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of children. The children, he said, would always vote in favor of the pastry cook. Freedom, we are assured, is our great heritage, as it is our proud destiny. Are we not free to pick out of history and revelation what we will and to discard the rest; to render verdicts as we please in religion, in ethics, in politics and in art? Is not the truth what we like and is not what we like necessarily the truth? May we not vote for the pastry cook? So with Main Street. And it really did not make much difference whether, like Carol, people were eager to be made to think or like Kennicott had given up the process.
Gopher Prairie is really an illustration of the highest and last of Hegel's three stages of political development-to-wit: the despotism where one man is free, the aristocracy where some are free, and lastly, the democracy where all are free. May we not hope and pray for a fourth stage yet to come, where none are free in Main Street's sense of freedom because of the bringing of the natural life of man into subjection to the supernatural life?
But the denizens of Main Street rejected that subjection and Carol's yearning for reform never brought it within her view. Authority and every symbol of it and its correlative of order were so eliminated from Main Street that the sight of the robes of office of a lord mayor or of a beadle's cocked hat would have been positively inspiring-a very benediction on the pathetic chaos. The dire need of Main Street was authority and Carol's hunger and quest were for authority-something to reverence, to obey, to die for if need be-for truth's sake-without which the spirit of man cannot thrive-not an authority arising mephitic from the ground and working from below upward, emanating from man's bodily needs the authority of materialistic democracy; but an authority coming down from the Father of lights, spoken by the voice of the Spirit, not from the pit of the flesh but from the heights of the supernatural life.
Institutions may be levelled to the ground in an effort to destroy all institutionalism. Tradition may be buried out of sight and revelation flouted in order to wipe out authority. Main Streeters may change, reverse, mix up all the signs on their favorite thoroughfare in an effort to produce such a confusion that no human mind shall be embarrassed by a suggestion of any other way than its own pleasure and yet the desire of man for a guide in the darkness will persist-an integral part of his spiritual endowment.
There was life in Main Street. It was a very busy thoroughfare. It had that teeming, atomic life to which certain schools of socialism aspire, and which, to quote Coventry Patmore, resembles rather the life that swarms in decay than the life of an articulate organism, endowed with soul, animated by intelligence, and responsive to the still small voice of the Spirit.
If license masked as democracy produced the political conditions of Main Street, license masked as freedom of thought and liberty of conscience produced the religious conditions. We see them from Carol's point of view-an angle formed by the line of Congregationalism drawn from her home-town of Mankato across the line of Universalism at Blodgett College. Not often has the course of human events provided such an eminence for the contemplative soul. The flat materialism, the self-will of political life was parallelled in religious life. Both lives were aggregations of negations. If, in political life, the Main Streeter knew no one whom he need obey, in the religious life he knew nothing that he need believe. Every one of the seventeen kinds of religion in Gopher Prairie had a negation for its raison d'être, and was concerned in teaching the Main Streeter how much of catholic truth he could deny and still escape damnation. If the Roman Church veered to mechanical sacramentalism, the Protestant Churches largely veered away from sacramentalism. The Protestant Episcopal Church plodded along on the old via media, persisting in the view that the middle line is always safe because at least it is not near the edge. It was known on Main Street for its dignified services and the use of choir vestments. So the community tried to live on negations and trivialities, materialism seeped through it all, the supernatural life of man stagnated and died-a veritable valley of dry bones.
"Can these bones live?" Can a complacent humanitarianism breathe into them the breath of life? There was plenty of that humanitarianism in Gopher Prairie. People were kind and helpful, benovolent societies abounded, and relief work was the order of the hour. Carol contemplated with interest the rude but ministering, surgical hands of Kennicott. It would not be difficult to apotheosize those hands. They kept Main Street alive; but Carol could not find much satisfaction in that because there seemed to be no reason why Main Street should be kept alive. There may be something inspiring in cutting away tumors and
adenoids that souls may live, but if one believes only in tumors and adenoids and does not believe in souls, the process becomes depressing. Kennicott clearly did not believe in souls. Of bodies he had a keen perception. Carol suspected the existence of the soul; but the seventeen kinds of religion with as many different preachers in Gopher Prairie, preaching in the aggregate 1768 sermons a year, still left the community in ignorance as to the soul. Even with a popular Baptist Church there, reinforced with a Protestant Episcopal Church, the only idea Carol had of baptism for her infant son was that by the tactual part of the proceedings the infant might absorb some of the spiritual virtue that was supposed to inhere in the Baptist preacher. As Carol had no reason to believe in his possession of an excess of that article she rejected baptism. Indeed, Main Street was not a street of souls. People born there, although born with immortal souls, persisted in dying as grocers, electricians, lawyers, speculators and chauffeurs. But life depends on the supernatural.
"Natural things and spiritual, who separates these two
Main Street eliminated the supernatural. It killed the spirit, yet Carol expected to enjoy the fruits of the spirit-social order, art and religion. Its people persisted in believing Main Street to be the greatest street in the world. They sent missionary funds to convert the benighted followers of Confucius and Buddha to the religion of Main Street, and to extend Main Street, widened and macadamized, through Cathay. In view of the present plight of Main Street it is difficult to see the value of such extension.
As we turn the last page of Mr. Lewis' book and leave the indefatigable Carol struggling to find the sanction of life in the possibility of her little daughter riding to Mars on an aeroplane, and the much enduring Kennicott looking for a screw driver, it is at least with the hope that the results already achieved on Main Street are sufficiently unsatisfying to drive that obdurate and desperately wicked thing-the heart of man-out of that thoroughfare and into green pastures.
Catholic or Secularist*
REV. HAMILTON SCHUYLER
F the present rate of increase in the character of the population
and the present tendencies in church membership continue
to prevail in this country inside of fifty years the Catholics will have a monopoly of the Christian religion and there will remain only secularists and Jews." Such in substance was the prediction made in the presence of the writer of this article by one who claimed to have made a careful study of the subject.
Doubtless such a conclusion will seem to many the offspring of an inclination to say something sensational, a mere obiter dictum, unsupported by reliable evidence and perhaps vitiated by religious prejudice. It is arguable that the speaker failed to take into consideration other important factors which are calculated to offset the tendencies which he discerned and which will serve to modify if not nullify his conclusions. Sweeping generalizations in regard to the future are seldom realized and especially so when they are concerned with such a little understood phenomenon as the rise and decline of religious institutions. Experience teaches that predicting the future, even the near future, is seldom a profitable proceeding, for things have a way of turning out quite otherwise than in accordance with the most skillful forecast. The religious development of human society is not governed by logical processes and the course taken by history is a perpetual surprise. On the one hand crises come when no one is looking for them and on the other hand the thing which seems inevitable fails to happen. Undaunted by the lessons of experience men continue however the pleasing habit of speculating as to the future, basing their conclusions on the partial and often misleading data which speciously offer themselves for consideration. There is nothing static or inevitable in the fortunes of men on this planet, though the recognition of the presence of certain forces operating in society may indicate a general drift and serve to convey valuable warnings and thus to promote actions calculated to avert disaster. Even so what looks like disaster from the standpoint of the pres
*This paper was read by the author at a meeting of "The Symposium," of Trenton, New Jersey, a society for the discussion by its members of subjects of general interest.
ent may turn out to have a beneficient result, so little capable are the wisest among us of estimating wherein the highest good of the race lies. Compensation for those things which we are wont to regard as unmitigated evils may put a new face on the matter and pave the way for an advance to happier conditions.
With this prelude, and bearing in mind the paucity of our data and their uncertain character, it may be interesting and perhaps not unprofitable to recall some of the arguments advanced in support of the prediction set forth in the opening paragraph of this article.
Our investigations are concerned with the religious future of this country, a fundamental inquiry, for the religious ideals of a people are the most potent factors in their civilization and largely determine the development of their political, economic and social life. "As a man thinks so is he" is an aphorism that holds good as well of groups and nations. The prevailing religious conception of a people is a fairly good index of their character and provides broad ground for forecasting their achievements and destiny. Or course, in the case of America with its heterogeneous and unassimilated elements it would be untrue to say that it has yet adopted or developed any single dominant form of religion. There are represented here all the varieties of the religious instinct found elsewhere besides those indigenous to our own soil, such as Christian Scince and Mormanism, to cite no others. Broadly speaking, however, there are two main historic types which today divide the field between them, namely, the Catholic and the Protestant. The former is united in its organization, clear-cut in its policies, definite in its doctrines and uniform in its practices, while the latter presents an infinite variety of all these with no cohesive principle or common element uniting its representatives, except such be found in the disfavor with which all alike agree to regard the Catholic group.
In employing the terms Catholic and Protestant to designate two distinct conceptions of Christianity what has to be considered in assigning the various religious bodies to their respective places under this general classification is not so much the titles they bear or the exterior differences they display as their possession of a certain common ethos. Thus the Catholic group besides the great Roman communion as the chief factor and popular representative would also properly include the Eastern Orthodox Churches which