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John Lincoln Blauss

The writer disturbed by the influence Vivekananda had on the Ethical Society of Brooklyn wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Times. He is probably referring to lectures Vivekananda made to this group in late 1894 and early 1895. Dr. Charles Higgins wrote a letter of response to Blauss’s letter.


New York Times May 24, 1897
Letter to the editor.
The   Brooklyn   Ethical Society   is   an   attempt  on  the  part   of   women   and   men   of respectable   mental   endowments to   substitute   for   supernatural   authority   a   purely scientific basis  for the  sanctions of moral conduct.   Orthodox teaching, they felt, was no  longer   credible,  and   should   be  superseded by something which would satisfy the untrammeled   intellect.    As   a   result    they accepted  tentatively  as final the philosophical   scheme  of  Mr.   Spencer and  proceeded diligently to retail to the community in bi­weekly dilutions the outgivings of their celebrated   master,   applying   the   doctrine   of evolutionary science to all current religious, economic,   social,    and    political    problems with   that   self-complacency   and   cocksureness   which   are   attributes   of   infallibility. This, it should be noticed, was the first slip in  that remarkable descent into the slouch of fatuous   credulity   which   a   number   of these astonishing being’s have now achieved. | The   plunge   was   facilitated   after   the   advent  on   our   shores   of   that  learned  philosophical   quack   Swami  Virikauanda,    who
represented  Buddhism at the Congress of Religions at Chicago. This remarkable genius was induced to expound the dogmas of his religion to the members of the Ethical Society.
The writer was present at several of these meetings, and had occasion to note how receptive the field of credulity had already become and with what solemn emotion these superior persons listened to the meaningless circumlocutions of the fat and invariably smiling priest of Buddha. The situation demanded a strong blast of withering common-sense such as that which I have heard delivered from the pulpit of the Second Unitarian Church! But everybody appeared to have been hypnotized into that primitive state of mind which regards with awe what it does not understand. Had the place of this exotic priest been occupied by some earnest and faithful teacher of Christian ethics, I venture to say that his auditors would have had upon their faces, instead of the afflatus of stirred sensibility a look of bored and patronizing contempt. To them the teaching of Christ and the fruits of that teaching had become commonplace and vapid.