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THE ROLE OF RELIGION
@author: Manas Reprints
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@mdate: 2004-12-06T17:00:00Z
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VOLUME V, NO. 6 FEBRUARY 6, 1952 THE ROLE OF RELIGION THE recent appeal of the Catholics for Christian unity under the Pope, in order to withstand the "materialistic forces seeking to disrupt Christianity," brings to the fore the popular idea that the present political struggle is in truth a contest between the forces of Righteousness and the powers of Evil. It is natural for Catholics to adopt this view of the Communist menace, for, despite the Soviet constitution's provision for freedom of religion, the Communist outlook on life is undeniably opposed to institutional religion, and opposed even to any philosophical idealism which is out of harmony with the materialistic interpretation of history. What has been the role of Christianity in Western history? It is the natural tendency of Westerners to define religion in terms of the Christian tradition, and then to compare other religions to Christianity, to the advantage of the latter. But if we assume, simply, that religion is that natural human expression which seeks to explain and satisfy the longings of men for a higher life—a life which reaches beyond the material considerations and necessities of daily existence—then Christianity must be judged, along with other faiths, in terms of its historical record. The fact is that the historical record of Christianity is not particularly good. But is it really "Communism" which has weakened and divided the fellowship of Christians? So far as the present is concerned, the European countries where communist parties exercise great influence—France and Italy—are countries where Catholicism is numerically by far the strongest of any Christian group. Protestants, who predominate in England and the United States, seem better able to resist the persuasions of ideological materialism, so that there is as much reason, or more, for Protestants to invite Catholics to join them, if victory in the war against political atheism is to be expected. But what is the substance of religion, apart from its doctrinal claims and earthly pretensions? Hazarding a definition, we might say that religion must offer some approach to the idea of Reality; it must establish some working relationship between the idea of Reality and the idea of Man; and, finally, it must provide some acceptable account of the meaning of human existence and the possibilities of fulfillment for human beings. The materialism of the communists may be admitted, but the claim of Christians to have the best antidote for materialism needs examination. After all, aggressive materialism is practically unique to the Christianized regions of the world, and not all the believers in modern materialism are "communists." The major doctrines of materialism were well thought out before the West had even heard of "communism" in its modern meaning, and there is good evidence to show that both materialism and communism are little more than historical reactions to the inadequacies and failures of Christian civilization. One popular way of identifying "religion" is by the presence of the idea of "God" in the particular system under examination. No God, no religion, it is said. This seems a serious mistake— especially a mistake among Western thinkers, who usually have rather narrow conceptions of the meaning of the term "God." There are those who embrace forthrightly transcendental views on the subject of Reality, yet who would shudder at the thought of collecting these subtle ideas under the misleading cognomen of "God." There are even Christians who find the traditional idea of God in their own religion almost intolerable, and have not hesitated to say so. As a reflective contributor to the Hibbert Journal, Col. T. B. Luard, put it, years ago: MANAS Reprint - LEAD ARTICLE 2 . . . I decline to pay lip service to Jehovah. The survival in Christian worship of this archaic conception of Deity is a stumbling block to the simple and an offence to the thoughtful. Sunday after Sunday, gaily is sung: "Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost." Of what possible aid . . . is this invocation of the "jealous god" of the Hebrew Prophets? . . . God in the Prayer Book is occasionally addressed as our Heavenly Father or as the Creator, but more often He is ALMIGHTY GOD, KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS, the personal ruler and judge who forgives sin and shows favour or grace at His pleasure, who not only liveth but REIGNETH world without end. Prayers are offered to his DIVINE MAJESTY by miserable sinners, in the spirit of fear, with constant appeals for mercy. I find it difficult to believe that this method of approach reflects the innermost convictions of the worshippers in church. It is certainly far from expressing mine. . . From criticism of the God-idea in traditional Christianity, Col. Luard passes to the function of the Anglican clergy: The bishops and clergy of the Church of England have unique opportunities and privileges, which they hold on trust. The conditions of that trust are that they lead the laity in the never ending exploration of the life of spirit. That there is a religious life, independent of dogma, a continuous and creative experience of illumination and regeneration, a searching test of sincerity and faith, that leads to growing fullness of life, men and women of every age and race have born witness. But we hear little of that difficult adventure in Church. Instead we are offered access to supernatural channels of "Divine Grace." . . . The fundamental religious issue of the day is not the Divinity of Christ but the spiritual nature of man. . . . The God-idea, for Col. Luard, is summed up in the phrase, "the eternal Creator Self Incarnate in the universe," and it is evident that this view of the highest is very different from the traditional meaning of God in the Christian religion. It is evident, also, that so long as institutional Christianity is deemed more important than the spirit of free inquiry and critical evaluation, Western religion will remain, in its own way, as Volume V, No. 6 deprecatory of the nature of man as any outspoken form of materialism. "Materialism," after all, is not intrinsically evil. The only sort of materialism that can be objected to on moral grounds is the materialism which insists that human life is decisively ruled by causes which are outside the power of man to control. Such material forces amount to the negation of man as a moral agent; for practical purposes, they function in this sort of materialistic system as an impersonal Jehovah. It is the likeness of these forces to the arbitrary rule of "God's will" that makes them evil, and not any inherent "wickedness" in matter itself. It follows that any religion which demands the irrational subjection of its followers to an outside authority is equivalent to the worst sort of "materialism," regardless of the "spiritual" vocabulary it employs, and regardless of its nominal championship of "the soul" and of "morality." The essence of morality is not in any act, but in the freedom of decision to act. It should not be difficult to see that "the spiritual nature of man," to which Col. Luard refers as "the fundamental issue of the day," is inseparably connected with the question of Deity. The deity who "rules over" man is a deity who subverts the dignity of man, but the deity which lives within the human heart creates and perpetuates human dignity, for such a deity is a uniting principle of one man with his fellows, and with all the rest of life. The nature of Christ is another crucial question for Christians to consider. Here, again, there is striking contrast between the traditional, orthodox view and the attitude adopted by the few for whom the Christ-idea has become a philosophically religious conviction. The idea of Christ can either set men apart or it can bring them together. If Jesus Christ be considered a uniquely Great Personage, the only Son of God, then the Christian religion becomes an exclusive and excluding "revelation," its favors denied to all who are born into another religious tradition, or MANAS Reprint February 6, 1952 3 who, by natural disinclination or "self-will," reject the Christian account of salvation for some other view. But if Christ be taken as a principle instead of a man, then there emerges a religious idea which has its counterpart in practically every other religious faith, and by this very similarity draws men together in reverence for a common ideal. As Col. Luard suggests: Light and Life, perception and growth, spiritual sensibility and vitality—revolution and evolution, both individual and corporate—was not this intermittent realisation and halting expression of a creative Self the reality of the experience of which the world of the Mediterranean and Western Asia had gradually become aware through the centuries, which Hellenistic religion and philosophy sought to explain, and which men and women strive after today? Who can say from personal experience that this inner Light and inner Life is the spirit of the man Jesus, of whom certain quite unreliable traditions have come down to us in the synoptic gospels? I am by no means alone in regarding it as an illusion to suppose that the Incarnation doctrines are fundamental to Christianity. The traditional belief that the realities of Christianity are bound up with the Divinity of Jesus has been held so long that it has come to be taken for granted; but it is beginning to dawn on the consciousness of this age that doctrines about the person of Jesus have overshadowed the spiritual doctrine of Christianity, and that the cult of Jesus has obscured the worship of the Eternal Creator. These, of course, are fairly familiar criticisms of Christian orthodoxy. Another sort of analysis, making capital of the fact that even the "historical Jesus" is made much more of myth than of verifiable report, points out that for the majority of believers, Jesus is merely an ideal figure constructed from hazy recollections of Bible stories heard in childhood. The average Christian has only the vaguest of impressions of what the Scriptures really say about Jesus. When anyone studies those Scriptures in an impartial and critical spirit, and acquires, also, a little working knowledge of the Mystery religions contemporary with the early days of Christianity, he arrives at conclusions something like the following: The sayings and doings of the Ministry [of Jesus], it is perforce admitted, "did not interest" St. Volume V, No. 6 Paul and his disciples; how could they have failed to interest them? Credal incidents apart, Barnabas, Ignatius, Hermas, and the others knew nothing whatever about "the great historical truths" of Christianity. Paul's own testimony or the lack of it is decisive. The Christ of his inspiration is not the Galilean prophet but a spirit akin to the Socratic daimon. So far from acknowledging a human predecessor in his mission, he insists not once but many times that he and no other is author of the revelation, to him alone has been committed the revealing of it. . . . Son of God or unexampled genius, the Galilean prophet is ignored by his disciples in all save name and mythic history. Not that which Jesus did and said but that which the Christ experiences, Virgin Birth, Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension, is the whole original belief. . . . It is strange that so little notice has been attracted by the strongly contrasted presentment of Christianity in Gospels and Epistles. The Gospels are wholly occupied with the words, deeds, and sufferings of Jesus, but the Epistles—admittedly the earlier writings—with a metaphysics barren of reference to Jesus except as the divine man crucified, raised from the dead, and ascending into heaven. These features had no novelty in A.D. 30. Egypt, Phrygia, and Greece mourned the death and rejoiced in the resurrection of Osiris, Attis, and Adonis. Phoenician legend had told of the alone-begotten son of E1 sacrificed to save his people, Plato of the Just Man scourged and crucified, steadfast in innocence to death, Hebrew scripture of the Suffering Servant and the Just Man sent by his enemies to a shameful death. The myth was translated into drama in a ceremony enacted all up and down the Mediterranean world, when a scapegoat laden with the people's sins . . . was driven forth beyond the city's walls to suffer death. That and no more than that was the original Christian belief, and Paul's interpretation of the sacred story attracted numbers of the educated classes to the Church. . . . (Ray Knight, "Silence as to the Ministry of Jesus in Early Christian Belief," Hibbert Journal, October, 1938.) Apparently, the "historical Jesus" of liberal persuasion, that great good man-- to whom we may look for incomparable example, is a portrait manufactured by later apologists, without sources among the earliest of the Messiah's followers. What, then, is left? Precisely those elements which modern man prefers to hear as little about MANAS Reprint February 6, 1952 4 as possible—the personified and miraculous "metaphysics" of the virgin birth, the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension—all in fact, that contains and hides the ancient drama of the Mysteries, and from which the modern world might learn a little of the true inspiration of pagan doctrines of the individual Regeneration of Man! It is here, in the frankly transcendental ideas of the Christian Mystery Drama, that the power of early Christianity rests. Stripped of these themes, mauled by "naturalistic" criticism founded upon agnostic assumptions, the story of Jesus has left not even the shadow of ancient wisdomism. A modern theologian describes the results of this sort of criticism: The Jesus who emerges from its labors is sometimes a simple-minded lover of God, who is crushed between the political and theological wheels of His day; sometimes an ethical teacher of high value; sometimes a dreamy enthusiast who died because He deluded Himself into the belief that He was the Messianic King. The Gospels, as manipulated by the uncertain methods of this sort of criticism, seem capable of yielding a picture of any sort of Jesus that the critic desires. (Hastings' Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, IV, 320a.) The unity the modern world needs may be religious—indeed, we think it is—but it is certainly not the unity of religious creeds and formulas, and least of all is it the unity of religious organization. The essence of religion, we suspect, is more likely to be found in the heretical ideas and principled rebellions which no orthodoxy, Christian or otherwise, has been able to contain. The living spirit of religion soon shakes off the shackles of organization; and, conversely, organization soon kills the living spirit, whenever and wherever it gains and exercises temporal or psychological power. Perhaps this is the great delusion of the Christian world: that religion, in order to be a power in men's lives, must be housed in a church and dispensed by specialists in belief. This sort of religion is never free. Before we resolve to unite as "Christians," the better to conduct the war against the forces of Materialism, we ought, as a matter of plain common sense, to find out what it means to be a Christian. The Catholic appeal for unity under the Pope can hardly help in this problem, for it was made, over our heads, directly to God—the nonCatholic world, both Christian and non-Christian, not being consulted at all. Catholic Christianity, it seems plain, means, first of all, membership in a religious organization, and the submission of all puzzling problems of faith to a Higher Authority than our own best judgment. But this, as Martin Luther objected, and as we agree, is a species of religious materialism which can in no way serve the free spirit of man. To "unite" with the Protestants, on the other hand, will be exceedingly difficult, for they, as an English Vicar pointed out some years ago, are themselves "united in nothing but their deep and abiding distrust of each other." Volume V, No. 6 MANAS Reprint February 6, 1952 5 Letter from MOROCCO CASABLANCA.—Leading authorities constantly display astonishment at the turbulent feelings generated in Egypt and the clash arising among the University students, the Communists, and justplainly-progressive young men in their twenties who refuse to abide under English domination. (Should we expect such protest from the middleaged and elders?) The new cycle that has erupted around us is precipitated by what many call the "Godless Generation." The fact that modern youth firmly insists that we have made a botch of the past may be a sharp criticism that many have difficulty countenancing, but it is nevertheless true. The day of the passivity and resignation of the East, so knowingly described by well-fed sewing circles, is about over. The laws laid down by the rich to keep the middle-class and the poor in check are also passing away. All over the East, the people are turning their backs on the solace of religion and demanding a living value in a living world. These same authorities, bemoaning violence and strife, point quickly to Communistic Imperialism as the over-all scourge. They claim, and with good cause, that all this misguided youth is being duped into the clutches of red Russia, through the agitators who plan to divide and rule. Once the fermenting countries achieve independence, it is said, they will immediately fall under Kremlin jurisdiction. earner. This, subsequently, is to lead to agitation against Americans as the source of the devaluation of the currency. By these means, it is felt, Americans will lose their influence in North Africa and Egypt, and these are the first cards to be played seriously with the eventual collapse of the Mediterranean Moslem World in mind. The main point that emerges from all this is that the youth are refusing and refuting our mistakes and wanting a world that they can live in with hope; the big threat of the Communists lies in our inability to supply youth with conditions under which they can have a decent existence with some honor and self-fulfillment—not, perhaps, as the Covenant of Human Rights would have it, but a chance for all of youth to make of their living a monument to something significant. Until such time as this opportunity is provided, modern youth, and the youths that follow, will terrorize us physically, while our own consciences should take care of the rest. The Communist threat can be curbed, but not people demanding a heritage, and the freedom of their own birthplace from any form of imperialism. CORRESPONDENT IN CASABLANCA Here, they point to the significant Nov. 5 meeting of the Kominform in Algiers, with the shadowy "Monsieur Marcel" managing everything from the sidelines. M. Marcel appears to be allpowerful (both financially and politically) and through his devices it was announced that in 1952 Algeria will become the African center of the Kominform. Agitation in Egypt, we learn, will be directed from Algeria with sporadic nationalistic riots, and ever-present strikes will be the response to the eventual rise of prices harassing the wage- Volume V, No. 6 MANAS Reprint February 6, 1952 6 REVIEW IN ANOTHER LIGHT OUR enthusiasm of last week for Erich Fromm's Forgotten Language grew out of the conviction that revolutionary perspectives as to the basic nature and potentiality of man are the greatest need of the modern world. Great benefactors of humankind often suggest a reformation of human values by reference to a "truer"—more scientific or more philosophical, as we prefer—scheme of interpretation for the otherwise "taken for granted world" around us. The Copernican revolution meant precisely this, and Darwin established some sort of significant connection between man and lower orders of life. Today, Dr. Fromm, and others like him, invite thoughtful men to penetrate beyond the static conceptions of arbitrary scientific categories and interpretations of subjective experience. But, when we stop to think of it, many men, even if not blessed with scientific or analytical genius, have had an opportunity to penetrate the veil of superficialities. As a matter of fact, it can be contended that anyone who loses his eyesight has an excellent opportunity to know a great deal more than most of his fellows. This thought is one of the most worth-while themes of Baynard Kendrick's novel, Lights Out, now offered in the usual watered-down film version under the name of Bright Victory. (This movie, though, is still worth seeing.) Mr. Kendrick has served as honorary chairman of the Board of Directors for the Blinded Veterans Association, and his book reaps a harvest of many years of thought about that mysterious world of sightlessness which few of us have ever bothered to dwell upon, unless with aversion or in fear. Kendrick's leading character, "Sergeant Larry Nevin," starts out as a typically brash and prejudiced Southerner. While serving with the armed forces in France, a sniper's bullet destroyed one eye and the optic nerve responsible for sight in the other. The full weight of pressing tragedy is there for the reader to feel, but, almost before the Sergeant has a chance to bow under it, he begins to discover that the new world in which he lives is intriguingly challenging; not only this, but in many ways more real than the Volume V, No. 6 one he left behind him. He meets new friends and begins to know them in a way he had never known men before; he can no longer be confused by outward appearances. Signs of affluence, "personality-projection," and similar matters that weigh so heavily in most human appraisals, now mean nothing: These men were becoming his companions and friends. They were growing to life from little attentions they showed him, directions given when he was lost in the halls, aid while he was in the workshop busy with modeling clay. Some he thought dumb, some smart, some vulgar, some full of fun, some overserious. Their identification had nothing to do with any persons he had seen before his blindness. Rather, the stress was laid on character, interpreted and classified by actions and words. Possibly he was most unfair, but he didn't think so. New standards were forming. Dumbness meant lack of interest and had nothing to do with a fellow's appearance. Smartness meant a desire to learn and master new things, no matter how long a time it took. Larry didn't realize it then, but nonessentials such as surface beauty, colors, and form, important to a man with eyes, were rapidly being cut away. Such an awakening to new values is no easy affair. There are tremendous confusions and heartaches, but, almost from the beginning, there is hope—hope to find the source of a new kind of Light. Larry Nevin reads a Braille dictionary to discover the full meaning of "see." The first definition told him that "seeing" meant to "perceive by the eye." But another definition read: 2. To see. To perceive with the mind; have an idea of or the meaning of; be cognizant of; understand; apprehend; comprehend; as to see the meaning of a remark; to see one's object or purpose; to see an advantage. So he had lost his eyesight, and he was seeing a thousand things today that he'd never seen before. He was perceiving with his mind that the mind was the only thing to perceive with. He was perceiving the pleasure of thinking, of thinking not only at night, but in the daytime. There indeed was a pastime he'd never indulged in before. He was perceiving the meaning of blindness, a close brother to dumbness. Blind as a bat held no MANAS Reprint February 6, 1952 7 terrors any more. Most of the world was blind as bats, flying around with covered-up eyes and stoppedup ears, flying around with brains that weren't working, tangling up with wires of greed and smashing themselves and their children against obvious walls of war. the way in which the Government had increased the cost of labor by social legislation, simply aroused Larry's disgust. Somerset's apparent liking for war as the source of "business opportunity" makes Larry reflect: Lights Out has valuable contributions to make on the subject of racial prejudice. Sergeant Nevin is from the South. He develops a close friendship with another blinded veteran, a closer friendship than he had with anyone in his entire life, and then he discovers that "Joe Morgan" is a Negro. All that his mother had taught him, all that the narrow bigotry of the South had impressed upon him, was challenged. At first the Sergeant fails in meeting this challenge, but finally he can no longer avoid the fact that Joe, the "nigger," is more of a friend than the beautiful girl he had intended to marry. If you killed a thousand Germans at a cost of a million dollars, you were pensioned for life. If you save a thousand Americans at a cost of a million dollars, you were stepping on Mr. Somerset's business and throwing money away. It takes Sergeant Nevin a long time to find his way back to Joe and away from the hometown belle—a girl even more superficial than Larry used to be, who shows herself to be tremulous and apprehensive in the presence of a "blind man." But Nevin wins back to Joe, and also wins a new and worthier girl for a wife. Nevin came to realize that he had gained a better education during three months of blindness than during two years of college. The "college-man" Nevin now seemed shallow to the "blind" Nevin—a man who was learning to look out on new horizons. Larry used to have a high opinion of himself as a strong, virile, dashing soldier; at first, of course, he felt that he had been robbed of any manly, military significance by the loss of his eyes. But here, too, a new kind of enlightenment gradually penetrates—he sees himself now as more, rather than less, useful to the human race, simply because he has become a more understanding human being. So finally it is the war itself that appears useless, not Larry Nevin. Once Larry rides on a train with a wealthy manufacturer who is blatantly proud of vast shipments of surgical equipment he has dispatched to the front. The Larry who would once have been greatly impressed by these achievements is replaced by a Larry who sees things quite differently. Mr. Somerset, the manufacturer, in complaining about Volume V, No. 6 And suppose we'd saved a thousand Germans before they grew big enough, or hungry enough, to hate us and started out gunning for Larry Nevin's eyes? Or a thousand Japs, or a thousand Italians? Or suppose his mother had taught him that the little Negro boy he'd played with was just as good as he was, and the country had spent the cost of ten thousand planes on food and education for the Negroes in Palatka, or a single billion for education about truth in general, telling the nation that Jews were really people? Larry used to think that he lived in an endless tunnel of blackness. Finally this tunnel becomes one of light: The tunnel stretched from now 'til death. It was the longest tunnel in the world. It led one way with no return, and in it, if your mind worked straight, you saw only things worth seeing. If you peopled it only with beauty and truth, then beauty and truth would remain. If you peopled it with falseness, you traveled for life with intolerance and your journey was long and racked with pain. You had to fight to show the world that a man or a woman possessed a soul, regardless of creed or color. You had to strive to prove to others that the only blackness was not of the eyes, but blackness of the brain. The light that was flaming would never die. It would grow ever brighter. He couldn't be blind with such a light. It must be that the world was blind—or maybe a hundred and thirty million Americans, too God-damned dumb to see! MANAS Reprint February 6, 1952 8 COMMENTARY CURRENTS OF THOUGHT WE like to think that science is one thing, religion another, and that—to borrow from Kipling's historic but unhistorical couplet—never the twain shall meet. Yet the fact is that both science and religion are continually modified by one another. These "modifications" may be of various sorts. Science, for example, became "materialistic" in resentful reaction against the psychological as well as political tyranny of institutional religion. Then, at the very apex of the prestige of materialism in the United States— during the years following the first World war, when a gross sort of Freudianism was "taking over" the modern novel, and when the dogmas of Behaviorism were beginning to dominate academic psychology—some feeling of rejection of anthropological materialism seems to have inspired Henry Fairfield Osborn to attack the animalistic theories of human origin, held almost to a man by his contemporaries in research. (See Frontiers.) It seems fair to speak of this current of thought in Dr. Osborn as "religious," despite the fact that not a breath of conventional "piety" emerges in his writings, for a monumental respect for humanness does emerge, and this might be called the veritable essence of religion. teacher was found "guilty" of instructing his pupils in the Darwinian theory of evolution. Osborn was on the side of science, of course, yet his temperate discussions in the newspapers give suggestive evidence that he was thinking things over on a broader basis than either "side" could provide. Both science and religion are, we think, the richer for his published reflections, and to that extent closer to one another. It is this quality of inner religion, perhaps, as contrasted with its institutional forms, which seeks always to turn to one common destination the two great avenues of human perception and modes of knowing—avenues represented culturally and institutionally by the terms "science" and "religion," and represented individually and psychologically by "reason" and "intuition." Even while science and religion were institutionally at bitter odds, they were seeking psychological union in Dr. Osborn's effort to give a humane version of human origins. Dr. Osborn was a literary participant in the great controversy over evolution precipitated by the Scopes trial at Dayton, Tennessee, in which a young science Volume V, No. 6 MANAS Reprint February 6, 1952 9 days—many of the tales selected are excellent for stimulating the imagination. CHILDREN . . . and Ourselves ON December 15 a certain proportion of the nation's populace took note of an important anniversary, the 160th since the ratification of the Bill of Rights amendments to the United States Constitution. Did you know we had a "Bill of Rights Week"? The most discerning "liberals" are undoubtedly those who do not claim to be altogether sure what "liberty" means, but are very sure that the word stands for something that it is important to find out about. Reactionary Governments—and reactionary persons—are, conversely, very sure what "liberty" and "freedom" mean, giving definitive limits to both, within which the proper degree of "responsibility" is supposed to function. Our present military policies, for instance, propose to restrict the liberty of the ordinary citizen during a term of military service in order to guarantee that his freedom will not be restricted in the future—a proposition involving a logical knot which few have ever had the temerity to try to untie. But for those who want to find the real meaning of "liberty" and "freedom," there will always be agreement upon the fact that, whatever they mean, they must be constantly rediscovered in relation to the threats which mark each new social and political transition. "Bill of Rights Week," consequently, predisposes us in favor of a children's book suggested by one of our subscribers—Great Moments in Freedom, by Marion Lansing. Miss Lansing has written several educational books for children, and while Great Moments in Freedom may not be easily available—it was first issued in 1930—the libraries doubtless have copies. While we might take issue with Miss Lansing's anthropological asides as to the origin of the human race---with the implication that "freedom" is something we have acquired since our cave man Volume V, No. 6 The opening story, for instance, concerns Helen Keller, and offers interpretation of her life as that of a pioneer in the discovery of freedom. Such an interpretation can be wonderfully inspiring, for Helen Keller's freedom was a freedom of the mind, gained, progressively, by overcoming tremendous obstacles. Once she learned a way of communicating, an avenue was open to her for sharing the intellectual heritage of the race. Though she was never able to see or hear a thing, her comprehension reached far and wide. She wrote that with each effort made to overcome her particular handicaps, "the more joyous and confident" grew her "kinship with the rest of the world." We like this sort of introduction to the other stories concerning "pioneers in freedom," since it helps children to realize that "freedom" is a much more subtle thing than the "Stars and Stripes Forever." Also, Helen Keller's life indicates the only way in which genuine freedom can be appreciated—when it is used constructively, when it further admits us to "kinship with the rest of the world." Miss Lansing's volume gives, in succession, the stories of Moses, Horatius, the Battle of Marathon, Socrates, St. Francis, John Wyclif, Martin Luther, and several others. Some of the condensations seem to oversimplify grossly certain scientific problems, such as Edward Jenner's discovery of vaccination, and in the fanciful anthropology attending a "Story of the First Fire." But the volume ends well, as it began. One of the last chapters is devoted to the feminist movement in education as represented by Mary Lyon, founder of Mount Holyoke College. Mary Lyon once conceived the unprecedented idea of a "female seminary" for New England, and consequently faced all of the deep-rooted social prejudices of the locality; more, she faced the whole perverted view on "women's education" that had been bequeathed to the Western world by MANAS Reprint February 6, 1952 10 medieval institutions. Yet, braving an endless public disdain, criticism and accusation, she lived to see much accomplished to establish the mental equality of women with men. If we could take the stories of Helen Keller and Mary Lyon as our best tales of the book—and this would hardly be the first thought of children who read all its stories—we should be able to understand why liberty is first and foremost an inner discovery. The Los Angeles Times recently carried an excellent full-page advertisement for the aforementioned "Bill of Rights Week," sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union. One of the greatest advantages of the work of the ACLU, it seems to us, is that by maintaining the struggle for freedom on so many fronts, the public is encouraged to discover that the enemy of freedom is always an attitude of mind. This attitude of mind can take innumerable forms, manifesting in the Ku Klux Klan, in loyalty oaths, in the Smith and McCarran Acts, and in the World War II internment of Japanese-Americans. And, significantly, the attitude is always one of fear. to keep alive the spirit of the framers of the U.S. Constitution, may all meet together. The child is a natural worshipper of heroes, and this can only be because he feels something of the hero-impulse within himself. This heroic urge must be given a broad, humanitarian ideal on which to focus. We should never allow it to be captured by the propaganda of that false and exclusive patriotism which the world has always suffered under the name of Military Protection. It is time—it is always time—for our children to learn that no man is brave who hates and fears, and that only the fearless man, who is Free because he is Fearless, will ever lead others to a happier and better life, or even find full fruition of his own capacities. We like the title of the ACLU's advertisement, "Keep Liberty's Torch Burning!" But especially we favor Justice Brandeis' statement which follows that exhortation: "Those who won our independence by revolution were not cowards. They did not fear political change. They did not exalt order at the cost of liberty. . . ." This fear seems always to be a common denominator of genuine Evil, which may be comprehensible to our children. From the most ancient writings we receive confirmation of much that modern psychiatrists tell us—that the quality of "fearlessness," as taught in The Bhagavad-Gita of India, must be the "first quality" of the disciple. Only those who are afraid will develop attitudes of mind predisposed to interfere with another's freedom. Self-righteousness, the belief that we are better than other people, is also derived from fear; if we knew that we were "right," for instance, we would not in the least be worried about having to prove it, nor of having anyone else disprove it. Yet others are usually made to pay a price for our own lack of sufficiently sure and calm convictions. So there is an area wherein the instinctive aspirations of our children toward bravery, the story of the Great Pioneers in Freedom recounted by Marion Lansing, and the efforts of the ACLU Volume V, No. 6 MANAS Reprint February 6, 1952 11 FRONTIERS Another "Cradle of the Race" ANYONE who keeps any kind of track of the announcements of anthropologists is likely to think that the human race has about as many "birthplaces" as the Eastern seaboard has houses George Washington slept in. The hypothetical cradle of mankind has been located in Mesopotamia, in Africa, in Java, in the tablelands of Central Asia, in Pekin, and doubtless numerous other places. The theory of human origins which seems least likely to be upset by future discoveries is that of Franz Weidenreich, who, back in 1938, proposed that the races of man were born, not in any one locality, but "simultaneously all over the globe." Meanwhile, a Life article of last year (May 21, 1951), which has only now come to our attention, adds another site to the collection of birthplaces already available—a large limestone cave in Iran, above the southern shore of the Caspian Sea. The important news of this discovery is the unearthing of the bones of "modern" man, wholly unlike the shaggy-browed, stooped-over Neanderthals of Europe, in geological strata fixing the date of these remains at about 75,000 years ago. The evidence seems conclusive—at least, the Life experts can find nothing odd or suspicious about it—that these modern men found buried at the bottom of a forty-foot pit in the cave of Hotu were contemporaries of the Neanderthals, thus establishing beyond doubt that the ugly species of "cave men" who have been haunting our museums, our "science" textbooks, and even our funny papers, were only a tired sideline of human evolution, and that the modern human races have an independent ancestry of their own. The scientists who found the bones are Americans—Louis Dupree, a geologist, and Carleton Coon, an archaeologist of the University of Pennsylvania, the leader of the expedition. Dupree saw the bones first. He called Coon, who "took one look at the human remains and Volume V, No. 6 collapsed." Both scientists maintain that the layers of sand and gravel in which the three skeletons were found were laid down somewhere between 75,000 and 100,000 years ago, before the last glacial invasion. The human types are nevertheless such as could be duplicated among peoples alive today. From one point of view, an antiquity of 75,000 or even 100,000 years is not such a great stretch into the past for the history of mankind. The feature of the Life report of the Iran discovery is rather that, so long ago as this, human beings looked almost exactly as they do today, indicating that the eagerness of anti-Genesis evolutionists to relate man to ape-like creatures themselves of relatively recent origin was born of the spirit of controversy, and not from scientific facts. A few more discoveries like this one, and a few more books like Frederic Wood Jones' Hallmarks of Mankind, and not just anthropologists, but ordinary people as well, will be wondering why in the first place such strenuous efforts were made by scientists to convince the public of the ape-origin theory. There are arguments to present in behalf of the ape-origin theory, to be sure, but in the light of disclosures by anthropologists who have written since the days of the Great Debate between the believers in Special Creation and the champions of Darwinism, those arguments seem flimsy and superficial. This seems as good a place as any to honor an American anthropologist—one of the greatest—who rejected the ape-origin theory a quarter of a century ago, and was quietly ridiculed by his colleagues for doing so. Today, we suspect, Henry Fairfield Osborn would be able to gain far more of a hearing for his revolutionary ideas about evolution, were he alive to present them again. It was in the weekly magazine of professional researchers, Science, that Osborn first presented his contentions against conventional evolutionary doctrine. In the issue of May 20, 1927, he published a paper on "Recent Discoveries Relating MANAS Reprint February 6, 1952 12 to the Origin and Antiquity of Man," in which he set forth views that found practically no response at all from the scientific fraternity. The reason for this lack of interest is soon evident in the things he said, many of which ran directly counter to then prevailing anthropological opinion. For example: While still supported by very able anatomists such as Gregory, the ape-human ancestry theory is, in my opinion, greatly weakened by recent evidence, and I am inclined to advocate an independent line of Dawn Man ancestors, springing from an Oligocene neutral stock, which also gave rise independently to the anthropoid apes. . . . The prologue and the opening acts of the human drama occurred way back 16,000,000 years ago in the Upper Oligocene Period. ... . . . many of the resemblances between ape and man which have been erroneously cited as proofs of ape-man descent are due either to very remote common inheritance or to the convergence of the ape toward the human type. . . . I regard the ape-human theory as totally false and misleading. It should be banished from our speculations and from our literature not on sentimental grounds but on scientific grounds and we should now set our faces toward the discovery of our actual pro-human ancestors. While Dr. Osborn offers anatomical evidence of the sort gathered by Frederic Wood Jones, the bulk of his argument, as presented in this article, rests upon psychological grounds. His comparison of the psychology and behavior of primitive man with the corresponding traits of ancient apes is so striking, and has been so consistently neglected, that we reproduce the tabular summary entire, with the author's comment: HOMINIDAÆ (Family of Man) Pro-human psychology and behavior (1) Tool-making capacity of the hands and especially of the thumb (2) Adaptation and design of implements of many kinds in wood, bone and stone Volume V, No. 6 SIMIDAÆ (Family of Apes Pro-ape psychology and behavior (1) Limb-grasping capacity of the hands and loss of the thumb (2) Adaptation of the fore and hind limbs to the art of tree climbing and brachiating (3) Design and invention directed by an intelligent forebrain (4) Use of the arms and tools in offense, defense and al the arts of life (5) Use of the legs for walking, running, travel and escape from enemies (6) Escape from enemies by vigilance, flight and concealment (7) Tree-climbing by embracing the main trunk with the arms and limbs after the manner of the bear (3) Design limited to the construction of very primitive tree nests (4) Use of the arms chiefly for treeclimbing purposes; secondarily for the prehension of food and grasping of the foe (5) Escape from enemies by retreat through branches of trees (6) Escape from enemies by retreat through branches of trees (7) Tree-climbing always along branches, never by embracing the main limbs and trunk The above are only a fraction of the host of psychic contrasts which might be drawn between the daily behavior of the Dawn Man and the daily behavior of the pro-anthropoid ape. . . . in the life and conduct of the pro-ape was the potency of the superapes living today—the orang, chimpanzee, gorilla and gibbon—but in the Dawn Man was the potency of modern civilization. The most welcome gift from anthropology to humanity will be the banishment of the myth and bogie of ape-man ancestry and the substitution of a long line of ancestors of our own at the dividing point which separates the terrestrial from the arboreal lines of primates. . . . Between man and the ape—not only the hands and feet of the ape, but the ape as a whole, including his psychology—you will find more differences than resemblances. The Hotu man of Iran, of course, does not bring us any closer to the discovery of Dr. Osborn's "Dawn Man" than we were before. The Hotu man lived, at most, only 100,000 years ago. The Neanderthal man, however, with which Hotu man was contemporary, ranged over a vast area, from China to Europe and South Africa, and for a period of some 900,000 years, according to Dr. Osborn, so that a similar antiquity is at least possible for the Hotu species. Such ideas may have an unsettling character, but in a region of inquiry so important as the origin of the human race, "unsettlement" may be a much more useful MANAS Reprint February 6, 1952 13 condition to be in than that of dogmatic certainty in either religion or science. Perhaps the geological record will give us further instruction in the genesis of the human race, and perhaps it won't. Perhaps more will be learned from psychology than from geology on the subject. There is considerable to be learned from Dr. Osborn's psychological inquiry, and we suspect that many other things of a similar interest could be compiled from the records of comparative psychology. Meanwhile, the spirit of Dr. Osborn's search for anthropological truth is surely an inspiring one, and he sets the problem precisely where it ought to be set—in the unique qualities of the human being: Of all incomprehensible things in the universe man stands in the front rank, and of all incomprehensible things in man, the supreme difficulty centers in the human brain, intelligence, memory, aspirations, and powers of discovery, research and the conquest of obstacles. Whether or not the finding of new fossil remains of ancient man will, as Dr. Osborn hoped, bring us nearer to a solution of this mystery, we cannot say. But one thing is certain—we shall never go astray so long as we study human beings in terms of their highest human qualities, in terms of their "intelligence, memory, aspirations, and powers of discovery, research and the conquest of obstacles." When we know where, in the universe, these qualities come from, we shall know the origin of man. Volume V, No. 6 MANAS Reprint February 6, 1952 ...
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