RABBI AND MINISTER by Carl Hermann Voss


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The friendship between Rabbi Stephen S. Wise and Independent Minister John Haynes Holmes was based principally upon vociferous egalitarianism which they shared through the forty-two years of their comradeship. Both believed in complete ministerial freedom and a pulpit from which the minister could tell his congregation not what it wanted to hear but what it had to hear if a better quality of man were ever to appear on this earth. Rabbi Wise seems to have been the more fiery of the two, though both were heavy on rhetoric, and their finest moments are often when they tear into governmental corruption in New York City. Controversy doted on them. Rabbi Wise was early criticized as a flamboyant poseur and mountebank when he hired a Times Square theater to get his Free Synagogue underway to spread his heterodox opinions. Holmes, too, often swam upstream against public opinion, was a pacifist during WWI, split his congregation from the Unitarian Church, and joined Wise in defending Sacco and Vanzetti. Theirs were eventful lives, filled with crusades and world leaders, and Biographer Voss (who admits he has not done a definitive job) has captured them admirably.

Publisher: World