« ÎnapoiContinuați »
and culture of the schools. This is a distinct ad- . vance in the democratizing of society through education.
The Sunday school and the Christian college are the chief instruments of the Church for a similar task and in the same vigorous way these two institutions should seek out the home and the individual in the home. In fact there is a large phase of Christian culture which the public school and the State university cannot in the nature of the case teach. In particular, the Christian college must disseminate those definitely religious and Christian aspects of education which lie quite outside the province of a State institution yet which are of paramount importance to the building of Christian culture in the life of the nation. We refer especially to the development of Christian leadership. President Thompson, of the Ohio State University, has recently made the following utterance: "Let it be kept in mind that the Christian college is the organization selected by the Church through which an intelligent effort is to be directed in the preparation of the children of the Church for service. No other organization will even undertake this work. However hospitable state universities may be to Christian effort on the part of the Y. M. C. A. organizations, to student pastors, or to other religious activities, they will never undertake to supply leaders for the Christian service of the world. They never will be the centers where evangelical Christianity will be the aim and purpose of intelligently directed effort. The Church must recognize her own colleges, then, as the selected institutions where Christian leadership will be highly esteemed and where the entire organization will be in harmony with Christian aims and purposes."
A French officer was asked this question:
“Tell me frankly, Major, what is your opinion of the American boys?"
"I will tell you,” he said, with a twinkle in his eyes. "They eat too fast; they gobble their food and are gone. I wonder that America is not a race of dyspeptics.”
Then he laughed heartily, while I had visions of white kitchens and haunting memories of quick lunch counters and "automats."
“But this is only a symptom and not a disease,” he continued, then, growing serious, he made this most significant statement: "I confess that when I began this work I had a suspicion that I would find the American youth dominated by a sordid materialism, but I have been happily disappointed. They are, by nature, genuine idealists and, if your national educators know their business, it will be possible in the next half century to make America the center of the most lofty and enduring civilization of history.” Later on I discussed this same subject with a professor of history in the University of Lyons, and again with a professor of economics in the Sorbonne and they both expressed the same possibility regarding the future of America.
THE UNIFYING ELEMENTS IN CHRIS
OT only has the war given a deeper spiritual content to the meaning of the home and the
State but it has also made necessary a more spiritual interpretation of Christianity. One did not have to be in the army very long to realize that he was in contact with a vital and natural expression of the religious life of man, quite unique but nevertheless deep and genuine. That the expression of religion in the army was not dependent in any very large degree upon the outward forms and shibboleths of organized Christianity only enhanced the value of the experience, for it revealed two important facts essential to the method and program of religious education. It revealed the fact that men are naturally and spontaneously religious and that the war did not destroy but rather confirmed their deepest religious convictions. It also disclosed the priceless truth that these religious experiences through which the men passed form the underlying, unifying elements of the Christian religion upon which all men may unite and in which all men naturally and normally participate when. ever the religious impulses and motives are properly quickened. The value of all this for religious education is significant. It is our purpose in this chapter to seek these unifying elements in a study of what may be called typical religious experiences in the army life.
On Memorial Day, 1918, a regiment of French soldiers came to the Third Aviation Center to join with the Americans in remembering the noble dead. A committee of the Army, the Y. M. C. A., the Knights of Columbus and the Red Cross had arranged the exercises. The Third Aviation Center was located in the open fields in central France and the fresh sweet air was redolent with the breath of flowers and vibrant with the song of the meadowlark, the blackbird and the vireo. All regular activity was suspended for the day. The men formed in line, and the stately procession wended its way out of the camp and along the country road, past fields of blooming clover and ripening grain to the distant hilltop where, close beside a beautiful grove, the Government had selected a site for a cemetery. First there was Mass said by a Catholic priest, after which came the reading of the President's proclamation, a brief address and prayer by representatives of the Y. M. C. A. The commanding officer of the French regiment spoke feelingly of the occasion and pointed out that through mutual suffering and sacrifice the nations were being drawn into a common fellowship. Then, as the band played softly, fifteen American women representing the Red Cross and the Y. M. C. A. came forward and strewed wild flowers upon each grave,-white field
daisies, the blue cornflower, and blood-red poppies.
It is imposible to convey to the reader the profound impression created by this service. There was a sense of elemental oneness and religious reality that baffles exposition. Sixteen nationalities, nineteen religious denominations, the blended strains of five great civilizations, the humble peasant yonder in the fields, the flowers, the birds, the illimitable sky, the living here and the living over there, that myriad martyred host of all the ages who have died for the world's redemption from tyranny and sin-all these seemed fused into a great spiritual unity. “Behind and beneath all our inherited or intellectual differences there is an identity which is indigenous to the human spirit, a postulate neither theological nor ecclesiastical, reached neither by logic nor by experience; but an enveloping and penetrating necessity holding us together as gravitation and cohesion and chemical affinity bind all physical substances. It may be described as the instinct for establishing and retaining contact with the Supreme Being.”
This revelation of the oneness of religious experience is a distinct gain from the war. The evidence was on all sides; we could not escape it. There was another day in particular where this fact was indelibly stamped upon my mind. I awoke early one Sunday morning in Boulinville, a small village just back of the lines in the St. Mihiel sector. The German guns were dropping shells all about the region, and every few minutes our own artillery