Chapter XII from
"Normative Psychology of Religion"
by Henry and Regina Wieman
Thomas Y. Crowell Company, New York, 1935
Contents of this document:
The New Era of Social Reconstruction
Institutional Religion Cannot Lead in Reconstruction
The Part of Religion in Social Reconstruction
The functions of religion thus far discussed in this section are ancient. Religion has always served them in some way or other. Cultus, faith, prayer, conviction of sin, salvation, redemption, mystical experience, and the missionary endeavor have all characterized religion more or less for ages. But to play a part in social reconstruction is something new, and for good reason. Social reconstruction, as a deliberate and conscious endeavor to change the basic order of society into something different from what it ever was before, is new in the world.
In the past religious people in the name of their religion, as well as many other people also, have earnestly striven to improve social conditions. But these endeavors rarely, if ever, were directed to changing the political and economic order. They were strivings to remove some evil or introduce some good, but always within the framework of the established social system. There were devoted efforts to distribute its benefits to the poor and oppressed, but it was the benefits of the social system then existing, not a new system which had never been tried.
These very efforts of religion to teach people to be good in terms of their existing culture, and to ameliorate the evil characteristics of it, have tended to prolong the established order. Religion has received much credit for its "beneficent" ministrations in this respect. Both sincere and wily have been the commendations for this function, long considered one of the most distinctive contributions of religion to the good of society. It will require time and understanding leadership to reorient religious forces toward a new concept of what is socially beneficial. In our present consideration of social reconstruction we must take sufficient space to show the necessity of this new and drastically different religious way of serving the social good. In preceding centuries there have been occasional efforts to overthrow the prevailing institutions and introduce other, better ones. But these efforts were of two sorts, each quite different from the present striving after social betterment. One was the blind, spasmodic rebellion of the oppressed without much plan for a different order, only the purpose to get something more tolerable than the present. The other was the endeavor to restore some order which was believed to have existed in the past or which was thought to have been decreed by God or written in the heaven of Platonic ideas. But all these efforts should be distinguished from the present striving to change the controlling institutions through adaptation to ways and conditions of living which are consciously recognized to be different from the past. These new ways and conditions of our living, so many people increasingly feel, require a new order of institutions not the continuance of institutions which arose in adaptation to other ways of living.
Through the long years the basic institutions have undergone change, of course. They were always changing more or less, but this change was gradual. It was produced by the pressure of social need and without a comprehensive plan and purpose. People strove at times to remove some specific evil or attain some specific good. The continuous accumulation of these removals and attainments gradually wrought a change in the total order of society but this was quite beyond the thought of the people who made the changes. Society was changed as an old roof is changed by repeated patchings until a new-old roof is finally there.
This indicates the difference between social reform and social reconstruction. In the past religious leaders and groups often strove for social reform. They did not strive for social reconstruction. No one did. It did not come within the horizons of human endeavor. A few dreamers might write and sing of possible Utopias. But no influential group seriously undertook to achieve them. Religious groups might eagerly wait for the coming of a new heaven and a new earth, but this was to be brought about through supernatural intervention. Humans could do little about it except to pray and fast and wait in readiness. But we have entered a new era, the era of conscious and continuous striving after social reconstruction.
Planned self-conscious reconstruction does not necessarily mean striving to attain a Utopia. It does not even mean, necessarily, the promotion of social progress. It only means that the ways of living are changing so rapidly that the unconscious mode of modification of institutions in adaptation to these changed ways is not fast enough. Hence institutional change must be consciously directed and accelerated to meet the requirements of these new conditions and ways of living.
We hope, of course, to achieve in time a better society by this self-conscious and planned reordering of the institutions. But the issue is not between holding our own without change, and possible betterment with change. Rather the issue is between disastrous social decline by reason of the continuance of institutions which are no longer fitted to meet the needs of new ways of living and that change of the social order which so adapts it to new ways of living that we are able to avoid disaster. This planned and continuous reshaping of the basic structure of society affords an opportunity for attaining a far better society than the past has ever had. But the imperative necessity of this new function in social living does not rest merely on that hope. It is the necessity of survival, not merely of improvement.
THE NEW ERA OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION
There is a widespread notion that the present period of reconstruction through which we are passing is transitory, that when it is over we shall settle down again to an established order like that of other days. It is true that we cannot continue to undertake reconstruction in such a haphazard, unprepared manner, as we are doing now. We must have regular agencies for conducting a continuous reconstruction of the social order to make it fit the requirements of ways of living which are always rapidly changing by reason of new machinery and new knowledge, with all that flows from these. We must have planning commissions, research bureaus, administrative agencies which are organized and equipped to give order and direction to drastic reconstruction as it is needed. In this sense we may hope to "settle down" after this period of confusion is past. But we cannot hope to settle down in the sense of making one fundamental and needed change in the established order and then ceasing to make such changes and forgetting about the vital relation of the social order to meaningful living. That way of doing is past.
Up until now we have sailed our ships in the bays and inlets and inland seas. Now we are out in mid-ocean where the great waves of social change strike us one after the other. No sooner are we through one, than another is upon us. Since we never before ventured out beyond protected waters, many think these great swells are a passing storm. But they are not. As long as we are in mid-ocean they will continue. We must weather them as they come, or sink. That is our present predicament. It is also our present opportunity. We shall either sink or engage in continuous and planned reconstruction.
Religion must learn to function in an era of reconstruction, as it never did before. But we must point out the facts which demonstrate our thesis that we are in this new era where religion, along with the other major activities of human living, must take on this new function.
The most important fact has already been suggested. The continuous invention and wide distribution of new kinds of machinery are doing two things to us. First, they are greatly increasing the compactness, complexity and multiform interdependence of all our activities, so that what people do in Dinuba has a marked influence on the lives of more and more people over wider and wider areas. If the fruit packed in Dinuba is unwholesome, people across the continent and across the ocean will fall sick. Secondly, the multiplication and change of mechanical devices constantly, sometimes radically, change the ways in which we thus affect one another's lives.
Now institutions are coordinating agencies. Their part is to direct and modify the effect of these far ranging influences of one group upon another so that they will be mutually sustaining, or at any rate, not mutually destructive. The bank, the market place, the railroad, as well as the school, the court and the legislature do this. But if the ways in which we thus influence one another, and the kind of activities by which we thus reach one another, are rapidly changing, it is very apparent that the coordinating agencies must be reshaped to provide the new kind of inter-relationships which these new ways of interaction require. Especially important is this when the groups which thus influence one another are so far removed, and the lines by which their activities have important effect on one another are so devious, that the several groups cannot know what they are doing to one another or how their own lives are being hurt or helped by the doings of others.
Thus we see that with increasing complexity and compactness of interdependence the coordinating institutions become increasingly important. They must perform a function that is much more vital, more delicate and complicated than in the past. Hence they must be refitted to do this. The form which they assumed to meet the requirements of the simpler society and different ways of the past, makes them unfit to do the work of coordination for society of today. And their fitness for the society of today will make them unfit for the society of tomorrow. New machines will make us act on one another in new ways. Hence the coordinating agencies must be remade accordingly.
These facts reveal the necessity for planned and continuous reconstruction which makes a new era in the history of the world.
There is a second feature of our time which points to the same necessity. The complexity of society is now so great that the pressure of social need can no longer reach the agencies of control and change as readily as in the past. Great masses of people can be cramped, oppressed, impoverished, without being able to bring their case to such a social bearing as will result in that modification of institutions which will relieve the suffering. Hence the causes of suffering must be searched out and appropriate changes made. In the past these pressures could be relieved by specific reforms, without thought of reconstructing the social order, because the people who were pinched by a misfitting institution had avenues for making their wants known and the required changes were not so complicated nor radical as those required today. Consequently relief could be found by reform. Now it must be found, more often, in reconstruction.
A third fact gives evidence that we have entered this new era. Up to present times great masses of people could be ground to the dust without greatly disturbing the stability of society, because they were powerless. Hence their suffering did not force any reconstruction. But today machinery, information and a demand for the better things of life have reached the hands, the minds and the hearts of the masses. With this equipment of skill and purpose they can no longer be crushed beneath the wheels of a massive order which moves on without any attempt at reconstruction to relieve their suffering. They may be blind with respect to what changes are required, but they have become a blind Samson. They can pull down the pillars of the social order that oppresses them.
A fourth fact points the same truth. Modern tools of propaganda, such as newspapers, radio, journals, controlled education, combined with some knowledge of social science, make it possible for aggressive minority groups to change the established order in their own selfish interest. Not only is it possible, but it is perpetually imminent, unless there are agencies which strive to direct the basic change of social order in the interest of the people as a whole. Here then we have the final fact which shows that the days of unconscious change of the social order are past. The basic institutions will be consciously changed, either by a selfish few to serve their own ends, or else by agencies which work to change them to meet the needs of new ways of living. It is true that during past centuries sinister interests could exploit the social order, but they did not ordinarily have the power to force a change in it. Today the ability to use propaganda which can delude the empowered but oppressed masses is available for the forcing of changes which will be to the interest of these small groups and not of the great number. Hence planned, conscious change of the basic social order is inevitable. lt is simply a question of who will do it and for whom it will be done.
These facts show that all human life, including religion, must fit itself for this new function which past ages did not have. We have scarcely waked up to the fact that this is a necessary and continuous function of human living henceforth. Most people think that social reform is sufficient, or at most a basic reconstruction which can be finished at some particular time following which we can once again adjust ourselves to an order that remains about the same for many years. We have not yet developed the social agencies for carrying out this new function of continuous social reconstruction. We have not yet refashioned religion, education and political action to serve this purpose. These three with the social sciences are the agencies which must direct the change if it is to be done for the public good.
INSTITUTIONAL RELIGION CANNOT LEAD IN RECONSTRUCTION
The church is a vast institution with roots reaching wide and deep into the social order that now is. It is so integral to society as a whole that any social reconstruction would mean a reconstruction of the church. It would have to reconstruct itself in order to reconstruct society. But it cannot reconstruct itself until society is reconstructed. So it is caught in a vicious circle so far as concerns leadership in achieving any change in the basic institutions of society.
The general fact about institutional religion which we have just stated can be analyzed into its components and thereby the force of it be made more evident.
First, the constituency of the church is a cross-section of all society. Every sort of opinion on current social issues can be found in it. The church is not organized on any community of interest in respect to economic and political questions. There is no common purpose among church members concerning social change and there is no way of achieving such. If the church as a whole were a hierarchy of power, like the Roman Church, so that a small group at the head could speak for the church as a whole, there might be somewhat more unity of purpose and effort in the matter. But even then it would not be great; for the church has other weighty interests besides that of shaping the social order. Whatever oneness it may have in its membership is derived from these other interests more than from the one of social reconstruction. When this last is the primary concern of any group, that group becomes political rather than religious. That does not mean that political interests are outside the field of religion. It simply means that political interests are only one kind among many others which engage religious concern, and therefore cannot be the sole basis on which the membership of the church is selected and its purposes formed.
Second, it may be said that the membership of the church is a little less fitted for leadership in reconstruction than some others, because these people are more nearly the average. They are neither the very poor nor the very rich. They are not ordinarily subjected to those extremes of experience that stir men to strive for radical reconstruction. They have the same inertia, the same prejudices, the same fears, the same clinging to the apparent security of the status quo, that the man in average circumstances is always likely to have.
Thirdly, throughout its history the church has been chiefly concerned with glorifying the ideal values of the established social order. In this it has served a needed function. It has turned men's hearts and minds toward the best the society of that time had to offer, and away from the base and ignoble in the social system. This is all to the good, for there are plenty of agencies doing the opposite. But an institution that is devoted to cherishing and glorifying the ideal features of the old order, is not likely to turn against it very readily. More probably it will be one of the last to abandon the old and seek the new. In fact such has been the case generally throughout history. There is no reason to think the church will cease to render this important service of celebrating the best in the prevailing order, and denouncing the worst, but not seeking another order. To seek another would mean to abandon as best that which the church has been celebrating as so honorable.
Fourth , it is a common fact of human nature that sentiments, loves, and loyalties fixate themselves on specific objects. Consequently, they resist change. What is purely utilitarian changes readily. It is easy to cast away old shoes and get new ones; but it is not easy to cast away a beloved child and take a new one. Furthermore, if the shoes are the relics and symbols of Little Boy Blue, it is not easy to cast even the shoes away. Where deep and powerful sentiments are involved, we do not take readily to change. But the very substance of religion is made of these sentiments. Hence popular religion is not likely to be very aggressive in social reconstruction except when the social change is for the purpose of recovering some older order of life to which the religious sentiments cling.
A fifth factor in the conservatism of institutional religion is that it is under the control of the ruling powers of the established social order. Most churches depend for their existence on donations. The men who give most are the wealthy. The wealthy are very likely to be the chief beneficiaries of the status quo. Hence the church they control will not be an aggressive leader in changing conditions of society. When the church is not supported by donations, it is even more helplessly subject to powers that resist change, for then its existence depends on taxes doled out to it by the established order.
The status of the early Christian church has established the tradition in Christianity that the church is not in such bondage to the ruling powers of society. But the early Christian church was a homeless, social outcast as the Christian church can never be again. It existed in the Roman empire as an alien and did not glorify the highest values of that order, but rather repudiated them. Even the Jews cast it off, although it was closer to them than to any other social group. It absorbed much of Greek culture but the schools of Athens looked upon Christianity as a modern intruder. Thus in all quarters of the recognized society of that time, Christianity was an outsider. Hence it could without treason or impudence champion reconstruction. But modern Christianity has no such relation to the prevalent culture. The old tradition of being an outsider in respect to the evils of the day is still cherished by the Christian church, but it is a myth.
Finally, most of the great religions at the present time cherish a system of thinking that is insulated from the thinking of the rest of the world, although the church is subject to the powers of this world. Hence institutional religion is largely preoccupied with conserving the traditions of this segregated life, rather than reconstructing the existent order. This segregated life might seem to be in contradiction to what was said in the preceding paragraph about the subordination of the church to the ruling powers of society, but it is not. The very segregation of its idealism makes it all the more subject to the established order.
Despite all these conservative characteristics of institutional religion which we have been listing, the Christian church has always cherished the dream of an ideal social order called the Kingdom of God, and has striven to bring it into existence. It has tried to do this in many different ways, some of which we shall note. But it has been unable to plan and execute a program aimed directly at a basic change in the economic and political system of the day, and it would seem that it always will be unable so to do. Its methods of improving society should not be confused with social reconstruction.
The church has tried to improve society by changing individuals. By "winning them to Christ" it has sought to bring about that better society. Certainly this is a very important work, and those zealots for social reconstruction who scorn this work are showing their own narrowness and bigotry. But the social order cannot be changed through effort to change its individual units for a very simple reason. Suppose it were possible (as it is not) to make all individuals into saints without first changing the social system. Still these saints, each with the best intentions in the world, would find themselves destroying one another and all the values of life, if the coordinating institutions were not fitted to direct their interactions in ways that were beneficial. As we noted before, the more complex and compact society becomes, the less effective is the good intention of the individual who lacks the guiding support of institutions to coordinate his activities with those of others. He cannot personally know the needs of most of the people who are affected by what he does. He cannot know how his actions will work upon them after the working has been transmitted and transformed by existing agencies. To be sure these saints supposing they could be produced in the midst of such malfunctioning institutions might change the social order. But that is a gigantic task in itself and cannot be left to take care of itself while everyone is striving to transform everyone else into an individual saint.
Another way in which the church has tried to better society has been through the preaching and teaching of "the principles of Jesus" or other formulation of ideals. Here again we have something very important, not to be despised. But it should not be confused with changing the social order. That is quite another task and can never be accomplished by any such preaching and teaching for much the same reasons as were set forth in the preceding paragraph.
The church has rendered a great service in ministering to the underprivileged and oppressed. It has brought comfort and cheer. It has supplied both physical and spiritual needs. Perhaps some have hoped in this way that an influence might spread from many churchly centers which would bring about the desired change of society in time. But here again it is with no disparagement of this work that the pronouncement must be made: This is not the work of social reconstruction, however valuable on other grounds it may be.
The "Social Gospel" is an endeavor to achieve the good society. It was hoped that this could be done partly by preaching and teaching, partly by organized efforts to pass certain needed laws and to fight certain notorious evils. The Federated Council of Churches has done notable work here. But it did not and it cannot undertake the funtion we are now considering.
Another method pursued by the Christian Church has been to set up an ideal commonwealth to which the rest of society might be won or from which it might be influenced. The monasteries in the Middle Ages were something of this sort. John Calvin in Geneva was endeavoring to do this in a way, perhaps. So were the Puritans in New England and the Mormons in Utah. But the social order cannot be changed in this way. For one thing these societies themselves always proved in the end to be far from ideal. Also, we must remember, the function now under consideration is not primarily to attain a Utopia, however desirable that might be, but to keep the coordinating agencies of society fitted to their function in a society changing with increasing rapidity and becoming more compactly and intricately interdependent.
THE PART OF RELIGION IN SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION
We have been showing that institutional religion cannot play a very leading part in this new function of human living, however important may be other services which it can render. But institutional religion is not all religion. A great deal of religion is going on in human life that is either outside the institution or, if within the nominal bounds of it, is yet quite independent and free of the constraints and forms of the popular, organized body of the faithful. In some cases this religion is quite unconscious and unprofessed, and yet very deep and genuine. The people who have it do not know they have it, just as some saintly souls do not know their own saintliness and some scoundrels do not know their own wickedness. It is quite possible to have some of the most noble propulsions of life, religion among them, and be altogether unaware of the fact.
The great leaders of radical social reconstruction are often deeply religious even while repudiating religion as they define it. The religion they repudiate is the institutional sort, identified with the established order which they are fighting with all their powers. Also they see that this form of religion is fostering in the minds of many people a patience and a resignation toward the evils of the old order, if not an actual prejudice for them. This patience, resignation and prejudice constitute some of the worst obstacles which the leaders have to fight in their endeavor to achieve the change that is so needful. Since the name of religion is monopolized by this power which they are fighting, they are led to abjure everything which goes by that name.
Nevertheless when men take leadership in heroic enterprise, devotedly striving for what they hold to be supremely worthful not only for themselves but for all human living, they are religious whether they know it or not, and whether they want to be or not. Thus religion plays a part in the leadership of social reconstruction which is vital and of supreme importance. As noted, however, this is not institutional religion.
But this unconscious, unacknowledged religion often found in the leaders of social reconstruction has its dangers. It will be very unsatisfactory if this is the only way that religion can function in this kind of striving, which is to become increasingly important as time goes on. Religion will not be doing its whole and rightful part as it should. Let us look at the unsatisfactoriness of it first, and then see what can be done about it.
Religion that is unconscious and unacknowledged is unsatisfactory because it cannot be criticized, corrected and improved by the person who has it, precisely because he does not know he has it. But everyone needs to correct, criticize and improve his religion as much as anything else about him. His manners, his health, his friendships, his religion, will degenerate if not properly looked after, yet one cannot look after any of them, his religion particularly, if it is unacknowledged.
Religion degenerates when not progressively redirected and amplified by an adequate philosophy and helpful religious fellowship, by meditation, and the religious insights of history. The manner of its degeneration is peculiarly pernicious. Nothing can be so evil as the noblest and most potent interests of human life when they go wrong. This is especially true of religion.
One way in which religion constantly degenerates if not corrected by criticism and cultivation is to become narrow and "demonic". It becomes demonic when some specific objective of endeavor which is sufficiently near to actual conditions to be within the range of practical achievement assumes the role of the supremely worthful for all human living. When this objective commands the sovereign devotion of a life and is served as though it were the final and supreme good for all history, we have a very great evil. The noblest propulsions, utmost zeal and greatest powers of human life are perverted and degraded by being harnessed to anything so low and so full of evil as any such objective always must be. Such specific, practicable objectives all religious endeavor must have. But such objectives must always be held subordinate to the ultimate objective which is far more spacious, and more lofty than these. In normative religion this supreme objective must eternally reach beyond the meanings and values which the individual is able to comprehend in definite formulation. Nothing short of such vastness and reach in the mastering loyalty of a life can save religion from being demonic, that is to say, destructive of the most precious values of life.
There is a further pernicious feature in the degeneration of religion. The immediate objective in any social enterprise always involves a stand in relation to persons, for and against. When the horizons of our religion narrow themselves down to some one specifically formulated objective, all the driving power of our religious loyalty may become focussed upon persons, for some and against others. Then the persons who are opposed to us cease to be human in our eyes. They become devils. They become the incarnation of all that is obstructive to the forward movement of history and the fulfilment of highest values.
Religion often takes this form in times of war. But never does it become so evil and degraded in this respect as in the great struggles to change the status quo on the one side, and defend it from change on the other. Under such conditions a religion that is operative but unconscious, uncriticized, uncorrected by the insights of history, the fellowships and the meditations of cultivated religion, may become fiendish. It becomes directed by social differentiations-against persons and for persons. Then the most terrible persecutions, the most unbelievable cruelties, can arise. They are unbelievable except when we understand the psychological principles of a religion that has become fiendish, by reason of narrowing its devotion to a dauntless and unswerving drive toward some immediate social objective.
How can the religion that functions in social reconstruction be saved from this kind of perversion? It cannot be saved unless it can be equipped with (1) a corrective philosophy, (2) creative fellowship, and (3) an enriching heritage of religious meditation and insight. These are required to keep the devotion and the vision of religious living directed to the infinite reach of values. This infinite dome of value must everlastingly span the immediate objectives of practical endeavor, else it were better that religion never entered into the undertaking at all. For no religion at all is better than that unconscious religion which becomes demonic. Yet without the sustaining devotion and driving loyalty of a religion, social reconstruction with all its difficulties and sacrifices cannot be carried through.
So here we have our dilemma. Religion must enter into the new function of social reconstruction, for such reconstruction cannot otherwise have the drive and devotion that is prerequisite. But if religion does enter in without acknowledgment, it is in danger of becoming demonic or fiendish. It requires the philosophy, creative fellowship, and heritage of conscious and cultivated religion. On the other hand, however, institutional religion which is generally supposed to provide these, cannot do so because of facts already noted. Institutional religion may be modified in such a way as to aid in social reconstruction much more than it has ever done in history, or is able to do in its present status. That problem will concern us in the last chapter. But now we inquire how the actual religion that motivates social reconstruction can acquire the needed philosophy, creative fellowship and heritage of insight.
This kind of religion can be developed in certain religious groups. Within the precincts of religious institutions and also beyond them, in some churches, in some groups of Y. W. C. A. and Y. M. C. A., in some conferences, in some bodies of the Fellowship for Reconciliation, in some gatherings of the League for Industrial Democracy, in some examples of the Youth Movement, in some books and journals and editorial staffs, in small groupings of individuals who have come together spontaneously because of kindred interests, in these and other places we find creative religious fellowships. Individuals come together to discuss the formulation, implication and practical objectives of their religious devotion. Interstimulation, mutual criticism, integration of visions, sharing with one another of insights gathered from others, studying together great religious teachings, discussing their immediate social and personal problems--all these are found in such fellowships. In these religious groups there must be developed the philosophy, the fellowship and the heritage of insight for a religion which is equipped to function in social reconstruction.
We do not mean that such groups will engineer the work of social reconstruction. A religious group cannot make social reconstruction its chief aim, for then it becomes a political, not a religious group. Social reconstruction is not a distinctively religious undertaking, any more than ditch digging or house keeping or selling carrots. The religious spirit can enter into these activities and should. But a religious group can never make the marketing of carrots its chief function. If it engaged in that business, it would have to be incidental to its chief concern. When marketing is the dominating aim of a group, that group is a commercial, not a religious group. So it is with the work of changing the social order. Therefore no religious group can execute the work of social reconstruction.
There is another reason such groups cannot engineer the transition from one political, economic system to another. A change of this sort requires the swinging of great masses of people into the movement. But if the groups we are describing should undertake to do that, they would confound and frustrate their main purpose, which is that creative interaction between persons by which religion can be formulated and equipped for social reconstruction. Mass movements cannot be combined with the creative interpersonal work these groups must do.
Out of creative religious groups will undoubtedly come some individuals who will lead in the work that is political. But the religious function of these groups is not to plan and execute the work itself. Rather it is to develop a form of religion having that philosophy, providing that fellowship, and gathering that heritage of meditation and insight which will enable religion to function in political transformation with the needed correctives, and so save it from the evils of demonic religion.
Religion might be compared to health-making activities. The analogy is close, for religion is the endeavor to restore and preserve the health of the total personality and social group, as health-making in the ordinary sense does it for the organism. Health-making activities, whether conscious or unconscious, enter into everything we do, if we have any health. But that does not mean that every association we enter is primarily concerned with health. The same applies to religion. It enters into everything we do, if we are religious. But that does not mean that everything we do is religious work or a religious undertaking. We participate in the activities of many groups which are not organized in the interest of religion or health, even though religion and health must be present in these activities. We must have both that kind of religion and that kind of health which can sustain and direct us in social reconstruction. But the groups which do this political work will not be organized in the interest of health or religion.
The sort of religious groups which will develop this kind of religion will have a great growth in the near future. We can already see them increasing in number and power. They are forming in conferences and in selected fellowships. When their functions have been clarified, their norms established, their great importance in the modern world recognized, they will increase immensely in effectiveness. The danger may be that they will grow too rapidly and become a movement rather than a function. These groups must not be organized and directed as great movement, for if they are, they will lose their peculiar usefulness. It would be a mistake to institute campaigns to get people to join such fellowships. They must spring up wherever people are found who are eager to get together for the purpose of this mutual stimulation, criticism, suggestion, study and integration of visions.
The old institutional forms of religion, with needed improvements, will continue and render their indispensable services. Also great mass movements of religious awakening will occur. But these cannot do the work now under consideration. This work must be done by rather small groups, meeting with a freedom, a spontaneity, a depth of thinking, and a deliverance from prejudice and inertia which cannot be found in great popular movements. In many cases these groups will be loosely connected with the churches. In some cases they may have no such connections. But whatever their institutional auspices, these fellowships must foster a way of religious living that can operate constructively in the political work that has become of crucial importance in the history of man. They must develop that form of religion which can sustain, inspire, and direct the loyalty of men engaged in the dangerous and difficult work of social reconstruction.