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IN MARS, WHAT AVATAR?
BY DON MARQUIS.
Do creeds of earth have any worth
Which godheads sway the Milky Way?
What priestly din makes clangor in
The dog-star's Shwe-Dagon?
Which thousand suns hang tranced above
What Eros rules the dearer schools
When morning breaks 'round Mercury
Does some San Grael lure errants pale
THE PRACTICAL SIDE OF THE RELIGION OF SCIENCE.
To the Editor of The Open Court:
I have been an interested reader of your utterances for some time past but I do not remember to have seen any program for the practice of religion from the theological point of view that you occupy. I suppose that even though you do not regard the Christian churches as hopelessly in the wrong yet, because of the deviation from the original teachings of Jesus which you think has arisen in the ages past, you would hardly be able to cooperate with any church in any active work for the improvement of society. Probably no existing organization fully squares with your ideas of what should be attempted for the development of the religious and moral nature of humanity. Now if it is not asking too much will you not take this whole matter from your point of view and give us a full exposition of your program for both the Christian and non-Christian peoples of the world?
H. L. LATHAM.
The question proposed by Mr. H. L. Latham is legitimate and ought not to be passed by unanswered. The difficulty of the answer consists in the fact that the religious conviction which constitutes the faith of The Open Court Publishing Company would not preach to its followers a definite policy as to their church affiliations. It is true that there is no church in existence which would exactly correspond to that faith, but the editor feels no hostility for that reason to any one of the established churches and religious congregations, Christian, Jewish, or Pagan. He has been invited from time to time to speak in churches, sometimes by clergymen who belonged to the ranks of the so-called orthodox and is in friendly relation with representatives and orthodox members of all religions and creeds.
Whenever there is in one town a sufficient number holding convictions similar to ours, who desire to band themselves together in a church congregation, the editor would advise them to found what in a former article, in the January number of The Open Court, 1903, has been defined as "the Lay Church." It recommends itself for several reasons. It makes it possible for people of different views to associate in a religious fellowship, if they have but the one purpose in view, to seek the truth and to respect sincerity of conviction.
Wherever it seems unadvisable or premature to found such a lay church, the religious interest should be kept alive within the circle of the family. Parents ought to watch over the religious development of their children with a reverent but critical tendency, allowing the growing generation to familiarize itself with all forms of faith in a friendly way, which can be done by visiting different churches, and becoming acquainted with the doctrines, rituals and practices of each.
The article on "The Lay Church" will be reprinted in the advertising pages of this number.
INDEPENDENT CHRISTIANITY IN JAPAN.
To the Editor of The Open Court:
My attention has just been called to an article in the January number of The Open Court, headed “Christianity in Japan" which speaks of the recent notable movement of the Japanese Kumiai Churches toward self-direction and self-support. The fact reported is one of great significance and marks a decided step in advance among those churches. There is one statement. however, which I most respectfully ask permission to correct. This is summed up in the declaration, "The inference throughout is clear that the missionaries maintain a dictatorship in church matters which results in establishing a competition against the native church rather than a helpful support and alliance." I cannot speak officially for other Missions, but I can speak with authority for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, under whose work the Kumiai Churches were organized and which has been conducting mission operations in Japan since 1869. As the work of this Board has been perhaps most conspicuous there of any Board, because of the prominence of the Doshisha University and Kobe College for Girls. and because of the aggressiveness of the Kumiai Churches and the prominence of many of their Japanese leaders, the remark above quoted would naturally be interpreted as criticising this Board and its methods of work in Japan.
It is sufficient in reply but to refer to the methods of the American Board and its policy in all of its Mission work over the world, to correct whatever mistaken impression the article may have given.
The American Board always aims to make the churches its missionaries are instrumental in organizing, self-governing and self-supporting. No missionary is expected to be pastor of any native church in any country, and each church is expected to call its own native pastor and direct its own ecclesiastical affairs. Missionaries have even hesitated to become members of native churches for fear some might charge them with dominating the churches of which they were members. This is the policy all over the world. At the present time there are between 200 and 300 independent, self-directing and self-supporting native churches organized by the missionaries of this Board in various countries. In a word, this Board has no churches anywhere and desires none.
There are yet many native churches which are receiving some financial aid from the Board, but whose self-support we constantly encourage. Even in these churches the missionaries exercise no ecclesiastical control. In all cases the missionaries are co-workers with the native pastors and leaders. in building up churches and in organizing new ones.
In Japan the missionaries of this Board and the leaders of the Kumiai Churches have been of one mind in this respect. Up to the current year there were some 54 Kumiai Churches receiving no aid from this Board and as independent of the mission as any churches in America. To show that the missionaries were in favor of this recent step it is sufficient to state that the suggestion that the remaining 45 Kumiai Churches should become independent and self-supporting with the beginning of the current year, was made by the missionaries to the Kumiai leaders and has the hearty approval of the American Board Mission in Japan as well as the officers of the Board at home.
In the National Meeting of the Kumiai Churches in Japan as well as in similar meetings of the Churches organized by this Board in Turkey, India, and other countries, the missionaries are not even members of the ecclesiastical organizations and so cannot vote or control. The purpose of the American Board in every instance is to rear up native institutions and organizations of every kind that shall be, in every particular, self-controlling, self-propagating and self-supporting.
I am not sure that we differ in this respect from the other leading Foreign Missionary Boards. I am aware that these things so familiar to us, are not generally understood, as the statement in the article referred to would show, hence this statement of fact, for which I crave the same publicity that was given to the criticism.
JAMES L. BARTON.
Foreign Secretary, American Board of
TENDENCY OF PRESENT BANKING METHODS.
While traveling in Europe I had frequent opportunities to appreciate, by way of contrast, the superiority of the American check system, which renders possible quick business dealings in small amounts throughout the length and breadth of the country. I have repeatedly called attention to the fact that the
unusual prosperity of the United States is not a little due to the facilities of our banking system. People in France and Germany are confronted with many difficulties when making payments in small sums, and in consequence much business that otherwise would be done remains forever untransacted. Every hindrance in the way of restrictions, tolls or taxes imposed upon payments is liable to cut down trade of any description.
In consideration of this obvious truth we have to regret the movement of the banks of New York and Chicago who have united in making charges on checks coming from other places than these great business centers. The deductions made on checks are considerable, and a discrimination is made between different states and different amounts, in such a way as to make the small amounts suffer most.
We can not help thinking that the movement is neither just nor wise. Though it will bring immediate returns to the bank in many thousands and hundreds of thousands, it is apt to cut the business down by many millions. and it is sure in the long run to reduce business transactions as well as to lower the general prosperity of the country.
NORWAY AND THE PEACE PRIZE.
We are glad to have procured from a distinguished Norwegian, one of the leaders of the present bloodless revolution, an article on "The Nobel Peace Prize" which will be interesting to our readers not only on account of the subject but also on account of its distinguished author.
Dr. Nobel's confidence has been justified during the last crisis which the country underwent in establishing its independence. The firm attitude combined with a love of peace, where peace is possible without giving up principle, has been strongly contrasted in the sad state of Russia, and as a result of this attitude the Norwegian revolution has been without bloodshed and all its phases were creditable to both parties, King Oscar and the Swedish nation on one side, and the Norwegians on the other.
BOOK REVIEWS AND NOTES.
CENTRALIZATION AND THE LAW. Scientific Legal Education. An Illustration. With an Introduction by Melville M. Bigelow, Dean of the Boston University Law School. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1906. xviii, 296 pp. Price, $1.50.
This book is brief, clear, timely and thorough. Four prominent jurists share in its making, the Dean of the Boston University Law School whose text-book on Torts is authority amongst British no less than our own lawyers; Brooks Adams, a worthy representative of the name he bears and one whose strangely bold analysis of modern problems would have frightened our College trustees twenty years ago. In addition there is a chapter each by Edward A. Harriman and Henry S. Haines, both men eminent as teachers of the law.
The book in general is an admirable exposition of what the Law Faculty of Boston University understand under the name of scientific law in contradistinction from that which is merely historic or which springs from a priori reasoning.
The two first lectures by Brooks Adams on the "Nature of Law," and "Law under Inequality: Monopoly," are of interest to more than those who practice at the bar.
They form a masterly supplement to Melville Bigelow's discussion of the extent to which legal education should be extended and how far the lawyer should draw inspiration from the present no less than from the past.
"Let us call in business men to help us in our teachings in the law school. Let us ask them to speak to the students of the relation between business and law of the difficulties created by constitutions and statutes and judicial decisions....Let us ask underwriters, for instance, to speak of State Legislation on matters of insurance, of federal decisions and federal regulation of the subject" (p. 195 seq.).
Mr. Adams makes a masterly picture in bold strokes of the whole field of law in its evolution from the dark ages of Britain to the most recent decisions affecting Chicago slaughter houses.
Many of Mr. Adams' sentences, thirty years ago, would have drawn upon him some of the criticism which fell to the share of Henry George. It is a sign of the times that to-day we discuss before law students what our fathers whispered only behind closed doors.
We are told that in the last seventy-five years "social conditions have changed more profoundly" than they had ever before in history, and yet that the modifications which such changes should cause in the law have not been made.
Hence a dangerous situation for the commonwealth. "I do not think I overstate the matter when I say that this community lives very largely in defiance or disregard of the law!" (p. 47)...."The family is disintegrating" ...."Marriage has ceased to be a permanent state and has become an ephemeral contract with no adequate provision for children. A scandalous conflict of laws results to which we find no remedy."...."Whither we are drifting we know not, but this much seems to me clear—In a society moving with unprecedented rapidity, unintelligent conservatism is dangerous. No explosion is more terrible than that which shatters an unyielding law. And yet our legal system is unyielding!" (p. 49).
These passages are sensational-when uttered on the platform of a Massachusetts law school. They are words of a competent historian, statesman and man of practical affairs, and they constitute a warning to the commonwealth at large whatever they may be to those who practice law merely as a livelihood.
Centralization and the Law is a book about law for men of the law; and as we all know, the law holds itself aloof from political and moral aspects no less than medicine and engineering. But when the best men of the law point out that the body politic is suffering because the law is not keeping pace with the life of the people then it is time that pressure should be brought from outside to restore the balance between the law and modern conditions.
The book is so valuable in its lesson to the statesman and citizen of today that I find it impossible to attempt more than a cry of gratitude for its appearance at a time of struggle between a divided public on one side and a well organized oligarchy on the other.