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Religion And Health Part 6

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CHAPTER VI

HOLYDAYS AND HOLIDAYS

If religion had done nothing else for mankind than insert holydays into the year, which came to be holidays in the best sense of the word, the health of mankind would have a great deal for which to thank it. Humanity is deeply indebted for the breaks in the routine of labor which came as the result of the institution of Church holydays of various kinds and especially for the Sundays. That every seventh day man should be free from labor was indeed a blessing. How few there are who realize that the Sundays, taken together, fifty-two of them, make seven weeks and a half of vacation in the year. Seven weeks of continuous vacation are usually too much for most people to enjoy properly; so long an interval palls on them. Coming once a week, however, the Sundays are probably the most wonderful aid to health and the conservation of strength and the keeping of people in good condition that we have.

One of the things for which we find it hardest to forgive the French Revolution is that when men tried to rule themselves by what they thought was pure reason, they changed the observance of Sunday every seventh day into a day of rest every tenth day. There seems to have been no other reason for that except that the French were introducing the decimal system, and ten seemed to be {121} the number that appealed to them. Perhaps there was the feeling that seven was a sort of mystical number often mentioned in the Scriptures and deeply connected with religion. Their thoroughgoing reaction against the mystical made them reject it. Seven is, however, a much better number on which to regulate the day of rest than ten, and the seventh day has been extremely valuable for mankind.

Practically every one who has thought about the subject has recognized this, and yet it usually needs to be called particularly to their attention to have people generally appreciate it properly. Mr.

Gladstone once emphasized the great benefits which he himself had derived from it and which he felt ought to be accorded to every workingman.

"Believing in the authority of the Lord's day as a religious institution, I must, as a matter of course, desire the recognition of that authority by others. But, over and above this, I have myself, in the course of a laborious life, signally experienced both its mental and its physical benefits. I can hardly overstate its value in this view; and for the interest of the working-men of this country, alike in these and other yet higher respects, there is nothing I more anxiously desire than that they should more and more highly appreciate the Christian Day of Rest."

Macaulay, the well-known English historian and essayist, emphasized particularly the fact that the rest of Sunday, instead of proving a detriment to mankind, was actually an advantage. During the war the British had to learn that lesson over again. Men and women in munition factories were at the beginning, owing to the high wages, but with the full approval of the government {122} authorities, encouraged to labor in the factories on Sunday as well as on other days in the week. It was very soon found, however, that continuous labor, instead of enabling the operatives to keep up a greater production than before, was soon followed by a diminution in the power of production which sadly reduced the output. The restoration of the Sunday rest was promptly followed by an increased output, for nature seems to need such a rest, or after a while there comes a lassitude and relaxation of muscular power which actually prevents men and women from accomplishing their tasks with anything like the energy that they have under a regime of six working days followed by a day of rest. Only the most menial of routine labor, requiring no thought for its accomplishment, can be kept up without definite days of rest for relief and recuperation of forces.

Macaulay declared: "We are not poorer but richer because we have, through many ages, rested from our labour one day in seven. That day is not lost. While industry is suspended, while the plough lies in the furrow, while the exchange is silent, while no smoke ascends from the factory, a process is going on quite as important to the wealth of the nation as any process which is performed on more busy days. Man, the machine of machines--the machine compared with which all the contrivances of the Watts and Arkwrights are worthless--is repairing and winding-up, so that he returns to his labours on the Monday with clearer intellect, with livelier spirits, with renewed corporeal vigour."

During the ages when organized religion had the power to regulate human life much more than it has at the present time, there were many more days of rest than the Sundays. It is surprising now to find how many days {123} in the year there were on which the Church forbade servile labor. All the Holydays of Obligation, so-called, were days of rest. From the very earliest time in Christianity there were at least two dozen of these in the year. The feast days of the Twelve Apostles, for instance, were twelve holydays of obligation with no work, and then there were of course nearly another dozen important celebrations in honor of the Lord. Christmas, and New Year, the Annunciation on March 25, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and usually two or three days in Easter week, Whitmonday and, as time went on, certain feast days in honor of the Mother of the Lord were added and then certain local saints' days in particular regions, as for instance the patron saint of the church of the place and often of the country. All together there were some thirty of these Holydays of Obligation, that is one extra day every two weeks and a little more than that was a holiday, on which no work was done. As the vigils of all first-class feasts were free from labor after the vesper hour, two in the afternoon, and as no work was done on Saturday afternoons after the same hour, there were actually well above one hundred days in the year free from labor.

One of the awful things that happened in the social order in modern history was the obliteration of these holydays shortly after the Reformation. We are engaged, now that we have waked up to the necessity of working people having days of recreation, in putting the holidays back into the year. We in this country have Lincoln's Day, Washington's Birthday, Decoration Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and in most of the States Columbus Day, Election Day, and Thanksgiving Day as well as Christmas and New Year. In England, in {124} order to make up for some of the holidays that have been lost, or rather so unwarrantably taken away from the working classes, they put in the bank holidays four times in the year, having them occur on Monday always, so that from Saturday afternoon until Tuesday morning people are free from the obligation of laboring. We know now how wise, from a human and merely natural as well as the divine and spiritual aspect was the insertion of holydays in the year. We must have more holidays; there should be at least one every month, and the old custom of having at least one every two weeks would be much better.

There are not a few people, especially in our strenuous time, deeply intent on human productiveness rather than on human life and happiness, who seem inclined to think that so many holidays in the year sadly hamper the power of humanity to get things done and, therefore, represent a very serious waste of time. Those who think that, however, are usually in quest of some personal advantage of some very sordid kind and are not interested in the real achievements of humanity. After all, human accomplishment, like personal advance, depends not on how much we get done but how well it is done. It is not from extremely tired, overwrought mortals, whose physical forces are always in tension because of the almost continuous strain to which they are subjected that we can ever expect to get any products that are really worth while. Slave labor may be exploited thus, and it is possible to build barracks and railroads and even pyramids in this way, but to erect structures of any noble kind which comprise in material form beautiful expressions of the artistic feelings of mankind, there can be no rush of tired human beings, but time must be taken.

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The late Mr. Standish O'Grady of Dublin, to whom probably more than to any one else is due the modern revival in Irish literature which has been such an incentive for better poetry throughout the English-speaking world, once discussed this question of the achievement of mankind when men are released from the obligation of continuous labor and are free to think and have the opportunity to invite their souls and be inspired to higher things. It was at a dinner here in America, and he was remarking the fact that every one whom he met over here in this country was busy, _busy_, BUSY! They did not apologize for the fact, as a rule, but on the contrary seemed to be proud of it and to think that it must be the normal state of man to be so occupied with what he was about that he was ever deeply intent on it. He reminded his American audience that leisure was the foster-mother of nearly everything that mankind had ever done that was worth while, for the worth-while things must have thought in them, and thought requires time and leisure for its fulfillment.

Mr. O'Grady recalled the fact that twice in the world's history when men accomplished results so great that the world will never willingly let die the monuments then created, the most important feature of life was its leisure. Actually one third of the time of the men of Greece in the Periclean period, that Golden Age of achievement, was spent in the preparation for and the celebration of religious mysteries. Their greatest architectural monuments were their temples; their finest sculptures were the figures of the gods and goddesses, but what is not usually realized is that their literature was the product of the leisure afforded for competitions in their great religious festivals, and their painting had a similar origin. The {126} Greeks, like the medieval Christians, had a great many feast days during the year, and on these they held games and contests of various kinds, not only athletic but poetic, dramatic and literary of all kinds, for Herodotus read his great history before the assembled multitude in the celebration of a religious festival at Athens and was awarded a prize equivalent very probably to ten thousand dollars in our time.

What was true of the Greeks was true also, as has been said, of the Middle Ages. The generations which made the great Gothic cathedrals which we have come to look upon as such triumphs of construction, which built the magnificent abbeys and town halls and hospitals of the later Middle Ages, enduring monuments of their genius in construction, spent one third of their time in the celebration of and the preparation for religious festivals. Twice in the history of the world, once in the later Middle Ages and in the older days in Greece, dramatic literature originated anew in religious mystery and morality plays. The men who gave us Magna Charta and all the great charters of liberties that lie at the basis of modern rights and privileges in practically every country in Europe had the time to think out the solutions of their problems in the leisure afforded by the fifty-two Sundays and thirty Holydays of Obligation which they were accustomed to celebrate. The undying literature of the thirteenth century, the Cid in Spain, the Arthurian legends in England, the Nibelungen in Germany and Dante all came at a time when men set apart days for religious meditation and a contemplation of higher things than the sordid concerns of everyday life.

So far from one day of leisure in three interfering with human productivity in the best sense of that word, the {127} custom actually added to it. Men who work continuously from day to day without intermission can make a quantity of trivial things, but they cannot make anything that would be enduringly interesting, for they have not the time. I have often said that I thought that the greatest expression in American literature is those famous words of Thoreau as to the relation of time and money. The Sage of Walden found that by working about one half a day in the week he could support himself, and he used the rest of the time for the study of nature around him and for inviting his soul in the woods and along the streams. He feared that the business of making a living might keep him from really living. It is easy to understand that his thrifty Yankee neighbors failed utterly to comprehend any such attitude toward what they conceived to be a workaday world. Especially at harvest time when they needed help it seemed a shame to see Thoreau wandering apparently lazily and aimlessly while they were working so hard and looking for workers whom they were willing to pay what they thought was very good wages. They stopped Thoreau and offered him better pay than they were usually accustomed to offer, but Thoreau replied very simply, "I have no time to make money." There seem to be a great many people in our day who apparently are of the opinion that the only reason for which time is given is to make money. The Sundays and holydays, as arranged by the religious authorities, made excellent recreation days. After their morning spent in church, listening to a sermon by some favorite preacher, but having the eye and the ear and even the nose appealed to by the rest of the celebration, the people were then free for recreation. The old Church had no Puritanic scruples about people playing on the {128} Sabbath; there were sports of various kinds on the green in front of the church and their parish priest might be the referee; neighboring parishes held contests in archery or at bowls or in what the Irish call hurling and the English call shinney. At certain seasons the guilds offered prizes for these contests; the young were encouraged to go into training for them for weeks beforehand, and the prizes were conferred rather gloriously before all those whom the young folks most loved and respected.

These Church holidays were associated with various celebrations, such as May Day, the Feast of the Innocents or Fools; the beating of the bounds when in procession the parishioners on the Rogation Days walked round the various properties of the parish and asked the blessing of heaven on the crops; the carnival time when, before abuses crept in, the Church encouraged the celebration that would mark the beginning of Lent and make everybody ready to bid good-by to the pleasures of life for a while. Then the various fairs and markets were usually so timed that they immediately followed some important festival day in the year and afforded people an opportunity for a little vacation and an outing in connection with the feast, while at the same time they were able to buy what they needed.

Above all, religion insisted that some part of these days of recreation, the holydays of the years, should be spent not merely for one's own selfish pleasure, but in bringing pleasure to others. It was suggested, for instance, that there could be no better occupation for a portion of Christmas and Easter or of some Sunday afternoons than visiting the sick or prisoners or bringing consolation to those in need. Kings and queens washed the feet of the poor on Holy Thursday, and there were {129} similar practices at other times in the ecclesiastical year. The people were encouraged to bury the dead reverently and then to keep their graves green and to visit them occasionally on the holydays as a sign that their memory had not faded, though also as a reminder of the fact that sometime they hoped to be with their dear friends in another world. This may seem a rather solemn occupation for recreation, but taken in the open air, while the children played around the graves and the old folks sat and tallied, it was ever so much better than that unconquerable tendency to crowd together in hot, dusty places which afflicts people on our holidays.

The old graveyards represented the parks in even the smallest towns, and the inhabitants had a pride in keeping them in order and found a pleasure in visiting them occasionally. In the unfortunately crowded conditions in which they often lived, the only lungs for some of their villages were to be found in the churchyard. There was scarcely a town in this country two generations ago that had anything approaching a public park, except its cemetery.

There is a constant tendency to encroach on the Sunday rest for commercial and industrial reasons of one kind or another, and only religious influences have saved the Sabbath for mankind. Even as it is, the decadence of religion in many countries has led more and more to neglect of the Sabbath-day rest, and in certain of the European countries particularly, Sunday, instead of being a day of rest for the small tradesman, is sometimes his busiest day. Here in this country religious influences were the only factors that kept the saloons more or less closed on Sunday and kept the rest day from being an orgy of dissipation for many people. Selfishness continues to encroach on the precious day of rest and various {130} forms of trade try to present some necessity for their being open on the Sabbath. This has always been the way, and the religious sanction in the matter has been the most precious safeguard.

At the present time, there are a good many stores open for a while or for the whole day on Sunday for which it is hard to find any necessity. Some of the fresh food and milk stores have a certain justification, but why tobacco stores should be open, seeing that their product will keep perfectly and that any man can rather easily lay in a store to carry him over a day at least, is indeed hard to understand. [Footnote 5]

[Footnote 5: There are probably several hundred thousand men in this country who have to work on Sunday because the tobacco stores are open. This is an abuse corresponding to that with regard to the saloon, which will almost surely bring about a reaction in the public mind against the traffic in tobacco generally.]

Another abuse of the public confidence is the opening of all drug stores on Sunday. As a consequence hundreds of thousands of men are deprived of this day of rest in the week. Drugs are extremely important and should of course be available at all hours, but there is no more reason for all the drug stores to be open every Sunday than there is for all the drug stores to be open all night. Certain drug stores should be open, but as St. Antonius suggested five hundred years ago, there is no good reason why there should not be an arrangement by which the drug stores should be open in rotation on Sundays, so that drugs would be always available and only the absolutely necessary articles needed for emergencies should be sold on that day. There is no reason at all why the modern department store annex of the large drug corporations which happens to have a small corner of its store space set off for the filling of prescriptions should {131} do business on Sunday than for an immense department store to put in a prescription department and then sell goods all over the house because they have to keep their drug department open on Sundays. Only the religious element in life will save us from this commercial invasion, with the harm which it does in depriving so many people of their day of rest.

The future of the Sunday as a needed day of rest is dependent more on religion than on any other factor. The insidious selfish quest for money will find excuses for the violation of the day in one way or another. The institution and maintenance down the ages of the Sabbath day of rest is a wonderful example of what religion can accomplish for man in the face of the corroding power of selfishness and is the best demonstration of its living influence for the bodily as well as the spiritual and mental health of mankind.

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CHAPTER VII

RECREATION AND DISSIPATION

As has been suggested in the last chapter on Holydays and Holidays, religious institutions have been the most effective organizers of recreations sane and safe for the mind as well as for the body of man, and recreation is one of the most important factors for the preservation of human health. The man who does not take the time for recreation and above all who does not know how to recreate is almost inevitably drifting toward a premature aging of tissues, or often is laying the foundation for an acute breakdown in health. Recreation is an absolute need of humanity, adding to health, strength, efficiency, length of life, and power of accomplishment. Instead of being a waste of time, it is a time saver and above all a saver of suffering, mental and physical, as the years roll on.

Dissipation is, however, the very opposite of recreation. What corresponds to these two words in human conduct is confounded in the minds of a great many people probably as often as the activities which respond to those other much abused words, liberty and license.

Recreation, as the etymology indicates so clearly, means the building up of energy, while dissipation signifies the scattering of it, usually to no purpose. It is extremely easy for what is meant to be recreation to become {133} dissipation, and religion has been the most important factor in life in controlling the tendency to dissipation which exists among men, not only from the moral but also from the intellectual aspect of life. Religious motives have succeeded better than any other factors in lessening this tendency and securing such genuine recreation as would serve to rebuild men's minds and bodies after they had been more or less worn out from work, and at the same time tend to keep them from immorality and afford such relief from the strain of serious occupation as would provide real reconstruction for them.

Unfortunately in our time, just in proportion as religion has lost its hold on men, recreation has become largely a matter of dissipation of mind when not also dissipation of body. More and more barbaric or merely bodily modes of recreation are preoccupying the leisure time that men have outside of their regular occupations in life. It must not be forgotten that the way a man or a generation spends its leisure is the best possible index of the character of the man or the generation. It is the way that a man spends the time that he is free to use any way that he wishes which reveals what he is. It was a great philosopher who said, "Tell me what a man does with his leisure, and I shall tell you what sort of a man he is." We all have to work a certain portion of our time, and often what we work at is not a matter of choice but necessity. What we do during our leisure, however, is dependent on ourselves and represents our tastes.

The recreation of our time reveals that people are ever so much more interested in their bodies than they are in their minds and hearts and souls. Very often the recreation of the older time consisted of hours spent with all the advantages of outdoor air, exercise, and fine {134} satisfaction of mind, perhaps in visiting the poor or the prisons or the hospitals, or in encouraging the sports of children, or in arranging for outings of various kinds in which the pleasantest of social intercourse between friends and neighbors was associated with such recreation of body as gave a good healthy weariness after a day's outing. More and more these old-fashioned modes of recreation are passing, and sophistication has brought in occupation of mind with a lot of unworthy things.

Instead of taking an active part in what is supposed to recreate them people must now be amused. Whenever this happens and participants pay for the amusement, the character of the amusement degenerates because it must appeal to as great a number as possible. As a consequence, in our day recreation, especially for young folks who ought of course to be actively engaged in sport and not merely onlookers, consists in attendance at "shows" and games. The "shows" have an appeal merely to the senses, they have not an idea lost in them anywhere; the music is a caricature of real music founded on the fact--which the most primitive of savages have always discovered for themselves--that a rhythm appeals to men and gives them a certain bodily satisfaction, probably because of some ill-understood interaction with the heart beat. The main feature of appeal is really the sex element that enters into the show and produces feelings. The lyrics are, if that term for them were to be taken seriously, a crying shame, for the words of the songs usually mean absolutely nothing. The rule is to take certain words that rhyme, like kiss and bliss, and love and glove, and for the rest to talk about the moon and some sentimental twaddle. There is not a glimpse of poetry about them in any sense of the word.

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The attendance at games of various kinds in which people watch other people exercise is a favorite occupation in our time, but it is only the shadow of recreation. It is usually associated with feelings aroused by the desire for one side to win, either because of betting or some other sentiment often entirely artificial. Whenever anything occurs to disappoint the desire, there is likely to be an exhibition of some of the ugliest feelings of mankind. Men invade the field, take up quarrels, and sometimes not only threaten but actually attempt bodily injury of the players and particularly of the umpire. Probably nothing could be more unworthy as recreation for human beings than this passive interest in the exercise that other people take, and the elevation of the contests of paid professionals into something to occupy men's minds seriously and even arouse their feelings deeply.

More and more bodily interests are drowning out higher interests, and prize fighting and wrestling command ever larger audiences, while the sums of money that are paid for such exhibitions grow in size, showing the importance of bodily interests to the general public. There is an old story of Cimabue's Madonna causing the stoppage of business in Florence in the old days, but the transport of no mere picture along the street, no matter how beautiful it might be, would have any such effect nowadays, though the arrival of a prize fighter who had just won a heavyweight contest, if his coming were announced beforehand, would almost surely interfere seriously with business for some time in the neighborhood of the station.

Just as in the days of Rome when the amphitheater was the center of attraction, recreation is becoming mere barbaric dissipation for a great many people. {136} The cultured, intelligent Romans--at least many of them were educated--went to see gladiators fight with wild beasts or with each other unto the death, or to get a special thrill by seeing the Christians thrown to the lions. The other shows they attended were mainly the dancing of slave girls scantily dressed, whose actions were meant to excite sex feelings. At Rome the women had no virtue and the men no courage; they were interested in their bodies and degeneracy had come. No wonder the real barbarians came to replace their counterfeit presentments in the pseudo-refined Romans.

Even our mental occupations are very largely taken up with bodily interests. Reading is supposed to be an intellectual diversion, but it has become a matter of attention to sex and other bodily emotions. My friend. Doctor Austin O'Malley, suggests that one of the most important criteria of intelligence is contained in the rule "the book that you like is like you," to which may be added, of course, that the play that you like is like you and the magazine that you like is like you. If our generation is to be judged by its occupation of its leisure, the estimation will not be very high. Most of the leisure time of men is spent in reading the newspapers. Indeed, it may be said without exaggeration that the greater part of civilized mankind now spends the major portion of its hours of relaxation over the newspaper. News was defined by an old-fashioned editor succinctly as sin. The definition has enough of truth in it to give us pause when we consider that every one is occupied with the newspaper for an hour or more each day. We want to know the last details of the ugly sex crimes and the misfortunes of various kinds that have happened to people, perhaps with a feeling that things might be worse for us {137} than they are, but the suggestive effect is almost the worst that could well be imagined, and the recreation of mind becomes a sad dissipation of mental energy.

Religion brought the holydays, which were in our modern sense holidays, into the year, but did ever so much more than this by suggesting, organizing and encouraging such occupation of them as afforded recreation for men and women in definite contradistinction from dissipation. On all the Sundays and holydays men rose to attend services and usually spent some hours in this occupation. Attendance at religious services in our time has become very largely a matter of duty, requiring considerable self-denial and control for its accomplishment. The religious ceremonials of the older time were, however, extremely interesting, and people looked forward to them.

They had to attend them as a matter of duty, but the great majority of them found a pleasure in the duty because of the appeal that the Church ceremonial made.

Various societies associated with religion in one way or another organized the recreations for the afternoon of the holydays or for the vigils or eves of the great festivals, on which there was no work done after the vesper hour. The guilds, for instance, most of which received saints' names, and many of which built chapels of their own and were closely affiliated with the ecclesiastical authorities, offered prizes for athletic exercises among the young folks, both boys and girls, and arranged contests in archery, in the pitching of quoits, in the old-fashioned form of hockey and the like, between the inhabitants of neighboring villages, and then there were also individual athletic contests of various kinds. Banquets were held four times a year on the special feast days, to which a man was expected to bring either his wife or his {138} sweetheart. They did not believe that it was good for men to be alone in their feasting, and realized that there was likely to be much less of excess and ever so much less of a tendency to quarrel if the women were present. The banquets were held in the afternoon, and there was dancing on the green afterward for the young folks and games of various kinds, all of which were meant to give the young particularly innocent enjoyment and bring them together for proper matchmaking.

Religious authorities have always recognized the necessity for recreation. Besides, they have always tried to keep recreation on that higher plane where it may do good and not harm. Dancing, for instance, has very often had a place in religious ceremonials. Rhythmic movements of the body can add to the significance of even the deepest thought. They may, of course, be reduced merely to the expression of sensuality or constitute an invitation to it. David danced before the Ark, and dancing has always had a place in the expression of religious feelings. The old Greeks employed dancing to great effect, even in their higher religious ceremonials. The great Greek dramatists wrote choric odes which are among the most beautiful lyric poems ever written. They were on such subjects as life and death and man and fate and all the other great mysteries with which man is confronted. The chorus, in singing them, danced, and the reason for the dance was that it added to the significance of the beautiful words that had been written. The Greek plays were staged as a part of the religious ceremonial in celebration of the festivals of Dionysus; his name has been translated by the supposed Latin equivalent Bacchus, but the Greeks meant the god of inspiration and not the god of intoxication.

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Religion then proved a source of a great deal of genuine recreation.

It emphasized the joys of existence rather than merely the pleasures of life. It encouraged family participation in everything and found a place for the children. There is a great distinction between joy and pleasure that is often missed when religion is in decay. Joy is a profound feeling usually associated with the performance of simple duties and rather easily attainable by every one. Pleasures are often expensive, frequently are followed by remorse, and more often than not do harm rather than good to those who indulge in them, especially to any excess. Joy, however, inspires human beings to the further accomplishment of duty, gives a supreme sense of well-being, brings light-hearted sleep and is very precious in the memory. Joys are usually associated with domestic duties and religious observances and the celebration in family groups of the great festivals. What religion did in bringing joy into life is one of the most precious factors for real recreation that we have.

The main feature of religion's work for recreation, however, consisted of the development of dramatics. Twice in the world's history, as I have noted in the chapter on Holydays and Holidays, dramatic literature has developed out of religious ceremonials. These ceremonials very naturally take on the dramatic form, and the evolution of this in the course of time led to additions to religious services which soon came to occupy so much attention as to deserve a place and time for themselves, and then they were transferred to the temple porch in the older time, or to the open space at the foot of the steps, or in the Middle Ages to the churchyard or the green in front of the church.

This encouragement of recreation with a deep appeal {140} to the emotions and the higher feelings which at the same time brought satisfaction for the intellect, proved of the greatest possible service for health. Men need to have thoroughgoing diversion of mind from their ordinary occupations. Such diversion of mind is, in my opinion, even more important than exercise of body. The effort in our time is concentrated on doing nothing with the mind, as a rest for it, or doing something that is so trivial that it is supposed to provide opportunity for mental recreation. Almost needless to say it is impossible to do nothing with the mind. The mind will keep right on thinking about something or other, and unless thought is diverted it is very inclined to recur to the last worries and troubles which the individual has experienced. The attempt to occupy the mind with trivial matters does not divert it. To read the newspaper or some popular magazine or a light novel will enable the person to kill time, but up through the print will always come obtruding itself the worry or anxiety that occupied it before. What is needed for true recreation is that the mind shall be interested in something very different from its ordinary occupation. This interest must be deep and abiding and holding, or it will not prove so successful as would otherwise be the case.

Some form of intellectual hobby makes the very best recreation, but not every one has either the time or the money and above all the intelligence to cultivate a hobby that will be absorbing in its appeal. Religion, then, with its universal appeal, its deep touching of the feelings, its sense of supreme satisfaction when people believed, its presentation of ceremonies that have even a sensory attraction, formed in the past a fine avenue of escape from the sordid considerations of life for a great many {141} people and can still be an invaluable resource for those who take it seriously. In the midst of trials and hardships the folk of the older time learned to turn to religion as a consolation that occupied their minds and promised them divine help in their difficulties. Religion as organized in the later Middle Ages, with its great celebrations on the festival days in the beautiful Gothic churches, on the background of great art, served this purpose of diversion of mind extremely well. If that had been its only purpose it would have been quite unworthy of the great intellectual and artistic accomplishments which religion aroused. But as a secondary consideration this must not be forgotten, and the absence of an appeal of this kind makes for that tendency to dissipation of mind which is so unfortunate because [it is] so unworthy of human nature and at the same time proves so ineffective as providing any real recreation of mind.

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