The Contributors' Column
FROM the vantage of an elevated Literary Society, and with a far-sighted historical appreciation, Samuel McChord Crothers has watched the fashionable procession of books and their authors. From his view he has drawn some whimsical and sagacious comparisons to the effect that poets and critics, however modern in appearance, must perforce find their likeness in the past — a likeness sometimes not altogether flattering. ¶We believe that Burnham Hall’s question will unlock a store of sympathy and understanding. His evidence shows how difficult it is for any set of rules to provide with justice a settlement for any deeply human problem. The article brings many new thoughts to the point and raises as many new questions. ¶What is the meaning and efficacy of Prayer? Kirsopp Lake, Winn Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Harvard, declares that ' prayer means petition, communion, aspiration, and confession,’ and, continuing, he prophesies the efficacy of prayer of the future. At variance with this doctrine, Glenn Clark, professor of English at Macalester College, affirms his faith in petition and exemplifies a technique of prayer which will offer practical aid and comfort to many people. We should like to quote from the letter which accompanied Professor Clark’s manuscript.
I wish that I lived nearer Boston so that I could have a little conversation with you and relate some of the amazing answers to prayer that have come to me in the past two years. When I say that I have had one hundred answers to prayers in the last six months, I am putting it very conservatively. . . . One unique thing about my experience is that not only do an wets come, but in many instances I know beforehand just what way. . . . Another unique thing about this new method of praying is that I am brought instantly in touch with all knowledge, when the need of that knowledge is apparent, or when the seeker is in earnest and comes to me with faith that I can answer him. . . .
Of course, you understand that I don’t pretend that this little method of prayer is the only method or even the best method. ... I merely put it forth as a combination of ‘exercises’ that should appeal to this physical-culture age and which, if followed, will bring amazing, miraculous, and marvelous results. This method releases the self and lets God work. Any other method which does the same is equally good.
Edith R. Mirrielees is Professor of English at Leland Stanford University. Her professor’s predicament is so vivid and comes so close to home that we can imagine many readers shuddering in their chairs and instantly planning to invite the janitor out to lunch. Christopher Morley, poet, novelist, and lover of New York, has left the charming din and confusion of the ‘Bowling Green’ for the dreamy seclusion of the Normandy coast. ¶Everyone knows of Agnes Repplier, so that it will not be difficult for her to persuade us to respect a national inheritance which is too generally squandered. ¶Without the pale of caste for twelve years, Dhan Gopal Mukerji returned, as a Brahman should, to Benares, the Holy City, that he might once again take the dust from the feet of his Holy Man. Other episodes of Mr. Mukerji’s beautiful home-coming have appeared in the June and July Atlantics.A. Edward Newton has recently returned from a pilgrimage, devout and different, to his holy city — London. This marks the fortieth anniversary of Mr. Newton’s first arrival at Euston Station, during which time London has altered her appearance, but neither her climate nor her attraction.
Entirely accurate as to the facts, Nelson Collins’s account of ‘ His Boy ‘ is another instance of the truth that human nature is never average or normal. We may add that the ‘ Boy ‘ returned from his voyage to India and is now serving an apprenticeship in the printer’s trade. ¶In this number, we are publishing the third and fourth ‘ Interpretations ‘ of those astonishing social changes which are likely to influence our coming years. These Interpretations and the earlier ones which appeared in the June Atlantic have been thoughtfully edited by Sarah N. Cleghorn from the pages of a future contemporary. ¶Many readers will enjoy the thoughtful beauty of Archibald MacLeish’s poem, whether or not they have come under the influence of the classics or the moon. ¶May we be pardoned for saying that Lucy Keeler’s essay whets our appletite for the autumnal orchards? Charles Rumford Walker, who was formerly a member of the Atlantic staff, has been working from seven to six — with an apple for lunch — as managing editor of the reinvigorated Independent. Mr. Walker has also experienced hard work in steel and copper mills. John A. Johnson writes us: —
As a ‘gainful occupation,’ I am working in a commercial laboratory. I expose agar plates, examine the germ colonies I have entrapped, and so report on the sanitary condition of factories. . . . Although I am getting along very well with the bacteriological work, I suspect that I am not a thing of cement and stone, and when I think of a row of cypresses on a bayou, I get restless.
With exceptional access to officials and their statistics, the Student of Sea Power has investigated the present naval situation and, ignoring those ‘causes for alarm’ which have been so loudly advertised, he has concluded his provocative estimate with the intimation that, although the United States machine itself is inadequate, there still remains a good measure of efficiency. George H. Haynes, professor of economics and political science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, is at present engaged in writing a comprehensive history of the Senate and its practice. ¶An article by Sisley Huddleston, Paris correspondent on Christian Science Monitor, on the industrial and commercial present of France is welcomed at a time when politics have obscured the more essential elements of her future history. ¶In his paper on ‘ Our National Resources,’ George A. Cushing makes public for the first time several pages of hitherto unwritten history. During the war Mr. Cushing served under the National Food Administrator, and then and later he participated in these various movements which he has recorded.
In behalf of Archer Wall Douglas we wish to thank those readers — now numbering in the hundreds — who have written to express their appreciation of his paper, ‘The Art and Nature of Graphology,’ which appeared in the March Atlantic, and to regret that it is physically impossible for Mr. Douglas to answer their sincere and interesting questions.
This was not the fault of the secretary, the proofreader, or the typesetter.
DEAR MR. EDITOR, —
In the June Atlantic Mr. Dhan Gopal Mukerji is said to be a graduate of the University of California. He is A. B. Stanford, 1914. Please do not deprive us of the glory reflected from our ablest Hindu graduate — philosopher and poet.
DAVID STARR JORDAN.
No longer need we ‘be seen but not heard.’
DF.AR ATLANTIC, —
In ‘The Preacher’s Handicap,’ Mr. Horwill indicates the disadvantage to which many preachers are put because of the various preliminary features of a church service that precede the sermon.
There is, however, a major handicap which is borne with marvelous patience by the occupants of the pews. I refer to the necessity, under the present system, of the listeners having to sit quietly through a discourse filled with positive statements, which may or may not seem reasonable, without having a chance to talk back. The preacher may make the most unbelievable and dogmatic statement which a listener may be thoroughly convinced could not be substantiated with plausible evidence; yet this hearer has no recourse but to remain dumb in his pew. I do not infer that the minister’s position is necessarily wrong in all such eases or that the pew-holders are always right. Perhaps the minister could prove a point in question beyond the shadow of a doubt. But if he does not know of the doubts in his parishioners’ minds, the situation is not cleared up. Perhaps both the preacher and the church-goers are in entire agreement but only appear to be at odds either because the speaker has not made his points clear, or because the listeners have not heard correctly. Just a few words of general discussion might readily demonstrate their mutual accord. There is a practical way of overcoming this handicap in church relationships. It is called the forum idea. There is nothing unique about it. Having had some experience with the forum in the Twenty-third Street Branch of the New York City Y.M.C.A., I suggested to the pastor of the church in our small community that a forum meeting be substituted for the Sunday evening service, the attendance at which was gradually decreasing.
Said he, ‘Good! I’ll do the talking at one Sunday service and let my people have their say at the other.’
As the idea appealed to him strongly, it was soon put into effect. The people came. The attendance doubled, then trebled. The young folks predominated. A blackboard was put into commission. Practically everyone had opinions to express on the topics discussed and all were glad to see the main points pro and con listed on the board. They did some real thinking and enjoyed the experience.
The minister occupied a pew as one of the congregation and marveled at the thoughts some of his parishioners expressed. They gave him material for many sermons and better ones also, since he had only one to prepare each week instead of two. As various people took part in these meetings much hazy thinking was cleared up. Statements by the minister were challenged and better understandings were reached. And the members thought more of their church because it gave them an opportunity to think out serious questions.
E. A. HUNGERFORD.
From the sermon barrel to the radio.
EAST ORANGE, N. J.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
Will you allow me, as one who has been for over a half-century the minister of city and suburban churches, to express my appreciation of Mr. Horwill’s article on ‘The Preacher’s Handicap’? What he describes as the boredom of waiting for nearly an hour before the sermon begins accounts for much of the somnolence of the people during its delivery. Old people and tired people have already used up their power of attention, while that of young people has been dissipated by the holy mélange of hymns, chants, anthems, solos, responsive readings, long prayer, notices and incidental appeals.
These criticisms of the service of worship and of the sermon suggest a still more important one: Are our ministers, under present-day exactions of their office, fitted to preach sermons to the edification of a modern audience? The late Dr. Richard S. Storrs, once said to me that no man could effectively handle more than one sermonsubject a week. What then can be expected from an ordinary preacher? He must prepare and deliver, if he is located in a city or town, on the average two sermons a week, one or two midweek addresses, perhaps a funeral talk, irrespective of the numerous parish obligations.
A recent summer experience has given me a suggestion. Several miles from my bungalow was a small country church without a settled pastor. The congregation held what they called deacons’ meetings Sunday mornings. The best reader in the neighborhood selected the best sermons of the most distinguished preachers and delivered them. Storrs, Beecher, Phillips Brooks, Gunsaulus, Spurgeon, and even old Massillon and Fénelon, ministered to that little community. The result was that people flocked to the church. They were informed and stimulated by what they heard. No preacher whom they could have hired could have filled the bill. Why should our smaller and poorer churches be further reduced by inferior ministerial guidance? Why not install a radio, and leave the minister free-handed for his pastoral work? I am not surprised that people do not throng the churches when, with whatever spiritual inclination, their souls find better nourishment in the books and periodicals in their sitting-rooms at borne.
JAMES M. LUDLOW.
In the May Atlantic, Bruce Bliven presented a broad review of agriculture’s distress. The ‘frightened farmer’ according to one reader had better read Coué and so cure himself.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
In the old days the farms were self-supporting units. Their contact with the outside world was almost nil. It was a great life for the bashful, but it bored the more adventurous youths, who consequently migrated to the cities. By a long drawn-out process of inbreeding, conservatism was intensified and fixed as a dominant characteristic of the farmer. The war enabled him to buy Fords and ready-made clothes without increasing his ability to cope with new situations. The present slump, however painful, will prove a most efficient method of eliminating these unfit. In the course of a few generations we shall have evolved a new type of farmer whose business ability will be on a par with his city brothers. To do nothing sounds like a cruel cure, but such a major operation will decimate the ranks of the agriculturists. Production will automatically be cut down till the demand exceeds the supply, and farming will again be a profitable pursuit. Your interested reader,
In the days when boys ‘went down to the sea in ships ‘ —
BROOKLYN, N. Y.
DEAR MR. EDITOR, —
How can I impress a seasoned man of letters sufficiently to convey the thrill that was mine when I read Charles Boardinan Hawes’s ‘A Boy Who Went Whaling’?
My father was graduated from college in ‘69, at eighteen years of age, and with only his father’s half consent, he fled to New Bedford and off on a whaler for the Indian Ocean. When my grandmother heard of it, she hastily gathered several changes of underclothes for him and sped from her Long Island home to New Bedford, to find on her arrival that my father had put to sea under the name of ‘George Wheeler’ — a family cognomen, his own being George Sidney Tuthill. ‘That’s my son,’ exclaimed she, as she pointed to the name on the company’s register; ‘and not a hair of his head is to be harmed; you must send a message for his return immediately! She must have used forceful argument for a message did go on the next ship!
That vessel was the Lancer, and it bore a letter to my father’s captain to return George Sidney Tuthill, alias George Wheeler, to his family as soon as possible. The Lancer overtook my lather’s ship in the Indian Ocean, one year and a half after my father had left New Bedford. The Captain called George Wheeler to him and looking steadily at him, said. ‘Young man, I have a letter for one “George Sidney Tuthill,” from his mother. Do you happen to know such a person? My father admitted his identity and with his seaman’s chest went over the side of the vessel, homeward bound. But he had had his adventures; he hud been lost at sea for three days and nights in a whaleboat with a Portuguese and a black man, subsisting on hard-tack and grog; he had caught a dirk, intended for another, in his shoulder — he bore the scar all his life; he had stood waist-deep in the carcass of a whale, lashed to the side of the vessel; he developed a muscle like iron, his skin grew dark as mahogany, and his vocabulary became enriched by a choice collection of Portuguese oaths — luckily soon forgotten. He left New Bedford a stripling, overgrown and not over strong. He returned, after three years of a rigorous life, a bronzed, muscular man with a beard.
When I read Hawes’s tale, it seemed as if my father lived again as the lad, Len Sanford; and I wished, oh so fervently, that I could have read that story to him.
MARY EDITH TUTHILL.
Figuratively speaking, the Atlantic is not the only measurable source of amusement.
SILVER CITY, N. M.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
Mr. Edwin B. Hill, pays the Atlantic a well-deserved tribute when he tells us of the appreciation shown by the forest ranger in Arizona who ‘fell upon it (the Atlantic) as one starved.’ The writer has had the honor of being one of the Government’s forest rangers in both Arizona and New Mexico, and for fifteen years has been a reader of the Atlantic.
Mr. Hill however, is woefully in error when he writes of ‘the utter desolation of a ranger’s life.’ There are few days in the year in which the average forest ranger is not in close contact with his fellow man anti naturally so, as he is the Government’s representative in closest contact with the people who reside on, or within close proximity to, the national forecsts. With these people he must take up innumerable details relating to the grazing of stock, the survey and examination of lands, issuing permits or selling timber, protecting the wild game and stocking the fishing streams, giving information to tourists and, above all, eternally guarding the forests from fire.
They tell of the ranger on a national forest in New Mexico who was called in by a rancher to measure his wife for a corset, the order going to a well-known mail-order house. Even in the remote districts of the national forests, the rangers are far from living a life of utter desolation. On the national forest of which the writer is in charge, there are seven forest rangers employed, twelve months in the year, and the Atlantic goes to each of them in turn.