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father and mother "intimate” through all their married years.
Brightening Family Religion The first altar was the family altar, and no other can take its place. It is the holy of holies among places of prayer. And parents were the first priests, whose place no pastor or preacher can fill. We could better spare any other sanctuary than “the church in thy house."
It is no accident that the decrease of family worship is coincident with the increase of family separations by divorces and runaways. Family prayer is a necessity of life if only as a solvent of family quarrels.
It is scarcely possible that two really living persons, whether parents or children, can be companions day by day, without differences of opinion, that will sometimes work down from head to heart. But these differences seldom harden into grudges when within twenty-four hours they have to encounter a family prayer, in which such commands of God are read as the following: “If thou bring thy gift to the altar and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, go and tell him his fault between him and thee alone. If he hear thee thou hast gained thy brother.” “Let not the sun go down upon thy wrath.” I remember how in my boyhood that last named command came to me as something to be literally obeyed, as I believe it should be, and for years the setting sun was a signal for a quick making-up if I had quarreled that day.
Many persons, in frivolous moments, speak critically of the stern worship in the homes of their boyhood; but when a large number of men whose mature lives have been eminently efficient were asked to recall the influences that had been most helpful in carrying them safely through the perils of youth into useful manhood, many
of them named family prayers as a potent factor in getting a safe start.
Better the most formal home worship than none at all, but no doubt the frequent stupidity of the old-time family worship when our fathers read of religion as a “feast” in a tone suited to a funeral, is one of the secondary reasons why family altars are unused in nine-tenths of the Christian homes of the United States today. This estimate of the number is based on two lines of investigation: first, the observations of lecturing secretaries, who see life in the homes of many Church leaders; second, the actual tally of canvassers for books of home worship, one of whom, for example, found among the lay members of an orthodox church in Connecticut no "family worship" except that of two elderly maidens.
More influential reasons for the decline of family worship are: the rush for trains from our series of breakfasts; the boarders and visitors in many homes that give timid fathers the excuse of “not forcing religion upon outsiders”; the general failure of pastors and teachers and parents to teach boys and young men, soon to be husbands and fathers, how to lead in worship which they ought to be prepared to do by much practice in their own homes, as I have said, and in young people's meetings and in opening exercises of Bible classes.
It is of little use for pastors to chide parents for the decay of family religion, unless some definite plan to revive it is offered to the whole congregation with the endorsement of the church officers.
The writer, as pastor of churches in Chicago, Brooklyn, and New York, multiplied family worship many fold by giving his people a course of daily Bible readings consisting of Bible stories, broken up into five-minute portions, each interpreted by Bible poetry, chiefly from Psalms and
Proverbs: for example, the story of David's flight from Absalom was followed by Psalm 4 (containing the original of "Now I lay me down to sleep”), which David prayed, harp in hand, that first night of a rebellion that endangered his throne and his life, and almost broke his heart. "It makes the Bible read like a romance, like a new book," said a lawyer's wife in my Chicago congregation.3
These daily Bible readings were made so interesting in one home that robust boys of five and eight would almost cry for more; for example, when the readings were in Exodus, the youngest said, “I should think you might give us one more plague.” They came to know all the Bible stories, but wanted them again and again as “dear old stories told once more.” And those same boys entered carnestly into the grace at table, which all repeated together whenever the man of the house was away—a plan worthy of universal adoption as there are many graces suitable to be said or sung in chorus. In this case the grace was:
"For these and all thy gifts of love
And bless us all our days. Amen." The boys were so imbued with the thought that thanks to God should always precede the acceptance of food from His hand, as a fitting expression of courtesy and · gratitude, that even when one of them received between meals his coveted bread and molasses, he bowed his head and said: "For these and all thy gifts of love, We give thee thanks and praise—do you give butter ?”
3 This schedule of readings in a 16-page leaflet will be sent to any one who applies, with stamp, to the International Reform Bureau, 206 Pennsylvania Avenue, S. E., Washington, D. C. This chapter on the family is followed up by two Round Tables in Part II, one of them on teaching, good citizenship in the home, the other on family discipline. Home worship is also consideded in Chapter XI.
When the elder of these boys, years afterwards, was married, one of the cherished wedding gifts was a silver bell for the table, on which the above grace was inscribed in full.
"Bright Ideas” of Supreme Value
“The rarest and most valuable thing in the
National Education Association. Resolution at Annual Meeting, Boston, 1922:
The safety of the republic rests to a large degree with the teachers of the nation. We call upon teachers everywhere to teach respect for law and order and for constituted authority; to impress alike upon young and old the importance of obedience to the Constitution and to all state and national laws and to local ordinances; to teach the children that laws are made by the majority; and may be changed by the majority; but that they must be obeyed by all; and that he who disobeys the Constitution or laws is an enemy of the republic.
PLEDGE OF STUDENT LEAGUE FOR PUBLIC SERVICE
By Miss Alice Hopkins, Brookline High School. Because I believe that the ideals of democracy are right; that every man is personally responsible for the maintenance of these ideals; that every man is under obligation to render public service; that every man is in duty bound to train himself to this end :
Therefore, I pledge myself to prepare myself for service to my country and humanity by attending school regularly and devoting myself to my studies; by upholding the standards of the school and supporting its activities with enthusiasm ; by seeking the occupation-intellectual, artistic, economic, or ethical—for which I am most suited, and by endeavoring to excel in it; by co-operating in every possible way with those who are striving for honest business, clean politics, wholesome society, and progressive government; by carying out in my own life the principles of honesty, loyalty, and service.
ROOSEVELT: If you are going to do anything permanent for the average man, you have got to begin before he is a man. The chance of success lies in working with the boy and not with the man.