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Pagan Virtues and Christian Graces

Condensed from The Atlantic Monthly (June '26)

A. Maude Royden

HERE are certain virtues which are practised by pagans; our Lord took for granted that every Christian would practise those virtues. "Except," He said, "your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of other people." We Christians have been very much inclined to emphasize what we may call the Christian virtues; to seek to practise those virtues which made Christ different from other men.

We have forgotten that He took for granted the pagan virtues, and built the soaring edifice of Christan holiness upon that splendidly laid foundation.

What are the virtues that pagansthat is, non-Christian people-set store by? Courage, perhaps, first of all, but also a high sense of honor, and loyalty to one's friends, independence, magnanimity, and wisdom. Without

these, there is no real virtue at all.

- Christ took these virtues for granted. There is nowhere in His teaching the dreadful doctrine, developed by certain Christians, called "the total depravity of man." Christ never suggested that human beings were altogether evil and must be entirely changed if they are to be Christians, but rather assumes that most people are decent people. When He wanted to tell us what God is like, He said that God is like a human father, only greater and better. Christ assumed

that most fathers are decent and kind. Or again, in the Sermon on the Mount, how persistently He assumed that people were, on the whole, decent people. Christ did not say, "I know that you never keep your vows, and herefore I tell you not to swear at ll." He said, in effect: "Don't you realize that all this casuistry about vhat constitutes a binding oath and what does not means that your bare

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must be completely changed!" He assumed that His hearers really had lived up to that standard, but He said that it was not enough. They must now learn to love their enemies.

At every step in this great argument, Christ begins with a pagan virtue, and goes on from that to Christianity. Is not some of the disgust that our religious professions and even our religious life have awakened among nonChristian people due to the fact that seek to practise the Christian graces of holiness and sanctity, without having acquired the rudimentary virtues of honesty, courage, loyalty, self-respect?


A person who is really religious, a person who is truly Christlike, is a person more gracious, more lovely, more adorable, than any, pagan character that ever existed. But one dislikes the kind of person-so terribly common--who seeks to practise the Christian virtues of humility and selfsacrifice and love and peace before he has got courage or honesty or honor.

How often, for example, Christians "sacrifice" themselves, because they have not the courage to do otherwise. Self-sacrifice becomes merely abject, unless it is made by a person who could assert himself if he chose. Christ allowed Himself to be insulted and injured without making an effort to vindicate Himself, yet by that very

conduct commanded the worship of a world of warring men.

Christians lay great emphasis on such virtues as toleration and courtesy. Is not our toleration also sometimes due to lack of moral courage? When our Lord found a person who illtreated a child, He did not say, "Let us reflect that this person is probably a badly brought-up person." He said, "It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about 'his neck, and that he were drowned. When He found real spiritual vileness He denounced it in language that terrifies the modern Christian, although it was generally people of power and position who excited that indignation.

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It is easy for us to persuade ourselves that we have to practise the Christian virtues of gentleness and grace, when our real trouble is that we have not the pagan virtue of courage to begin with!

Over and over again, something is proposed that we feel to be wrong, and we decide that "it would not be Christian to judge." "Judge not, that ye be not judged." "We refrain from "judging"; we refrain from protesting. One of the most dishonest things in public life is the dreadful plea that to say or to do the audacious thing will do harm to the work or to the society that we belong to. Christ did not care about these things, and we try in vain to imitate Him before we have laid the foundation of character.

I have found common honesty to be the rarest of the virtues practised by religious people. We want the common, decent, pagan virtue of loyalty to other human beings before we begin to talk about trust in God.

There is something that disgusts in Christian grace on a shoddy foundation. It is like a poor and cheap building which we cover with elaborate ornament. It is like anything that is false. And the average decent pagan is revolted by its dishonesty.

Humility is loathsome if it is not founded on self-respect. We must have the pagan virtue of self-respect

before we dare to have the Christian virtue of humility.

Had not Christ just those pagan vir tues that so many of us Christians lack? With all His love and gentle ness and mercy, how utterly courage ous was His denunciation of all that was false and cowardly and bad! The tenderness with which He speaks of the outcast and the sinner is matched by His fierce denunciation of spiritual pride in high places. That was why His tenderness counted for so much. Had He done as we are so fond of doing, shutting our eyes to things that we know are wrong because we love to praise, refusing to see what is blameworthy because it seems crue to see it, His praise would have been worth as little as ours so often is His love would have effected nothing But because men knew that His mercy was justice, because they realized tha He was able to see through and through them and love them all th same, because His love rose up on th great foundation of truth and justic and clear-sightedness, it moved th world as nothing else has moved it

In Christ every Christian grace wa founded upon the rock of honor an loyalty, courage and justice, and great strength. It is only the stron who can really be gentle. The gentle ness of the feeble has in it somethin that repels; but the gentleness o strength, as with Christ, is adorable

When Christ stood before Pilat with no protest on His lips, Pilat was afraid of Him. One can see tha at every step. Christ was the judge not Pilate. And the world has bee in love with Him and afraid of Hi ever since. We Christians must n expect any more that the world wi be moved, or attracted, or anythir but repelled, by grace and beau sought without strength, by a Chr tian grace of character which has n the common honesty and courage the heart of it. We have to reali that we Christians often repel t world as much as our Lord attract it, because at the heart of our mer there is weakness, at the heart of o self-sacrifice, fear.


Better Days for Western Banks

Condensed from The Review of Reviews (June '26)

Charles Moreau Harger

OR two decades, in the territory west of the Mississippi, east of the Rocky Mountains, and including Missouri, Oklahoma and Colorado to the south, starting a country bank was one of the public's most popular undertakings. In the 11 commonwealths of that area, in 1920, there was a bank to every 1473 of the population; in North Dakota, the ratio was a bank to 720 persons, or 160 families. It was the nation's most "banked" section.

Small capital was required, a minimum of $10,000 being allowed in most States. Gathering stock subscriptions

$100 each from merchants, farmers, and professional men, all flattered by the opportunity of being connected with so distinguished a business as banking, was simple. It was even charged that energetic agents for bank fixtures organized institutions in order that they might equip them. Community pride also helped.

Exceedingly pleasant was the going for many years. The entire farm *Country was steadily progressing. Country banks kept all available assets at work at high interest rates and paid handsome dividends. Even the most inexperienced bankers carried on, for notes were paid with reasonble promptness and with farm realty ncreasing in value approximately $5 n acre a year the security of their Customers steadily was strengthened.

Along came the war. Wheat

oubled, then tripled in value; corn ecame a treasure; livestock was


alking mint. Deposits were swollen. With them ballooned the loans. The Producer seeing greater profits bought ore land, more livestock, paying exavagant prices for both-and the ink loaned on the inflated value. arms in Iowa sold for $600 an acre;

previously they had been worth $200 an acre. Even those bankers who had been through the depression of the '90's forgot that era's lessons and floated with the tide.

In the autumn of 1921 the entire farm country of the interior awoke to the realization that the honeymoon was over. The man who had agreed to pay $80,000 for a 200-acre farm and had given mortgages for $60,000 found that the land would sell for $40,000— if he could find a buyer. The cattleman who had bought livestock at $125 a head and had borrowed $75 of it, discovered that he could not obtain in the market more than $50 a head.

The banks shared in the difficulties attending the readjustment. Part of their boasted deposits went to pay loans; another part was drawn out for current needs. It was not unusual for a bank to lose one-fourth of its deposit account in 90 days. If it possessed abundant capital, had been conservative in making loans and foresighted in laying aside an adequate surplus in quickly negotiable paper, it easily rode the storm. But if, with meager capital, it had loaned to its limit on rural security, efforts to collect the notes were disappointing-the borrower had nothing cashable with which to liquidate.


One line of defense was open. banker could place a bundle of notes with the War Finance Corporation, receiving credit. City banks aided their rural customers, re-discounting their paper and making direct bank loans. The Federal Reserve System aided in similar manner.

When all resources were exhausted, if deposits further declined and notes could not be collected, the doors were closed. A bank failure is a serious thing-it ties up the credit of business

and farm interests. For a time it paralyzes faith in development and leaves a long train of disaster for those unable to withstand financial loss. Hence banking departments were lenient-too lenient, perhaps~~ and gave every possible opportunity for rehabilitation.

Though the crest is passed, the end has not completely arrived. In the first four months of 1926, 20 banks were closed in Missouri, a half-dozen in Kansas, and a few in the other States. These are the fruit of the "frozen loans" carried over from the deflation period and not yet liquidated by the improved condition of agriculture.

From 1910 to 1920, in this territory, 116 banks failed, due to bad management-but many were later reopened. This is the story of failures during the next five years: Minnesota 140, Iowa 153, Missouri 96, Oklahoma 160, Colorado 45, Wyoming 53, Montana 173, North Dakota 273, South Dakota 194, Nebraska 102, Kansas 85; a total of 1474. This was 59 per cent of the 2486 bank failures for the entire United States for that half-decade. However, it must be remembered that in the same States more than 9000 banks did not fail, maintaining complete solvency.

State banking departments have sought to minimize failures by stricter examination, limitation of the number of banks, and higher qualification for organization. Beginning 16 years ago, legislation added another feature which proposed to insure depositors from loss. This was the guaranty of deposits, for State banks, based on the theory of creating a fund through assessments on a large group of institutions to pay in full losses incurred by those suffering embarrassment. Mr. Bryan had much to do with writing the first guaranty law, that of Oklahoma, in 1907. He declared it would solve forever the problem of banking safety. In the post-war period seven other States followed the Oklahoma precedent.

Two methods were followed. In one, as in Kansas, the banks volun

tarily became members of the group that authorized assessment on their resources to meet the losses of failed institutions within the fund list. In Kansas 700 of the 1000 State banks became members. By the other plan, as in Nebraska, Oklahoma, the Dakotas, and Texas, membership was compulsory and every State bank was subject to the assessments to guaran tee losses.

Oklahoma had 70 failures from 1920 to 1923; over $10,000,000 in claims were pending. The legislature repealed the law, leaving the claims unpaid. South Dakota repealed its law last year; the unmet losses are estimated at $15,000,000. In North Da kota, about $4,000,000 in claims re main to be adjusted. One house of its legislature voted to repeal the statute but the bill failed in the other house and the law yet stands. In Kansas the guaranty system is in effect de funct. Kansas has 300 more banks than needed, according to Governo Paulen. Larger capital and fewer banks are the factors most essential to the solidity of financial institutions

The weak institutions have largely been weeded out of the interiors' bank ing industry. A few more failures probably will follow, but mostly they will be the smaller concerns whose communities have not made vigorous strides toward renewed prosperity The village bank is suffering fron motoritis. The farmer in his autc mobile whirls by to transact busines with the large bank in the countseat or other population center.

It now seems probable that legisl tures will strengthen the situation b requiring adequate capital. Thereb will be eliminated much of the rivalr for business. Desire for profits le to chance-taking that in the end prove


Gradually the financial structure the rural communities is being brough back to normal. Every banker is termined to restrain his custome from hazardous borrowing and, taug by experience, to pursue a course strict conservatism.


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Birds That Annihilate Space

Condensed from Travel (June '26)

Harry C. Oberholser

EW persons travel 22,000 miles each year to visit home! Yet the Arctic tern, one of those beautiful gray and white sea birds that are sometimes called "sea swallows," makes such a journey, 11,000 miles each way, every year from its winter home in the Antarctic to the equally barren Arctic region, just for the privilege of rearing its young there.

The migratory movements of birds have attracted the attention of man from early times. Even Homer in his Iliad mentions the flights of cranes, swans, and wild geese; and Aristotle tells of the migration of larks, swallows, and other birds; but only in comparatively modern times has there been much really thorough investigation of these phenomena. There are many problems that still baffle our efforts to solve. Even so common a North American bird as the chimney swift disappears after its autumn southward journey into its yet unknown winter home. Such mysterious disappearances have in days gone by given rise to false explanations; the swallows for instance, were supposed every autumn to burrow into the mud, to sink under the water, or to retire into caves, there in a torpid state to pass the winter.

The real home of a bird is its breeding-place, to which it returns usually each year. So far as known, no bird breeds in the north and in the south, or even in two otherwise widely sep. arated places during the same year.

On their migratory journeys birds do not travel in a haphazard way, but in general traverse well-defined routes. Moreover, it is interesting to find that many birds follow very circuitous routes on their migration journeys.

For instance, the cliff swallows that return from South America to the northeastern United States do not fly across the West Indies and up the Atlantic Coast, as would be naturally expected, but journey by way of Central America, eastern Mexico, and Texas. Some species return from their winter quarters by a route different from that followed on their southward journey. Thus, the wellknown golden plover moves, from its summer home in Arctic America, in large part southeastwardly to Nova Scotia and thence over the Atlantic Ocean to South America; but when northward bound it chooses to pass through Central America and the central United States. The Connecticut warbler, too, moves in autumn, from its breeding ground in the central northern part of the United States, eastward to the Atlantic Coast, and thence southward through the Eastern United States to South America; but it returns by a direct route west of the Allegheny Mountains.

The Chief Old World routes are (1) from northern Europe and Asia to western Africa; (2) from central Europe and western Asia to eastern Africa; and (3) from Siberia to the East Indies and eastern India.

Some birds, fitted by their food habits for obtaining a livelihood under winter conditions in the more northern regions, do not migrate at all; some withdraw from only the northernmost part of their range. Others migrate to Central America or the West Indies; still others to northern or even southern South America. The little blackpoll warbler travels all the way from Alaska or northern Canada regularly as far as Brazil, and it has gone even to Chile. The champion

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