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.
This manuscript is a carefully developed argument that the "ancient world" was characterized by the ideals developed in Plato's Republic with three principles: (1) class distinctions; (2) right of the ruling class to rule because of their monopolized access to truth as they define it; (3) the only access to truth for the other classes comes directly from the ruling class. The Modern world is characterized by the repudiation of these three principles and has been under development for centuries. Davis discusses the Peasants Revolt of 1381, the poem "Piers the Plowman", and John Ball, the revolutionary priest of Kent. He notes some great achievements of the modern world: (1) public education; (2) moves towards universal suffrage; (3) industrialization. But there is more to do -- among other things letting capitalism -- another form of class distinction -- to go by the board.
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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, philosophy, Plato, society
Davis, Earl Clement, "Social Ideal of the Modern World" (1910). Manuscripts. 31.