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were established in the United States would be the greatest conceivable step toward the unity of Catholic Christianity, but this end will not be so easily reached.
The erection of an autonomous state in Palestine under British protection will largely offset the historical appeal of the Roman See. As the site of the Christian religion's origin it will claim greater respect and attention than even Rome. It will be largely under the control of Jews, since the independence of Palestine will be largely due to the Zionist movement fostered by them, and its development will come chiefly from the financial aid of American Jews. The Roman Church will receive adequate representation but not exclusive jurisdiction there. The significance of this circumstance has not been fully appreciated, although it may account for the feeble enthusiasm displayed at the Vatican on the taking of Jerusalem by General Allenby.
The revival of religion in France will aid Catholicism, but it will not especially forward the Papal claims in view of the considerations I have already presented. The Vatican's record of political failure and moral inadequacy will stand in its way. The chief reason, as I have said, why the Guarantees were ever granted was that the Italians were afraid of losing what is, after all, the chief ornament and attraction of the eternal city. Perhaps after the definite destruction of the Vatican's temporal hopes which should follow if it is excluded from the conference, the Pope will realize that he is more dependent for his prestige on the potent atmosphere and tradition of Rome, the city, than it is on him. If the Italians themselves realize this, and finally secularize the Vatican entirely once and for all by abolishing all the Pope's special privileges, they will vastly diminish their own internal difficulties, and put an end to what has been a troublesome anomaly. Quite stripped of the appearances of temporal sway and all hopes of its revival dead, the Papacy might really become a broad, humanizing, denationalizing influence for the world's peace. And that, I think, is the gist of the whole matter.
Thinking Through the Y.M.C.A.
BY AN AMERICAN PRIEST IN FRANCE.
HIS War brings to any man who thinks the necessity for thinking things through, and at the same time the temptation to stop thinking when thinking things through becomes too big a job. Such a time, such a necessity, and such a temptation, are upon me now. This little vacation I am having has given the opportunity and accentuated the necessity; and having honestly tried to think things through and failed the first and second and fifth times-the temptation is strong upon me to drop the whole business of thinking and go back to the heavy material business of the past months, without trying to see the problems whole, or see them through. The wholesale confectionery business is so easy compared to the business of thinking. Even the problem does not express itself clearly. A problem clearly stated is a problem nearly solved. Do you mind if I think on paper, and try to clear up in my own mind some of the personal issues I am up against?
And first as to the limitations of my own capacities.
I am a good mixer-I get along well both with the men, the officers, and the Y. M. C. A. Secretaries. I have tact in dealing with authorities, both American and French, and a fair business judgment, a sense of orderliness in business, and I have been rapidly learning the necessity of presenting an issue concisely, and of having my points lined up clearly to insure their getting attention. In other words, I have executive ability. Besides, I am a good judge of men, and with a certain sympathetic ability in seeing their point of view, and in using them in places where they will fit. Naturally I have made and do make mistakes, but most often my first almost intuitive judgment is proved correct.
But-and here is the difficulty: I almost never have a religious effect on men, who, many of them, open up to me most wonderfully on other matters, sentimental, social, and financial. I do not touch men on their spiritual side, having an incurable diffidence about delving into their souls, and an instinctively ob
servational attitude towards their religious attitude. I am distinctly lacking in love for each man, or a driving personal interest in each;-much as I like individuals, their company, conversation and friendship. Also more and more progressively I have lost my desire to impose any set of religious ideas on my fellow-man, either my own, or those of the Y. M. C. A. I am hypersensitive to "cant", and at a religious service of the ordinary type, find myself instinctively sympathetic with the men who are drawing away from it, who are unconsciously determined not to be moved. I listen to sermons critically with intelligent interest, never giving myself over to the preacher's moods. My life experience has not been the life experience of most of the men I meet. This particular cause is not my own analysis, but G.'s with whom I have talked the matter out somewhat. I do not therefore establish an immediate point of contact. The very fact that I, religiously reached my own sense of Our Lord, (1) not by sudden conversion, but (2) by the avenues of Confession and the Mass, gives me a sympathetic touch with Romanists, but makes the contact with Protestants very hard. With the former, however, I do not make contact, because (1) to them I am Protestant. (2) I truly am Protestant in the sense that the Sacraments are for me the means to an inner experience, while to most Romanists it is the external form which is an end in itself—at least for many of them.
With the latter-the Protestants-I am out of touch, because (1) I revolt from sentimentalism (2) because I have almost no religious experience in common with them (3) because our experience of forms, prayers, how to read the Bible, etc., always is a little different, and (4) because religion to me means something as definite as-potatoes. To them, it consists in (1) reading the Bible, (2) a formal acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Saviour, which is undefined, (3) a life of service, which properly defined is Christian courtesy. On this last point I have had a real education since I have been over here. The religion of service, personal service, which many of our Y. M. C. A. men exemplify, and which I am striving to learn as a religiously motivated thing, having always thought of it before in terms of
politeness; this religion of service is just "the cup of cold water idea"-give to every man just what he needs at the momentthat being in a majority of cases just what he wants. If he has a toothache, find a dentist for him—if he wants a cigarette, give him one. It includes, of course, making him realize other needs, and then filling them. Instead of starting with a religious system, it starts with the man, where he is. In its worst forms it has a certain air of from-above-down about it. In its really effective form it has the truly Christ-like spirit of "You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din.”
So, suddenly after this desultory thinking aloud for pages of disconnected matter, one issue appears clearly in a question form. Is religion a system? Does religion start as a system to which men are to be drawn? Or does it start with the man, and follow the man by serving his immediate and remote needsthat is, his needs in relation (1) to his own desires; (2) to his own ideals; (3) to his own idea of God; (4) in relation to some other man's judgment of what God wants of that man; (5) in relation to what he, himself, or some other man thinks Jesus Christ said God wants of that man; (6) in relation to the higher popular moral standards of his day and generation as determined by what the mass of people at a given time conceive as good?
Of this second alternative the Y. M. C. A. expresses the best realization that exists in the world to-day, just because it has not crystallized, and in its present plastic condition cannot and will not crystallize what is an essentially personal question into a system. It starts with the man, individual and mass, where he is, and serves his immediate wants as far as possible whatever they are, so long as they do not contravene pretty generally accepted moral standards of the world about it-that is the higher moral standards of society about cleanness, drinking, gambling, etc. It is thereby peculiarly fitted to work for the morale of the Army, to try to keep its standards up to the best ideal of the day. This it does by social work; meeting the need of loneliness for companionship and entertainment and amusement; by physical work,-tending to a physically fit Army; by
educational work, in the political motives involved and the application of present ideals to future national and international policies; and by religious work,-to build up by all the means at hand the sanction of God and Christ and the Bible for a clean, contented, self-controlled manhood, which will make for ideal soldiers, and afterwards for ideal citizens. So, according to the definition of the religion of service, it describes all the work as religious, a most attractive ideal, a religion truly broad as the world, and as adaptable as human need. By organization, taking men who are able in one or another department, shifting them until they find their place of most effective service and most contented service, the Y. M. C. A. can use most types of men to further its program.
Now the religion of service being essentially a dealing with a man as a man, by one or more fellow-men, as "Jesus went about doing good," is most deeply effective in proportion as it keeps its original quality of starting with the man, not with any system or program. The failure of the Protestant Churches has not been a failure of personal religion and the religion of service; it is the inevitable failure of any attempt to crystalize that organization. Yet the organizing instinct is universally human and an organization is the price of effectiveness in service as elsewhere. Yet once formed, the personal worker gradually, by psychological transformation almost imperceptible to himself, transfers his attentions from the man with whom the religion of service starts to the organization which has been built up to make effective that service; and gradually, too, the limitations of the organization grow to be the limits of the service-they bar the way to the man the organization was built up to serve. The more the worker becomes a Presbyterian the less he becomes the effective servant of every man, and the less he is following the original ideal of Jesus-"Going about doing good." Wesleyanism is a striking example. Always there are great souls pushing aside the artificial barriers of sect, who do serve, as Moody and Brooks and Sunday, great masses of people, not because of the organization which had crystallized around them, but in spite of the organization which had all but crushed their spirit, as a strong man becomes muscle bound.