Charles Sheldon

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Although the most famous person in Kansas is certainly Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th president of the United States, I would love to be able to sit and talk with Charles Monroe Sheldon, a preacher, social reformer and inspirational writer, who lived in Topeka. He may not be as widely known as President Eisenhower, but he is literally very prominent, and he still stands out for his social commitment, his perception of civil rights and his extraordinary ideas to improve the society in which he lived.

The first time I saw an article about him, was in my younger brother’s Kansas history book. I was immediately attracted to the short description of his social engagement, and his idea of “good news” in the church and in the public.

I have been very impressed to learn how he pursued reform projects especially for disadvantaged social groups, in the middle of an economic depression, and how he connected his passionate work with his strong belief that many social problems could be solved by following simple biblical principles.

While discussing with friends, I discovered that Charles Sheldon is not well known in my generation although his work still has an impact on our lives today. A fair treatment for all races and religions, the equality of men and women at the workplace or in politics, and the improvement of the educational system are current social concerns. Our society has to deal with these in the context of political, social and cultural changes at the beginning of the 21st century.

When reading about his achievements, two aspects have been a fascinating experience for me.

First of all, to understand how he committed himself to serve the society by putting religion and the teachings of Jesus into daily practice. Shelton did not only preach of equality, charity or justice. He set an example through his own actions when actively arguing for various social groups, opposing against the Ku Klux Klan, or urging women to...
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