SIR,-When the editor of a paper publishes a book a somewhat anomalous position arises
Either he feels himself debarred fromn using his paper to secure necessary publicity for his work, or, feeling no such compunction. he lays himself open Co the charge of self-advertisement and consequent danger to his cause. On the other hand, those Who are likely to value the book roost are precisely the regular readers of his own paper.
It is because the editor of THE CATHOLIC HFRALD might find himself in such a position that I beg to be allowed to pablish this very inadequate tribute to an altogether outstanding book. It is absolutely spontaneous and the immediate result of studying the book in question.
Christianity in the Market Place is a small work of only 137 pages, yet in these days when writing is almost entirely confined to the demands of propaganda and the escapist novel, it is refreshing to find such a vigorous essay written from an uncompromisingly Catholic standpoint issued by Messrs. Andrew Dakers, a non-Catholic pub
lisFrankly facing the question " How can Christianity be brought to the present-day world? " the author presents us with two magnificently realistic pictures-of the world. not as bad as she is painted by some, and of the Church, as she is and as she is seen. Would that my fellow priests would everyone read and study, then re-read' and re-study, all these pregnant pages! They may not like them; they may even be offended; but at least they must be convinced that they are transparently sincere and that they reflect the mind not of one man but of a great many.
Here, for instance, are the concluding words of a short section of the' chapter entitled " Facing the World " It is extraordinary how content many !Main with the old ways, the old well-thumbed text-books, the old modes of exercising authority, the old sermons, the old subjects, when it is patent to anyone who looks that the fold is open and the sheep escaping, with many more ready to follow."
And hele are two other short extracts which give the complacent food for thought: "For the Christian to dismiss (the world) as just decadent and corrupt is sheer idiocy. The world in return instinctively despises the Church as weak, complacent and superficial. If we could tabulate the amount of heroism, endurance,self-sacrifice and charity which faith in the Christian religion has evoked during the last twenty years and compare it with the conduct evoked by faith in these thisworld, ideals we might at least be startled into a somewhat less complacent frame of mind." " The Christian, in addition to being right, must demonstrate in living that Christian truth involves a suffering and an achievement at least as costly as that of the world to-day."
The hook is divided into six chapters, and each of these is divided into a numbel of sub-sections, quite brief, yet each making a valuable link in the argument. For example, in the Chapter called " Some Practical Points of Reform," we find a section on education. The tendency is that it will be dismissed altogether by the complacent and the ultra-conservative, and shuddered at by the younger and utterly distrusted. Rightly, to my mind, the author strongly complains about ,the nett:hi:vide nature of the teaching given in our Catholic schools. Given a really positive formation, he says, the " would leave school as keen on Christian apostolate in the widest sense as any young Hitlerite or Stalinite is keen on livieg and preaching the false gospel taught him." Nor does he believe that the taking of education out of our hands need prove fatal. " The difficulties of providing a full Christian education under a State education system are so great that there is something to be said for exploring alternative means. . . . Under secularist education we may lose a number of Catholics who would otherwise have remained outwardly Catholic, but we might well gain tremendously through the better instruction and greater toughness of the rest.I would like to quote more of this particular section, but let itbe read and pondered. The following section will certainly cause much controversy if only it is read and studied. But the controversy will be the healthiest and most beneficial. " I should even like to suggest," says the authori " that the devotional life of people and parish will be most effectively strengthened if the faithful are iegularly reminded of what it means to be a Catholic in the contemporary world of 1943. Imegine the effect of a sermon in which the preacher took into the pulpit that Sunday morning's-issue of a mammoth-scale national newspaper . . pointing out the clash between the values in politics, economics, social questions, entertainment, etc., taken for granted in that paper, and the values which the Catholic should be living and furthering! . How much more ,could he done if the training in seminaries and colleges enlvaitseag”ed this kind of modern aposto
Later in this slender volume we are told of three great reasons why Christianity is not asked to help in the building of a new world older. " In the first place, Christianity can offer no clear-cut practical solution to the world's technical problems. . In the second, man to-day is so steeped in false ideals that there appears to be no relation between his goodness and the goodness which Christianity proposes. (And thirdly) faith in God and faith in God's Church have been lost. . , . Men hope in God for another world; they are losing their faith in God as a factor of supreme importance for this one."
The culmination of the thesis comes, think. in these words':" The link between the Church and the world is the individual Christian de-monstrating Christ. . . . Each Christian . . • is called upon to make each thought and act of his an example of Christian truth over against the values which the world may profess.. (At present) the Church is not compelling the world ; it is not even disturbing it; it scarcely comforts many who are actually looking to it for the inspiration they cannot find elsewhere. . . The future of a torn world depends, under God, upon the apostolic life and example of the Christian as Christian standing in the market place, and by his daily habit of lift in mind, will and character-seeking. within his owrIblimits and opportunities to complete Chriet's own .work, . . . For to each Christian there is sct the ideal of being another Christ in those unique circumstances of time and space within which his particular life runs."
It is because T feel that this is a book with a message that I have penned these few feeble words. May this message find its way deep into the heart of every priest. may it penetrate the souls of those good laymen who are trying even now to spread the good tidings about them: may they one and all receive it in the spirit of sincerity in which it is written and send it forth again in all truth and charity that thus it will he translated from cold print to burning fact.
A SECULAR Fittest