"To know my father was to know his God. His century, with ever-recurring panics, economic depressions, and social upheavals, was the beginning of the industrial era. My father's God was needed during these difficult years."
- Emma Cartwright Stroup, writing about Eliljah Cartwright.
"The principles which guided me were honest work and good buildings." - Samuel Austin
"Moral imagination" is the application of a deeply held faith tradition to a rapidly changing society, in order to express personal integrity, or to innovate technologies, or to re-shape social institutions, or to guide civilization toward meaning and toward justice.
This is a history of two intertwining families over three generations who exhibited moral imagination - with many personal variations. It is the story of one religious movement's engagement with "industrial revolution." It is the story of an innovative company developing new technology for industry; of a church congregation at the heart of an urban community; and of that community itself.
These imaginative persons who affected their communities include a carpenter, a laborer at the blast furnace, a prisoner of war, a mother of many, a woman suffragist, an evangelist, an engineering genius, a poet, and a preacher. The faith tradition is Methodism, and the congregation is called Windermere. The technological innovator is The Austin Company. The city is East Cleveland, Ohio.
The myth of modernity is that the links connecting personal faith to public practice have been shattered; that religion survives only in a private sphere, while society is driven forward by amoral science, technology, and economic forces. Religion is personal, private; the public realms are secular.
The moral imagination portrayed in this history is entirely different. It is the shaping of modern life by people of faith - a shaping not always successful, but always relevant and engaging.