A Bishop Looks at the Church

I

ONE of my favorite stories, hoary with age but still a favorite because it happens to be true, tells of a genial clergyman named Taylor, who loved to travel in mufti and, while thus fairly well disguised, talk with the men he met in the smoking compartment. He had been joining in the conversation of a group who were all traveling men, giving their views on business and matching experiences in salesmanship. A remark by the clergyman led someone to ask for what firm he was traveling, and he replied, ‘For Lord and Taylor,’ and promptly relapsed into silence, without explaining his little joke. No one knew but that he, too, was a traveling man.

And, indeed, he was a member of a class who are always traveling. It is a little more than twelve years since I became a bishop. My diocese numbers a hundred and twenty-four ministers on its clergy rolls. When I made up my list this year, I saw that more than two thirds have come into the diocese in the past twelve years. Only thirty-four of the names on the list are of men who were here when I came, and of these thirteen are the names of retired clergy. Of the other twenty-one, only eleven are in the same parishes in which they were serving when my episcopate began; the others are still in the diocese, but they are in charge of other work than that in which they were placed a dozen years ago. There are one hundred and fifty-six churches and chapels in the diocese. Only one out of every fourteen is served by the same minister who was in charge twelve years ago. A like condition obtains elsewhere. Other dioceses are no more stable than mine; in some the changes are even more numerous and conditions are more discouraging.

Nor does it appear that these conditions are peculiar to the Episcopal Church. In some Protestant denominations changes of pastorates are much more frequent. This fact is not, of course, recorded in a spirit of self-satisfaction. I am not rejoicing in the comparison, as when a visitor in a certain village, which had four churches and adequately supported none, asked a pillar of one congregation, ‘How is your church getting on now?’ and received the reply, ‘Not very well; but thank the Lord, the others are not doing any better.’

With some of the Protestant ministers this restlessness is appalling for a further reason. Last year I had interviews with some thirty-six or thirtyseven ministers who consulted me about reception into the communion and priesthood of the Episcopal Church. For one reason or another they were not only anxious to leave their parishes, but desired to change their church affiliation. A few — a very few — of these and others who have come to me could be received. For the most part they would never have fitted into a new environment, and it would have been tragic to encourage them to try. But the stories they told let in some light on the general problem I was studying. Why did they want to change? A few showed some real change of convictions. Some came because they felt that Protestantism is disintegrating; that it is suffering from the lack of central administrative oversight; that it has no recognized source of authority; that there are no definite creedal requirements and no acknowledged discipline. Others desired such a central authority, with episcopal oversight, because they felt they were at the mercy of their congregations and were not free to preach the whole truth as they saw it. Some even looked longingly to Rome and, had they been unmarried, might possibly have fled from the lay popes, who they said ruled over them, to the tender mercies of an Italian prelacy. Some were seriously seeking for a better way; they felt the loss of reverence in the methods of modern Protestantism; they were attracted by the sacramental teaching of the Roman Church and the Episcopal communion; they were men of devotion who hoped to make reality of worship the keynote of their ministry. Most of the applicants were weary of the nervous strain of competition — with the sermon exalted to the place of first importance, they found it impossible to run a race with the pulpit Babbitts who flourished all about them. Not a few, alas, were misfits and failures in their present positions, yet fondly convinced that their condition would improve elsewhere.

As I have said, we were obliged to discourage most of the applicants. They were too old to change. They were too ‘set’ to make readjustments. They were too optimistic about conditions in the new church of their choice. They were fearful when told plainly of our own internal discomforts. Had they been encouraged to change, some of them would have felt that they had jumped out of the frying pan into the fire. It was an adventure into the absurd to picture what might happen to those who would have ‘gone to Rome’ — to let the imagination play on their experiences when they tried to submit to the regimentation of thought and practice that would have been necessary, once they had taken this step into the great unknown.

But they were all pathetic. Those who were misfits could not see that they were in any way at fault. The men who were considering a change too late to make it successfully were often tragic in their distress. In almost every case they were sure, so they said, of their call to the ministry. They had entered upon it hopefully and enthusiastically. But they had traveled ‘farther from the East,’ and though for a time by ‘the vision splendid’ they had been ‘on their way attended,’ at last they were perceiving it ’die away and fade into the light of common day.’

Convinced, as I am, that the tales these men told are evidence of a sad disintegration of American Protestantism, the conviction is accompanied by no pharisaic impulse to thank God that I am not as other men are. For in my own church the evidence of the clergy rolls proves that all is not well in our Israel. There is little inclination, among the clergy of the Episcopal Church, to change their ecclesiastical affiliation. The much-heralded transition of an occasional convert to Rome is the exception, not the rule. And for one of the clergy of the Episcopal Church to give up his priesthood for a more Protestant ministry is almost unheard of. But the list of those who decide to return to secular life, and ask to be deprived of their ministerial functions at the heavy price (almost disgrace) of an open renunciation of the ministry, is quite appalling. Only the bishops realize how many such cases there are, and only the bishops know the heartaches that lie behind the record. I have been told by some in authority in the Roman Church that, in spite of their esprit de corps, restlessness, dissatisfaction, and occasional rebellion are on the increase, and that the tragedies would more often come to a head were it not for the inherited tendency toward submission and the acceptance of a disciplinary system which at the same time allows for much flexibility in the transfer of men, not only to new work, but to new kinds of work, where they more readily adapt themselves to conditions and find peace and satisfaction in congenial service.

Much as we may dislike the very idea of Prussianism, — regimentation, oversubmissive obedience to authority, standardization of thought, unquestioned acceptance of regulations, — we know that in the ecclesiastical system, as in government, autocracy does work at times. There are many in my own church who wish to have a larger power of mission conferred upon the bishops. They forget that the Roman rule works with a celibate clergy who may easily be moved about, whereas it would not work so smoothly when wives and families must be moved with them. They forget also that too large a measure of authority usually leads to abuse. Even the Methodist Episcopal Church (whose bishops, in this respect at any rate, are bishops indeed!) has found, on occasion, that authority can become harsh. Methodist ministers are not always happy. Rome is Rome. In church, as in civil government, the rest of us are endeavoring to work out our salvation as a democracy, convinced that in the long run democracy will outwear autocracy. Even for the sake of smoothness in operation we are not willing to give up our freedom of initiative and independence of action. Much less are we willing to admit, despite its failures, that the ideal of a married ministry, living the normal life in close contact with the congregation, is not an ideal sweet and true and beautiful, and worth sacrifices to maintain.

And so the minister travels. On and on he and his family move, ever hoping for happier conditions, ever being disappointed. Even if the minister were to stay, our problem would not be solved. For, if he does not change, the congregation does. Once he could remain a score of years in one parish, ministering to the same parishioners and to their children after them; now his congregation is a rapidly moving procession. They come and go. In the villages and small towns many of the ablest and most progressive and adventurous of the people move to the cities. In the cities they move from apartment to apartment, never abiding long enough to convert steam radiators into hearthstones. There, too, success often means a longer move to a larger city and a more important position, until abundant success carries the happy traveler to Baltimore, to Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, or to the Glorious Babylon of the New World, whence the only move to a higher place comes with death — and one is not quite certain that even this will mean for many a translation to the Blessed Isles.

II

Moving America, which has lost almost all conception of the meaning of the word ‘home,’may in part account for a moving ministry. But the explanation leaves much still to be explained. Why are the clergy not only restless, but discontented, sometimes miserably unhappy, often hopelessly fallen from their early enthusiasms?

One of the most effective sermons I ever preached owed its success to an accidental piece of good psychology. It was in no way an extraordinary bit of homiletical persuasiveness, but the congregation liked it, and I was fortunate in having one keen listener explain why. It was a sermon on reality in religion, designed to show that Christ is impatient — divinely impatient — of anything that savors in the least of mere careless and conventional acceptance of His teaching, a sickly sentimental attachment to His religion, or a nonchalant belief in Himself. In His presence we must be perfectly honest with ourselves and perfectly straightforward and unaffected; He despises cant. I had a great deal to say about downright sincerity among Christian people, but by good fortune I said none of this until I had first made public acknowledgment of certain clerical shortcomings. I pictured the man outside the church who stayed outside because of a certain smug professionalism in some of the clergy which irritated and annoyed him. I confessed that our immunity from friendly criticism had been disastrous. I acknowledged that our words do not always ring true; we find it only too easy to drop into a habit of ready moralizing that is wholly perfunctory and smacks of pious cant. My friend told me that the congregation recognized the picture and gladly acclaimed the facts as to my confessed sins. ‘Having won them to complete accord in your portrayal of clerical faults,’ he said, ‘their innate good sportsmanship made it impossible for them to deny their own sins when you pointed them out. It was good psychology to begin with yourself.’

And so it may not be unkind to look for the faults in the clergy themselves, if we are to find the full explanation of their restless dissatisfaction. Indeed, it may not be amiss to begin with bishops; and herein are included not only bishops like myself, but the ‘higher clergy’ of all denominations — presiding elders, archdeacons, heads of ecclesiastical departments, bureaucrats in general. Perhaps we might be more sympathetic and helpful to the clergy if we had someone to criticize us; but we too are immune—that is, from face-to-face criticism. Many people talk about our faults and failings, but always behind our backs; we have few friends who are courageous enough to talk to us plainly, as man to man. In consequence we are apt to ‘put on side’ and become impatient of disagreement with our plans or policies. We do not hear much about our blunders, and usually succeed in keeping our own eyes shut to their consequences. A bishop gets a large idea of his own attractive powers, because he is usually greeted by a splendid congregation and sees a church at its best. He is credited with unusual preaching ability, because someone hears a sermon which he has had ample opportunity to try out in little mission chapels before preaching it in the big church. He gets a glorious idea of his own wisdom, when the fact is that he may have been chosen bishop because he was regarded as safely and harmlessly conservative. He does not know that some irreverent folk consider him colorless. Nor docs he realize how his character has been changed by his work. The inability to seize opportunities, when handicapped because of the church’s meagre resources, chills his early enthusiasm; he relapses into self-satisfaction, indifference, or despair, and does nothing. Or the dignity of his office, and its responsibilities, increase the sense of his own importance; he becomes dictatorial and autocratic. Every day, and in every way, he gets worse and worse, because he never hears what the clergy or the laity think about him.

And the clergy do not know what he thinks about them. There are very few bishops, archdeacons, presiding elders, or rural deans who are so cruel as to tell all that they do think. Had they the courage and at the same time the grace to speak out frankly, though considerately and with due kindness, some of the clergy might learn that many of their troubles begin on their own doorsteps. If there is anything unpalatable in what follows, let the clerical reader remember that it is written to help, not merely to condemn.

Why do the clergy find it necessary to move so often? They will say that small salaries pinch them so desperately that they cannot be blamed if they grow discouraged, But — they do not always move to parishes that can give them more. And it is a fact, which those ‘higher up’ observe, that congregations often gladly and of their own accord vote an increase of salary when the pastor is found specially deserving such appreciation. May not the real cause be found in the fact that the ministry offers desperate chances of slumping down into a lazy, inactive life? In business there is always someone to ‘jack up’ a man; the minister is his own overseer. There is no one to keep a record of his pastoral calls, no one to note whether he does an eighthour-a-day job, no one except his bishop — who, good, kind man that he is, does n’t always want to complain — to know that he does not answer letters, that he does not keep accurate parish record books, that he fails to make reports, and, worse yet, fails to read suggestions. There is no one but the choirmaster who knows how little thought he gives to the arrangement of services — and even the choirmaster does not always realize that this is why the services fail to make a definite impression. No one knows whether he has done any honest work on his sermons, though the congregation may frequently make a close guess as to the diligence of his thought and study. The temptation to indolence — bodily, mental, and spiritual — is always there, and not always courageously fought. Often the man gets what he is worth. Not always, nor in the majority of cases, but often.

The minister wonders why it is lie does not attract better congregations. Would that he had married a wife who could and would tell him that his sermons are rambling discourses; that he never takes one idea, develops it carefully — and stops. Would that he could realize how often he skips about, or maunders on, leaving the congregation with nothing definite; perhaps only with a vague notion that the parson has been reading a new book and has not yet learned that nobody should talk about a book until he has at least read it through. Of course this is apparent to most people, save himself, when he preaches on the problems of the day, without special knowledge, or on modern doubts and difficulties, only to show that he has not made an honest effort to understand the point of view of the layman, or done enough hard thinking to prove that he really knows what he believes, and why. We hear much of the failure of the clergy to present religion in terms of presentday thinking. The failure is usually attributed to theological narrowness. Actually, is it not the result of intellectual sloth, and the consequent failure to understand, or sympathize with, the difficulties of faith for men who know the new universe and the modern world ?

Again, the minister wonders that, the congregation does so little work; perhaps he complains now and then at their lack of coöperation. But he does not realize his own lack of administrative effort, or his maddening inability to do things in a businesslike way. He does not plan his own work, and he is hopelessly inefficient in planning work for others. He has no new ideas as to organization. He has no ability to inspire others to effort. He does not even display ordinary sound judgment in choosing his workers. He expects to get church-school teachers by casually suggesting from the pulpit that there are vacancies. When people offer their services in parish work he has not the faintest idea how to use them. Imagine a young girl, just graduated from college, offering herself for some useful service — and the best he can do is to suggest her arranging the flowers on the altar.

He complains that the congregation does not give him the respect due to his office, while unaware that the hard-working business man next door regards him as a diddling and doddering old woman, pottering around the house instead of hustling out to work.

I knew one young minister who made a tremendous success in his first parish in a simple way. He lived in a suburban town and most of the men in his congregation took an early train for the city. He was always up early himself, out on the street, down at the station, and between 7.35 and 8.42 had a word with almost all of his male parishioners. It gave him a reputation for alertness; everybody knew he was ‘on the job.’

Worst of all, the minister — and especially the young minister — suffers from a ‘priestly complex.’ Ordination is supposed to endow one with autocratic authority. He expects to have his every word accepted as law. He goes to a new parish and acts as if history began when he arrived. He gives the impression of being an ‘ I, I, I’ man. He resents disagreement with his words, whether in ‘teaching’ or ‘ruling.’ He has a profound contempt for diplomacy. (Of course there are ‘yes men, ’ whose diplomatic efforts lead to spinelessness.)

Nowhere is this lack of tact more apparent than with some of the younger ministers who preach the ‘social gospel.’ Socialists of every stripe among lay protagonists have an aggravating tendency to begin their addresses by thoroughly antagonizing their audiences. They are hot-headed in denunciation. They make no effort to present their appeal with charity and winsomeness. And some of the worst offenders are clergymen who seem to have a fatal facility for preaching even the truth with needlessly offensive aggressiveness. They are so fearful of sounding a cooing note that they never utter a wooing one.

Tact! In smaller matters, how easy it is to offend! I knew of one man who began an announcement: ‘It will be like a red rag to a bull for many of you, but hereafter we shall,’ etc., etc. A vestry committee came to one of our bishops not long ago to complain of their rector’s lack of tact. He had noticed an inch of petticoat hanging below the skirt of the elderly president of the Ladies’ Aid Society, and called her attention to it. ‘You don’t regard such conduct as tactful, do you?' the vestrymen asked the bishop — and the latter replied that for a clergyman he considered it an astonishing evidence of rare diplomacy; the rector might have said, ‘Mrs. So-and-So, I did not know well-dressed women wore such things nowadays.’ Let it be said that the vestrymen did have sufficient sense of humor to depart a little shamefaced, though not yet strongly convinced of the general good sense of ministers.

‘Priestly complex!’ One clergyman whose complaints were vociferously voiced in a neighboring diocese closed his career with a sermon on the text which tells how Herod ‘gave not God the glory’ and ‘was eaten of worms’ and died. The lesson was plain: he himself was the Lord’s anointed, and those who opposed him would presumably be smitten with disease, and in all probability it would be fatal!

III

Enough! Let it be understood that I am not wholly lacking in the tact which I look for in others, and that I have wisely refrained from singling out any of my own clergy in these examples of clerical failures. But I have made diligent inquiries elsewhere, have listened to the complaints of the laity, have heard in confidence many tales from other bishops, have had most interesting talks with a dear Methodist friend who is a presiding elder, know rather intimately a Methodist bishop and a Presbyterian moderator, have noted on the tablets of memory many things which occurred in my own circle of clerical acquaintances when I mingled with ministers in freer intercourse than they will permit now — and, even as I know the special temptations of the bishops in the way of megalocephalic delusion, so I know some of the faults of the clergy, which alienate their congregations, ruin their ministry, and account for their loss of influence and their consequent discouragements. Indeed, their failures are due quite as much to petty faults, such as are here catalogued, as to lack of vision to discern the possibilities of the Christian ministry in modern life.

But the laity! Ah, brethren, you have been waiting for this, have you not? Close study of the clergy reveals much that is unpleasant. How did they get that way? A close study of laymen may help us to answer the question.

Well, first, in the matter of salaries. It is often true that the average layman is pitifully small-minded about church support, with glorious exceptions in certain city churches, notably Presbyterian and Congregationalist. In spite of my defense, the fact is that it does not usually occur to the critical layman that he actually contributes to small-mindedness in the ministry by compelling his pastor to live a petty life, full of petty economies that cramp work and thought. He sees no injustice in paying his chauffeur more than he pays the minister, though not all chauffeurs are shining examples of faithfulness and efficiency. Nor does he understand that his attitude, and that of other men like him, are keeping many promising candidates out of the ministry. However anxious they may be to serve, their robust common sense makes them realize that they and their families must live decently. Allowing for all my admissions in confession and avoidance, there can be no denial of the seriousness of the minister’s money problem.

What is there about Protestant Christianity, by the way, that makes so many church people small-minded in other things? Does the minister Jack tact? Let Heaven be his witness that there is no profession in which larger demands are made upon one’s patience. We cannot imagine a leader in business listening to small complaints such as come to a clergyman from his fellow workers. If the head of a corporation had to deal with the rivalries of jealous women employees, he would go mad, unless he were empowered to fire as well as hire. The minister must not turn anybody out. He must smooth every wrinkle, or be turned out himself. The only other position in the world that offers a like opportunity for sainthood is held by his sexton, who must keep the church warm enough for Mrs. A and not too warm for Mrs. B. I remember one of my own parishes, where Airs. A came in one morning, shivered apprehensively, and then arose and opened the register; whereupon Mrs. B fanned herself violently and arose and closed it. They kept it up alternately, each comfortable until the other had her turn, until finally one of them was restrained by her husband. Was I lacking in tact when I told them afterward that the furnace fire had not been started that morning, and that open and closed registers had influenced their comfort only on Christian Science principles? Of course, in speaking I remembered the Virginian’s advice, ‘When you say that, smile!’

Amusing? Yes; but terribly trying, if that is the sort of thing one must deal with day after day. A clergyman comes to his work in love with the radiant personality of Jesus Christ, anxious to make others see the beauty and splendor of service offered to such a Leader. He starts to work and preach and pray, con amore. But he cannot keep it up forever if always enduring the pin pricks of captious criticism or the discouragements of stolid unresponsiveness. He suffers. Does anyone suffer more than he, unless it be his wife? Of course she is rarely satisfactory to the women. She does too much, or she does n’t do enough. Like her husband, she has no infallible instinct which tells her when parishioners are ill, if they neglect to notify her husband or herself.

How can the clergyman keep his own spiritual fires burning when others are lukewarm? I remember, in my early days, preparing a sermon which I was all aflame to preach, only to wait four consecutive Sundays for the congregation to get over the evil effects of leaving God alone during summer time; then finding that the flame had cooled; at last preaching as pious platitude what might have been a real message.

What is the minister to do if he finds few of his people willing to inconvenience themselves in order to give regular and faithful service in church organizations? What is he to do when, in spite of real effort, the church is half empty? What shall he say if it is almost impossible to get congregational worship, and he tries in vain to make the people sing or take part in the responses of the service?

’Do you have music in your church?’
I asked the country squire.
’Oh. no,’ the old man quick replied,
‘Just singin’ by the choir.’

What is the minister to do if he cannot, in good conscience, become a ‘liveware preacher,’ a ‘go-getter,’ or any of the other things in the way of good mixing, — which some of his men, it is true, do consider the marks of an effective ministry, — and yet cannot make his people see the value of religious habits? Most of our actions are habitual. If we always had to stop, think, and reason out our next move, we should never get anything done. Our lives, in large measure, are regulated by habit and directed by instinct. How can the clergyman who knows all this make his people see clearly that this points to the value of public worship? ‘The church is for religion what a social order is for civilization; it is an environment,’ The minister knows this, but he is bound to be discouraged if his golf-playing vestryman or trustee does not know it and complains when the church is not filled, though doing little himself to help crowd it. After all, a few really converted laymen might, conceivably, convert even bishops and clergy.

IV

We discover many evidences that our laymen are not converted and that this is the real reason for the church’s loss of prestige. Religion does not always play a large part in their lives. It is not that they have ‘views’; they do not think much on the subject, in any fashion. The conscientious clergyman often finds them all too ready to compromise with the world. Possibly he has convictions about marriage, for example, and they object to his offending influential parishioners who have lax views and cannot be made to understand that what is legal may not be Christian. Difficult Christian standards may not be accepted by a majority of his people, and they are impatient if he seems uncompromising. If he has decided views on modern business, or preaches on certain national problems or international duties, or expresses doubts as to the permanency of the present world order, he is regarded as a hopelessly idealistic doctrinaire, whose words are weighted with dynamite — as perhaps they are.

There are men in the priesthood who are anxious to lead, who wish the church vitally and efficiently to minister to the needs of humanity. They feel sure they could win to the church’s work many who are now outside, unattached followers of Christ who are doing His work and yet have not the stimulus of fellowship in His society, men of strong religious feelings and convictions whose absence from our ranks is their loss as well as ours. What is the minister to do when he discovers that he cannot win these men because they are bored by the people who already make up his congregation? For undoubtedly many people do stay out because of the character of those who are in. They have an uncomfortable realization that church people have little more than a code of conventional respectability, its outlook narrow, its temper puritanical, its orthodoxy sectarian, its morality prim and prissy. The truth is that the churches are full of people whose religion is static.

What is the minister to do, then, if he begins in a spirit of heroic adventure and later discovers that for most of his people this spirit has been lost through the stolid and stupid misinterpretation of commonplace men? What is he to do if he finds that all his congregation expects of him is that he shall go on teaching them to meet life in a spirit of celestial resignation, submitting to every duty with exemplary forbearance and meeting the little inconveniences of life with patient piety — for this is all that many of them expect or desire in sermons, and even this they are apt to consider excellent spiritual advice for others, while actually rejecting it when they come to wrestle with their own problems. What is the minister to do who tries to quicken his church into life and learns that most of his people are not anxious to scale heights, do not wish to be set on fire with a quest for adventure, or reality, or joy, are satisfied to enroll as fellow Christians and church members all and sundry persons who have not been guilty of scandalous disregard of the social code? Is it any wonder that his sermons lose vitality when he finds everybody satisfied with a religion that makes no demands, sets no challenge, requires no resoluteness of will, no perseverance of discipline, no determined purpose, no largeness of sympathy and understanding?

Sometimes I catch the gleam of a new faith which the younger generation may bring to the churches. Many of us think they are ‘hard boiled,’ whereas, perhaps, they are only anxious to appear so, in their revolt against what they consider ‘hokum’ in all social institutions, the church included. Youth has no enthusiasm for the church as an aseptic sanatorium where the ills of life are to be healed. It has no enthusiasm for a religion concerned largely with the salvation of meagre little individual souls. This present age is like youth — wayward and conceited, but lovable; perhaps, in time, it may turn to religion as a social force. Without hopelessly antagonizing youth by attributing to it an idealism not always in evidence, we may offer a religion definite and challenging. We have been attempting, in a feeble fashion, to bring about a new world order without the inspiration, motive force, and driving power of faith. It cannot be done. We have been trying to base our morals on something else than faith. That cannot be done. Except as a preliminary to life with God, ethics are meaningless. The real reason for decent living is that in obedience to moral standards we liberate our possibilities of spiritual life. Therefore, without religion as a basis, our ethical system has no necessary sanction. I don’t know that we shall make youth see this for a long time, but I am unwilling to give up trying to make it clear.

Nor do I know that many of the clergy have thought this out, but, despite the weakness of some of the brethren, I know that a number are beginning to think about it and are anxious to ‘speak out.’ How many of the older laity have the faintest idea of the problem involved? Is it any wonder, then, that there are weaker men in the ministry who feel they are beating their heads against a stone wall and give up despairingly? What are they to do if they sympathize with youth more than the younger generation has ever guessed; know that the spirit of freedom, with all its confidence and hope, can meet its true Leader only in Jesus Christ; and yet find in their congregations parents who desire for their children only social success, are even less unwilling than are their sons and daughters to risk unpopularity, are themselves slaves of the Goddess of Folly and deliberately blind themselves to facts about which they are too timid to pass judgment? With all its faults, the new generation is intolerant of weak compromise. Perhaps its chief criticism of the church and of social institutions is that we find in them too much of compromise.

Yes, we clergy are a tiresome lot. We are often dull. We have little training in high-power salesmanship. We have small administrative gifts. We are no better, as orators, than the average lawyer or politician. We are cramped by poverty. We lack social graces. We too are not overbrave in our defiances; we feebly compromise. Many of us lose the first, fire of faith. Some of us fall by the wayside.

Put who is to blame? After all, the only material out of which to make a clergyman is lay material. And look at the laity! Perhaps they are responsible, more than they know, for many a clergyman’s loss of faith. Will someone tell us how to make them different? Will someone from the ranks of youth, if not too annoyed at the slightest hint that he cares for ideals, give us a clear criticism — not simply a smashing and destructive bombardment, but constructive ideas as to what he wants and how he thinks he can get it?