which is directly traceable to Christian doctrine."
    • p. xvii
  • The Church has as an organized body no sympathy for the masses. It is a sort of fashionable club where the rich are entertained and amused, and where most of the ministers are muzzled by their masters and dare not preach the gospel of the Carpenter of Nazareth.
    • p. xxi
  • Paul was a stockholder in Rome's world corporation. And that stock by slow degrees had blinded him to the injustice of a social system in whose dividends he himself shared. This explains in large part why he accepted the political status quo, and preached its acceptance by others.
    • p. xxi
  • The Roman Empire was a world-wide confederation of aristocracies for the perpetuation of human servitude.
    • p. 7
  • In the countries of the ancient world, even before the formation of the empire, slavery was the basis of society. In each was a capitalist class and a slave class. The capitalists, however, were constantly in fear of slave insurrection. The dread clouded their sunshine by day, and nightmared their sleep; for they saw, piling up against them, a discontent hell-deep and heaven-high.
    • p. 8
  • Rome ... did not conquer the nations. She annexed them, by means of a coalition with the local capitalist group in each. ... Wherever the strain between the local privileged class and its proletariat was intense, Rome found natural allies in the former.
    • p. 9
  • Much of the New Testament is the narrative of the coalescence of the native princes with the Roman invader.
    • p. 9
  • Native oligarchies, living under Rome's protectorate, were moons depending upon their central sun for light.
    • p. 10
  • This was the Roman Empire's contribution to the world's thought, namely, the solidarity of capital, the oneness of the interests of property irrespective of national boundaries.
    • p. 12
  • A measure had been proposed in the Roman Senate to dress slaves in a uniform livery, so as to distinguish them from freemen. It was killed straightway by the argument that this would disclose to the slaves their numerical strength.
    • p. 14
  • The tendency of the families of wealth in every country to form a class by themselves, is deep-set in the human makeup. Rome carried the tendency one step further — she cemented the moneyed class in the various countries into an international combine. "Peace and order" were at last secure. An antitoxin against insomnia had been devised. Slave owners could now lay their heads on their pillows at night, without the fear of insurrection gnawing them through the night-watches. An uprising of the toiling masses, no matter how formidable, could be handled. Upon a rebellious district could be mobilized in shortest time six and twenty legions. The machinery of intimidation was complete. Man was undermost, and property paramount. The "Golden Age" — literally — set in. The Roman Empire, that apotheosis of property rights, fastened itself upon the world. Embracing all nations and tongues and climates, a motley crew, they had one cohering principle which swallowed up their diversities — the coherence of a common plunder.
    • pp. 15-16
  • The extension of the Roman "System" to include the Jews, a sturdy mountaineer folk in the hill country of Syria, met there a vehement opposition. And in Galilee, one of the districts of the Jews, the most vehemency of all.
    • p. 17
  • Jerusalem was the home of the country's aristocracy. Like the local aristocracies in all the other countries of the world, these had lined up with the Romans — were federated with the invader.
    • p. 18
  • Hitherto there had been frequent changes in the tyranny under which, for some four hundred years back, they had lived; and this alternation of masters had kept hope alive. Now there was a sense of permanency in the despotism which, from Antioch as its land base, was bearing down upon them in the trail of the Roman legions. There was an imperious note in the commands of the tribute gatherers, as though an infinite arm of power was now behind the fist which lay at their throat, demanding their goods. Furthermore, all of the tyrannies hitherto had been of the East, Eastern. And though exacting the uttermost farthing of tribute, these despotisms had been gilded with a respect for Asiatic ideals, religion, reverence, a hold-fast in the Unseen. But this new despotism was characterized by a hard materiality, untempered by sentiment of any kind, a race of conquerors self-indulging, heavy-fisted, cynical.
    • p. 18
  • Mary knows that within her a child is gestating. For she thereupon composed a song. It is the greatest song in history. This "Magnificat" is the battle-hymn of democracy. Sensing a child within her, Mary feels herself equal to the Roman Empire; and she announces that the days of despotism are numbered. Caesar on his seven-hilled throne may sacrilegiously style himself Augustus, "the divine one." But Mary as confidently disallows him that title. Heaven is not on the side of privilege and oppression, she affirms, but is rather on the side of the trodden. Rome is great, but Galilee with God is greater. In this song three classes of people are objects of Our Lady's invective — "the proud," "the mighty," and "the rich." And she passes upon them a threefold sentence: they are to be "scattered," "put down from their seats," and "sent empty away."
    • p. 22
  • For eighteen years Jesus worked thus as a day labourer. We find him ever afterward identifying himself with the working class. Passages like, "which of you intending to build"; "the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is a householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers"; "the burden and heat of the day"; "no man hath hired us"; and the references to the patching of worn garments and hewing down trees for firewood, give evidence of a working-class consciousness.
    • pp. 39-40
  • Paul was undeniably sincere. He believed that in reinterpreting the Christian faith so as to make it acceptable to the Romans he was doing that faith a service. His make-up was imperial rather than democratic. Both by birth and training he was unfitted to enter into the working-class consciousness of Galileans. He was in culture a Hellenist, in religion a Pharisee, in citizenship a Roman. From the first strain, Hellenism, he received a bias in the direction of philosophy rather than economics; from the second, his Pharisaism, he received a bias toward aloofness, otherworldliness; and from the third, his Romanism, he received a bias toward political acquiescence and the preservation of the status quo.
    • p. 227
  • It was the test of loyal citizenship among the Romans to seek out in every part of the world that which was most rare and valued, and bring it back to Rome as a gift. Thus her sons went forth and returned laden with richest trophies to lay at her feet. They brought to her pearls from India, gold chariots from Babylon, elephants from interior Africa, high-breasted virgins from the Greek isles, Phidian marbles from Athens. Paul also would be a bringer of gifts to the Rome that had honored him and his fathers with the high honor of citizenship. And the gift he would bring and lay at her feet would be the richest of them all—a religion.
    • p. 229
  • To the Carpenter, with his splendid worldliness, the premier qualification for character was self-respect, and the alertness and mastery of environment which go with self-respect. But to Paul the primate virtue is submissiveness—"the powers that be!" He sought to cure the seditiousness of the working class by drawing off their gaze to a crown of righteousness reserved in heaven for them—a gaseous felicity beyond the stars.
    • p. 237
  • Paul entered upon the path of intellectual sterility when he substituted a delirious mysticism and orgy, for the social enthusiasms which alone should intoxicate the spirit.
    • p. 237
  • Paul's ... no-work-no-eat doctrine was directed by him only against the poor. All around him were the rich, virginally innocent of toil, and yet who were gorged to the gullet.
    • p. 238
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