Religion And Religious
Systems of Meditation in Religion, by William Loftus Hare (Philip Allan, 8s. 6d.)
A Venture of Faith, Being a description of the World Congress of Faiths, held in London, 1936, by Sir Francis Younghusband (Michael Joseph, 12s. 6d.) Reviewed by ALBAN GOODIER, S.J., Archbishop of Hierapolis.
The interest in religion, even for those who profess to have none, never flags. The Soviet anti-God enthusiast must prove its truth by the violence with which he combats it; the English independent agnostic, or, whatever else he would wish to be called, must ever come back to it as a subject for study. He examines ii in its many phases, its beliefs under various forms. its practices, its development; if he can arrive at a kind of common denominator for them all, he calls it a conclusion of Comparative Religion, and, if he has any belief at all of his own, it is to this Comparative Religion that he adheres.
Had there been no revelation from God to guide the human race, it is hard to see what other' -religion " could win the adherence of any thinking man; for one who has no use for revelation at all, this conclusion seems inevitable.
This is why one finds so many soundthinking men, interested in, and occupying themselves with, the comparison of one religion with another, trying to draw from them all some points of agreement which may serve as guides for the future.
In Systems of Meditation in Religion, Mr. W. Loftus Hare, an acknowledged, careful, and dispassionate student, has applied this principle to the practice of prayer. He has examined prayer, or rather what is called the higher form of prayer, as it is found in Hinduism. Buddhism, Tavism, Greek religion, and Christianity in its succeeding stages.
Passing over the differences, and indeed the antagonisms, his effort has been rather to show what they have in common. As a work of Natural Religion, showing what has been reached by the best that is in human nature, this is an interesting and useful book; all the more useful because of the author's sympathetic attitude throughout.
At the same time it is mainly a study in the "anatomy" of prayer; Hindu, Buddhist, and Christian would probably agree in a common criticism, that no amount of dissection will discover the "life" that in
spires the whole form. Nowhere more than in the East does one find this contempt for all western analysis.
Colonel Younghusband's book, A Venture of Faith, is another illustration of the same mentality. Most of us are acquainted. withethes Colonel's _mind and outlook; that olaan excellent soldier, who has served his (squaw yell, who has a real interest in all the peoples of the world, who is a Christ-. an of sorts, but stops short at the divinity of Christ.
He was the inspiration of the World Congress of Religions held in London last summer, and in the present volume he gives his impressions of the work that was done.
The views. of the chief speakers are summarised, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist, etc., then an attempt is made to merge them in all in a common conception of a supreme spiritual ideal. We have every sympathy with Colonel Younghusband's effort, even while at the time we were convinced that nothing would come of it, nor do we now see any reason to alter our conviction.
He regrets that Christians, and especially Catholics, gave him so little support. He urges that all religious, Catholicism included, have much to learn from one another. We agree, but surely the Colonel has found, in his wide travels through the East, and in his reading, proofs that this learning from each other is going on in other ways, and producing far better results, than are gained by such • formal debates as the Congress provides.
The Colonel cannot see the surrender that this implies.