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BOOK REVIEWS 233
Beugious Education and American Democracy. Walter Scott
Athearn. The Pilgrim Press. 1917. Pp. xiii, 394. $1.50.
"The problem of the book," says the author, "is the organization
of religious education in the American democracy" (p. viii). To
quote the author again, what he gives us is a "blue print to guide
future development" (p. 17). If the term "big business" may be
used in a eulogistic rather than dyslogistic sense, we are here sum-
moned to big business in religious education as contrasted with the
wasteful and ineffective methods of small-shop denominationalism.
It is possible. Professor Athearn beUeves, so to organize a system of
coordinated public schools and church schools as to "guarantee to
every child both intelligence and godliness" (p. 21). In almost
every detail of this ambitious scheme there is reflected a lively,
bustling, adventurous, unconventional, pungent mind.
The outstanding requirements of the proposed re-organization
may be summarily stated as follows:
(1) It must be entirely separate from the schools of the State —
a second complete school system.
(2) In addition to denominational agencies it must include organs,
both local and national, that are directly representative of the
populace as a whole, and therefore free from denominational con-
trol. The author holds strenuously to the opinion that any mere
federation of denominational organs or agencies or representatives
would subject the common good to partisan interests.
(3) It must be comprehensive, must reach all the way from the
kindergarten to the university. In particular, teacher-training will
be provided on the high-school level, the college level, and the gradu-
(4) It must provide professional supervision capable of reaching
every local community, and available for any church school that
(5) It must develop methods of its own by direct research of an
experimental sort, particularly with respect to "prejudice," senti-
ment, and ideals, an area of the mind to which public-school methods
have given Kttle attention.
(6) It must establish and maintain standards that will enable it
to deal with the public-school system, in all matters that require
coordination therewith, "on terms of absolute equality" (p. 107).
(7) If one asks where and how such an elaborate organization is
to be started, the answer is that a start has been made already in
certain community-schools or systems of religious education, notably
the one at Maiden, Mass., of which Professor Athearn himself is the
234 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
head. Such schools, it is believed, could easily be multiplied, and
a next natural step would be a general federation or union of them.
Moreover, certain existing organizations that are not under ec-
clesiastical control might be woven into the new fabric. The Re-
Kgious Education Association is adapted to serve as the professional
association of the leaders of rehgious education. The International
Sunday School Association might possibly be reconstructed so as to
serve as a general supervisory and promotional body. Even the
American Sunday School Union might have a part.
Let no one ignore this scheme on the ground that it is too am-
bitious to be practical, or even that it is fundamentally defective.
For we need to face, not to run away from, the problem that Profes-
sor Atheam has attacked so vigorously. Religious education in this
country, as far as organization is concerned, is too nearly chaotic to
be creditable to the American mind. The drastic analysis of this
situation in Chapter IV has not been printed a day too soon. Es-
pecial attention may be caUed to his summary on page 239, a sum-
mary of duplications, confusions, and expenses, all of which must be
regarded, ultimately, as burdens that the children have to bear.
His fundamental contentions are likely to arouse doubt at one
point at least. Is the creation of still another set of religious organ-
izations — organizations that are expected to include the members
of all the churches — is this the shortest road to eflBciency? If we
had to deal with a new element of population, or with a new function,
possibly a new set of organs would be best; but no such reason is
alleged. Further, some essential questions with regard to the pro-
posed new bodies are touched upon all too Hghtly. There must be
within them. Professor Atheam reiterates, "absolute academic free-
dom" (p. 154 f.). Just what "absolute" academic freedom means
is not clear; certainly the universities claim nothing of the kind for
themselves. On the other hand, the community-system of re-
ligious education is to be controlled by persons "of the most profound
religious experience" (p. 155). One wonders how this item of
administration is to be managed, particularly in a system of "abso-
lute academic freedom." One wonders too whether references to
what the churches "must" do (pp. 151, 168), and to "granting"
to each denomination the "right" to supervise its own religious
schools (p. 240), are to be taken as instances of a careless use of
language merely or as signs of a state of mind. In relation to this
delicate matter one thing is clear in any case: Professor Athearn's
assumption that the members of the various religious denominations
can actually be induced to enter the proposed non-ecclesiastical
BOOK REVIEWS 235
religious organizations is a marked tribute to the growth of liberality
within the churches.
Another point on which too little has been said concerns the re-
lation of Jews and Catholics to a religious enterprise that essays
to represent the community and the nation. Every detail reads as
if the scheme were Protestant- The chapter on "the unification of
educational agencies" does not even mention a Catholic or Jewish
agency. The Maiden system, which furnishes a model, is, in actual
operation, as Professor Athearn indicated at the 1918 Conference of
the Rehgious Education Association, an active coQperation of Prot-
estants, with passive acquiescence or non-participation on the part
of CathoUcs and Jews.
A grateful word must be spoken with respect to the general plan
of the book, particularly its classified bibhographical Usts and its
method of raising more questions than it pretends to answer. On
the other hand, the typography of the bibliographical notes is
about the worst possible, and there are signs of haste.' The dis-
cussion of the principles of curriculum building, in particular, offers
suggestions and headings without taking time or space to indicate
clearly what theory of the educative process the author has in mind.
George A. Cob,
Union Theological Seminabt.
Pbotestantism in Gebmant. Kesr D. Macmillan. Princeton Uni-
versity Press. 1917. Pp. viii, «82. $1.50.
In one sense these lectures belong to the large and rapidly growing
class of "tracts for the times" produced by the great war; yet in
another sense they constitute a historical essay of independent
interest and value, such as might be written at any time. The
author is President of Wells College, and the lectures were delivered
on the Stone foundation at Princeton Theological Seminary in the
year 1916-17. They aim to trace the course of Grerman Protestantism
^I venture to catalogue the following: P. 3, "average level of . . . intelligence"
and "average citizen" obviously do not state the author's meaning; p. 12 confuses
moral training with teaching ethics; p. 42, "References on Reconstruction of Edu-
cational Theory Due to the World War" are listed under the general heading, "The
Parochial Schools"; pp. 148, 224, "McMurry" is misspelled; p. 148, data "is";
pp. 180, 181, the phrase "association of church schools" is used to designate an
entirely non-denominational body; p. 199, lines 8-9, "International" is an inter-
polation and an incorrect interpretation; p. 220, what is meant by "the present