Chapter XXVI from
"Normative Psychology of Religion"
by Henry and Regina Wieman
Thomas Y. Crowell Company, New York, 1935
RELIGION SHAPING HISTORY
Contents of this document:
The New Era of Social Control
The Co-working of Politics, Social Science and Religion
Religion and the Economic Process
God in the Economic Process
The Church in Service of God in the Economic Process
THE NEW ERA OF SOCIAL CONTROL
Social interaction has developed to the place where man must assume responsibility for shaping his own history. Two facts preeminently make this necessary. One is the growing complexity, scope and delicacy of our interdependence. The other is the rapid change in our ways of acting upon one another. Both these are due to a continuous stream of new inventions and techniques. Growing complexity and rapid change make imperative the constant modification and improvement of the underlying institutions that coordinate our activities. These institutions are primarily the political and economic.
Agencies of social welfare are what come to the minds of many when we speak of coordinating our activities. But these agencies are set up to correct confusion due to lack of coordination at a deeper level. When we here speak of coordination we mean that foundational social order which prevents confusion in the first place because it directs our activities in such a way that they sustain instead of frustrate and interfere with one another. The economic and political institutions do this at the deepest level. Then come the educational, the religious, the journalistic and the artistic. Finally, when all else fails, we have the agencies of social welfare to try to correct the damage that has been done by the failure of these others to do their work properly.
Today these basic institutions are failing for the causes mentioned. New inventions and techniques vastly extend and multiply the activities that must be adjusted to one another. What each man does affects a greater number of different people in a greater number of different ways with increased disastrous or beneficial consequences. Therefore the basic institutions that do the initial coordinating of all these activities must be constantly improved so that our interacting will be beneficial and not disastrous. The demands made upon them grow heavier as our interdependence becomes more sensitive and far-reaching. In the past they could be left to the slow process of automatically adjusting themselves to new requirements. That time is gone. They must be deliberately shaped to carry the growing load that rests upon them.
The second fact mentioned above is equally important. The ways of our acting are rapidly changing all the while. This is well illustrated by the financier's control of industry as compared with control by the entrepreneur. Hence an economic and political order that may have served very well in time past, cannot do so now unless it is changed to meet the requirements of the new ways.
These are the facts which show we are moving into a new era which might be called the era of deliberate making of history. The conscious and planned reconstruction of those basic institutions which give direction to the social process is tantamount to shaping history.
We may fail to achieve this deliberate and conscious control over the social process. But there are only two alternatives. Either we move into this new era of planned and deliberate history-making, or else we enter a period of prolonged confusion and decline. The purpose of this chapter is to indicate how religion must work with politics, the social sciences and the economic process if we are to go the way of the new era rather than the way of decline and disintegration.
Religion is the way in which men endeavor to deal with the superhuman. Increase of human control over the social process does not mean that men will be any less dependent upon the growth of meaning, which we have seen is the reality of the superhuman in our midst. It does not mean that God, working in ways that are beyond the power of man, will be any the less operative in history. Quite the contrary is the case. We shall be more dependent upon the superhuman growth of meaning than we have been in the past. This can be very easily demonstrated. When men are constantly reconstructing the social order in basic ways, there is bound to be great loss of old meanings. Therefore the meaning of life will decline, swiftly and fatally, unless there is continuous growth of new meaning.
This danger that men in times of social control will ignore their dependence upon God for growth of meaning, is no mere speculative menace. Again and again it has happened that when men have achieved means of control over their own ways of living, they have neglected to give highest loyalty and prime concern to growth of meaning. They have sought to wield power for its own sake, they have striven for wealth and pleasure and popular esteem and much else. But they have not yielded themselves to the creative, transforming power of growth of meaning. They have not striven to provide all needed conditions, physical, psychological, social, which this growth requires. They have not given supreme devotion to God.
The consequence of this refusal to give primary importance to the superhuman growth of meaning has been a steady decline in the meaning of life. So there occurs an increase in the number of suicides with advance of civilization. There is world-weariness, cynicism, the mad seeking for pleasures to distract the attention from the meaninglessness of existence. There is use of drugs to the same end. But all this is not an inevitable fatality. It only indicates that when men get more power, they are likely to withhold devotion to the superhuman growth of meaning. They refuse to commit their personalities to the reordering process of growing meaning. They no longer offer up their all of service, adoration and self-hood, of possessions, techniques and programs, to the remaking power of God.
Men are being tested again in this old way. They will be tested more severely than in the past, because they will be exercising more power and so have more at stake. Can man be trusted with power to direct the social process and human history and still remember that he is made for God and for God alone? Or will he throw off that ancient allegiance and divine sovereignty and so find himself in a world full of activities but so barren of meaning and value that life ceases to be worth the living?
Which way man shall go will depend very largely on what sort of religion he develops. The old formulations of religion will not suffice. If these old forms persist, or if some new form is developed which is inadequate, he will go the way of the damned. The kind of religion which this new era requires has been the chief study of this work on normative psychology of religion. Religion must revise its underlying philosophy. Its distinctive objectives and specific functions must be reformulated and clarified. It must use the findings and techniques of psychology as it has never yet done. It must change the institutional structure of its own organization. It must develop a cultus fitted to an age of continuous and planned reconstruction. The methods of religious education must be greatly modified and developed. There must be more provision for religious experimentation in the conduct of living by individuals and groups.
These required changes for the internal transformation of religion in respect to its structure and methods have already been discussed. We shall not treat them further. Rather we shall consider the connection and co-working of religion with the three other major agencies which must operate in shaping the social order.
THE CO-WORKING OF POLITICS, SOCIAL SCIENCE AND RELIGION
The actual execution of basic social reconstruction is a political undertaking. The social sciences cannot do it, neither can religion. Only political action can accomplish it. Plainly politics as we have it in United States must be transformed very much before it is competent for this task. It may never become competent. In that case there is no hope. But the inescapable task is before us. It is not our part here to show how political action should proceed nor how politics must be transformed, save only where religion enters into the picture.
Our thesis is that this political task cannot be performed without the aid of religion on the one hand and of the social sciences on the other. Furthermore, the social sciences cannot give the needed aid unless they also are served by a form of religion. Finally, religion itself cannot function as it should, unless it is vitalized and transformed by political action and the social sciences. These three become closely interdependent in man's endeavor to control the social process; and they must work in close union if he is to succeed in guiding history through the confusions that threaten.
First, let us note briefly what political action must do for religion if the latter is ever to hold the place in modern life that it should.
Religion, we have said, is man's devotion to what he holds to be supremely worthful for all human living. But this devotion cannot become a mighty power, swinging great masses of men into united striving with deep emotion and high idealism, unless the objective of this devotion is symbolized by some definite goal which they can discern clearly, which meets their vital urgent needs and which stirs them all as one body.
Now there is just one kind of objective which is most likely to so possess the souls of men in our modern world. It is the political objective of a new social order which gives promise of releasing our vast potential wealth of material goods, cultural opportunity, cooperation, community and power. Potentially our modern world has all of these to a degree never known or dreamed in other times. But we cannot get at them. They tantalize us, they elude us whenever we reach after them. Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink. The water of abundant living seems to flood around us, but when we dip our lips it vanishes. What is wrong? Fundamentally the trouble is that we frustrate one another. The activities of one individual, of one group, frustrates the activities of others. All our several activities are in a tangle of confusion and mutual futility. What one does hinders and destroys the worth of what others do.
There is only one thing that can give us access to the enormous resources for abundant living which our modern world contains. This one thing is a set of institutions that can keep our activities coordinated in such a way that they will be mutually sustaining instead of mutually frustrative.
All men feel this in some dim, vague way. The great masses of men are waiting for some leader, some program, some formulated objective, which will make available this vast abundance that is so tantalizingly near and yet so elusive. You can almost feel the bated breath of expectancy with which the millions are waiting, watching, tense, ready to leap to the call of the leader, the program, the ideal which seems to open the way to this abundant life that awaits them. It is a dangerous hour. If the wise program and leadership are not forthcoming, the expectant and impatient people will follow anyone who seems to promise the golden hope.
Our times are ripe. They are ripe for a vast, massive striving of millions in a mighty endeavor to reach one of the supreme fulfilments of history. The millions are straining on the leash. The times are ripe for an enormous revival of religion, releasing the ultimate passions of life in an outreach after the highest, as men are able in our time to envisage this. But such a revival and outreach will have to take the form of political action, not political in the narrow sense, but in the sense of reshaping our institutions in such a way as to release the abundance that eludes us.
We do not mean to suggest that this program of political action, if it ever comes, will be formulated by religious leaders. That would seem to be out of the question. But we do mean that if and when such a program and such an endeavor do come, the passions and loyalties of religious devotion can be poured into it. Also we mean, that such a project and outreach is likely to awaken a great resurgence of religious enthusiasm. It may be blind or it may be intelligent, but it will be capable of arousing the masses in a common impulse that reaches the depth of uttermost devotion. Even though it should not go by the name of religion, it would be religious in nature.
This is our reason for saying that political action, and that alone, is today capable of releasing the pent powers of religion and lifting it to a potency it has not wielded in years. The hour is at crisis. The millions wait. The great surge of striving masses may come at any time. It may come swiftly. Better if it come slowly. There is a tenuous chance that it may not come at all. But it is imminent. It may start with a trickle. It may come like a flood. No man can say. But we know the times are full.
We do not mean to say that this return of religion to power will necessarily be good and intelligent. It may be fearfully evil. It all depends upon what sort of political action captures the religious imagination, and what sort of religion is thus awakened. Political action, which promises to open the way for the masses to the abundance of the world, can symbolize in vivid metaphor the ultimate reality of religious devotion, and thus release the supreme energies of religious passion.
After having seen what politics can do for religion, let us consider what religion can do for politics. When discussing political action we could not treat it from the normative standpoint, because that is outside our province. We are not competent to say what form political action in our time should take. But we can endeavor to indicate the form religion should assume in giving aid to political action and what this aid must be.
The chief political function of normative religion in the difficult and dangerous times of social reconstruction, is to provide men with an object of loyalty which is vastly higher and richer than any specific objective. The great danger in such times is that men will focus all their passion and all their loyalty on some definite goal. Such goals they must have, and they must strive for them with all their powers. But a noble religion enables them to pour out their passion and energy for this specific objective not as an end result, and not as the highest goal of life, but as a symbol and metaphor of that which is infinitely higher.
The danger of this narrowing down of human passions to definite practical undertakings as though they included everything worth while, is that it renders men unable to criticize and appraise their own procedures and goals. Furthermore, it makes them unable to appreciate the human worth of their opponents. So they become hard, cold, cruel, demonic. If they are successful in what they seek to attain, they become implacable in dealing with the conquered enemies and in carrying out their triumphant purpose. If they fail, they have nothing to fall back upon. They become "tired radicals". Perhaps they become cynical or despairing. Or they may drown themselves in trivial entertainment. Again, they may turn to relentless seeking for individual advantage without concern for anything else.
All this results when men have no higher ground than the immediate enterprise from which to survey themselves, their work, their objectives and methods, and the persons and works of their opponents. From such a limited standpoint, they cannot criticize and appraise with any comprehensive fairness. They lose their sanity and circumspection. When they have no higher objective they must make the specific undertaking supreme over all, else they lose their zeal and power. They must be fanatics in order to develop the needed energy.
But when a man has a mastering devotion to the unfathomable and unexplored riches of the wholeness of God, he is able to pause worshipfully to recover lost perspective. He can take note of ignored interests. He can discern the inevitable tragedy of all limited human endeavor. Most important of all, he can do this in such a way that energy for action is increased rather than diminished by this worshipful recovery of the higher vision. He is able to be objective in his survey and treatment of all the factors in each concrete situation. In the midst of confusion, hate and passion, he will not become either demonic or despairing, either fiendish or futilitarian.
It is the part of religion in all times, but especially in times when men undertake the shaping of history, to equip the individual with a loyalty and a way of worship that will enable him to combine perspective with energetic action; patience with passion; sympathetic understanding of other ways with zeal for his own chosen way; driving force with a sense of high tragedy in all human undertakings; a single-eyed zeal that never flags, with experimental resourcefulness; ability to preserve poise when history-making issues are at stake.
Such a one will have resources of recovery in time of failure and defeat. In success he can be saved from the relentless cruelty of the fanatic; ruthless zeal will not cause him to disregard the rich and tender values that lie outside the special task he must perform. In failure he can be saved from resentment, vindictiveness, pessimism and hardened indifference.
This is the aid which religion can bring to political endeavor in time of social crisis. Without some such union of religion with political action there is little hope that men will be able to exercise that degree of social control which our times require. On this account we say that religion and politics must work together in the new era toward which we are moving.
But religion and political action are not the only interests that must unite their forces. The social sciences must also enter in to form a triumvirate. It is obvious that social control by way of continuous and planned reconstruction of basic institutions is impossible without the aid of the social sciences. Indeed it will require much more from them than what they are at present able to offer.
There are four difficulties that prevent the social sciences from doing what they might do, and what they must do, if social control is to reach the dimensions required to deliver us from the dangers that beleaguer. These four obstructions to the work of the social sciences are: (1) Their inability to solve problems concerning better and worse. For the most part they avoid questions that involve distinctions of value. They devote themselves to neutral, factual material. (2) The inability of the participant observer to perceive and judge impartially when his own passionate personal interests and prejudices are involved. (3) The fixation of human loyalty on some definite social order, either the status quo or some selected ideal. (4) The great difficulty of enlisting the cooperation of many persons in a social project that is scientifically conducted.
These four obstructions that stand in the way, preventing the social sciences from giving the aid that is needed, can be lifted by the right kind of religion. They can be lifted in no other way.
Let us consider first the difficulty that consists in the inability to deal with problems of value. This difficulty will continue as long as there is no widely accepted and well tested theory of value with which the social sciences can work. Yet it is apparent that these sciences cannot plunge deeply into the problems that confront our social order without becoming inextricably involved in questions of value. Their work centers in human life. Sooner or later every research project and field enterprise comes back to this, and must be criticized by it. Consequently, the social sciences stand barred from effective participation in the great endeavor and opportunity of our time, until they can deal with problems involving questions of value.
This difficulty can be removed by a theory of value that is well tested and widely accepted. What is most important of all, this theory of value must be actually lived by a sufficient number of people. But a widely tested, accepted and lived theory of value concerning what is highest and best and what is worst, is a religion. Nothing else except a religion can thus develop, establish, widely transmit and promote practically a theory of value. That is so because such a total process is religion. Also, the far flung organization of the church with its cultus, is the only agency that could undertake it with any reasonable hope of success. Even the church has no hope of success with religion at its present low ebb. It can be successful only if there is a conjunction between the right sort of political action on the one hand, and the right sort of religion on the other. In such a combination the church might develop and impart a theory and practice of value-judgment which would be sufficiently widespread and well founded to permit the social sciences to deal with problems of value.
The second obstacle in the way of the social sciences also waits on religion for its removal. How can the individual, whether he be a trained social scientist or a layman, exercise unbiased judgment in a concrete situation involving his hopes and loves, his fears and his hates? The physical sciences have not had to struggle with this difficulty because their subject matter does not involve so much of human passion, fear, hope, love and dread. But the social sciences do. For some this has seemed to be an insuperable obstacle in the way of extending scientific procedure to social control.
It is insuperable, we believe, except as religion may lift the barrier. But only the right kind of religion can do so. If a man identifies God with a certain set of doctrines, rather than treating these as an outreach and approximation to God, his religion will be more a hindrance than a help to the social sciences. If he considers God a supernatural being beyond the reach of all science, instead of a growth that proceeds by way of science and other branches of culture, his religion will add to the difficulties. If he thinks certain religious experiences, rites and ceremonies must be kept inviolate from scientific search, his religion will be of no aid so far as that exclusiveness reaches.
But there is a kind of religion which can achieve impartiality in judging social issues. To see what this religion is and how it works, let us get the difficulty before us in concrete form.
When my own social status is involved, the respect of my associates, the means of my livelihood, how can I follow the evidence wherever it may lead? If one judgment of the matter may destroy a friendship which is dearer to me than life, while another decision will preserve this precious value, how can I freely judge the issue on its merits? There is just one answer to that. I can freely judge the issue on its merits only if there is some higher value, more precious than any friendship, more cherished than social status, more important to me than respect of my fellows or means of livelihood. Religious devotion, which releases the clutch of immediate interests, enables me to evaluate all interests impartially. Such a higher love, such a sovereign loyalty, impels me to seek the truth which leads to fullest growth of meaning for all human living. Then and then only am I free to exercise my full powers of discriminating inquiry.
There is only one way in which a man can be objective in judging the factors of a concrete situation when powerful and pervasive personal interests are involved. When he is committed to the absolute sovereignty of God, and recognizes God as growth of meaning and value, he can do it. Not otherwise. Therefore we say that religion alone can deliver the social sciences from this obstacle which prevents them from advancing into the more vital issues of human living. Under the high mastery of this religious propulsion one can make the required personal sacrifices, rise above personal prejudices, cast aside cherished hopes, and try the new ways.
Another form of this difficulty obstructing the work of the social sciences is the fact that men's loyalties become fixated on the established social order; or, if not that, upon some particular ideal of a social order. Capitalism represents fixation on the established order, communism on an ideal order. One is just as obstructive as the other to scientific inquiry into the issues of a social problem. If scientific procedure is to be applied to the social process, men's loyalties must not be allowed to fixate upon any one social order, present or future, practicable or utopian; nor upon any one state of existence, natural or supernatural. All these fall short of the wholeness of God, and all of them must be criticized and changed in the light of scientific findings. Hence men must be induced to give their loyalty to reconstruction not for the sake of any specific social order, existent, future or imaginary, but for the sake of that growth which has in it the changeless character of supreme worthfulness. So here again religion comes to the aid of the social sciences, releasing them for the work so urgently required.
Still another difficulty in the way of the social sciences is that the work in this field cannot be done merely by one or a few highly trained specialists. Any scientific conduct of social change requires the cooperation of a great many people, most of whom cannot be trained scientists. Hence the loyalty that makes us devoted and objective at the same time, must be imparted to many people. It must be spread far and wide by an agency that reaches into many homes, that has a center of influence in innumerable hamlets. It must bring people together in the spirit of the supreme devotion of their lives and interpret to them in this spirit the social changes that are going on or are being proposed.
To this end the church as the recognized institution of religion must interpret to the people those social changes that will be forever underway in these times we are entering. Often these changes will be disturbing to the people. Sometimes sacrifices will be demanded which are not easy to make. Some of these changes will bring disappointment because of expectations not fulfilled. To interpret social changes under these conditions is no simple task. No church can do it, and no form of institutional religion can do it merely because it is a religion and has a mighty organization with which to operate. It can only be done by the church if it spreads the right kind of religion, and is given power by alliance with a great movement that works for social reconstruction.
RELIGION AND THE ECONOMIC PROCESS
Basic to all the rest of society are the economic and political orders. Nothing is more fundamentally important in determining the social process than are they. The political organization undergirds all other social activities, but it must yield to the requirements of the economic. Man cannot shape history nor direct the way of his living until he can control the economic system. Here is the root of the whole problem of modern living. The chaos of uncoordinated activities from which we are now suffering is due, first of all, to the fact that the economic institutions of our society are not fitted to our present ways of activity and our present complexity of interdependence. They must be reshaped before our activities can again fall into those connections of mutual support which are essential to any satisfying life and to any abundant growth of meaning.
Politics, the social sciences and religion must unite on the problem of reconstructing the economic order. Our task will be that of trying to show what religion must do in this endeavor, and more particularly what the church can do.
The task of the church is two-fold. First it must lead men to see and feel the vivid and potent reality of God in the economic process and the way he works there. Second, it must teach men how to work with God in the production and exchange of goods. We shall see what these two tasks imply.
GOD IN THE ECONOMIC PROCESS
The primary task of the church in relation to the economic order is to make known how God is revealed in production and exchange. God is in the economic process. We cannot intelligently and devotedly shape history until this is seen and felt. How can we come to know this? There are at least four clear indicators of the working of God at this level.
First, God is here because the economic process is the chief way in which human activities are woven into a net-work of interdependence and mutual support. The economic process does not provide the way in which their activities are woven into a community of mutual understanding, voluntary cooperation, good-will and brotherhood. Such community of spirit must be fostered by quite other agencies. But, inescapably, community of spirit among men can be reared only after the economic process has laid the foundation of interdependence which forces growing community among men. Within such community, under normal conditions, growth of meaning occurs. Thus this working of God for growth of meaning and higher community, is present in a foundational form in the economic process.
This can be stated in specific, practical terms. When any individual or group produces a surplus to exchange for the surplus of some other individual or group, these parties are woven into bonds of interdependence. Gradually each locality or group or individual specializes in producing some things, while depending upon others to produce different materials needed for human living. Thus they become functionally connected with one another, as the heart and lungs are mutually indispensable. This may not be the intention of the individuals involved. Perhaps it never is their purpose. Perhaps they strive to be just as independent of one another as they can be. But they cannot help themselves. The economic process weaves their lives into a unity which they cannot escape. The good of each becomes tied into the good of all. They become increasingly functional members one of another.
The more extensive and complicated and finely woven the economic process becomes, the more wide and subtle, the more comprehensive and sensitive, become these bonds of unity. These are not bonds capable of awakening the affections of men for one another necessarily, nor uniting their purposes, nor their thoughts. All this further unifying depends upon the work of journalism, education, science, philosophy, art especially in the form of literature, religion, and political development. But the forerunner and groundwork of all his spiritual community is the interweaving by the economic process of powerful bonds which require highly complex and significant human intercommunication.
Today the entire planet is becoming one community, not in love, not in mutual understanding, and cooperation, but in interdependence. The superhuman power of God is shown shaping the lives of men into oneness that they never intended and which is, more often than not, contrary to their purposes. Physical things, human purposes and living organisms of all sorts are woven closer and closer and wider and wider into a web of necessary mutual support. The growth goes on wherever there is production for exchange. It is God at work in the economic process weaving a web of unity that can grow into brotherhood if men will do their part.
There is a second way in which the economic process manifests God at work. Men engage in economic activity to enrich themselves individually. Often they work there with wolfish, selfish interest, exploiting and sometimes wrecking the system for their profit, and wringing the sweat and blood out of the lives of other men. But through it all, and despite all this motivation and striving of men, production for exchange and distribution by means of exchange vastly increase the quantity of goods available for human living. Only the smallest fraction of the present number of human beings could exist on this earth without the economic order. Probably that way of living called distinctively human could not occur at all without it. So long as individuals and groups engage in production of a surplus of some commodities for exchange rather than each producing everything for himself, there is a mounting abundance for human living. This goes on even when the individual human purposes behind such production are directly opposed to increasing the quantity of goods for mankind.
The doctrine we here uphold is not that of the school of Adam Smith. These men taught that the more each one sought for himself, the greater would be the supply for all by virtue of an over-ruling providence. We are not making any such declaration. It is far better for men to cooperate with God consciously and intelligently. But the fact still remains that production for exchange releases a far greater supply of goods for human living than is possible when each produces only what he himself can consume. A greater abundance then exists which can enrich life for all providing the social ways of exchange are intelligently directed.
The third way in which God appears in the economic order is by keeping the cherished values and interests of men bound fast to actual reality. Men are incurable dreamers. Dreaming is good when it is a way of exploring with the imagination the possibilities that are latent in the actual processes of existence. But the dreaming of men is always breaking away into fairy land. Always the noblest values of life are being missed or perverted and prostituted by being twisted into a phantasy which men can possess in the imagination without that labor and problem-solving which is required when one seeks to secure these values where God keeps them. He keeps these values in the actual processes of existence. They are carried there as actual connections or as possibilities.
The economic process, along with all production of goods, holds a hundred leashes by which to draw men back to these actualities. In these activities men must make connection with hard reality. More swiftly than elsewhere failure to do so makes itself known in the form of a lack of the goods sought. In politics phantasy is not forced so directly, persistently and obviously to reveal its futility. The same is true of art. In love, also, between parent and child, between husband and wife, and between friends, dreaming which does not connect with actuality can go on and on. It cannot do so without injury, but the injury does not issue so directly and shockingly. Hence the dreamers are not forced to face the realities. In the economic process, however, this does occur. To keep the lofty gift of dreaming constantly in the service of the possibilities of actuality and to take it away from servitude to fatuous self-indulgence, is a noble function of the economic process of production and exchange. It is a divine function. It is one way through which God works in our midst to develop the highest that is in us.
God appears in the economic process in still a fourth way. Modern methods of production and exchange are releasing the time and energy of men from the necessity of spending all waking hours in the struggle to produce enough goods for existence. If we can solve the problems of distributing to the consuming public all the goods we are now able to produce, and of utilizing to the maximum with least waste all our best mechanical devices and known resources, the number of hours the average man will have to give to economic labor can be reduced very greatly. Thus he will be free to put his time and strength into other activities to which he must turn if our complex civilization is to be maintained.
The situation is falsely conceived by those people who declare that the problem of directing human time so saved will be simply one of teaching people to use their leisure in the most enjoyable and least destructive manner. The problem is much more serious than that of learning how to have a good time without doing too much damage. Already, persons trying to meet the requirements for growth of culture in their communities find more and more of their time commandeered to help maintain education, the political order, the home and other such interests and to lift these to an ever higher level as required in a complex civilization. The load is too heavy at present for full time industrial, business, family and professional workers to carry; more and more human time and energy must be released from the labor of economic production to serve cultural development.
God is manifest in the economic process in thus releasing men for this creative enterprise of rearing a culture which can sustain and make meaningful our advancing civilization. Also it is God that is thus forcing man on threat of disaster to give his released time and energy increasingly to those cultural interests that are more directly concerned with growth of meaning. The foundation of complex interdependence which God has laid in the economic process demands the rearing of this higher community of meaning through development of the family and all manner of fellowships, through development of the school and all the processes of education, through the development of political organization, the development of art and science and philosophy. There are no upper limits for the growth of culture among men. For instance, these last three must be developed not only in the finest abstract forms by highly trained specialists, but also in the broad common ways in which the average man can participate creatively.
These are some of the ways in which God works in the economic process to release men for these creative cultural pursuits.
THE CHURCH IN SERVICE OF GOD IN THE ECONOMIC PROCESS
Thus far we have been speaking of the divinity which is in the economic process. Now we must point out the ways in which institutional religion can serve this divinity at work in this area.
a. The church as the prime established institution of religion must awaken men's loyalty, love and sensitivity to God in this realm of production for exchange, so that their economic striving will be corrected, inspired and directed by the intimate sense of this divine presence at work shaping history through these activities.
b. The church must develop criteria which will enable men to know when their economic striving runs counter to the working of God in this field of endeavor.
Religious criticism of economic, political and other such activities of men must not be based merely on principles held in the abstract to be religious because found in the Bible or other religious authority. These sources may be of value in throwing light upon the problem. But the criticism must be like that of the prophets of old. It must issue from insight into the actual, present operations of God in the immediate economic order. But such insight is reliable only when there are clear criteria by which to recognize and distinguish the work of God in the field of production and exchange. Some of these criteria we have tried to suggest.
With such criteria sufficiently developed, and with men awake and sensitive to the presence of God, the church should be able to say: This is the way God is moving. Therefore that bit of social structure that stands in the way, must be removed. Therefore, yonder doing of men that opposes God, must be stopped. With adequate criteria the church can speak with authority and insight and save us from the chaos and ruin of fighting against God.
c. There is a third service the church can render to God at work in the economic order. It can help direct the time and energy which the economic process is progressively releasing from industrial production. It can guide the social and emotional energies of men into other kinds of striving most urgently needed to carry on our complicated and delicately balanced social system. Political problems will henceforth demand far more time, energy and thought from great numbers of people if democracy is to survive in any form at all. The economic process is providing the leisure and the opportunity for this redirection of attention. The church, along with all educational agencies, must do the redirecting of human energies.
There is one great difficulty in the way. Men throughout history have come to think that serious work is concerned almost entirely with procuring the necessities of existence. All else, such as education, art, politics, friendship, home life and the like, are interests to be pursued as a form of recreation or as a means of promoting the economic enterprise. Man must unlearn this lesson which the ages have taught him. The serious business of living for man is to transform this planet by way of political, educational, artistic and other activities into a place where growth of meaning in the two forms of development of personality and growth of culture can fulfil itself most abundantly.
In the past it has been the function of institutional religion to constrain men for purposes of social conservation. In the future it must be to release men for purposes of social creativity. It must release them into the freedom of God. In deep creative community of meaning men must work with God to rear a realm of meaning, rooted in the economic order, but flowering in the highest spiritual outreach of imagination.
It is the cardinal function of the church to turn men's hearts to God so that such meaning may grow. It must keep men eager, expectant and alert for this growth. Growth of meaning they must seek above all else. The beastly labor of struggling for bare existence is past, if we can learn how to distribute what we are able to produce. The distinctively human labor of developing a world of meaning, may now be ours. The prison walls of hard necessity are crumbling. We are free--almost--to give our all to God, as we never could before. Also we are free to ignore God as never was possible in the past. If we choose the latter course, the zest of life will gradually, inevitably fail until at last we shall seek death because living will not be worth the trouble.
There are three possibilities before us. We might conceivably solve our immediate economic problem but do it in such a way that the growth of meaning would fail and die out of life. That would be to solve it without God, for God is growth of meaning. Such a "solution" would give magnificent power to the ruling class but would end in world-weariness, cynicism and despair by reason of decline in the meanings of life.
The second possibility is to fail to make any economic adjustment sufficiently radical to permit our social order to survive. The result would be a disaster we do not care to contemplate.
The third possibility is to solve our economic problem in God, which means to solve it in such a way that growth of life's meanings will be fostered and will flourish. This last requires the combination of political action, social science and religious devotion which we have described.
We are driving the million wild horses of economic power. The chariot of our industrial system is careering from side to side with the leaping and lunging of these wild horses. Can we drive them up the road that leads to the high plateau of life's abundance? That plateau spreads beneath the sun and slants upward toward the Olympian heights of history's high attainment. But can we drive the wild horses? We cannot unless the hands which hold the reins have strength and skill and wisdom beyond the wont of human kind. This they can have only through a combination of political action, social science and religious devotion.
The man who chooses to live for God as growth of meaning, will have an undying zest which arises out of disaster as well as fulfilment. He will know that in all fulfilment there is the presence of death; and in all perishing is the beginning of new life. He will see that each individual, each order, each epoch, each eon, can actualize but a very small part of the fullness of possible meaning that is in God. The more exquisite the perfection of any fulfilment, the more completely does it shut out those further values pressing for emergence. Hence the more swiftly must it perish because it loses its vital connections with ongoing life. Certainly, he will seek perfection with all his powers. But when he finds it, if haply he should, he will know that it must pass, giving place to further fulfilments. Thus in all perishings and in all beginnings, he will live with his face turned toward the light. In all things he will find the gentle might of growth and the infinite realm of possibility joined in that unity which is God.
His chief end in life will not be any specific goal, however hard he strives for goals. Rightly, he will strive for them with all his strength. Notwithstanding, however, his chief end will be the promotion of that growth in richness of the world's meaning which all men may share and to which all may contribute. He will know that this enrichment of the world's meaning can be attained only through specific strivings. Further, he will also realize that failure must contribute to it as well as success; the contribution of failure may not greatly differ in effectiveness from that of success. Finally, because he discerns the perpetual emergence of new possibilities, he will see that all man's life is failure, and all is success, so long as he renders his uttermost devotion to God.