Western civilization is passing through a social revolution unparalleled in
history for scope and power. Its coming was inevitable. The religious,
political, and intellectual revolutions of the past five centuries, which
together created the modern world, necessarily had to culminate in an economic
and social revolution such as is now upon us.
consent, this social crisis is the overshadowing problem of our generation. The
industrial and commercial life of the advanced nations are in the throes of it.
In politics all issues and methods are undergoing upheaval and re-alignment as
the social movement advances. In the world of thought all the young and serious
minds are absorbed in the solution of the social problems. Even literature and
art point like compass-needles to this magnetic pole of all our thought.
revolution has been slow in reaching our country. We have been exempt, not
because we had solved the problems, but because we had not yet confronted them.
We have now arrived, and all the characteristic conditions of American life
will henceforth combine to make the social struggle here more intense than
anywhere else. The vastness and the free sweep of our concentrated wealth on
the one side, the independence, intelligence, moral vigor, and political power
of the common people on the other side, promise a long-drawn grapple of
contesting forces which may well make the heart of every American patriot sink
It is realized by
friend and foe that religion can play, and must play, a momentous part in this
The Church, the
organized expression of the religious life of the past, is one of the most
potent institutions and forces in Western civilization. Its favor and moral
influence are wooed by all parties. It cannot help throwing its immense weight
on one side or the other. If it tries not to act, it thereby acts; and in any
case its choice will be decisive for its own future.