The responsibility of the church for Christian education is generally recognized, but often the financial obligation that goes with this responsibility is not felt so deeply. Present-day leaders and thinkers, both within the church and outside, are expressing definite convictions concerning these problems. In the February 5 issue of the Christian Advocate, Alfred M. Landon responds to a request from the paper for a statement on perils ahead of our American colleges. He says:
"I believe that the healthy growth of Christian lives and civic consciousness in this country will be made possible by maintaining a reasonable number of church institutions. I am keenly aware of the difficult days ahead of the church schools, unless the church itself makes up its mind to support them more enthusiastically."
Continuing his remarks, Mr. Landon discusses the strength of schools that are adequately supported by the church:
"A church-supported school that is actually supported by an income from its related conferences will have some distinct advantage over institutions that rely on endowment alone. Annual gifts on the part of the church will make the church recognize the importance of maintaining its school. . . .
"When the church recognizes the importance of maintaining its schools and puts them at the top of the list of conference funds, the schools will be in a better position to take their places by the side of the tax-supported institutions."
In concluding his remarkable message, Mr. Landon says:
"Let me repeat my first statement, that for the healthy growth of Christian lives and civic consciousness in this country, the church should consider seriously its total responsibility for Christian institutions of learning."
Contemporary Catholic Superstition
By CARLYLE B. HAYNES, Secretary, War Service Commission
This novena was announced to begin on July 18 and continue to July 26. A list of petitions was placed in the solicitation as an aid in compiling requests. Among the petitions listed are: promotion in work; grace for a good confession; recovery of lost articles ; to avoid lawsuit ; for better business ; to be able to collect money due me; deceased members of our family; cure of sinus ailment; poor souls in purgatory; cure of nervous child; settlement of estate ; safe confinement ; to meet a good Catholic woman; for good tenants. A prayer to be offered in connection with joining this novena is as follows:
"Glorious St. Anne, filled with compassion for those who invoke thee, and with love for those who suffer, heavily laden with the weight of my troubles, I cast myself at thy feet and humbly beg of thee to take the present affair which I recommend to thee, under thy special protection.
"Vouchsafe to recommend it to thy daughter, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and lay it before the throne of Jesus, so that He may bring it to a happy issue. Cease not to intercede for me until my request is granted. Above all, obtain for me the grace of one day beholding my God face to face and with thee and Mary and all the saints, praising and blessing Him for all eternity. Amen."
The appeal is furnished with a blank to mark in the amount of a financial contribution that is to be forwarded in order to join the novena. No doubt this is good business, but we question its value as religion.
Where Are the Men?
The Methodists also seem perplexed over the dearth of men and the preponderance of women in their church, as evidenced by an editorial in their Zions Herald, and quoted in the September, 1941, Religious Digest:
"There are, of course, some churches here and there that succeed in winning large numbers of men for their regular worship services. . . . But, on the whole, we are justified in raising the pertinent question, 'Where are the men?' . . .
"There is a whole list of stock answers given by critics outside the church. Let us look at some of them. We are told that Christianity appeals only to those who are weak or frustrated, heavily burdened or old, and that it finds large response in women, because their emotional nature is highly developed. It is urged also that religion is mystical, dreamy, unrelated to the hard facts of life, and is based upon wishful thinking and theological argument, rather than upon realistic scientific findings. Some men honestly declare that their business methods are out of harmony with gospel principles, and that therefore they are made uncomfortable by the Christian messages ; others complain that the day of strong inspirational preaching is over, and that they 'get no good' from modern sermons ; still others are too lazy to go to church or too keen about golf or some other recreation to give any time to divine worship."
After thus giving recognition to the problem and its causes, the editorial cites a number of practical suggestions regarding how this weakness may be overcome, and how we may win more men to the church.
"Now, let those of us who believe strongly in the church and the 'foolishness of preaching' face the problem courageously and honestly. We wonder if, frequently, ministers do not, by the very force of circumstances, follow the line of least resistance and rest satisfied with the progress of their churches under the leadership of women and the support of the women's society, and really neglect the men. Whatever excuse a man may give for nonattendance at the church service and nonparticipation in the work of the church, it is quite likely that he will respond to the earnest appeal of a pastor who makes it clear that he is profoundly interested in that man's welfare. We suggest also that virile preaching of the type that reaches men 'where they live' is tremendously important in the enlistment of the male sex. Emphasis on the unity of the family in the field of religion likewise ought to help in filling the 'family pew' not only with the women, but with the men and boys of the home.
"Above all, men should be given something to do —something more than ushering and handshaking. Burdens, heavy burdens, should be laid upon them, and they should be given to understand that they have responsibility. There must also be reserved a large place for teaching in any program to win men. How many men already members of the church have any very definite understanding of 'what it is all about' ? Do they know anything of the history of the church, of the deeper inner meaning of the teachings of Jesus, of the purpose of organized Christianity, of its educational and missionary objectives?
"The call to sacrifice must be dinned into the ears of indifferent men. They must be persuaded to give and give generously to the cause, for when they contribute, they are likely to be interested. Once an indifferent man wakes up, he will come to church for further enlightenment."
Light, Fluffy Knowledge
The following paragraphs, appearing in a nationally known weekly, should give us pause. The frenzied quest for light, frothy, entertaining information not only surrounds us, but has made its inroads upon us. We may well heed the admonition given.
Spray-gun knowledge is poisoning the American brain. Bits of queer, useless knowledge, thousands of foolish facts and figures, a hop-skip-and-jump mixture of quizzbits, all suspended in a solution of bubbling giggles, are daily sprayed thinly as camouflaged learning upon a bored, laugh-hungry people from parboiled-article digests, the "Ask Me Another" radio programs, mile-a-minute movie travelogs, "Believe It or Not" cartoons. Not only do we shake the knowledge of our weight out of a slot-machine, but at the same time and for the one price the machine must disgorge secret information of our future destiny. . . .
Understanding, not mere knowledge, is the hallmark of the human mind. And, unfortunately, understanding is a rather slow process. Americans must learn to make haste slowly in matters intellectual. Our schools must set the correct pace by placing more emphasis upon the few basic subjects and abandoning the cafeteria style of teaching. Then in time we can expect that the intellectual indigestion which has slowed up our mental advancement will vanish and we will become a people who place value upon real nutritious food and not upon a few decorative half-strawberries perilously mounted on spirals of air-fluffed cream.—America, June 6.
Spiritual Deficiency Acknowledged
A remarkable recognition and confession of spiritual impotence appears in the Methodist Zions Herald of April 1, that we do well to ponder. Appearing in the midst of a discussion of other items, it nevertheless very succinctly and frankly tells of recognized spiritual impotence and need in the great church of the Wesleys—despite numbers, and all the commissions and committees of a vast ecclesiastical machinery.
"We expected 'the great Methodist Church' to go forward by leaps and bounds following unification. But has it? We have numbers, staggering numbers. We have commissions and committees without number. We have talk, no end of talk. We have machinery, plenty of machinery. We have every form of godliness, but where is our power?
"It was to be expected that much energy would have to be expended in readjustments, in reorganization, in efforts to blend the three churches into one great institution. But is it not now about time we were experiencing an arresting revival of religion, both individual and social? World service is down. Possibly there is more than one cause far the slump, but it is down.
"While the figures for February show a commendable increase over those for the same month a year ago, there was a decrease of 2.70 per cent, or $65,861.26, in the giving of the church from June 1, 1941, to February 28, 1942, as compared with the same period last year.
"There is also a strange complacency, almost indifference, on the part of the people called Methodists. Where is the abounding joy, the self-consuming zeal, the spirit of courageous adventure, the creative planning, the arresting accomplishment, that everyone expected when once Methodism could say from the heart, 'All one body we'? Something is wrong."