War Inevitable.—No one can spend a few weeks in Europe, as I did this summer, without feeling the overpowering urgency of this issue, being appalled by the nightmare of whole populations living day after day under the threat of the outbreak of a general war, a threat which hangs over them like a sword suspended on a single gossamer thread. If we are to be realistic, we must say, as so many who are not ordinarily alarmists have said, that unless a dynamic and methods hitherto not widely employed be found, war will come possibly before many months, certainly before many years, and that when it comes it will be of an unimaginable horror and will wreak incalculable destruction. It seems to me now that one must be a romanticist capable of Hying in the face of all the evidence to believe that such a war under modern conditions will be the portal to socialism or higher civilization or whatever one may prefer to call it. Rather must it set back the clock for generations, if, indeed, it does not involve the total eclipse of Western civilization. —.A. J. Muste, in Christian Century, December 2.
Motion Pictures.—So, if the [motion] pictures delivered correspond to the announcements for the coming season, we may expect a little less than 7 per cent of the year's output to be in the "very good" and "excellent" brackets, 40 per cent at most in the "fair" to "good" brackets, and the remaining 53 per cent just trash. This from the standpoint of quality. —Christian Century, November 25.
Crisis Time.—The world we share today is neither reliable nor uniform. Even the physical world has gone relative. The voice of religious challenge is clearer than ever, but the voice of religious authority is lost in the tumult. Education is awake, but is floundering in a welter of changing objectives, changing contents, changing forms. The economic order and the political order have merged, and have become disorder. Our country is shot through with more conflicting forms of selfishness than we have ever known before. We have achieved mass unemployment. Labor has passed from acquiescence to demand. Inequalities in income have reached extremes so obviously untenable that those who are financially the most fortunate should be the first to urge correction. Democracy—our greatest common ideal, our greatest common effort—through failure to make good its high potentialities, invites invasion from the black right and the red left. As men build desperate dikes against a rising flood, so against rising war we are building desperate assertions of neutrality. We have passed from a social breathing spell into a cosmic gasp.—Ernest H. Wilkins, in Christian Century (Mod.), November 25.
Drink Increases.—The most impressive [American Newspaper] clippings of this current year have to do with the startling increase in drinking, both moderate and excessive, occasional and regular. It used to be argued by the wets that repeal would lower the tide of consumption—that people were drinking heavily under prohibition as an act of bravado, to defy an unjust law. Make it easy and proper to imbibe, and the incentive will be gone, and drinking, therefore reduced to a minimum ! This idea never made sense to me. It never was so in the old days before prohibition. Why should it be so in these new days of high-power advertising, organized publicity, and general mob psychology? Now we know it isn't so ! Drinking is increasing to such an extent as to break all the records of the trade.
Thus, public records show that tax-paid withdrawals of distilled spirits, including alcohol for consumption. rose from 6.000.000 gallons in 1933, the last year of national prohibition, to nearly 42,500,000 gallons in 1934. and nearly 82.500,000 gallons in 1935. Tax-paid withdrawals of fermented malt beverages for consumption rose from 6,500.000 barrels in 1933 to a little more than 32,000,000 barrels in 1934, and nearly 42,000.000 barrels in 1035 john H. Holmes, in Christian Century, November 25.
Revival Needed.—Many of my hearers, who are perhaps oblivious to the constant evolution going i on in religion, may be unprepared to hear me say that I share with many others far wiser, the feeling that our world has today no greater need than a vigorous revival of true religion, one in which every class and every community should share. Yet this is my considered conviction. You cannot really cure the ills of the social order without also healing the moral and spiritual ailments of the individual.—Doctor Angell, president of Yale University, in Moody Monthly, December, 1936.
Broken Morale.—The most portentous change that has come over the spirit of Western civilization in our time is the collapse of its morale. This is far more serious than any of the changes that are taking place in the form and structure of our world society. The emergence of dictatorships, of nationalism, of racialism, of primitivism, of intensified militarism, of economic and cultural isolationism. and all the other structural expressions of the process of dismemberment now going on, are only partially the result of the collapse of our economic system. They are basically the effect of broken morale. The spiritual integrity of civilization has been undermined. Its ethical imagination has shrunk. The pillars which sustained its pride and its ineluctable hope are tottering. Its faith in science, in democracy, in invention, in education, in intelligence itself, is seeping away.—Christendom, Autumn, 1936.
Jonah Vindication.—A large fish recently came into Alexandria [Egypt] harbor, and after being wounded was found to be so large that no derrick available could handle it. It was cut into three parts and brought into Beirut for exhibition. The head of the fish weighed six tons. A man standing on the lower jaw could not possibly touch or reach to the upper jaw, the opening being eight feet across. This was a Mediterranean fish. Alexandria is near the scene of Jonah's experience.—Religious Digest, December, 1936.
Tobacco Versus Church.—Americans spent more for tobacco last year than they gave to all churches and other welfare institutions. They gave $551,000,000 to the churches, and also spent $850,000,000 for narcotics and drinks. and $890,000.000 for amusements.—Religious Digest, December, 1936.
Bible Translation.—There are 5,000 languages spoken on earth, and the Bible has been translated into 954 of them, either in part or in whole. Three thousand of these languages do not need a translation because • they are either dying or are closely related to a language in which the Bible exists. So there are still 1,000 languages without the Bible, some of them with large populations.—Religious Digest, December, 1936.
Law Versus Ideals.—The Christian forces of America became more concerned with legal constraint than they were with the development of spiritually transformed lives. They achieved the prohibition law; but enforcement was ineffective; and necessarily so, because the minority in rebellion against it was too large. Consequently enforcement failed, and after a time, repeal swept the law away. Of course, the whole thing was inevitable. The church had been trying to control behavior too much through the formality of law, and too little by the free vital pressure of fluid Christian ideals—Christian Advocate (H, D.), November 26.
Jewish Population.—The world Jewish population, having multiplied itself six times in the last 135 years, is now set at 16,300,000. Of these approximately 7,500,000 reside in Eastern Europe. The United States holds second place, with 4,500,000 Jewish residents ; while the Mediterranean countries are third, with approximately 1,333,000.—WatchmanExaminer (Baptist), November 26,
Immersion Enjoined.—Let us examine the ordinance of baptism. I will risk my reputation for good judgment and for being well informed, on this affirmation : there is not one professor of New Testament Greek in any standard college, university, or seminary in all Christendom who will deny that the New Testament commands immersion in water as the act of baptism. If this is true, our Protestant brethren are teaching and practicing something that is not taught in the New Testament. They are not only disobeying our Lord's command by teaching the commands of men, but are setting aside His commands. This is unjustifiable, and our loyalty to the New Testament forbids our joining them in it. Again they are the makers of division.—William James Robinson, in Watchman-Examiner (Baptist) November 26.
India Changes.—Month by month the yeast of social ferment accelerates its working in India. A striking new illustration of the changes which are taking place inside the society of that Asiatic subcontinent came to light on November 13, when the maharajah of Travancore threw open all state temples to his subjects without regard to caste distinctions. "We have decided," said the maharajah's proclamation, "and hereby declare, ordain, and command, that subject to such rules and conditions as may be laid down and imposed by us for preserving their proper atmosphere and maintaining their rituals and observances, there shall henceforth be no restriction placed upon any Hindus by birth or religion on entering or worshiping at temples controlled by us and our government."
Travancore is, to be sure, a small state, and long known for its progressive character. But the press of India generally foresees that the example thus set will be rapidly followed by the neighboring Cochin, and possibly even by the great native state of Mysore. . . .
But this proclamation in Travancore indicates that the vast, inert mass of Indian society is beginning to yield to the reformers' pressure. And, as is the case with unwieldy masses, it may prove that when a movement of this sort once gets a real start, it will swiftly roll up irresistible momentum.—Christian Century (Mod.), November 25.
Civilization Crumbing—It is as though we could see cracks slowly widening in the walls of some splendid old cathedral. Unless the foundations themselves are strengthened, the great edifice will surely collapse. In our civilization we see ominous fissures : concentration of wealth and poverty ; increasing crime; permanent unemployment ; profound social unrest ; gigantic preparations for war, though nations know that another war may spell the end of civilization. And if a war starts in the Old World, the United States can no more escape the consequence than could a carefully barricaded householder in the path of a cyclone.—Francis B. Secure, in "The World Crisis—and Christ," Religious Digest, December, 1936.
Unchurched Masses.—Read the following figures presenting the percentage of people who have no church affiliation in these large cities: In Pittsburgh there are 242,631 unchurched ; in Cleveland, 378,013 ; in St. Louis, 287,228 ; in New York, 4,119,494 ; in Seattle, 261,308 ; in San Francisco, 419,249 : in Minneapolis, 283,753 ; in Los Angeles, 997,203. The unchurched population of Chicago exceeds the total population of Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico. and Nevada.—Religious Digest, December, 1936.
Cheap Religion.—just so long as the church is better known in any community—as I fear it is in many—for the quality of its dinners or minstrel shows than for the depth of its spiritual life, for genuine fellowship, and for prophetic vision, it is not difficult to understand the present plight of religion. The responsibility is chiefly upon the ministry, for what money-making affairs the laity cannot think up for themselves the ministers are too ready to supply.
The church has become so set in this direction that nearly every mail brings letters promising full treasuries from concerns that see in the exploitation of religion opportunities for their own rich reward. Everything from candy bars (unfit for children to consume) to dishrags offer a quick way to financial security for the church interested in "cheap religion."
I find some of my closest ministerial friends regarding me. as. something of-a- revolutionist-when-I-suggest that the quicker the church gets out of the money-making business the sooner it will command the respect and attention of the community.—AT. Clifford Bangham, in Christian Century (Mod.), November 25.
Papal Campaign.—Sensible Protestants will have nothing to do with the Pope's furious onslaught on communism until the false issues that it presents are clarified. And when they are clarified. it will he the more certain that they can have nothing to do with it.
The Roman Catholic fight against communism, as it is developing, is a campaign, first, for the power and privileges of the Roman Catholic Church ; second, for a fascist type of political and social structure; third, against freedom of opinion and speech ; fourth, for an alliance of business with religion and the sanctification of the economic status quo.—Christian Century (Mod.), November 25.
Catholic Aspirations.—Last summer the editor wrote an article for the "Preservation of the Faith," in which he stated that there should now be in the United States, not only 20,735,189 Catholics but at least 60,000,000. He further surmised that each year there were more perverts than converts, that more than 63,454 baptized as Catholics abandoned their practices and beliefs. Later, he secured a copy of the out-of-print pamphlet, "Catholic Growth in the United States," written by Archbishop Canevin in 1920. While the archbishop's calculations seemed to disprove the assertion that there should be now three times as many American Catholics as there are, they could be interpreted in reality as a confirmation of the assertion. If the children and descendants of every American Catholic were now Catholic, every second person in the United States would be a Catholic.—America (R.C.), December 12.
Catholic Reasoning.—Under the decision of the [U.S.A.] Supreme Court in the Louisiana textbook case, a distinction must be made between a Catholic school and the child in a Catholic school. The child may be made the beneficiary of public funds, but the school may not, as long as the support of such school is forbidden by the State constitution. The Federal Constitution imposes no such bar on Congress. Therefore, when Congress appropriates for education in the States, it can include Catholic schools as beneficiaries. Should we ask that this be done? Would the harm outweigh the benefits?—America (R.C.), December 12.
Cheap Religion.—Protestant preachers add [ ?] to the dignity of religion by conducting marriages (they don't call it holy matrimony any more) in a swimming pool clad in a bathing suit, or on a huge platform before curious and snickering thousands at a street fair, or in a store window on Main street. The latest clerical stunt, I notice, is a wedding in a brewery, the beer foaming about the feet of the principals, beer kegs for an "altar."
Perhaps you noticed the newspaper clipping from Los Angeles, telling with great gusto about the congregation (and it was of the most conservative denomination in Protestantism) which was celebrating its fifth anniversary. At the morning service a huge birthday cake would be at the head of the center aisle. At a proper(!) time in the service several ladies would cut the cake, deftly wrap it in paper, and pass pieces among the people. Come one, come all ; let them eat cake !
Religion! Is it? Some might call it that, but whatever it is, it is cheap.—Howard R. Runkle, in The Christian Century (Mod.), Oct. 28, 1936.
Fall Denied.—The assumption of original human perfection and gradual decline is open to serious objection in the light of anthropology and evolution. It would appear that the progress of the race has been steady and significant under the discipline of trial and error, of enlarging areas of ethical and religious guidance, and of the gradual disclosure of the divine will. In spite of all the pessimistic affirmations regarding human retrogression, either by the advocates of determinism or the prophets of the apocalyptic schools, and in the face of such periodic collapses as war and other crimes occasion, progress is made on the lines marked out by the great teachers of the past and the present, and most of all by the supreme master of men, the Man of Nazareth.
The expression "the fall of man" gives a wholly wrong impression regarding the origin and growth of the race, and has been abandoned in most modern discussions of the subject.—H. L. W. in The Christian Century (Mod.), Nov. 4, 1936.