GLYN MORRIS n.d. A Challenge for Today

Pine Mountain Settlement School
n.d. A Challenge for Today

GLYN MORRIS n.d. A Challenge for Today

Card 1 of 15. An abridgment of a 1942 Chapel speech presented by Glyn Morris. [morris_challenge_for_today_001]

TAGS: Glyn Morris, talks, Chapel talks, religion, employment, man’s achievements, service to mankind, modern conveniences, need for ministers, access to medical aid, students, teachers

GLYN MORRIS n.d. A Challenge for Today [abridged]

“An abridgment of a Chapel talk by Glyn A. Morris”* is noted on the bottom of the first index card in this set of cards carrying the talk, “A Challenge for Today.” It is unclear why the talk is abridged or why Morris’ name is x-ed out on the card. However, the talk is clearly in the manner of Morris and is focused on then-current relationships at the Settlement School.

Most likely the typewritten text on the cards was transcribed from handwritten notes and shortened for possible re-use by Morris himself. The date of the notecards is uncertain but it is possible that this was prepared as a farewell to the institution in early 1942.  He immediately left for training for his assigned position as an Army Chaplain.  Also, an article by Glyn Morris with the same title was printed in the winter 1942 issue of Mountain Life & Work, confirming the description of the talk as an “abridged” version of the lengthier article he had prepared for Mountain Life & Work and that was published later in the year.  


TRANSCRIPTION: “A Challenge for Today”

[NOTE: The images consist of carbon copies of typewritten text on light green notecards. Handwritten edits were made to the text (possibly by Glyn Morris) and some phrases were either x-ed out or crossed out by hand. Many of the edits are represented in the following transcription but it was not possible to represent all of them and the original images may be consulted for all edits.]


Glyn A. Morris [x-ed out]

A number of things today make us look to the future with a sceptical (sic) eye. In the first place, aside from the present spurt in industry due to defense needs, the employment outlook for youth is not particularly bright, especially for those who have not had special training. It isn’t too good, as a matter of fact, for many college graduates. Jobs are scarcer.

In the second place a combination of circumstances falsify us into the belief that all the important things have been accomplished. Our schooling, acquainting us with the course of man’s progress, tends to point to the conclusion that all the important things have already been done. The names of the great are numerous and history presents a galaxy of human achievement. Discovering America, ….

*An abridgment of a chapel speech by Glyn A. Morris.


A Challenge for Today – 2
…flying the Atlantic, discovering the theory of evolution, relativity – these are all done. Surely we know it all! What more is there?

To this point of view, that all the important things have been accomplished, is added a third, which strengthens the second. This is the impact of things upon our daily lives. In our generation we have seen the coming of the automobile and airplane, the radio, television, and streamlined trains. I can’t begin to list the gadgets and conveniences we have: washing machines, electric hair dryers; automatic farm machinery; electric razors; automatic shifting for automobiles; mixers of all kinds. Boats can be steered across the Atlantic automatically – and even airplanes may be guided without human hands. The extent to which man has produced “things” by which….



A Challenge for Today – 4
What I am emphasizing is that mankind has a lot of knowledge at hand and has a lot of physical things, and hence individual and distinctive achievement in these realms of human experience appear more difficult both because so much must be mastered before starting and because there are so many already at work in these fields of human endeavor.

There is another element, too, in the picture which I am trying to present and out of which I hope a challenge will come to you. Because we have made so much progress in the world of “things,” we have given a false value to these “things” and are in danger of making them idols before which we fall down and worship. It is ironical, is it not, that in the midst of all this knowledge and the achievements of science, we are at the darkest period in our history? 


A Challenge for Today – 5
[CROSSED OUT: To summarize what I have said thus far,] The tendency to believe all things have been accomplished; the impact of things and the subsequent materialism – these have affected us, and, perhaps without realizing it, we look to the future with a sceptical eye. But do not be sceptical, young people, for now you are free to pioneer and to accomplish great things in another field, an area in which we have fallen behind. It is not things we need, nor is it lack of facts for which the world suffers; nor need there be unemployment for many youths who will venture to accept the challenge of this age. There is something we do not have which we sorely need; let me call it to your attention. We have neglected to develop the art of using the knowledge and things we have. And this finds its logical expression in our disregard for values in areas of life where many are socially and….


A Challenge for Today – 6
…spiritually illiterate. We need young people who will pioneer in the partially charted, but exceedingly difficult, realm of life waiting to be revealed to men. It has to do with a family of conceptions for which I use the term “service,” – creative service, service to mankind. We need young people who will dedicate their brains and ingenuity to devising better ways of living, of human organization; who, leaving the beaten path will bring out of people the talent and spiritual possibilities they possess, thereby creating new patterns of happiness and giving experience in new values and in spiritual joy. We need pioneers to show us how to put together in the right combination all the things God has given us and which we don’t know how to use wisely. You say, “But we’ve always done this.” We have to a certain extent, but for the most part this sort of thing has been tagged on to others. Now, I say,….


A Challenge for Today – 7
…let us emphasize it; Make it primary – make careers of it, become specialists in it.

True, these are high sounding phrases – words that I’m sure you have heard before. Let me clothe these words and be specific. The southeastern states, as you know, have been termed the Nation’s economic problem No. 1. Our Highlands are a special part of this problem. Everyone knows that our area is also comparatively wealthy in natural resources and in the possibilities of these resources. We do not need to be economic problem No. 1; we could be illustration No. 1 of what abundant rural life in a beautiful setting might be like. It is not impossible. Let me be more specific. The Highlands are waiting for a young man and woman to go up some creek where hills are steep, there to buy 10-20 acres of land, build a comfortable home, and create a life to show what life can be. It isn’t more cars, radios, things….


A Challenge for Today – 8 
…that we need in the Highlands; they’ll help, of course, but we need men and women like Jane Adams, Sir Wilfred Grenfell, John Frederic[h] Oberlin. You say it’s not easy? Of course it isn’t; no pioneering is easy.

The Highlands are waiting for young men and women to go there for the sole purpose of reorganizing living on a cooperative basis as did the fisher folk of Nova Scotia. We do not know how much of the resources of the mountains are wasted by duplicated effort. Many men raise food for a mule that loafs a lot of the year; a community keeps half a dozen mules when there’s work for only one. Furthermore, there are food, raw materials and manpower – plenty of it in the mountains, but little children are in need because their parents are trying to work alone at a problem which must be solved by communities – and which won’t be solved until some of you go back into the far-off places for the sole purpose of organizing and conserving the physical and spiritual resources of our people.


A Challenge for Today – 9 
The Highlands are waiting for ministers: only one out of fifty churches in the Highlands has a trained minister. In other rural areas it is one in four. Here in our hills are thousands of folks whose ancestors had as active a religious tradition as any group that came to America, who are now without benefit of the organized church. Our people are deeply religious by nature, and many young men have gone from these hills to fill fashionable pulpits in other places. Here in this region of America we spend more for church and school in proportion to income than in any other region. But we need more young men who will make up their minds, now, to get ready for a ministry in the far-off places in these hills, and who will keep their faces resolutely in that direction; trained men to pioneer in a new, yet old, kind of church that becomes again the center of the community, where men and women may meet….


A Challenge for Today – 10
…for play and study and worship, under whose roof will be found generated an abundance of the spirit of Christ. We need ministers who are scholars and workers, who can help a man feed his spirit on Sunday and get the most out of his crop on Monday.

We have made great achievement in the realm of medicine, and perhaps some of you young people may be hoping to add to this achievement. Surely we need to know more about many diseases which still baffle mankind. But for us, this is not the pressing problem. The task that waits to be done is to get what we already know to people who need it but can’t afford to pay for it. You know as well as I do the difficulty which rural people have in getting adequate medical aid. What we need especially is not to learn more facts but to use what we’ve got. There isn’t time to tell you of a difficulty in getting medical men to come to the country – even though they are guaranteed a reasonable salary.


A Challenge for Today – 11
Generally speaking, it seems that every young man preparing for medicine wants to become a successful city surgeon or a research man. Won’t some of you young men come back to the hills of this region and minister to the bodies and spirits of our country people? You may not get a large salary to start with, but you’ll be contributing to the spiritual quantity [“quantity” is crossed out and replaced by illegible handwritten words] of life and you’ll have the love and gratitude of those to whom you minister. And, girls, our nurses are not trained to work with country people; they are trained for city service, and city prices. We need more Mary Breckenridges and Lillian Walds in the country, who will work out a scheme whereby all the Highlands can have nurses and adequate hospitals.

And now I come back [“I come back” is crossed out and replaced with illegible handwritten words] to the school teachers “to be” was added), whom I mentioned in the beginning of this talk [the phrase “who…talk” is crossed out]. With all our knowledge there are still far too many one-room rural schools that destroy human…


A Challenge for Today – 12
…personality. How desperately we need one-room school teachers who will stay in the one-room school long enough to make a good lasting impression on the little spirits that come there, hungry and eager to grow. In many rural schools only one out of ten children successfully completes the eighth grade– in a world which requires all kinds of manual skills as well as knowledge to survive! It is literally true that children in many places in these hills do not have “a chance in the world.” We have plenty of school buildings, but few schools. For the little children it is a new teacher every year, because if she’s any good at all she’ll move to town. How much we need young people who are determined to give girls and themselves to country boys and girls and the community from which they come; who will teach boys and girls, not books; who are challenged by the limitations and the possibilities of a one-room school, who are determined that the school room shall be a place of….


A Challenge for Today – 12


A Challenge for Today – 13
…beauty, and that the children will [“will is crossed out and replaced with “shall”] be healthy and well-fed and clothed; who purpose that even in a one-room school rural youth will be given every opportunity to know the manual skills basic to getting a job or running a home or a farm. Ironical – though they learn to make homes never get any of the skill. [The sentence “Ironical…skill” is crossed out.] We need such teachers, but they are not forthcoming. And to eager children who need so many things we feed the printed page! Not long ago, way out in the country, I saw a young woman teaching youngsters with a watch in her hand so they’d get 7 1/2 minutes of arithmetic, when what they needed was soap and water. The type of teachers we need are those who will be poets in their appreciation of the country and who will stay there, putting their roots down deep into the life of the people.

No, we do not need achievement in devising or producing things today; nor would we be seriously handicapped if academic research….


A Challenge for Today – 14
…should be temporarily delayed. But we do need to know of better ways of living with what we have. We need pioneers and specialists in the art of living, of service, not production. After the present war boom – if history repeats itself, and if the social and economic prophets are right – we can expect the pains of a contracting economic system, perhaps the final pains of an old order and rebirth of a new. In this new order, perhaps there will be a large place and need for leaders whose special ability will lie along lines of service in the country – who by training and experience have found new ways of making country life abundant. The culture of cities – now too large, and the inevitable source of so much corruption and concentration of power – has perhaps reached its zenith. Now we must create a rural civilization of soil and sky and men and God. Then, perhaps, we shall have the democracy that Thomas….


A Challenge for Today – 15
…Jefferson dreamed of, that we yearn for, and a firm foundation for the life of America. Young people of the mountains, I invite you to devote your special talents to this task.


See Also: GLYN MORRIS Director – Biography
Back To: GLYN MORRIS 1931-1977 
Guide to Talks, Writing and Publications

GALLERY: GLYN MORRIS n.d. A Challenge for Today