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This is one of twelve sermons Earl Davis kept together in a twine-bound collection. While these manuscripts are undated, internal evidence clearly dates them to the years 1909-1911. The United States went through a recession in 1908, and there was increasing labor unrest, including a general strike in Philadelphia in 1910. These difficulties provide some of the backdrop to these manuscripts.

One of the manuscripts, “What about City Government,” has a clear notation that it was written for the “Pipe and Pen Club,” presumably some periodic gathering to discuss issues of the day. It is possible that all – or nearly all – of these manuscripts were prepared for that gathering, as they do not read like sermons.

A discussion of Leo Tolstoy and his writing on social, moral, and economic struggles. Written while the author was still alive, Davis makes comparisons to Nikolai Gogol, Ivan Turgenev, Voltaire, Thomas Hardy, and William Ellory Channing. Davis acknowledges that Tolstoy has grasped the struggle -- particularly the need for all humans to be free of bondage -- but criticizes his solution -- to fall back on the authority of Christ, particularly the doctrine of non-resistance to evil. Davis thinks we have to abandon all "authorities" and be sincere individual selves. He also finds Tolstoy's adopting peasant life to be artificial and not fully natural.

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Transcription by Davis Baird. Item description based off writing and context provided by Davis Baird.


Earl Clement Davis, minister, Unitarianism, religion, Leo Tolstoy, manuscripts

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The Significance of Count Tolstoi [Twine Bound Bundle]



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