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From The Chaplain's Desk
May 2015 Chaplain's Corner: Unspotted from the world?

By Charles Dimmick, CT State Grange Chaplain

  MAY 10, 2015 --

At the close of every Grange meeting we hear the Master tell us “Let us be quiet, peaceful citizens, feeding the hungry, helping the fatherless and the widows, and keeping ourselves unspotted from the world.” Now, the first three admonitions are clear enough, but what is meant by “keeping ourselves unspotted from the world”? The passage is part of a quotation from the Letter of James, and going back and reading the original source gives some clarification. There are three different words in the Greek New Testament which are all translated as “world” in English. The word that James uses is “Kosmos”, and elsewhere James twice refers to “the unrighteous world”, using the same Greek word.  So, he does not have in mind the “Cosmos” of the popular TV program, the physical universe. Rather the reference is to the outside social world of his time, a world of greed, corruption, cruelty, and indifference. One translation of James 1:27 into modern colloquial English would be: “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”

Saint Paul has a similar view in his Letter to the Ephesians, where he says: “You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the….spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else.”

None of this means that we should isolate ourselves from the world in order to keep from being corrupted. That path is OK for monks and nuns and hermits, but we are meant to live in the world, with all its faults and temptations, and yet strive to, as my mother warned, “keep our noses clean”.  I’m not going to make a list of all those things which might tempt us to stray off the straight and narrow path; you already probably know them well. Rather, we should concentrate on those things and activities which have a positive influence, and which perhaps might keep us busy enough that we have less time to go astray. We might start with St. Paul’s list in the letter to the Philippians:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.”

Following such advice should help us in our endeavor to keep “ourselves unspotted from the world.”


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