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The Minister and the Boy by Allan Hoben

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A Handbook for Churchmen Engaged in Boys' Work


Associate Professor of Practical Theology, The University of Chicago
Field Secretary of the Chicago Juvenile Protective Association



The aim of this book is to call the attention of ministers to the
important place which boys' work may have in furthering the Kingdom of
God. To this end an endeavor is made to quicken the minister's
appreciation of boys, to stimulate his study of them, and to suggest a
few practical ways in which church work with boys may be conducted.

The author is indebted to the Union Church of Waupun, Wis., and to the
First Baptist Church of Detroit, Mich., for the opportunity of working
out in actual practice most of the suggestions incorporated in this
book. He is also indebted to many authors, especially to President G.
Stanley Hall, for a point of view which throws considerable light upon
boy nature. The Boy-Scout pictures have been provided by Mr. H.H.
Simmons, the others by Mr. D.B. Stewart, Mrs. Joseph T. Bowen, and the
author. The greatest contribution is from the boys of both village and
city with whom the author has had the privilege of comradeship and from
whom he has learned most of what is here recorded.

The material has been used in talks to teachers and clubs of various
sorts, and in the Men and Religion Forward Movement. The requests
following upon such talks and arising also from publication of most of
the material in the _Biblical World_ have encouraged this attempt to
present a brief handbook for ministers and laymen who engage in church
work for boys.


CHICAGO, August 19, 1912





The Christian apologetic for today depends less upon the arguments of
speculative theology and the findings of biblical science than upon
sociological considerations. The church is dealing with a pragmatic
public which insists upon knowing what this or that institution
accomplishes for the common good. The deep and growing interest in
social science, the crying needs that it lays bare, together with
socialistic dreams of human welfare, compel Christian workers to pay
more heed to the life that now is, since individualistic views of
salvation in the world to come do not fully satisfy the modern

Hence the ministry is compelled more and more to address itself to the
salvation of the community and the nation after the fashion of the
Hebrew prophets. Lines of distinction also between what is religious and
what is secular in education and in all human intercourse have become
irregular or dim; and the task of bringing mankind to fullness and
perfection of life has become the task alike of the educator, the
minister, the legislator, and the social worker. In fact, all who in any
capacity put their hands to this noble undertaking are co-workers with
Him whose divine ideal was to be consummated in the Kingdom of God on

The ministry, therefore, is taking on a great variety of forms of
service, and the pastor is overtaxed. The church, moreover, is slow to
recognize the principle of the division of labor and to employ a
sufficient number of paid officers. Only the pressing importance of work
for boys can excuse one for suggesting another duty to the conscientious
and overworked pastor. Already too much has been delegated to him alone.
Every day his acknowledged obligations outrun his time and strength, and
he must choose but a few of the many duties ever pressing to be done.
Yet there is no phase of that larger social and educational conception
of the pastor's work that has in it more of promise than his ministry to
boys. Whatever must be neglected, the boy should not be overlooked.

To answer this complex demand and the call of boyhood in particular the
pastor must be a leader and an organizer. Otherwise, troubles and
vicissitudes await him. In every field unused possibilities hasten the
day of his departure. Idle persons who should have been led into worthy
achievement for Christ and the church fall into critical gossip, and
there soon follows another siege perilous for the minister's
freight-wracked furniture, another flitting experience for his homeless
children, another proof of his wife's heroic love, and another scar on
his own bewildered heart.

It is, indeed, difficult for the pastor to adopt a policy commensurate
with modern demands. He should lead, but on the other hand a very
legitimate fear of being discredited through failure deters him;
traditional methods hold the field; peace at any price and pleasurable
satisfaction play a large part in church affairs; the adult, whose
character is already formed, receives disproportionate attention; money
for purposes of experimentation in church work is hard to get;
everything points to moderation and the beaten path; and the way of the
church is too often the way of least resistance. Small wonder if the
minister sometimes capitulates to things as they are and resigns himself
to the ecclesiastical treadmill.

It requires no small amount of courage to be governed by the facts as
they confront the intelligent pastor, to direct one's effort where it is
most needed and where it will, in the long run, produce the greatest
and best results. To be sure, the adult needs the ministry of teaching,
inspiration, correction, and comfort to fit him for daily living; but,
as matters now stand, the chief significance of the adult lies in the
use that can be made of him in winning the next generation for Christ.
In so far as the adult membership may contribute to this it may lay
claim to the best that the minister has. In so far as it regards his
ministry as a means of personal pleasure, gratification, and religious
luxury, it is both an insult to him and an offense to his Master.

A successful ministry to boys, whether by the pastor himself or by those
whom he shall inspire and guide, is fundamental in good pastoral work.
Boys now at the age of twelve or fifteen will, in a score of years,
manage the affairs of the world. All that has been accomplished--the
inventions, the wealth, the experience in education and government, the
vast industrial and commercial systems, the administration of justice,
the concerns of religion--all will pass into their control; and they
who, with the help of the girls of today, must administer the world's
affairs, are, or may be, in our hands now when their ideals are nascent
and their whole natures in flux.

Boys' work, then, is not providing harmless amusement for a few
troublesome youngsters; it is the natural way of capturing the modern
world for Jesus Christ. It lays hold of life in the making, it creates
the masters of tomorrow; and may pre-empt for the Kingdom of God the
varied activities and startling conquests of our titanic age. Think of
the great relay of untamed and unharnessed vigor, a new nation exultant
in hope, undaunted as yet by the experiences that have halted the
passing generation: what may they not accomplish? As significant as the
awakening of China should the awakening of this new nation be to us. In
each case the call for leadership is imperative, and the best ability is
none too good. Dabblers and incompetent persons will work only havoc,
whether in the Celestial Empire or in the equally potent Kingdom of
Boyhood. The bookworm, of course, is unfit even if he could hear the
call, and the nervous wreck is doomed even if he should hear it; but the
fit man who hears and heeds may prevent no small amount of delinquency
and misery, and may deliver many from moral and social insolvency.

If a minister can do this work even indirectly he is happy, but if he
can do it directly by virtue of his wholesome character, his genuine
knowledge and love of boys, his athletic skill, and his unabated zest
for life, his lot is above that of kings and his reward above all
earthly riches.

Then, too, it is not alone the potential value of boys for the Kingdom
of God, and what the minister may do for them; but what may they not do
for him? How fatal is the boy collective to all artificiality,
sanctimony, weakness, make-believe, and jointless dignity; and how prone
is the ministry to these psychological and semi-physical pests! For,
owing to the demands of the pulpit and of private and social
intercourse, the minister finds it necessary to talk more than most men.
He must also theorize extensively because of the very nature of
theological discipline. Moreover, he is occupied particularly with those
affairs of the inner life which are as intangible as they are important.
His relation with people is largely a Sunday relation, or at any rate a
religious one, and he meets them on the pacific side. Very naturally
they reveal to him their best selves, and, true to Christian charity and
training, he sees the best in everyone. If the women of his parish
receive more than their proper share of attention the situation is
proportionately worse. It follows that the minister needs the most
wholesome contact with stern reality in order to offset the subtle drift
toward a remote, theoretical, or sentimental world. In this respect
commercial life is more favorable to naturalness and virility; while a
fair amount of manual labor is conducive to sanity, mental poise, and
sound judgment as to the facts of life. The minister must have an
elemental knowledge of and respect for objective reality; and he must
know human nature.

Now among all the broad and rich human contacts that can put the
minister in touch with vital realities there is none so electric, so
near to revelation as the boy. Collectively he is frank to the point of
cruelty and as elemental as a savage. Confronted alone and by the
minister, who is not as yet his chum, he reveals chiefly the minister's
helplessness. Taken in company with his companions and in his play he is
a veritable searchlight laying bare those manly and ante-professional
qualities which must underlie an efficient ministry. Later life, indeed,
wears the mask, praises dry sermons, smiles when bored, and takes
careful precautions against spontaneity and the indiscretions of
unvarnished truth; but the boy among his fellows and on his own ground
represents the normal and unfettered reaction of the human heart to a
given personality. The minister may be profoundly benefited by knowing
and heeding the frank estimate of a "bunch" of boys. They are the
advance agents of the final judgment; they will find the essential man.
May it not be with him as with Kipling's Tomlinson, who, under the
examination of both "Peter" and the "little devils," was unable to
qualify for admission either to heaven or hell:

And back they came with the tattered Thing, as
children after play,
And they said: "The soul that he got from God he has
bartered clean away.
We have threshed a stook of print and book, and
winnowed a chattering wind
And many a soul wherefrom he stole, but his we
cannot find:
We have handled him, we have dandled him, we have
seared him to the bone,
And sure if tooth and nail show truth he has no soul
of his own."

Fortunately, however, ministerial professionalism is on the wane.
Protestantism, in its more democratic forms, rates the man more and the
office less, and present-day tests of practical efficiency are adverse
to empty titles and pious assumption. To be "Reverend" means such
character and deeds as compel _reverence_ and not the mere "laying on
of hands." Work with boys discovers this basis, for there is no place
for the holy tone in such work, nor for the strained and vapid quotation
of Scripture, no place for excessively feminine virtues, nor for the
professional hand-shake and the habitual inquiry after the family's
health. In a very real sense many a minister can be saved by the boys;
he can be saved from that invidious classification of adult society into
"men, women, and ministers," which is credited to the sharp insight of
George Eliot.

The minister is also in need of a touch of humor in his work. The
sadness of human failure and loss, the insuperable difficulties of his
task, the combined woes of his parish, the decorum and seriousness of
pulpit work--all operate to dry up the healthy spring of humor that
bubbled up and overran in his boyhood days. What health there is in a
laugh, what good-natured endurance in the man whose humor enables him to
"side-step" disastrous and unnecessary encounters and to love people
none the less, even when they provoke inward merriment. The boys' pastor
will certainly take life seriously, but he cannot take it somberly.
Somewhere in his kind, honest eye there is a glimmer, a blessed survival
of his own boyhood.

So, being ministered to by the comradeship of boys, he retains his
sense of fun, fights on in good humor, detects and saves himself on the
verge of pious caricature and solemn bathos; knows how to meet important
committees on microscopic reforms as well as self-appointed theological
inquisitors and all the insistent cranks that waylay a busy pastor. Life
cannot grow stale; and by letting the boys lead him forth by the streams
of living water and into the whispering woods he catches again the wild
charm of that all-possible past: the smell of the campfire, the joyous
freedom and good health of God's great out-of-doors. Genius and success
in life depend largely upon retaining the boyish quality of enthusiastic
abandon to one's cause, the hearty release of one's entire energy in a
given pursuit, and the conviction that the world is ever new and all
things possible. The thing in men that defies failure is the original
boy, and "no man is really a man who has lost out of him all the boy."

The boy may also be a very practical helper in the pastor's work. In
every community there are some homes in which the pastor finds it almost
impossible to create a welcome for himself. Misconceptions of long
standing, anti-church sentiments, old grievances block the way. But if
in such a home there is a boy whose loyalty the pastor has won through
association in the boys' club, at play, in camp--anywhere and
anyhow--his eager hand will open both home and parental hearts to the
wholesome friendship and kindly counsel of the minister of Christ. When
the boy's welfare is at stake how many prejudices fade away! The
reliable sentiment of fathers and mothers dictates that he who takes
time to know and help their boy is of all persons a guest to be welcomed
and honored, and withal, a practical interpreter of Christianity. The
pastor whose advance agent is a boy has gracious passport into the homes
where he is most needed. He has a friend at court. His cause is almost
won before he has uttered one syllable of a formal plea.

Further, it must be apparent to all intelligent observers that the
churches in most communities are in need of a more visible social
sanction for their existence. In the thought of many they are expensive
and over-numerous institutions detached from the actual community life
and needs. Boys' work constitutes one visible strand of connection with
the live needs of the neighborhood; and, human nature being what it is,
this tangible service is essential to the formation of a just, popular
estimate of the church and the ministry. Talk is easy and the market is
always overstocked. The shortage is in deeds, and the doubtful community
is saying to the minister, "What do you do?" It is well if among other
things of almost equal importance he can reply, "We are saving your boys
from vice and low ideals, from broken health and ruined or useless
lives, by providing for wholesome self-expression under clean and
inspiring auspices. The Corban of false sanctity has been removed; our
plant and our men are here to promote human welfare in every legitimate
way." Boys' work affords a concrete social sanction that has in it a
wealth of sentiment and far-reaching implications.

Closely allied with this is the help that the boy renders as an
advertiser. The boy is a tremendous promoter of his uppermost interest;
and, while boys' work must not be exploited for cheap and unworthy
advertising purposes but solely for the good of the boy himself, the
fact remains that the boy is an enterprising publicity bureau. The
minister who gives the boy his due of love, service, and friendship will
unwittingly secure more and better publicity than his more scholastic
and less human brother. In the home and at school, here, there, and
everywhere, these unrivaled enthusiasts sound the praises of the
institution and the man. Others of their own kind are interested, and
reluctant adults are finally drawn into the current. The man or church
that is doing a real work for boys is as a city set on a hill.

The pastor needs the boys because his task is to enlist and train the
Christians and churchmen of the future. These should be more efficient
and devoted than those of the present, and should reckon among their
dearest memories the early joyous associations formed within the church.
Many thoughtful ministers are perplexed by the alienation of
wage-earners from the church; but what could not be accomplished in the
betterment of this condition if for one generation the churches would
bend their utmost devotion and wisdom to maintaining institutions that
would be worth while for all the boys of the community? A boy genuinely
interested and properly treated is not going to turn his back upon the
institution or the man that has given him the most wholesome enjoyment
and the deepest impressions of his life. The reason why the church does
not get and hold the boy of the wage-earner, or any other boy, is
because it stupidly ignores him, his primary interests, and his
essential nature; or goes to the extreme bother of making itself an
insufferable bore.

The reflex influence of boys' work upon the church herself should not be
ignored. Here is a great plant moldering away in silence. Not to mention
the auditorium, even the Sunday-school quarters and lecture-room are
very little used, and this in communities trained to sharp economic
insight and insisting already that the public-school buildings be made
to serve the people both day and night and in social as well as
educational lines.

The basement is perhaps the most vulnerable point in the armor of
exclusive sanctity that encases the church. Here, if anywhere, organized
church work for boys may be tolerated. Whenever it is, lights begin to
shine from the basement windows several evenings a week, a noisy
enthusiasm echoes through the ghostly spaces above, in a literal and
figurative sense cobwebs are brushed away. The stir is soon felt by the
whole church. A sense of usefulness and self-confidence begins to
possess the minds of the members. Things are doing; and the dignity and
desirability of having some part in an institution where things are
doing inspires the members and attracts non-members.

It will be a sad day for the pastor and the church when they agree to
delegate to any other institution all organized work for boys and
especially those features which the boys themselves most enjoy. The
ideal ministry to boyhood must not be centralized away from the church
nor taken altogether out of the hands of the pastor. There is no place
where the work can be done in a more personal way, and with less danger
of subordinating the interests of the individual boy to mammoth
institutional machinery and ambition, than in the church. The numerous
small groups in the multitude of churches afford unequaled opportunity
for intimate friendship, which was pre-eminently the method of Jesus,
and for the full play of a man's influence upon boy character.

The pastor who abdicates, and whose church is but a foraging ground for
other institutions which present a magnificent exhibit of social
service, may, indeed, be a good man, but he is canceling the charter of
the church of tomorrow. It is at best a close question as to how the
church will emerge from her present probation, and the pastor should be
wise enough to reckon with the estimate in which the community and the
boy hold him and the organization that he serves. And if he wants
business men of the future who will respect and support the church,
laboring men who will love and attend the church, professional men who
will believe in and serve an efficient church, he must get the boys who
are to be business men, wage-earners, and professional men, and he must
hold them.

If he is concerned that there should be strong, capable men to take up
the burden of church leadership in the future let him create such
leadership in his own spiritual image from the plastic idealism of
boyhood. Let the hero-worship age, without a word of compulsion or
advice, make its choice with him present as a sample of what the
minister can be, and tomorrow there will be no lack of virile high-class
men in pulpit and parish. As a rule the ideals that carry men into the
ministry are born, not in later youth nor in maturity, but in the period
covered by the early high-school years; and the future leadership of the
church is secure if the right kind of ministers mingle with boys of that
age on terms of unaffected friendship and wholesome community of

Then too there are the riches of memory and gratitude that bulk so large
in a true pastor's reward. If in the years to come the minister wishes
to warm his heart in the glow of happy memories and undying gratitude,
let him invest his present energy in the service of boys. If the
minister could but realize the vast significance of such work, if he
could feel the lure of those untold values lying like continents on the
edge of the future awaiting discovery and development, if he could but
know that he is swinging incipient forces of commanding personality into
their orbits, directing destiny for the individual, predetermining for
righteousness great decisions of the future, laying hold of the very
kingdoms of this world for Christ, he surely would never again bemean
himself in his own thought nor discount his peerless calling.

To be sure, there are certain satisfactions that a minister may lose all
too quickly in these days. The spell of his eloquence may soon pass; the
undivided love of all the people is no permanent tenure of him who
speaks the truth even in love; speedy dissatisfaction and unbridled
criticism are, alas, too often the practice of church democracy; but
that man who has won the love of boys has thrown about himself a
bodyguard whose loyalty will outmatch every foe.

In the hour of reaction from intense and unrewarded toil the empty
chambers of the preacher's soul may echo in bitterness the harsh
misanthropy of a scheming world. Then it is that he needs the boys, the
undismayed defenders of his faith. Let him name their names until the
ague goes out of his heart and the warm compassion of the Man of Galilee
returns. To be a hero and an ideal in the estimate of anyone is indeed a
great call to the best that is in us; and when the minister, in the dark
day or the bright, hears the acclaim of his bodyguard let him believe
that it is the call of God to manhood that has the triple strength of
faith, hope, and love.

All of this and much more they surely can and will do for him, and if
the pastor who thinks that he has no field or who is getting a bit weary
or professional in the routine ministry to unromantic middle life could
but behold within his parish, however small, this very essence of vital
reality, this allurement of unbounded possibility, this challenge of a
lively paganism, and this greatest single opportunity to bring in the
Kingdom of God, he would, in the very discovery of the boy and his
significance, re-create himself into a more useful, happy, and genuine
man. Is it not better to find new values in the old field than to pursue
superficial values in a succession of new fields?



If the minister is to do intelligent work with boys he must have some
knowledge of the ground plan of boyhood and he must believe that the boy
both demands and merits actual study. Specific acquaintance with each
one severally, alert recognition of individuality, variety, and even
sport, and an ample allowance for exceptions to every rule will greatly
aid in giving fitness to one's endeavor; but beneath all of these
architectural peculiarities lies the common biological foundation. To
know the human organism genetically, to have some knowledge of the
processes by which it reaches its normal organization, to appreciate the
crude and elemental struggle that has left its history in man's bodily
structure, to think in large biological terms that include, besides "the
physics and chemistry of living matter," considerations ethnological,
hereditary, and psychological, is to make fundamental preparation for
the understanding of boyhood.

For the family to which the boy belongs is the human family. His parents
alone and their characteristics do not explain him, nor does
contemporary environment, important as that is. His ancestry is the
human race, his history is their history, his impulses and his bodily
equipment from which they spring are the result of eons of strife,
survival, and habit. Four generations back he has not two but sixteen
parents. Thus he comes to us out of the great physical democracy of
mankind and doubtless with a tendency to re-live its ancient and
deep-seated experiences.

This theory of race recapitulation as applied to the succeeding stages
of boyhood may be somewhat more poetic than scientific. Genetically he
does those things for which at the time he has the requisite muscular
and nervous equipment, but the growth of this equipment gives him a
series of interests and expressions that run in striking parallel to
primitive life. If the enveloping society is highly civilized and
artificial, much of his primitive desire may be cruelly smothered or too
hastily refined or forced into a criminal course. But memory,
experience, observation, and experiment force one to note that the
parallel does exist and that it is vigorously and copiously attested by
the boy's likes and deeds. At the same time the theory is to be used
suggestively rather than dogmatically, and the leader of boys will not
imagine that to reproduce the primitive life is the goal of his
endeavor. It is by the recognition of primitive traits and by connecting
with them as they emerge that the guide of boyhood may secure an
intelligent and well-supported advance.

Such an approach favors a sympathetic understanding of the boy. To
behold in him a rough summary of the past, and to be able to capitalize
for good the successive instincts as they appear, is to accomplish a
fine piece of missionary work without leaving home. Africa and Borneo
and Alaska come to you. The fire-worshiper of ancient times, the fierce
tribesman, the savage hunter and fisher, the religion-making nomad, the
daring pirate, the bedecked barbarian, the elemental fighter with nature
and fellow and rival of every kind, the master of the world in
making--comes before you in dramatic and often pathetic array in the
unfolding life of the ordinary boy.

Our topmost civilization, although sustained and repleted by this
original stuff, takes all too little account of these elemental traits.
In the growing boy the ascending races are piled one on top of another.
In him you get a longitudinal section of human nature since its
beginning. He is an abridged volume on ethnology; and because he is on
the way up and elected to rule, it is more of a mistake to neglect him
than it is to neglect any of those races that have suffered a
long-continued arrest at some point along the way. Of course anyone
expecting to note by day and hour the initial emergence of this or that
particular trait of primitive man will be disappointed. The thing for
the friend of the boy to know is that in him the deep-set habits which
made the human body the instrument it is, the old propensities of savage
life are voices of the past, muffled, perhaps, but very deep and
insistent, calling him to do the things which for ages were done and to
make full trial of the physique which modern civilization threatens with
disuse or perversion.

[Illustration: MIGHTY HUNTERS]

[Illustration: THE LURE OF THE WATER]

Let a number of the common traits of boyhood testify. There is the gang
instinct which is noticeably dominant during the years from twelve to
fifteen. Probably 80 per cent of all boys of this age belong to some
group answering dimly to ancient tribal association and forming the
first social circle outside the home. A canvass of the conditions of boy
life in the Hyde Park district of Chicago revealed the existence of such
gangs on an average of one to every two blocks, and the situation is not
materially different in other parts of the city or in the smaller towns.
The gang is thus the initial civic experiment for better or for worse,
the outreach after government, co-operative power, and the larger self
which can be found only in association. During this age and within his
group the boy does not act as one possessing clear and independent moral
responsibility. He acts as part of the gang, subject to its ideals, and
practically helpless against its codes of conduct and its standards of

One hot afternoon I ran across a group "in swimming" at a forbidden spot
on the shore of Lake Michigan. As we talked and tended the fire, which
their sun-blistered bodies did not need, one of the lads suddenly fired
at me point-blank the all-important question, "What do you belong to?"
Being unable to give an answer immediately favorable to our growing
friendship, I countered with "What do _you_ belong to?" "Oh," said he,
"I belong to de gang." "What gang?" "De gang on de corner of Fitty Fit
and Cottage Grove." "And what do you do?" "Ah, in de ev'nin' we go out
and ketch guys and tie 'em up." Allowing for nickel-show and Wild-West
suggestions, there remains a touch of a somewhat primitive exploit.

Another interesting gang was found occupying a cave in the saloon
district of Lake Avenue. The cave takes precedence over the shack as a
rendezvous because it demands no building material and affords more
secrecy. Beneath the cave was a carefully concealed seven-foot
sub-cellar which they had also excavated. This served as a guardhouse
for unruly members and as a hiding-place for loot. When in conclave,
each boy occupied his space on a bench built against the sides of the
cave, his place being indicated by his particular number on the mud
wall. This gang had forty-eight members and was led by a dissolute
fellow somewhat older than the others, one of those dangerous boys
beyond the age of compulsory education and unfitted for regular work.
They played cards, "rushed the can," and all hands smoked cigarettes.
_Facilis descensus Averno._ The love of adventure and hunting was
illustrated in the case of two other boys of this neighborhood who were
but ten and eleven years of age. Having stolen eleven dollars and a
useless revolver, they ran away to Milwaukee. When taken in hand by the
police of that city they solemnly declared that they had "come to
Wisconsin to shoot Injuns."

Much could be said of the love of fire which has not yet surrendered all
of its charm for even the most unromantic adult. The mystic thrill that
went through the unspoiled nerves of pre-historic man and filled his
mind with awe is with us still. The boy above all others yields to its
spell. Further, by means of a fire he becomes, almost without effort, a
wonderworking cause, a manipulator of nature, a miracle worker. Hence
the vacant lots are often lighted up; barrels, boxes, and fences
disappear; and one almost believes that part of the charm of smoking is
in the very making of the smoke and seeing it unwind into greater
mystery as did incense from thousands of altars in the long-ago.

This elemental desire to be a cause and to advertise by visible,
audible, and often painful proofs the fact of one's presence in the
world is also basal. It is the compliment which noisy childhood and
industrious boyhood insistently demand from the world about. Even the
infant revels in this testimony, preferring crude and noisy playthings
of proportion to the innocent nerve-sparing devices which the adult
tries to foist upon him. The coal scuttle is made to proclaim causal
relation between the self in effort and the not-self in response more
satisfactorily than the rag doll; and the manifest glee over the
contortions of the playful father whose hand is slapped is not innate
cruelty but the delight of successful experiment in causation.

So of the noise and bluster, the building and destruction, the teasing
and torture so often perpetrated by the boy. He is saying that he is
here and must be reckoned with, and he wishes to make his presence as
significant as possible. If home, school, and community conditions are
such as to give healthful direction to both his constructive and
destructive experimentation, all is well, but if society cannot so
provide he will still exploit his causal relation although it must be in
violation of law and order. The result is delinquency, but even in this
he glories. It often gives a more pungent and romantic testimony than
could otherwise be secured. It is the flaring yellow advertisement of
misdirected effectiveness. Probably there mingles with this impulse the
love of adventure as developed in the chase. "Flipping cars,"
tantalizing policemen, pilfering from fruit stands are frequently the
degenerate, urban forms of the old quest of, and encounter with, the
game of forest and jungle.

Then there is the lure of the water, which explains more than half his
school truancy during the open season. It is a fine spring or summer
day. The _Wanderlust_ of his ancestry is upon the boy. The periodic
migration for game or with the herds, the free range of wood and stream,
or the excitement of the chase pulsates in his blood. Voices of the far
past call to something native in him. The shimmer of the water just as
they of old saw it, the joyous chance of taking game from its unseen
depths, or of getting the full flush of bodily sensation by plunging
into it, the unbridled pursuit of one's own sweet will under the free
air of heaven--these are the attractions over against which we place the
school with its books, its restraint, and its feminine control; and the
church with its hush and its Sunday-school lesson: and, too often, we
offer nothing else. It is like giving a hungry woodchopper a doily, a
Nabisco wafer, and a finger-bowl.

If we could but appreciate the great crude past whose conflicts still
persist in the boy's gruesome and tragic dreams, filling him with a
fear of the dark, which fear in time past was the wholesome and
necessary monitor of self-preservation; if we could only realize how
strenuous must be those experiences which guarantee a strong body, a
firm will, and an appetite for objective facts, we would not make our
education so insipidly nice, so intellectual, so bookish, and so much
under the roof. A school and a school building are not synonymous, a
church and a church building are not synonymous; schooling is not
identical with education, nor church attendance with religion. It is
unfortunate if the boy beholds in these two essential institutions
merely an emasculated police.

If either the church or the school is to reach the boy it will have to
recognize and perform its task very largely beyond the traditional
limits of the institution as such, and with a heartiness and masculinity
which are now often absent. In this field the indirect and
extra-ecclesiastical work of the minister will be his best work, and the
time that the teacher spends with his pupils outside the schoolhouse may
have more educational value than that spent within. In due time society
will be ready to appreciate and support the educator who is bigger than
any building; and outdoor schools are bound to grow in favor.

[Illustration: GETTING THE SPARK]

[Illustration: GETTING THE FLAME]

[Illustration: FIRE!]

Consider also the boy's love of paraphernalia and all the tokens of
achievement or of oneness with his group. The pre-adolescent boy
glorying in full Indian regalia, the early-adolescent proud in the suit
of his team or in his accouterments as a Scout, and a little later, with
quieter taste, the persistent fraternity pin--all of these tell the same
story of the love of insignia and the power of the emblem in the social
control and development of youth. Think also of the collecting mania,
which among primitives was less strong than is ordinarily supposed, but
which in early boyhood reaches forth its hands, industriously, if not
always wisely, after concrete, tactual knowledge and proprietorship. So
also with the impulse to tussle and to revel in the excitement of a
contest; inhibited, it explodes; neglected, it degenerates; but directed
it goes far toward the making of a man. Evidence of this intensity,
zest, and pressure of young life is never wanting. Disorder
"rough-house," and even serious accidents, testify to the reckless
abandon which tries to compensate in brief space for a thousand hours of
repression. Such occurrences are unfortunate but worse things may happen
if the discharge of energy becomes anti-social, immoral, and vicious.
"The evils of lust and drink are the evils that devour playless and
inhibited youth."

Right conceptions of religion and education must therefore attach an
added sanctity to the growth of the body, since in and through it alone
is the soul, so far as we know it, achieved. To accept the biological
order as of God and to turn to their right use all of life's unfolding
powers constitutes a religious program. For even those primitive
instincts which pass and perish often stir into consciousness and
operation other more noble functions or are transmuted into recognized
virtues. Popularly speaking, the tadpole's tail becomes his legs.
Success in suppressing the precivilized qualities of the boy results in
a "zestless automaton" that is something less than a man. Everything
that characterizes the boy, however bothersome and unpromising it may
seem, is to be considered with reference to a developing organism which
holds the story of the past and the prophecy of the future. To the
apostle of the largest vision and the greatest hope, these native
propensities will be the call of the man of Macedonia, saying, "Come
over and help us."

The most striking biological change that comes to the boy on his way to
manhood is that of puberty. The church and the state have attested the
vast importance of this experience for political and religious ends by
their ceremonials of induction into the responsibilities of citizenship
and the obligations of formal religion. Among the least civilized
peoples these ceremonies were often cruel, superstitious, and long drawn
out in their exaction of self-control, sacrifice, and subordination to
the tribal will. The sagacity of the elders of the tribe in preserving
their own control and in perpetuating totemic lore must compel the
unfeigned admiration of the modern ethnologist.

The Athenians with their magnificent civilization exalted citizenship
and the service of the state far beyond any modern attainment. The way
of the youth today is tame, empty, and selfish as compared with the
Spartan road to manhood and the Roman ceremonies attendant upon the
assumption of the _toga virilis_. As a rule modern churches have too
lightly regarded the profound significance of ancient confirmation
services--Jewish, Greek, and Catholic. Knowledge of what transpires in
the body and mind of adolescence proves the wisdom of the ancients and
at the same time attracts both the educator and the evangelist to study
and use the crises of this fertile and plastic period.

The process of transformation from childhood into manhood begins in the
twelfth or thirteenth year, passes its most acute stage at about
fifteen, and may not complete itself until the twenty-fifth year. It is
preceded by a period of mobilization of vitality as if nature were
preparing for this wonderful re-birth whereby the individualistic boy
becomes the socialized progenitor of his kind.

The normal physiological changes, quite apart from their psychological
accompaniments, are such as to elicit the sympathy of intelligent
adults. Early in pubescent growth the heart increases by leaps and
bounds, often doubling its size in the course of two years or even one
year. There is a rise of about one degree in the temperature of the
blood and the blood pressure is increased in all parts of the body. The
entire body is unduly sensitized, and the boy is besieged by an army of
new and vivid sense impressions that overstimulate, confuse, and baffle
him. He is under stress and like all persons under tension he reacts
extremely and hence inconsistently in different directions. He cannot
correlate and organize his experiences. They are too vivid, varied, and
rapid for that. This over-intensity begets in turn excessive languor and
he cannot hold himself in _via media_.

His physical condition explains his marked moods: his sudden changes of
front, his ascent of rare heights of impulsive idealism, and his equally
sudden descent into the bogs of materialism; his unsurpassed though
temporary altruism and his intermittent abandon to gross selfishness. He
has range. He is a little more than himself in every direction. The wine
of life is in his blood and brain. It is no wonder that somewhere about
the middle of the adolescent period both conversions and misdemeanors
are at their maximum.

To make matters worse these vivid and unorganized experiences, simply
because they lie along the shore of the infinite and have no single
clue, no governing philosophy of life, are overswept by the dense and
chilling fogs of unreality that roll in from the great deep. Life is
swallowed up in awful mystery. External facts are less real than dreams.
One stamps the very ground beneath his feet to know if it exists. The
ego which must gauge itself by external bearings is temporarily adrift
and lost. Suicidal thoughts are easily evoked; and at such times the
luxury of being odd and hopelessly misunderstood constitutes a
chameleon-like morbidity that, with a slight change of light and color,
becomes an obsession of conceit. The odd one, the mystery to self and
others, is he not the great one that shall occupy the center of the
stage in some stupendous drama? A man now prominent in educational
circles testifies how that on a drizzly night on the streets of old
London the lad, then but sixteen years of age, came to a full stop, set
his foot down with dramatic pose, and exclaimed with soul-wracking

The time is out of joint;--O cursed spite,
That ever I was born to set it right!

So is it ever with the adolescent soul unless society curses the desire
for significance and makes it criminal.

These bare cliffs of primal personality have not yet undergone the
abrasion of the glacial drift nor of the frost and the heat, the wind
and the rain of long years. They are angular, bold, defiant, and
unsuited to the pastoral and agricultural scenes of middle life. The
grind of life with its slow accomplishment and failure has not as yet
imparted caution and discretion. Shrewd calculation and niggardliness
too are normally absent. Generous estimates prevail. Idealism is
passionate and turns its eye to summits that a life-time of devotion
cannot scale. Honor is held in high regard and select friendships may
have the intensity of religion. Judgments are without qualification.
Valor, laughter and fun, excess and the love of victory mingle in hot
profusion. Except in the case of the precocious boy of the street, the
cold vices of cynicism, misanthropy, and avarice--the reptilians of
society--are found almost exclusively among adults. The _younger_
brother is the prodigal. Experience has not taught him how to value
property and the main chance.

The failure of self-knowledge and self-control to keep pace with the
rapid changes of bodily structure, sense-impressions, and mental
organization is nowhere more marked and significant than in sex
development; and the common experience of adolescent boys is to the
effect that no other temptations equal in persistence and intensity
those that attend and follow this awakening. It is highly important,
then, that, as preparation for dealing with the individual, the minister
shall both see the generic boy upon the background of the past and that
he shall also understand in some measure the physical basis and
psychological ferment of the boy's inevitable re-birth, not for the
purpose of cheaply exploiting adolescence but in order that he may bring
every life to its best in terms of personal character and of worth to
the world.



From the consideration of bodily health the village boy is better off
than his city cousin. He also enjoys to a far greater degree the
protective and educative attention of real neighborhood life. The
opinions and customs which help to mold him are more personal. He
probably holds himself more accountable, for he can more readily trace
the results of any course of action in terms of the welfare and
good-will of well-known persons. His relation to nature is also more
nearly ideal. Artificial restrictions, territorial and otherwise, are
not so strictly imposed. His lot favors a sane and normal view of life.
There are more chores to be done, more inviting occupations in the open,
and altogether there may be a more wholesome participation in the work
of maintaining the home than is possible for the city boy.

On the other hand, the static character of village life leaves the boy
with little inspiration in his primary interests of play and his serious
ideals of the noblest manhood. Idle hours work demoralization and the
ever-present example of the village loafer is not good. A
disproportionate number of village people lack public spirit and social
ideals. The masculine element most in evidence is not of the strongest
and most inspiring kind, and the village is all too often the paradise
of the loafer and the male gossip. This, however, cannot be said of the
small frontier town where the spirit of progress is grappling with crude

Furthermore, the village is sadly incompetent in the organization of its
welfare and community work. As a matter of fact, social supervision is
often so lax that obscene moving pictures and cards that are driven out
of the large cities are exhibited without protest in the small towns.
Usually the village is overchurched, and consequently divided into
pitiably weak factions whose controlling aim is self-preservation.
Seldom can a religious, philanthropic, or social organization be
developed with sufficient strength to serve the community as such.

The sectarian divisions which in the vast needs and resources of great
cities do not so acutely menace church efficiency prove serious in the
small town. The saloon, poolroom, livery stable, and other haunts of the
idle are open for boys; but the Christian people, because of their
denominational differences, maintain no social headquarters and no
institution in which boys may find healthy expression for their normal
interests. The Y.M.C.A. is impracticable, because the church people are
already overtaxed in keeping up their denominational competition and so
cannot contribute enough to run an association properly. Wherever an
association cannot be conducted by trained and paid officers it will
result in disappointment.

The caricature of essential Christianity which is afforded by the
denominational exhibit in the village works great harm to boys. It is
not only that they are deprived of that guidance which true Christianity
would give them, but they are confronted from the first with a spectacle
of pettiness, jealousy, and incompetency which they will probably
forever associate with Christianity, at least in its ecclesiastical
forms. Villages are at best sufficiently susceptible to those
unfortunate human traits that make for clique and cleavage in society,
and when the Christian church, instead of unifying and exalting the
community life, adds several other divisive interests with all the
authority of religion, the hope of intelligent, united, and effective
service for the community, on a scale that would arouse the imagination
and enlist the good-will of all right-minded people, is made sadly

So far as church work is concerned, the village boy is likely to be
overlooked, as promising little toward the immediate financial support
of the church and the increase of membership. In the brief interval of
two years--the average duration of the village pastorate--it does not
seem practicable for the minister to go about a work which will require
a much longer time to produce those "satisfactory results" for which
churches and missionary boards clamor. A revival effort which inflates
the membership-roll, strenuous and ingenious endeavors to increase the
offerings, are the barren makeshifts of a policy which does not see the
distinct advantage and security in building Christian manhood from the
foundation up.

It must not be thought that the minister is largely to blame for the
situation as it now is. Perpetuating institutions beyond the time of
their usefulness is one of society's worst habits, and it is not to be
expected that religious organizations, which in a given stage of the
development of Christian truths were vital and necessary, can easily be
persuaded to surrender their identity, even after the cause that called
them into being has been won.

Men are we, and must grieve when even the shade
Of that which once was great has passed away.

But the real religious leader who loves boys will not be balked by the
pettiness and inability of denominationalism. His hope lies not solely
in the church or the churches, but largely in the intelligence,
sympathy, and generosity of the unchurched citizens, whose number and
importance in the small town is probably in the inverse ratio of the
number of churches. Business men of whatever creed, or of none, are
remarkably responsive to any sane endeavor to create a wholesome outlet
for juvenile activity, and, whether right or wrong, count such efforts
as being more valuable than much of the traditional church endeavor.

The minister will first try to organize boys' work for the whole
community, but if co-operation on the part of all or of a group of the
churches proves impossible, let him go ahead with such assistance as his
own church and other voluntary supporters will afford, and let him still
work in entire freedom from sectarian aim. As a minister of Christ and
his kingdom he must give to Christianity an interpretation which will
offset provincial and narrow impressions. He must free it from cant and
from the other-worldly emphasis and bring it into the realm where boys
and business men will respect it as a social factor of primary

All the problems of early adolescence belong to the village boy as to
every other. He also gropes about for his vocational discovery. How
shall he gain self-control, how can he find himself? How can he relate
his life to the great perplexing world and to the God of all? How can he
win his immediate battles with temptation? The public school throws
little light upon his possible occupation, trade, or profession, nor
does it deal with his moral struggle.

The Sunday school, if it touches him at all, is often regarded as a
nuisance to be endured out of respect for others. It addresses itself
too much to tradition and too little to modern life. It gets the
Israelites from Egypt into possession of Canaan by various miraculous
interventions, stops the sea and the sun, knocks down the walls of
Jericho by the most uncommon tactics, and reveals the umpire as on the
Israelites' side.

The boy knows that if this be intended as sober history things have
changed somewhat. For these are the very things that do not and should
not happen in the conquest of his promised land. Under Christian
guidance he must learn the ethical value of an orderly world, the
morality that inheres in cause and effect, the divine help which is not
partiality; and if it should turn out that he could master these lessons
better through work and play and friendship than through being formally
instructed in misapprehended lore, then such work and play and
fellowship will prove of greater value than the Sunday-school hour

As for the country boy, perhaps his chief lack is association with his
fellows. To meet this and to satisfy the gregarious instinct, which will
be found in him as in all boys, the minister's organizing ability must
be directed. The gymnasium, in so far as it is a makeshift for lack of
proper exercise in the life of the city boy, is not in great demand in
the country. The farm boy has in his work plenty of exercise of a
general and sufficiently exhausting character, and he has the benefit of
taking it out of doors. He, of course, is not a gymnast in fineness and
grace of development, and he may need corrective exercises, but the big
muscles whose development tells for health and against nervousness are
always well used.

In so far, however, as the gymnasium affords a place for organized
indoor play through the winter months there is more to be said of its
necessity. For it is not exercise but group play that the country boy
most needs. The fun and excitement, the contest and the co-ordination of
his ability with that of others, all serve to reduce his awkwardness and
to supplant a rather painful self-consciousness with a more just idea of
his relative rating among his fellows. He finds himself, learns what it
is to pull together, and gets some idea of the problems of getting along
well with colleagues and opponents.

Wherever the country pastor can secure a room that will do for
basket-ball, indoor baseball, and the like, he may, if it is
sufficiently central and accessible, perform a useful service for the
boys and establish a point of contact. It is highly desirable that
shower-baths and conveniences for a complete change of clothing be
provided. If Saturday afternoon is a slack time and the farmers are
likely to come to the village, he should make arrangements to care for
the boys then, reserving Saturday evening for the young men. Such an
arrangement secures economy in heating the building and may overcome for
some of the youth the Saturday evening attractions of the saloon and
public dance.

For the distinctly country church, situated at the cross-roads, a
building that may serve as a gymnasium will be practically impossible
unless a very remarkable enthusiasm is awakened among the boys and young
men. But in many a country village such an equipment is both necessary
and well within the reach of a good organizer. The country people have
means and know how to work for what they really desire. What they most
lack is inspiration and leadership.

During that part of the open season when school is in session the
country minister has an excellent opportunity to meet the boys, organize
their play, and become a real factor in their lives. In the country
one-room school there will be found but few boys over fourteen years of
age, but a great deal can be done with the younger boys in some such way
as follows: As school "lets out" in the afternoon the minister is on
hand. The boys have been under a woman teacher all day and are glad to
meet a man who will lead them in vigorous play. It may be baseball,
football, trackwork with relay races, military drill, or the like--all
they need is one who knows how, who is a recognized leader, and who
serves as an immediate court of appeal. If they do not get more moral
benefit and real equipment for life's struggle in this hour and a half
than they are likely to get from a day's bookwork in the average
one-room, all-grades, girl-directed country school, it must be because
the minister is a sorry specimen.

The city minister takes his boys on outings to the country. The country
minister will bring his boys on "innings" to the city. As they see him
he is pre-eminently the apostle of that stirring, larger world. What
abilities may not be awakened, what horizons that now settle about the
neighboring farm or village may not be gloriously lifted and broadened,
what riches that printed page cannot convey may not be planted in the
young mind by the pastor who introduces country boys to their first
glimpse of great universities, gigantic industries, famous libraries,
inspiring churches, and stately buildings of government?

One need not mention such possibilities as taking a group to the fair or
the circus, or on expeditions for fishing, swimming, and hunting--all
of them easy roads to immortality in a boy's affection.

Further, the minister is not only the apostle of that greater world but
the exemplar of the highest culture. He is to bring that culture to the
country not only through his own person but by lectures on art and
literature, so that the young may participate in the world's refined and
imperishable wealth. This may mean illustrated lectures on art and the
distribution of good prints which will gradually supplant the chromos
and gaudy advertisements which often hold undisputed sway on the walls
of the farmhouse.

It might also be helpful to our partly foreign rural population to have
lectures on history such as will acquaint boys and others with the real
heroes of various nations, preserve pride in the best national
traditions, and ultimately develop a sane and sound patriotism among all
our citizens. The church building is not too sacred a place for an
endeavor of this kind. The ordinary stereopticon and the moving picture
should not be disdained in so good a cause. Boys are hero-worshipers,
and history is full of heroes of first-rate religious significance.

As a further factor in elevating and enriching the life of the country
boy, the minister may endeavor to create a taste for good reading. The
tendency is that all the serious reading shall be along agricultural
rather than cultural lines and that the lighter reading shall be only
the newspaper and the trashy story. The minister should enlarge the
boy's life by acquainting him with the great classics. A taste for good
things should be formed early. With the older boys, from the years of
sixteen or eighteen upward, organization for literary development and
debating should be tried. A good deal in a cultural way is necessary to
offset the danger which now besets the successful farmer of becoming a
slave to money-making, after the fashion of the great magnates whom he
condemns but with rather less of their general perspective of life.

The minister might help organize a mock trial, county council, school
board, state legislature, or something of that sort, as a social and
educative device for the older boys. Under certain conditions music
could well form the fundamental bond of association, and groups gathered
about such interests as these could meet from house to house, thus
promoting the social life of the parish in no small degree. Young women
might well share in the organizations that are literary and musical. The
great vogue of the country singing-school a generation ago was no mere

Could not the minister enter into the campaign for the improvement of
the conditions of farm life and stimulate the beautifying of the
dooryards by giving a prize to the boy who, in the judgment of an
impartial committee, had excelled in this good work? Could he not
interest his boys' organization in beautifying the church grounds and so
enlist them in a practical altruistic endeavor? Might he not find a very
vital point of contact with the country boy by conducting institutes for
farmers' boys, perhaps once a month, in which by the generous use of
government bulletins and by illustration and actual experiment he might
awaken a scientific interest in farming and impart valuable information?
In connection with this the boys could be induced to conduct experiments
on plots of ground on their fathers' farms. Exhibits could be made at
the church and prizes awarded. It would be a good thing too if the
profits, or part of the profits, from such experimental plots could be
voluntarily devoted to some philanthropic or religious cause. This would
have the double value of performing an altruistic act and of
intelligently canvassing the claim of some recognized philanthropy. So
also the raising of chickens and stock might be tried in a limited way
with the scientific method and the philanthropic purpose combined.


In some places botanical collections can be made of great interest; or
the gathering and polishing of all the kinds of wood in the vicinity,
with an exhibition in due time, may appeal to the boys. In addition to
forestry there is ornithology, geology, and, for the early age of twelve
to fifteen, bows and arrows, crossbows, scouting, and various
expeditions answering to the adventure instinct.

The wise country minister will certainly keep in touch with the public
school, will be seen there frequently, and will give his genuine support
to the teacher in all of her endeavor to do a really noble work with a
very limited outfit. He will help her to withstand the gross
utilitarianism of the average farmer, who is slow to believe in anything
for today that cannot be turned into dollars tomorrow. What with the
consolidation of township schools, improved communication by rural
delivery and telephone, better roads, the increasing use of automobiles,
and the rising interest in rural life generally, together with a broad
view of pastoral leadership and the "cure of souls" for the whole
countryside, the minister may be a vital factor in shaping the social
and religious life of the country boy; and he will, because of his
character and office, illumine common needs and homely interests with an
ever-refined and spiritual ideal. His ministry, however, cannot be all
top, a cloudland impalpable and fleeting. It was with common footing and
vital ties that Goldsmith's village preacher

Allured to brighter worlds and led the way.

After such fashion and with thorough rootage in country life must the
minister of today turn to spiritual account the wealth-producing methods
of farming. Out of soil cultivation he must guarantee soul culture by
setting forth in person, word, and institution those ideals which have
always claimed some of the best boyhood of the country for the world's
great tasks.



Modern cities have been built to concentrate industrial opportunity.
They have taken their rise and form subsequent to the industrial
revolution wrought by steam and as a result of that revolution. So far
they have paid only minor attention to the conservation or improvement
of human life. Justice, not to mention mercy, toward the family and the
individual has not been the guiding star. The human element has been
left to fit as best it could into a system of maximum production at
minimum cost, rapid and profitable transportation, distribution
calculated to emphasize and exploit need, and satisfactory dividends on
what was often supposititious stock; and because these have been the
main considerations the latent and priceless wealth of boyhood has been
largely sacrificed.

The amazing and as yet unchecked movement of population toward the city
means usually a curtailment of living area for all concerned. The more
people per acre the greater the limitation of individual action and the
greater the need of self-control and social supervision. Restrictions of
all sorts are necessary for the peace of a community wherein the
physical conditions almost force people to jostle and irritate one
another. In such a situation the more spontaneous and unconventional the
expression of life the greater the danger of bothering one's neighbors
and of conflicting with necessary but artificial restrictions. Even
innocent failure to comprehend the situation may constitute one
anti-social or delinquent, and the foreigner as well as the boy is often
misjudged in this way.

But on the score of the city's inevitable "Thou shalt not," it is the
boy who suffers more than any other member of the community. His
intensely motor propensities, love of adventure, dim idea of modern
property rights, and the readiness with which he merges into the
stimulating and mischief-loving "gang" operate to constitute him the
peerless nuisance of the congested district, the scourge of an
exasperated and neurasthenic public, the enemy of good order and private

Hence juvenile delinquency and crime increase proportionately with the
crowding of the modern city, the boy offending five times to the girl's
once, and directing 80 per cent of his misdemeanors against property
rights. In the city of Chicago alone the 1909 records show that in one
year there passed through the courts 3,870 children under seventeen
years of age, 10,449 under twenty years, and 25,580 under twenty-five
years of age. But it is not the actual delinquency of which the law
takes account that most impresses one; it is rather the weight of
failure and mediocrity, the host of "seconds" and "culls" that the city
treatment of childhood produces.

The constrictions, vicissitudes, and instability of city life often make
such havoc of the home that the boy is practically adrift at an early
age. He has no abiding-place of sufficient permanency to create a wealth
of association or to develop those loyalties that enrich the years and
serve as anchorage in the storms of life. He moves from one flat to
another every year, and in many cases every six months. In such a
kaleidoscopic experience the true old-fashioned neighbor, whose
charitable judgment formerly robbed the law of its victims, is sadly
missed. Formerly allowance was made out of neighborly regard for the
parents of bothersome boys, but among the flat-dwellers of today
proximity means alienation, familiarity breeds contempt, and far from
being neighbors, those who live across the hall or above or below are
aggrieved persons who have to put up with the noise of an unknown rascal
whose parents, like themselves, occupy temporarily these restricted
quarters--these homes attenuated beyond recognition.

A garden plot, small live stock, pets, woodpile, and workshop are all
out of the question, for the city has deprived the average boy not only
of fit living quarters but of the opportunity to enact a fair part of
his glorious life-drama within the friendly atmosphere of home. He
cannot collect things with a view to proprietorship and construction and
have them under his own roof. The noise and litter incident to building
operations of such proportions as please boys will not be tolerated.
Moreover, this home, which has reached the vanishing point, makes almost
no demand for his co-operation in its maintenance. There are no chores
for the flat boy wherein he may be busy and dignified as a partner in
the family life. To make the flat a little more sumptuous and call it an
apartment does not solve the problem, and with the rapid decrease of
detached houses and the occupation of the territory with flat buildings
the city is providing for itself a much more serious juvenile problem
than it now has.

But the industrial usurpation takes toll of the family in other ways.
The intense economic struggle and the long distance "to work" rob the
boy of the father's presence and throw upon the mother an unjust burden.
To return home late and exhausted, to be hardly equal to the economic
demand, to see the prenuptial ideals fade, to pass from disappointment
to discouragement and from chronic irritability to a broken home is not
uncommon. The boy is unfortunate if the "incompatibility" end in
desertion or divorce, and equally unfortunate if it does not.

Owing to the fact that the male usually stands from under when the home
is about to collapse, and to the further fact that industrial accidents,
diseases, and fatalities in the city claim many fathers, there
frequently falls upon the mother the undivided burden of a considerable
family. If she goes out to work the children are neglected; if she takes
roomers family life of the kind that nurtures health and morality is at
an end. And just as the apparently fortunate boy of the apartment is
forced upon the street, so the boy from the overcrowded old-fashioned
house is pushed out by the roomers who must have first attention because
of bread-and-butter considerations. Much more could be said of all the
various kinds of neglect, misfortune, and avarice that commit boys to
the doubtful influences of the city street, but the main object is to
point out the trend of home life in the modern city without denying that
there are indeed many adequate homes still to be found, especially in
suburban districts.

A survey of the street and its allied institutions will throw light upon
the precocious ways of the typical city boy. The street is the
playground, especially of the small boy who must remain within sight and
call of home. Numerous fatalities, vigorous police, and big recreation
parks will not prevent the instinctive use of the nearest available open
area. If congestion is to be permitted and numerous small parks cannot
be had, then the street must have such care and its play zones must be
so guarded and supervised that the children will be both safe from
danger and healthfully and vigorously employed.


In the busier parts of the city the constant street noise puts a nervous
tax upon the children; the proximity of so many bright and moving
objects taxes the eyes; the splash of gaudy and gross advertisements
creates a fevered imagination; slang, profanity, and vulgarity lend a
smart effect; the merchant's tempting display often leads to theft, and
the immodest dress of women produces an evil effect upon the mind of the
overstimulated adolescent boy; opportunities to elude observation and to
deceive one's parents abound; social control weakens; ideals become
neurotic, flashy, distorted; the light and allurement of the street
encourage late hours; the posters and "barkers" of cheap shows often
appeal to illicit curiosity, and the galaxy of apparent fun and
adventure is such as to tax to the full the wholesome and restraining
influence of even the best home.

The cheap show is an adjunct of the street and a potent educational
factor in the training of the city lad. These motion-picture shows have
an estimated daily patronage in the United States of two and a quarter
millions, and in Chicago 32,000 children will be found in them daily.
Many of these children are helplessly open to suggestion, owing to
malnutrition and the nervous strain which the city imposes; and harmful
impressions received in this vivid way late at night cannot be resisted.
At one time, after a set of pictures had been given on the West Side
which depicted the hero as a burglar, thirteen boys were brought into
court, all of whom had in their possession housebreakers' tools, and all
stated they had invested in these tools because they had seen these
pictures and they were anxious to become gentlemanly burglars.[4]
Through censorship bureaus, national and municipal, the character of the
films put on exhibition is being greatly improved, and the moving
picture is destined to a large use by educational and religious

Many instances of valuable moving-picture exhibits come to mind,
including those on travel, nature-study, the passion play, athletic
sports, sanitation (especially the exhibits showing the breeding and
habits of the house-fly), and various others having to do with the
health, happiness, and morality of the people; and from the study of
hundreds of nickel shows one is forced in justice to say that although
there are dangers from the children's being out late at night and going
to such places unattended, and although the recreation is passive and
administered rather than secured by wholesome muscular exercise, yet
there has been brought within the reach of the entire family of moderate
means an evening of innocent enjoyment which may be had together and at
small expense. Properly regulated, it is an offset to the saloon and a
positive medium of good influence.

Such a commendation, however, can safely be made for those communities
only which take the pains to censor all films before exhibition is
permitted. In less than two years the censorship bureau of Chicago has
excluded one hundred and thirteen miles of objectionable films. It
should be said also that the vaudeville, which now often accompanies the
nickel and dime shows, is usually coarse and sometimes immoral. The
music, alas, speaks for itself and constitutes a sorry sort of education
except in the foreign quarters of our great cities where, in conformity
to a better taste, it becomes classic and valuable.

But to describe a typical film of the better sort and to indicate its
practical use may have some suggestive value for wide-awake ministers
who wish to turn to good account every legitimate social agency. During
the Christmas season of 1911 the following film story was set forth to
vast audiences of people with telling effect: In a wretched hovel you
see a lame mother with three pale children. The rich young landlord
comes to collect rent and is implored to improve the place. This he
refuses to do because of his small returns on the property. He departs.
The father of the family returns from work. They eat the bread of the

The landlord marries and sets out on an ocean voyage with his bride. On
the same ship the father of the tubercular family, working as stoker or
deck hand, reaches the last stages of the disease and in his dying hours
is mercifully attended by the bride. She contracts the disease and later
appears weak and fading. The husband, ascertaining the real nature of
her malady, brings her home with the purpose of placing her in the
private sanitarium. There is no room in this institution, but good
accommodations are found in the public sanitarium to which she goes and
where she finds the children from their tenement.

The facts have now been put in such juxtaposition that the husband has a
change of heart. The patients recover and the landlord endows a great
sanitarium for the tuberculous. One may easily criticize the crudeness
of the plot and the improbabilities with which it bristles. But it sets
forth love and death and conversion and an appeal to rescue those who
suffer from the great white plague: and this was sufficient for the
crowd, for all are children when beholding the elemental things of life.
At any rate the women who stood at the exits of the theater selling the
Christmas stamps of the anti-tuberculosis society will tell you that the
purse strings as well as the heart strings of the crowd relaxed to the
crude but deep melody of mercy.

The social hunger also, turning its back upon the meager home and
heightened by the monotony and semi-independence of early toil, takes to
the street. The quest is quickly commercialized and debauched by the
public dance halls which are controlled by the liquor interests. A
recent thorough investigation of 328 of these halls in Chicago showed a
nightly attendance of some 86,000 young people, the average age of the
boys being sixteen to eighteen years and of the girls fourteen to
sixteen years. Liquor was sold in 240 halls, 190 had saloons opening
into them, in 178 immoral dancing went on unhindered. The worst halls
had the least dancing and the longest intermissions. Everything was
conducted so as to increase the sale of liquor, and between the hours of
one and three A.M. the toughest element from the saloons, which close
at one o'clock, poured into the halls to complete the debauch and to
make full use of the special liquor license which is good until the
later hour.[5]

The quest of fun and social adventure can be traced also through other
commercialized channels, in public poolrooms where minors waste time and
money--gamble, smoke, tell unclean stories and plan mischief; in great
amusement parks where the boy and girl on pleasure bent meet as
strangers to each other and without social sponsor, where the deluded
girl not only accepts but often invites a generosity which will tend to
compromise if not break down the morality of both; on excursion boats
which, if neglected, tend to become floating palaces of shame; and in
many ways that lead from the inadequate home to sorrow and disaster.

It is to be doubted whether the average pastor or parent has an adequate
conception of the tremendous odds against which the moral forces contend
for the conservation of the city's childhood and youth, and whether we
have as yet begun to solve the problems that arise from the city's
sinister treatment of the home. Public parks, field-houses, libraries,
and social settlements graciously mitigate the evil, but are far from
curing it.

To turn to the public schools with the expectation that they can
immediately, or at length, make good the injury done the home by
industrial usurpation is to expect more than is fair or possible. They
are doing valiantly and well, they are becoming social centers and in
due time they will have more adequately in hand both the vocational and
recreational interests of youth. With this accession of educational
territory will come a proportionate increase in the number of male
teachers, and a further diminution of the fallacy that the only kind of
order is silence and the prime condition of mental concentration
inaction. The system will become less and the boy more important.

But the whole community is the master educator; the best home is not
exempt from its influence nor the best school greatly superior to its
morality. In fact the school, even as the place of amusement and all
places of congregation, serves to diffuse the moral problems of boyhood
throughout the whole mass. Moral sanitation is more difficult than
physical sanitation, and the spoiled boy is a good conductor of various
forms of moral virus. The moral training involved in the ordinary
working of the public school is considerable and is none the less
valuable because it is indirect. With more attention to physical
condition, corrective exercise, and organized play, and with the
motivating of a larger area of school work, the moral value of the
institution will be still further enhanced.

The church addresses itself to the problem in ways both general and
specific, positive and negative. In its stimulation of public
conscience, in its inspiration of those who work directly for improved
conditions, and in Sunday schools and young people's societies, a
contribution of no small value is continually made. A rather negative,
or at best, concessive attitude toward recreation and a disposition to
rest satisfied with the denunciation of harmful institutions and
activities militates against her greatest usefulness. She must rather
compensate for home shortages and compete with the doubtful allurements
of the city. This she may do in part within her own plant and in part by
encouraging and supporting all wholesome outlets for the athletic zest,
social adventure, worthy ambition, and vocational quest of youth. Those
segments of the church which believe in bringing every legitimate human
interest within the scope and sanction of religion will in the nature of
things offer a more immediate and telling competition to the harmful
devices of the city.

But with the exception of a few boys' clubs and scout patrols, for whose
direction there is always a shameful shortage of willing and able lay
leadership, the church has not as yet grasped the problem; and this
remains true when one grants further the value of organized boys'
classes in the Sunday school and of the "socials" and parties of young
people's societies. To be sure, the Protestant church, expressing itself
through the Young Men's Christian Association, has laid hold of the more
respectable edge of the problem. But with few exceptions this work is
not as yet missionary, militant, or diffused to the communities of
greatest need. A few experiments are now being made, but probably the
Y.M.C.A., more than the individual church, is under the necessity of
treating the underlying economic evils with a very safe degree of
caution; and in both there is the ever-recurrent need of an unsparing
analysis of motive for the purpose of ascertaining which, after all, is
paramount--human welfare or institutional glory.

The tendency ever is to cultivate profitable and self-supporting fields
and sound business policies. But the case of thousands upon thousands of
boys living in localities that are socially impoverished, unfortunate,
and debasing constitutes a call to the missionary spirit and method. If
the impulse which is so ready and generous in the exportation of
religion and so wise in adaptation to the interests and abilities of the
foreign group could but lay hold of our most difficult communities with
like devotion and with scientific care there would be developed in due
time advanced and adequate methods, which in turn would take their
rightful place as a part of civic or educational administration.

As is illustrated in both education and philanthropy, the function of
the church in social development has been of this order, and the mistake
of short-sighted religious leaders has been to desert these children
when once they have found an abode within the civil structure. The
pastoral spirit of the new era claims again the entire parish, however
organized, and guards its children still. The pioneer is needed at home
just as he is needed abroad, and the pioneering agency must have the
same zeal and freedom in order to mark out the way of salvation for
hordes of wild city boys who are the menacing product of blind economic

[Illustration: WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH ME?]

The church should see this big problem and accept the challenge. Society
should awaken to the fact that in our large cities there is growing up a
generation of boys who morally "cannot discern between their right hand
and their left hand"--this through no fault of theirs, for they are but
a product. If they are unlovely, "smart," sophisticated, ungrateful, and
predatory, what has made them so? Who has inverted the prophetic promise
and given them ashes for beauty and the spirit of heaviness for the
garment of praise? As matters now stand it is not the ninety and nine
who are safe and the one in peril. That ratio tends to be reversed, and
will be unless right-minded people accept individually and in their
organized relations a just responsibility for the new life that is
committed for shaping and destiny to the evolving modern city.



The value of work as a prime factor in character building must not be
overlooked. In the revival of play that is sweeping over our American
cities and in the tendency to eliminate effort from modern education
there is danger of erecting a superficial and mere pleasure-seeking
ideal of life. It is upon the background of the sacred value of work
that the equally legitimate moral factor of play is here considered.
Further, the value of _undirected_ play in cultivating initiative,
resourcefulness, and imagination, especially in young children, is worth
bearing in mind. One must grant also that play is not always enlisted in
the service of morality. But neither is religion. Both may be. At any
rate it is evident that when boy nature is subjected to city conditions
we must either provide proper outlet and guidance for the boy's play
instincts or be guilty of forcing him into the position of a law-breaker
and a nuisance.

Reduced to its lowest terms, organized play is thus recognized as a
convenient substitute for misconduct. Even the property owner and
peace-loving citizen, if moved by no higher motive, will agree to the
adage that "Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do," and
will welcome the endeavor to safeguard property rights and promote the
peace of the community by drawing off the adventurous and
mischief-making energies of the boys into the less expensive channels of
play. Practical men are quite agreed that it is better for "gangs" to
release their energy and ingenuity against one another in a series of
athletic games than to seek similar adventure and satisfaction in
conflict with established property rights and the recognized agencies of
peace and order.

Nevertheless there persists in the church, however unconsciously, a sort
of piety that disregards the body, and the conventional Christian ideal
has certainly been anemic and negative in the matter of recreation. The
Young Men's Christian Associations with their reproduction of the Greek
ideal of physical well-being have served to temper the other-worldly
type of Christianity with the idea of a well-rounded and physically
competent life as being consonant with the will of God.

At the beginning of the eighteenth century Francke of Halle, an
educational organizer and philanthropist of no mean proportion, said,
"Play must be forbidden in any and all of its forms. The children shall
be instructed in this matter in such a way as to show them, through the
presentation of religious principles, the wastefulness and folly of all
play. They shall be led to see that play will distract their hearts and
minds from God, the Eternal Good, and will work nothing but harm to
their spiritual lives."

Only gradually does "the-world-as-a-vale-of tears" and
"the-remnant-that-shall-be-saved" idea give place to a faith that claims
for God the entire world with its present life as well as individual
immortality in future felicity. Miracle and cataclysm and postmortem
glory--the ever-ready recourse of baffled hope and persecuted
Christianity--are giving place more and more to a Christian conquest
that is orderly and inclusive of the whole sweep of human life. The
church is but dimly conscious, as yet, that through the aid of science
she has attained this magnificent optimism; much less does she realize
its full implication for social service and the saving of the
individual, both body and soul.

The minister as the herald and exemplar of such an imperial salvation
cannot ignore the exceptional opportunities which the play interests of
boyhood offer. He whose task has been to reconcile men to God, to bring
them into harmony with the universe in its ultimate content, cannot
neglect those activities which more than anything else in the life of
the boy secure the happy co-ordination of his powers, the placing of
himself in right relation with others and in obedience to law. These are
the moral and religious accomplishments aimed at in the teaching of
reconciliation which bulks so large in Christian doctrine; and by
whatever means this right adjustment to self, to others, and to the will
of God is brought about, it always produces the sure harvest of service
and joy.

To some undoubtedly it will seem sacrilegious to suggest that play can
have anything to do in a transaction so deeply moral and so
fundamentally religious. Yet a psychological analysis of both play and
worship at their best will reveal marked similarities in spontaneity, in
self-expression for its own sake and free from ulterior ends, in
symbolism, semi-intoxication and rhythm, in extension and enrichment of
the self, and in preparation for the largest and most effective living.
That such a claim is not altogether extravagant may be demonstrated in
part by canvassing the moral reactions of a well-organized group engaged
in some specific game. For in merely discussing the play attitude, which
is applicable to every interest of life, there is the danger of so
sublimating the value of play that its importance, while readily
granted, will not affect pastoral or educational methods. This mistake
is only comparable with another which dwells upon the religious life of
the boy as dependent upon the use of some inherent religious faculty
that is quite detached from the normal physical and mental processes.
Such an attitude favors an easy escape from both the labor of character
building and the obligations of environmental salvation. Recognizing
these dangers and remembering that morality and religion are most valid
when acquired and incorporated in actual conduct, one may analyze a
standard game in search of its ethical worth.

Baseball, our most popular and distinctively national game, constitutes
a fair field for this inquiry. In order to evaluate this form of play
as an agency in moral training it is necessary to presume that one has a
company of nine or more boys grouped together on the basis of loyalty to
a common neighborhood, school, club, church, or the like. They elect a
manager who acts for the team in arranging a schedule of games with
their various rivals and who serves in general as their business agent;
also a captain, usually chosen because of his ability to play the game
and his quality of natural leadership. He directs his players in their
contests and in case of dispute speaks for his team.

The boys should also have in every case a trainer older than themselves,
a player of well-known ability and exemplary character. It is usually
through neglect of supervision of this sort that the ethical value of
baseball for boys of from twelve to fifteen years of age is forfeited.
Without the trainer to direct their practice games, and as a recognized
expert to try out the players for the various positions, the
possibilities of forming a team are few and those of unjust and harmful
conduct many.

If at the outset, the group, coming together in park or vacant lot,
cannot speedily agree upon a _modus operandi_, their energy is turned
into profane disputing about the chief positions, and usually a game
cannot be organized, or, if it is, lack of agreement as to put-outs,
runs, fouls, and debatable points soon ruins the attempt, with little
left to most of the boys except resentment of the might-makes-right
policy. On the other hand, whether one has in mind a team or a chance
group of players, the presence of a capable adult as an immediate and
final court of appeal guarantees fair play for all, prevents personal
animosities, and inspires each one to do his best in the presence of a
competent judge.

Wherever the team with proper supervision is a possibility the moral
value of the game will be at its maximum. Uniforms are not to be
despised. Loyalty to the school represented is but boyhood's form of
what in later life becomes ability to espouse a cause and to assume a
degree of social responsibility in keeping with that attitude.

Because of this loyalty the boy who expected to play in the prominent
position of pitcher takes his less conspicuous place in right field, if
by fair trials under the trainer another boy has demonstrated his
superior fitness to fill the much-coveted position. For the credit of
the community or school which he has the honor to represent, the match
game must be won; hence he surrenders his personal glory to the common
good. He does more. Under the excitement of the contest and with the
consequent strengthening of the team spirit, he encourages the very boy,
who would otherwise have been only his personal rival, to do his level
best, forgetting utterly any mean individual comparisons and all
anti-social self-consciousness, in what he has enthusiastically accepted
as the greater common good.

He goes to bat at a critical juncture in the game. The score is close.
He as much as anyone would like to have runs to his credit. But for the
sake of the team his chief concern must be to advance the base runner.
So he plays carefully rather than spectacularly, and makes a bunt or a
sacrifice hit, with the practical certainty that he will be put out at
first base, but with a good probability that he will thus have advanced
his fellow one base and so have contributed to the team's success.

The religious value of the principle here involved receives no little
attention in sermon and Sunday-school class, but how tame and formal is
its verbal presentation as compared with its registration in the very
will and muscles of a boy at play! Wherever a state has become great or
a cause victorious, wherever a hero--a Socrates or a Christ--has
appeared among men, there has been the willingness, when necessary, to
make the "sacrifice hit." The loyalty that has held itself ready so to
serve on moral demand has to its credit all the higher attainments of

In the great American experiment of democracy, where the welfare of the
people is so often bartered for gold, and where public office is
frequently prostituted to private gain, there is a proportionately great
need of teaching in every possible way this fundamental virtue of
loyalty. Our future will be secure only in the degree in which
intelligent and strong men are devoted to the welfare of city and state
after the fashion of the boy to his team. It is because war, with all
its horrors, has stimulated and exhibited this virtue that its glory
persists far into our industrial age; and the hope of a lofty
patriotism, that shall be equal to the enervating influences of peace,
lies in an educated and self-denying type of loyalty.

The use of this loyalty in the reformation of boy criminals has been
remarkably demonstrated in the well-known work of Judge Ben B. Lindsey,
of Denver. In a particularly difficult case he says:

I decided to put my influence over him to the
test. I told him of the fight I was making for him,
showed him how I had been spending all my spare
time "trying to straighten things out" for him and
Heimel, and warned him that the police did not believe
I could succeed. "Now, Lee," I said, "you can run
away if you want to, and prove me a liar to the cops.
But I want to help you and I want you to stand by
me. I want you to trust me, and I want you to go
back to the jail there, and let me do the best I can."
He went, and he went alone--unguarded.

Here is a striking example of the team work of two with the play upon
loyalty and the spirit of contest.

Another lesson about boys I learned from little
"Mickey" when I was investigating his charge that
the jailer had beaten him. The jailer said: "Some
o' those kids broke a window in there, and when I
asked Mickey who it was, he said he didn't know. Of
course he knew. D'yu think I'm goin' to have kids
lie to me?" A police commissioner who was present
turned to Mickey. "Mickey," he said, "why did you
lie?" Mickey faced us in his rags. "Say," he asked,
"Do yoh t'ink a fullah ought to snitch on a kid?"
And the way he asked made me ashamed of myself.
Here was a quality of loyalty that we should be fostering
in him instead of trying to crush out of him. It was
the beginning in the boy of that feeling of responsibility
to his fellows on which society is founded. Thereafter,

no child brought before our court was ever urged
to turn state's evidence against his partners in crime--much
less rewarded for doing so or punished for refusing.
Each was encouraged to "snitch" on himself,
and himself only.

Another interview with a boy under sentence to the industrial school
emphasizes the same point:

"I can _help_ you, Harry," I said. "But you've
got to carry yourself. If I let boys go when they do
bad things, I'll lose my job. The people 'll get another
judge in my place to punish boys, if _I_ don't do it. I
can't let you go." We went over it and over it; and
at last I thought I had him feeling more resigned and
cheerful, and I got up to leave him. But when I
turned to the door he fell on his knees before me
and, stretching out his little arms to me, his face distorted
with tears, he cried: "Judge! Judge! If you let
me go, _I'll never get you into trouble again_!"

I had him! It was the voice of loyalty.... This
time he "stuck." "Judge," the mother told me
long afterward, "I asked Harry the other day, how it
was he was so good for _you_, when he wouldn't do it for
me or the policeman. And he says: 'Well, Maw, you
see if I gets bad ag'in the Judge he'll lose his job. I've
got to stay with him, 'cause he stayed with me.'"
I have used that appeal to loyalty hundreds of times
since in our work with the boys, and it is almost
infallibly successful.

In eight years, out of 507 cases of boys put upon their honor to take
themselves from Denver to the Industrial School at Golden, to which the
court had sentenced them, Judge Lindsey had but five failures. In view
of such facts, who will think for a moment that we have so much as begun
to turn the latent loyalty of boyhood to its highest ethical use?

No doubt much can be said against football, which ranks second in
popularity among American athletic games. For some years the elements of
hazard and rough treatment have been unhappily too prominent, so that
the suspicion is warranted that players have been sacrificed to the
bloodthirsty demands of the vast throng of spectators. The tension of
playing in the presence of thousands of partisan enthusiasts shows
itself in a reckless disregard of physical injury. Furthermore, for boys
in early adolescence the tax upon the heart constitutes a common danger
which is often rendered more serious by the untrained condition of the
players. It is to be hoped that in the further modification of the rules
from year to year, the players and their welfare will be kept more in
mind and the sensation-loving public, whose gate-fees have been too big
a consideration, will be measurably overlooked.

But with this concession, all of the virtue that attaches to baseball
will be found in football, only in accentuated form. Physical bravery
is, of course, more emphasized; while team loyalty, with all that it
implies, is more intense. The relation of the members to one another in
a well-organized team amounts to an affection which is never forgotten.
The words of cheer when the team is hard pushed and has to take a
"brace"; the fighting spirit that plays the game to a finish, no matter
what the odds; the hand extended to help to his feet the man who has
just advanced the ball; the pat on the back; the impulsive embrace; the
very tears shed in common after a lost game--all of this is a social and
moral experience of no small value. Basketball also offers a good field
for the subordination of personal glory to team success and, in point of
intensity, stands midway between baseball and football with the
elimination of the dangerous qualities of the latter.


Games of this sort are also the most effective means of developing,
through expression, the boy's sense of justice or fair play. And this
sentiment will always be found strong and operative in him unless it has
been overcome by the passion to win or by imitation of the bad example
of certain debased athletes, popularly known as "muckers." Under proper
leadership, the boy soon learns that the true spirit of manly sport is
the farthest removed from that of the footpad and the blackguard.
Appreciation of successful opponents and consideration for the
vanquished can be made effectually to supplant the cheap, blatant spirit
which seeks to attribute one's defeat to trickery and chance and uses
one's victory as an occasion for bemeaning the vanquished. The presence
of a capable director of play is sure to eliminate this evil which has
crept in under the sanction of vicious ideals and through gross neglect
of boys' play on the part of adults in general and educators in
particular. The Decalogue itself cannot compete with a properly directed
game in enforcing the fair-play principle among boys. It is worth
something to read about fair play, but it is worth much more to practice
it in what is, for the time being, a primary and absorbing interest.

A large part of the morality which is most obviously desirable for human
welfare consists in bringing the body into habitual obedience to the
will. The amount of individual suffering and of loss and expense to
society due to failure in this struggle is nothing less than appalling.
The victims of emotional hurricanes, "brainstorms," neurotic excess, and
intemperate desire are legion. A nation that is overfed,
under-exercised, and notably neurasthenic should neglect nothing that
makes for prompt and reliable self-control. Lycurgus said, "The citizens
of Sparta must be her walls," and in building up a defense for the
modern state against forces more disastrous than Persian armies we must
turn to the ancient device of the playground and athletic games.

The moral value of play in this respect arises from the instant muscular
response to volition. Delay, half-hearted response, inattention,
preoccupation, whimsicalness, carelessness, and every sluggish
performance of the order of the will, disqualifies the player so that
when we take into account the adolescent passion to excel, and the fact
that 80 per cent of the games of this period are characterized by
intense physical activity, we are forced to place the highest valuation
on play as a moral educator; for this enthronement of the will over the
body, although having to do with affairs of no permanent importance, has
great and abiding value for every future transaction in life.

Indeed, the physical competency attained in athletic games has its
reaction upon every mental condition. Many boys who are hampered by
unreasonable diffidence, a lack of normal self-confidence and
self-assertion, find unexpected ability and positiveness through this
avenue alone and, on the other hand, the physical test and encounter of
the game serves to bring a proper self-rating to the overconfident.

Dr. George J. Fisher, international secretary of the Physical Department
of the Young Men's Christian Association, says, "An unfortunately large
number of our population haven't the physical basis for being good." No
one with even the slightest knowledge of sociology and criminology will
be disposed to deny such a statement. One might as well expect a
one-legged man to win the international Marathon as to expect certain
physical delinquents to "go right." Thousands of boys and girls sit in
our public schools today who are the unhappy candidates for this
delinquency, and we are monotonously striving to get something into
their minds, which would largely take care of their own development, if
only we had the wisdom to address ourselves to their bodies.

There is indeed not only a physical basis of _being_ good, but, what is
not less important, a physical basis of _doing_ good. Many people avoid
blame and disgrace who fail utterly in making a positive contribution to
the welfare of the community. They do not market their mental goods.
Thousands of men remain in mediocrity, to the great loss of society,
simply because they have not the requisite physical outfit to force
their good ideas, impulses, and visions into the current of the world's
life. For the most part they lack the great play qualities, "enthusiasm,
spontaneity, creative ability, and the ability to co-operate." Whenever
we build up a strong human organism we lay the physical foundations of
efficiency, and one is inclined to go farther and think with Dr. Fisher,
that muscular energy itself is capable of transformation into energy of
mind and will. That is to say that play not only helps greatly in
building the necessary vehicle, but that it creates a fund upon which
the owner may draw for the accomplishment of every task.

There is ground also for the contention that grace of physical
development easily passes over into manner and mind. The proper
development of the instrument, the right adjustment and co-ordination of
the muscular outfit through which the emotions assemble and diffuse
themselves, is, when other things are equal, a guaranty of inner beauty
and the grace of true gentility. A poor instrument is always vexatious,
a good instrument is an abiding joy. The good body helps to make the
gracious self. Other things being equal the strong body obeys, but the
weak body rules.

One should not overlook the heartiness that is engendered in games, the
total engagement of mind and body that insures for the future the
ability "to be a whole man to one thing at a time." Much of the moral
confusion of life arises from divided personality, and the miserable
application of something less than the entire self to the problem in
hand. Do not the great religious leaders of the world agree with the men
of practical efficiency in demonstrating and requiring this hearty
release of the total self in the proposed line of action? The demand of
Jesus, touching love of God and neighbor, or regarding enlistment in His
cause, is a demand for prompt action of the total self. Possibly no
other single virtue has a more varied field of application than the
ability for decisive and whole-souled action, which is constantly
cultivated in all physical training, and especially in competitive
athletic games.

It should be noted also that the hearty release of energy is, in every
good game, required to keep within the rules. This is particularly true
in basket-ball, which takes high rank as an indoor game for boys. While
the game is intense and fatiguing, anything like a muscular rampage
brings certain penalty to the player and loss to his team. So that,
while the boy who does not play "snappy" and hard cannot rank high,
neither can the boy who plays "rough-house." Forcefulness under control
is the desideratum.

Besides this there is always the development of that good-natured
appreciation of every hard task, that refinement of the true sporting
spirit, by which all the serious work of life becomes a contest worthy
of never-ending interest and buoyant persistency. In the midst of all
the sublime responsibilities of his remarkable ministry we hear Phillips
Brooks exclaim, "It's great fun to be a minister." An epoch-making
president of the United States telegraphs his colleague and successor,
with all the zest of a boy at play, "We've beaten them to a frazzle";
and the greatest of all apostles, triumphing over bonds and
imprisonment, calls out to his followers, "I have fought a good fight."
"It is doubtful if a great man ever accomplished his life work without
having reached a play interest in it."

The saving power of organized play, in the prevention and cure of that
morbidity which especially besets youth, can hardly be overestimated.
This diseased self-consciousness is intimately connected with nervous
tensions and reflexes from sex conditions and not infrequently passes
over into sex abuse or excess of some sort. So that the diversion of
strenuous athletic games, and the consequent use of energy up to a point
just below exhaustion, is everywhere recognized as an indispensable
moral prophylactic. Solitariness, overwrought nervous states, the
intense and suggestive stimuli of city life, call for a large measure of
this wholesome treatment for the preservation of the moral integrity of
the boy, his proper self-respect, and those ideals of physical
development which will surely make all forms of self-abuse or indulgence
far less likely.

The normal exhilaration of athletic games, which cannot be described to
those without experience, is often what is blindly and injuriously
sought by the young cigarette smoker in the realm of nervous excitation
without the proper motor accompaniments. Possibly if we had not so
restricted our school-yards and overlooked the necessity for a physical
trainer and organized play, we would not have schools in which as many
as 80 per cent of the boys between ten and seventeen years of age are
addicted to cigarettes. In trying to fool Nature in this way the boy
pays a heavy penalty in the loss of that very decisiveness, force, and
ability in mind and body which properly accompany athletic recreation.
The increased circulation and oxidization of the blood is in itself a
great tonic and when one reflects that, with a running pace of six miles
an hour the inhalation of air increases from four hundred and eighty
cubic inches per minute to three thousand three hundred and sixty cubic
inches, the tonic effect of the athletic game will be better
appreciated. This increased use of oxygen means healthy stimulation,
growth of lung capacity, and exaltation of spirit without enervation.
"Health comes in through the muscles but flies out through the nerves."

It was well thought and arranged by the ancients
[says Martin Luther] that young people should exercise
themselves and have something creditable and useful
to do. Therefore I like these two exercises and
amusements best, namely, music and chivalrous games
or bodily exercises, as fencing, wrestling, running,
leaping, and others..... With such bodily exercises
one does not fall into carousing, gambling, and hard
drinking, and other kinds of lawlessness, as are unfortunately
seen now in the towns and at the courts.
This evil comes to pass if such honest exercises and
chivalrous games are despised and neglected.

[Illustration: WHAT SHALL WE PLAY?]

The feeling of harmony and _bien-etre_ resulting from play is, in
itself, a rare form of wealth for the individual and a blessing to all
with whom one has to do. Every social contact tends to become wholesome.
And who will say that the virtue of cheerfulness is not one of the most
delightful and welcome forms of philanthropy? Play, rightly directed,
always has this result.

Possibly no social work in America is more sanely constructive than that
of the playground movement. In the few years of its existence it has
made ample proof of its worth in humane and beneficent results; and our
city governments are hastening to acknowledge--what has been too long
ignored--the right of every child to play. It is only to be regretted
that the play movement has not centered about our public schools for it
constitutes a legitimate part of education. The survivors who reach high
school and college receive relatively a good deal of attention in
physical training and organized play, but the little fellows of the
elementary grades who have curvatures, retardation, adenoids, and small
defects which cause loss of grade, truancy, and delinquency receive as
yet very meager attention.

In dearth of opportunity and in cruel oversight of the normal play-needs
of boyhood, there probably has never been anything equal to our modern
American city. But the cost of industrial usurpation in restricting the
time and area of play is beginning to be realized; and the relation of
the play-time and of the playground to health, happiness, morality, and
later to industrial efficiency, begins to dawn upon our civic leaders.
If "recreation is stronger than vice," it becomes the duty of religious
and educational institutions to contribute directly and indirectly to
normal recreative needs.

But what can the minister do? He can help educate the church out of a
negative or indifferent attitude toward the absorbing play-interests of
childhood and youth. He can publicly endorse and encourage movements to
provide for this interest of young life and may often co-operate in the
organization and management of such movements. Every church should
strive through intelligent representatives to impart religious value and
power to such work and should receive through the same channels
first-hand information of this form of constructive and preventive
philanthropy. He can partly meet the demand through clubs and societies
organized in connection with his own church. He can plead for a real and
longer childhood in behalf of Christ's little ones who are often
sacrificed through commercial greed, un-Christian business ambition,
educational blindness, and ignorance. He can preach a gospel that does
not set the body over against the soul, science over against the Bible,
and the church over against normal life; but embraces every child of man
in an imperial redemption which is environmental and social as well as
individual, physical as well as spiritual. In short, he can study and
serve his community, not as one who must keep an organization alive at
whatever cost, but as one who must inspire and lead others to obey the
Master whose only reply to our repeated protestations of love is, "Feed
my lambs."



It is practically impossible to overemphasize the importance of the
boy's vocational choice. Next to his attitude toward his Maker and his
subsequent choice of a life partner this decision controls his worth and
destiny. For it is not to be supposed that play with all its virtue, its
nourish and exercise of nascent powers, and its happy emancipation into
broader and richer living can adequately motivate and permanently
ennoble the energies of youth. Until some vocational interest dawns,
education is received rather than sought and will-power is latent or but
intermittently exercised. Play has a great orbit, but every true parent
and educator seeks to know the axis of a given life.

For some boys presumably of high-school age and over, this problem
becomes real and engrossing, but for the vast majority there is little
intelligent choice, no wise counsel, no conscious fronting of the
profoundly religious question of how to invest one's life. The children
of ease graduate but slowly, if at all, from the "good-time" ideal,
while the children of want are ordinarily without option in the choice
of work. But for all who, being permitted and helped, both seek and find
then-proper places in the ranks of labor, life becomes constructively
social and therefore self-respecting. To be able to do some bit of the
world's work well and to dedicate one's self to the task is the
individual right of every normal youth and the sure pledge of social
solvency. Ideally an art interest in work for its own sake should cover
the whole field of human labor, and in proportion as each person finds a
task suited to his natural ability and is well trained for that task
does he lift himself from the grade of a menial or a pauper and enter
into conscious and worthy citizenship.

Here then, as in the case of the mating instinct, the vocational quest
rightly handled forces the ego by its very inclination and success into
the altruism of a social order. For it is the misfits, the vocationally
dormant, the defeated, and those who, however successful, have not
considered such choice as an ethical concern of religion that make up
the anti-social classes of the present time.

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