Shaw, Arthur Madison


January 21, 1875 - 1946
With a hearty salute to his vigorous personality, his stalwart character, and his effective service, with blessings upon his memory, we here record some of the things that marked Arthur Madison Shaw as earth’s and ours for a bright galaxy of years.
He was born in White County, Arkansas, January 21, 1875, son of Reverend Flavius J. Shaw and Jane Rogue Shaw. On January 22, 1895, one day after his twentieth birthday, at Tyro, Arkansas, he was married to Miss Oregon Collins. To them were born the follow-ing children, all of whom, with the mother, survive him: Dr. A. M. Shaw, Jr., of the faculty of Centenary College, Shreveport; Edwin Shaw, Little Rock, Arkansas; Edward W. Shaw, Monroe, La.; Rev-erend Joe C. Shaw of Houston, Texas; and Mrs. D. A. Goodson, Longview, Texas.
If ever a man has been predestined to the Methodist ministry and foreordained thereto surely Dr. Shaw was. He seemed hedged in by providence, family, and environment. There was no escape for him. His grandfather, father, four uncles, an only brother, a cousin and a son, were all Methodist preachers. Coupled with all this was his own imperial choice that completed the picture sketched by his impressive background.
How well be fulfilled that ministry is eloquently attested by the list of his appointments and the many people whom he touched with the Eternal Gospel.
On October 13, 1894, at nineteen years of age, he was licensed to preach at the quarterly conference session at the Reeves’ School House, Gold Creek Mission. For two years he was a local preacher, thus beginning where a vast group of Methodist preachers have be-gun.
Here is the detailed record of his itinerancy: In 1896 he was admitted to the Little Rock Conference which met at Camden, and was assigned to Murfreesborough; 1897, Oma Circuit; 1898, Rattan Circuit; 1899, Jansen; 1900, Cariola and Lake Village; 1901, Arkansas City; 1902-3, Crossett
At the end of this pastorate he was transferred to the Pacific Conference, where, in 1904, he served Oakland, California; 1905, Bakersfield, California. Completing this period in California he returned to the Little Rock Conference.
In 1906 his appointment was Bearden and Thornton; 1907, Beard-en Circuit; 1908-9, Warren Station; 1910-11, Prescott; 1912, Der-mott and Portland; 1913, Fordyce; 1914-15, Arkansas City and Lake Village; 1916, Dewitt; 1917-18, Stuttgart.
He then turned south, transferring to the Louisiana Conference in 1919. Here he filled the following appointments: 19 17-20, Trout and Goodpine; 1921-24 Oakdale; 1925, Hospital Commissioner for one year; 1926-27, Mooringsport; 1928-29, Ferriday; 1930-32, Vin-ton; 1933, Oak Grove; 1934-36, Belcher and Gilliam; 1937-38, Elizabeth.
At the 19.39 session of the Louisiana Conference at Ruston superannuate was written after his name. Thus ended his long and active ministry. With Mrs. Shaw he returned to Oakdale, where, among many friends and rich memories of a happy pastorate, he spent the balance of his days.
On February 12, 1946, from a hospital in Little Rock he ascended from the moral and spiritual battlefields of time and place, having received his appointment from the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls. The funeral services conducted by the pastor, Reverend J. C. Sensintaffar, assisted by Reverend R. R. Branton, District Superintendent, and Dr. B. C. Taylor, pastor of First Church, Alexandria1 were held at Oakdale in the church, which during his ministry there almost a quarter of a century before, he had built. Burial was in the Oakdale cemetery.
Though denied the privilege of college and university education, for which by nature and acquired habits of study he was eminently fitted, Dr. Shaw was a student and scholar. He did not allow this handicap to lock the door to the kingdom of books and learning. Like Wordsworth’s “Happy Warrior,” he turned his necessity to glorious gain, and in doing so escaped the pitfall of self-satisfaction, which sometimes marks the formal scholar whose education seems to stop with his formal schooling. He kept an eager, alert and grow-ing mind. The language, logic and content of his sermons bore testimony to his scholarship. The fruit of his pen found liberal space and welcome in the columns of both secular and church periodicals. In both prose and poetry his writings proved a worth adjunct to his pastoral ministry.
As a preacher and writer he would be classed as a moderate liberal. He was not a victim of the extremes that marked much of the preaching and discussions during a part of the time of his min-istry. He matched the barrenness of hostile critical thought with a fervent evangelism and the uninformed religious fervor with a thoroughgoing scholarship that sought the truth unafraid. He regarded his religious faith so highly that he honored it with the most painstaking study. He was sufficiently aware of the meaning of learning to know that scholarship to be safe and complete must be Christian.
His book, “Shorten the Line,” published by the Methodist Publishing House, was a worthy’ contribution to the moderate position and helped to clarify our thinking during the days of the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy. In it he attempted to reconcile the honest thinkers of both groups and urged us to waste no time upon the many things of secondary import and concentrate our energy and interest upon those few and indispensable fundamentals precious to both.
In 1933 Centenary College recognized his exceptional ability and excellent service by conferring upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity, and in doing so honored both itself and him. Of this honor he was eminently worthy and for it he was modestly and pardonably proud, prizing it above any honor he had received.
Of him a son says, “Through .the coming years, many will remember him, no doubt, for the eloquence and logic of his speech, and others perhaps for his gracious and winsome manner; but all who knew him well will continue to love him for the depth of his understanding, the warmth of his sympathy, the generosity of his friendship, and the rich resources of his spiritual strength.”
We guess one’s goal by the road and direction he travels, and we conclude its meaning and quality by the quality and character of the traveler. Of that realm to which he passed when the trumpet sounded for him on the other side he bravely wrote:
Heaven is not here nor there:
Heaven spreads to everywhere.
No stately city at Journey’s End,
But a billion highways that branch and bend,
Dip into the abyss, roll up the steep,
Climb over the graves where the dead spheres sleep;
Glide through the dim tunnels where chaos is black,
Pursuing or crossing the wild comet’s track:
Warm boulevards scaling each cold ether grade
To every bright sun that the Great God has made.
Heaven, a maze of love-lit lanes
Woven through all the starry plains
Wheresoever the Father reigns,
And ending—never.
Heaven is no place apart:
Heaven’s in the human heart;
A heart immortal, that shall abide
When earth hath vanished and time and tide
To cycles have yielded place,
And life is not reckoned in terms of space:
The soul’s spacious center, an infinite Here;
Its border transcending the endless Nowhere.
That’s heaven! —Humanity raised from the sod—
Divine in the image and fullness of God.
No rest and ease at set of sun,
Nor full content with guerdon won:
Heaven’s adventure just begun— And on—forever.
Source: Journal of the Louisiana Conference of the Methodist Church, Pages 97-100, 1946 by O.B. Raulins