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were serious in our questions and when we were he took us very seriously." There is subtle observation in that comment. Much of the time children's apparently metaphysical questions are scientific: "Who made God?" queried Tom. And while his father hesitated in order to make a nobly dignified reply, "But I want even more to know who made that sofa." That boy was not seriously pondering on the nature of God. But when even young children are serious, they ought to be answered seriously.
The other day I said to Ralph, "We do have a happy life of it, don't we?" He hesitated in saying "Ye-e-es." Then he explained: "I'd have a happy life if only I didn't have to think of the things God makes me think of." "What things?" said I. "Well, I don't want to die," said he, "and I have to think of that."
"But you don't think you get thrown away when you die, do you?" said I. "You'll be used by God in some other way that you don't know anything about."
"No," he said, "they do get thrown away-into the great big ash-barrel. Do you know what the great big ash-barrel is? It's the ground. That's where they get thrown to."
And then he was off on his own little boy interests again. "My new crayons are the kind I always want, they're fat enough not to break when you lean."
President Charles W. Eliot replied last week to a poet at the Phi Beta Kappa dinner, who was dubious about our flapping and floppy age: "The great gain of our age," he maintained, "is the abatement of fear in human relations-social fear, class fear, international fear, and religious fear." Now the dramatic age is naturally a period of fear of the supernatural. This terror has greatly diminished because of the practical abolition of hell, but we must never leave out of account the possibility that fear, and sometimes religious fear or supersitition, is a haunting factor in children of this age.
Between seven and eleven comes a period usually of sturdy health, when imagination is thrown to the ash bin. The changes in adolescence are no more startling than this curious, unanticipated change from imagination and fairyland to the light of common day. The doll is not alive; she is stuffed with sawdust, and to prove this it becomes imperative to make a surgical investigation of her. If at any age religion is nearly absent it is in this period. There is plenty of energetic and provoking life, but usually skepticism or indifference concerning religion. Some children of this age were overheard talking: "Well," declared one of them, "now I've found out that the Santa Claus story isn't true, I guess the Jesus Christ story isn't either." Mark the danger of giving a solid, almost sacred reality to the story of Santa Claus. What religion there is in the angular age is found genuinely in the search for truth, and in scorn of makebelieve and of dishonesty (in adults!). But in general it is a scientific age, and it is well to adopt the experience of George Meredith with his ten-year-old son, of whom he wrote, "I try not to trouble the roots of him much." Part of this indifference is of course due to shyness. The more socially timid child is easily misunderstood.
"It's awfully hard to answer the questions Daddy asks," said Florence, aged ten. "He asked me last night what my motive was in saying prayers, and what they meant to me. I couldn't say a thing and he thought I didn't care. But I really think saying prayers is to help you think about your soul."
When she was about the same age (eight and three-quarters) I had the following talk with another child of dominant and independent personality. "What are you doing, Aunt Ella ?"
"Correcting examination papers in Ethics."
"Give me one of your questions."
"All right, here is one. If a man is all alone on a desert island, would he have any duties?"
"Let me think," she responded eagerly. "Why yes, he'd have to make a bed for himself and get food and make a boat to get away, and he ought to say his prayers. I guess prayer is the most important, because it helps you to find and make things you need. If you pray, God gives you ideas about it. So then: First prayer, then food, then bed, then boat."
On the period of early adolescence, from twelve to fourteen or fifteen (from the premonitions of puberty to its full attainment), an almost overwhelming amount has been written. I say overwhelming, because it has tended, I believe, to throw the period out of the true. Nevertheless, early adolescence is a time of high morbidity, often I believe one of religious emotion, and occasionally one when changes of character are so great that a different being seems born into a new life.
Intense religious emotion is so often associated with ill health and even with certain types of insanity, that it is sometimes hard to be fair wholly to the normal because of our dread of the abnormal. What distinguishes one from the other? I have said that religion teaches us to feel, to believe, and to act; in Christ's words, to love God with all our mind and strength as well as with our heart. This to me is the distinction: religion when it is normal has in it definite thought and is expressed in continuous and sensible action. It is abnormal when intensity of feeling has none but an explosive outlet unguided by clear thought, and fizzling into oblivion like an imperfect catherinewheel. In judging of religious experience at this period one must therefore sprinkle salt liberally, and judge each case on its internal evidence. Nevertheless the following statistics are interesting:
E. G. Lancaster, writing in the Pedagogical Seminary (V 95), found that in 518 out of 598 cases there were new religious inclinations between twelve and twenty-five. Out of 526 officers in the Young Men's Christian Association in the United States and British Provinces, the average age of conversion was sixteen and three-quarters; but the time at which 512 were first deeply affected by religion was 13.7. Starbuck found the average age of eighty-six women to be 13.8. And most students agree that "the adolescent religious change" is a year or two earlier with girls than with boys. Coe gives from a study of ninety-nine men three definite periods of religious emotion, at thirteen, sixteen, and twenty.
That solitude and loneliness may clear the obstructed path to religion is a common and important experience. George Eliot has drawn in The Mill on the Floss a picture of an utterly lonely girl of thirteen years, finding the Imitation of Christ and entering a new life with the invisible church. Mary Antin in The Promised Land shows that beauty in nature reveals God to a thirsty child. George MacDonald uses Robert Falconer to express the religious experiences of childhood. Boys are more reticent and less hard hit than are girls by the ill health of these years from eleven and a half to fourteen, but when you get to know them you find experiences like this in their memory. "I was horribly lonely," he said. "At twelve years old I used to row out to the middle of the lake at night. There I lay alone for hours, staring up into the sky. And I became aware of eternity, of infinity, of God."
interest. Too well, too free, too busy, too sociable, too happy-are these some of the reasons? The curve of interest rises again at sixteen, and at sixteen most writers agree the gregarious or gang period declines and the one to one relation rises in love or friendship. From sixteen on there comes too very frequently the decision of work and that sense of facing failure that drives one back to sources of strength that will survive failure. I find also in young men from seventeen upward to twenty an extraordinary and noble trait (closely associated with religious feeling and desire)—the passion for self-sacrifice. How they rushed to the sodden trenches, our young Americans, knowing it had meant death to hundreds of thousands. Why did they go? Because they wanted a supreme test. They wanted to leave all for a cause. They wanted to let out their souls which were like hounds straining at a leash. I can best tell you what I mean by this kind of idealism by reporting quite literally a talk with a boy of seventeen. It was in September, 1918.
"Say, Aunt Ella, I know I ought not to keep you up but do you mind my talking to you? I haven't had anybody to talk to for three months, that is, not anybody like you. I had great times talking with Charlie Mercer. My, but it's great to know a boy like that intimately. I used to get into his bed every evening and we'd talk three hours on a stretch about everything under the sun-religion and education and the war and the kind of girls that were our ideals. (We turned the lights out and shut all the doors so that Mr. Mercer wouldn't know we were still awake.) Charlie is crazy to go to the war. He's just as gentle and sweet-natured as he can be, but he says he'd rather commit suicide than not go to France. I don't know whether I'm selfish to want to go, or whether Mother is selfish not to want me to go. But I couldn't bear it if the war ended and I wasn't in it. I can't go back to college and wait three years till I'm twenty-one to be an officer. I want to enlist now. I don't mind being a private. I could rise to be a sergeant and lots of the sergeants and privates are really finer than the college boys. I want to get the Croix de Guerre. I don't care to do things just because they are dangerous, but I want to do things that are dangerous. Death isn't any matter. It's the most magnificent adventure there is. I never thought I should not mind dying, but it's true. You've got to die anyway and it's so much greater to die in a cause like that. Why should Mother mind? I'm only feet and hands and brains, just one person, and what does it matter if I die? Of course there is love . . . . but I couldn't stay at home and go into business and marry and have children. That would be like a mere animal, like a monkey."
This talk was in September, 1918. The boy got into the Marines, but as he wrote six weeks later, "You can't depend on this old war any more," and he never got to France. Two years later he became engaged and soon after decided that he would like to join the church. I will give his story once more in his own words as showing the relation of emotion and of responsibility to religious experience.
"You have come a long way in regard to religious belief. How did it happen?" "Well, it's a long story. Do you really want to hear it? I did not think about life much at all till I went to boarding-school, and then only a little. But in my Freshman year at college I was very lonely and unhappy and I began to think what was the use of living anyway. Then I came across a book that said it did not matter how long you lived, that intensity was what counted. 'All that is worth having, success, love, sacrifice, can be had in a few hours of life.' And I thought that I had had success once when I made a home run in the ninth inning of our baseball team, and I had had love at
times when I was especially close to Dad and Mummy, and now I wanted sacrifice. So I tried awful hard to get into the war. I thought I might be shot by cannon or something and I wanted the experience of self-sacrifice. But the war ended and I couldn't get across. That winter nothing seemed worth while and I was thinking about it all the time. Then I read Oscar Wilde and Bernard Shaw, and got their idea of cleverness and cynicism as a kind of defense. But that summer I was happy in the Catskills and part of the feeling died away. In the autumn I had a series of successes at college and got into four clubs and that filled up the gap for a time. Then I fell in love with Gwendolen and for the first time felt that there was more than myself that mattered. I wanted to join the church. I had almost never gone at home. I went with her one day when she took the communion and as she knelt there before Christ, bowing to him, accepting him as her leader, it seemed to me amazing. I wanted to know how she could do it. I wanted to know what it meant."
I have given indications of religion in each period of childhood. What of it? you naturally ask. How does it help the social worker? Well, when you are up against difficulties what do you do? Do you not go to your best sources of strength, and if these sources of strength are convictions about the universe, do they not bear your weight? Children, too, I have tried to show, turn toward religion when deeply stirred. Religion, like the rib-rock of the earth, keeps cropping out when storms wash away the surface. To give support to children in difficulty you must have something firm to stand on yourself and you must know what is granite rock in the child you are dealing with. The social worker dealing as he does with crises in life, needs to possess and to communicate religion.
Take a parallel case in medicine. What shall a doctor say to a desperately sick patient's family? He cannot give them hope. "Oh! but," I said to Dr. Cabot, after such an experience of tragedy, "they don't want hope. They want certainty that all is well." Now there is hope in science, but only religion gives certainty. What is then your own ultimate and comforting certainty? That every social worker must know. And second, How can you, without using sectarian methods, convey it to children who are in trouble? First, by your own clearness of thought; second, by knowing how to get the message across.
When questioned once about his religion Abraham Lincoln said that he would join any church that held these two commandments. However much we have failed in keeping them, they embody the creed of all Jews and all followers of Christ.
We are undeniably a nation which has from the beginning stood for freedom in religion; not for freedom only, but for religious freedom, for we have thought and acted as a nation believing in religion. When President Wilson declared war against Germany he used Luther's words, "God helping us, we can no other." When President Harding opened the Conference on Limitation of Armament, he opened with the Lord's Prayer. We as a nation through our greatest representatives use (uncriticized) religious ideas and words.
I believe that the time has come, and indeed cannot safely be delayed, when the moral code of our schools shall be consciously based on love of God and of our neighbor. "With malice toward none, with charity to all, let us do the right as God gives us to see the right." Could you ask for the children of America any finer religious life than that?
THE AESTHETIC SENSIBILITIES OF CHILDHOOD
Royal Bailey Farnum, Director of Art Education for Massachusetts, Boston
We are told with considerable conclusive truth that the human offspring is the most helpless of all animals and that in its early stages of development it is the most sensitive. That being the case I have been surprised at the difficulty encountered in trying to find any discussion or treatise on that phase of childhood included in my topic, aesthetic sensibilities or sensitiveness to taste, feeling, and perception of beauty. There has been much written and said on aesthetic dealing with the adult mind where the will and conscious effort in expression are active forces. But children, while active, are spontaneous, free, unhampered by facts of experiences and, though psychology, effort, and interest, play, imagination, and many other studies of the child have been made, aesthetics seems to have been ignored, or at any rate, given much less consideration. And yet, the aesthetic nature of children, I believe, is vastly more important than the question of vocational education, for example.
Thirty years from now our children will control our country. Great buildings will be erected, more roads will be constructed, monuments will be dedicated, homes, schools and churches will be built. Just what are we doing to control this great future aesthetically-from the standpoint of beauty?
Will mathematics help our children build aesthetically? Will geography or spelling or language or history aid them to construct beautifully? History might, but questionable conclusions of world-wars will not.
Still more important than the building of structures such as I have mentioned the question of building character. Aesthetics, taste, appreciation, beauty, are the very concrete which mold the mixtures of childhood into strong charact aesthetics is vital to our future, material existence and our character as ind nations as well.
Children are instinctively aesthetic. That they express taste and se dent almost from birth. Just as soon as even a feeble control of muscles is selections are made. Such choices are due largely to col