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so green as to be black, and there “I saw her before I left," says the alighted before it a great scarlet Egyp- sea-captain. "I was at the Khan's paltian bird. And the beauty of that ace of Chagannor,” says he, “seeing of brought the tears to my eyes, so that the chief of the stewards was there I thought of nuns in their cells and anything I could get for him, and I in barefoot friars in the hollow lands, and foreign parts. And as I was being ,
I they striving for paradise. What did rowed back along the river by my ten I care about paradise? A Venetian I. brawny sailormen, what did I pass but So why should I want to go to China?” the garden of Golden Bells.
“You have made a great case for "And there she was by the riverthe grandeur and beauty of Venice," side, a little brown slip of a girl in green says the sea-captain. “It is lovely,
coat and trousers, with a surely,” say he, filling his pipe; "but
flower in her dark hair. finer poets nor you, my lad," says he,
"And I lower my head lighting it, “have tried to describe the
in reverence as we pass grace and beauty of Tao-san Tuen,
by. But I hear her low, and," says he, taking a draw, "have
merry voice, by reason of failed."
which they call her Golden “Tao-Tuen is a beautiful name. It
Bells. is like two notes plucked on a harp. “Ho, master of the vessel!' she calls. And it must be a wonderful place, 'Where do you go?' surely, if great poets cannot describe "And the sailors back water with a it."
swish, and I stand up respectfully, for "It is not a place," said the captain, all she is only a slip of a girl. “it's a girl.”
“'I go to foreign parts, Golden Bells,' "As for women, Venice"
I tell her; 'to far and dangerous places, "Venice be damned!" said the sea- into the Indian Ocean. To the Island captain. "Not in Venice, not in all the of Unicorns and to the land where men world, is there the like for grace or eat men.' beauty of Tao-Tuen. They call her “'I hope you come back safe, masGolden Bells,” he says.
ter of the vessel,' she says. “I hope “Is she a dancing-girl?” Marco you have a good voyage and come back asked.
safe. It must be a dreadful strain on "She is not a dancing-girl," says the your people to think of you so far sea-captain, “she is the daughter of away.' Kublai, the great Khan."
“'In all this wide land,' I tell her, "A cold and beautiful princess,” 'there is none to worry about me. I says Marco Polo.
have neither chick nor child.' "She is not a cold and beautiful “Golden Bells will worry about you, princess,” says the sea-captain. "She then,' she said, 'and you in the hazis warm as the sun in early June, and ards of the sea. And take this flower she may be beautiful and a princess, for luck.' And she gave me the flower but we all think of her as Golden Bells, from her hair. 'And let it bring you the little girl in the Chinese garden." luck against the anger of the ocean
“Did you ever see her?” says Marco, and the enemies all men have. And eagerly. “Tell me."
let me know when you are back, open sea.'
because I 'll be worried about a man nurse, to take her to her heart when of China and him in danger on the she is sad.
"And sad she is a lot of the time, "And was n't that a wonderful they tell me. She sits in her garden in thing from a daughter of Kublai to me, the dusk, playing her lute, and singing a poor sailorman?
the song of the Willow Branches, "The son of the King of Siam came which is the saddest love-song in the to woo her with a hundred princes on
world... a hundred elephants, but she would “And why she should be singing a n't have him. 'I don't wish to be a sad love-song is a mystery, for her queen,' she told her father. "How
'How soft, brown beauty is the flower of the could I be a queen? I am only Golden world. For there would be no lack of Bells.' Nor would she have anything suitors for her, nor is she the one to reto say to the Prince of the Land of fuse love. The only thing I make of it Darkness, who came to her with sea is that the right hour has n't come. ivory and pale Arctic gold. "The sun "The beauty of Venice jumps to of China is in my heart, and you would your eyes, but the beauty of this pulls n't have me go up into the great cold- at your heart. Little brown Golden ness to shiver and die?'
Bells, in her Chinese garden, singing " "So she remains in her garden by the song of the Willow Branches at the lake of Cranes with Li Po, the the close of day. .. Is that not great poet, him they call the Drinker better nor Venice?" ). of Wine, to make songs for her; and But he got no word out of Marco the Sanang Tung-Chih, the great Polo, sitting with his chin cupped in magician, to perform wonders for her his hands. And that was the finest when she is wearied; and Bulagan, her answer at all, at all. .
(The end of the first part of Messer Marco Polo)
Four Immoralities of the Church
By FRANK CRANE
This paper is not presented as indicating the point of view of THE CENTURY regarding the church, but because it is a thought-provoking statement that raises many challenging questions. -THE EDITOR.
HIS is not an attack on the served their purpose, will fall away.
church. I am a member of Jesus did not say He came to save the church, believe in it, and love it. His church, but to save the world. I hope I have sense enough not to Christianity can triumph only as hucondemn the church for those mis manity, not as a group culled from takes that are easily traceable to hu- humanity. man frailty, and I thoroughly be- There are certain elements in the lieve that in the principles and spirit church, developed through its mixture of Jesus of Nazareth, and nowhere with imperfect human nature and by else so well, is contained the seed or infection from the vast heathenisms of vital energy which makes for the the world's adolescence, which impede wholesome ripening of the human its growth. These I would point out. race.
After thirty years of activity as a The purpose of what I am about to Christian minister, I record what in say is to estimate the church, not to my judgment are the four fundamental denounce it. As, for example, I love immoralities of the church. I say my nation, but at the same time my immoralities, because I believe these mind criticizes the nation-myth; I be things to be deeper than errors; they lieve nationalities are a passing phase, are radical departures from the norm beyond which evolution is rapidly of Jesus. These are: first, that it is carrying us, and that many disasters exclusive; second, that it is respectable; befall us because of our national vani- third, that it is free; and fourth, that it ties and obsessions. Nationalism is is militant. the hot seed-bed from which wars spring.
82 So I believe that the church in its First, that it is exclusive. That is, present alinement is a temporary it recognizes a non-membership. It stage in the progress of the Christian excommunicates. It acknowledges idea. The purpose, the program, of there are heretics, infidels, what not, Jesus is permanent. That is the en- who are not of its body and communduring tree. It bears from time to ion. Thus it has boundaries. It is time leaves, flowers, and fruit, accord- not the world; it is another one of the ing to season. So it bore churches,
So it bore churches, many sections into which the world is creeds, cults, which, when they have divided.
I say this is immoral, because the tor are both well founded; that is, distinguishing characteristic of Chris- their instinct is true, for it senses that tianity is that it is the first great non- in the end Christianity means the ethnic religion. Before it all religions decay and death of all ethnic religions, had been national or racial expressions. and in the end the League of Nations The pride of the Jew was that he was means the swallowing up of nationalnot a Gentile. When the races fight isms by humanity. on earth and sea, in Homer, their gods Now, the inclusiveness of Jesus' fight also in the heavens above. Jah, program is its very essence; so that the Jewish god, quarrels through the when we make it exclusive we destroy pages of the Old Testament with the its very nature.
its very nature. We pierce its heart. gods of neighbor states.
That is why it is immoral. The thing that most offended the The churches, as we find them toJews in apostolic days was the fact day, are organizations. As far as that the new faith let the Gentiles in their form is concerned, they are in and gave them equal privileges with the same category as political parties, Israel. Against this narrowness Paul lodges, clubs, and orders. The comthundered. It took a divine vision to mon idea seems to be that Jesus organremove the prejudice from Peter's ized a group, which He called a church, mind, and only an angel from above very much as we organize a rotary could utter so daring a command as club, and that His ambition was that “What God hath cleansed, that call this organization should grow, by arguthou not common.”
ing and preaching, by building great And this same universality was the structures and establishing schools, by element in Christianity that puzzled getting hold of people influential in and antagonized the Roman leaders. society and politics, by amassing numThey refused for a long time to believe bers, and by holding gigantic convenit to be anything more than another tions, until at last everybody would Jewish sect. They naturally took it join, and that would be the final trifor granted that anybody who came umph of Christianity. along with another god or set of gods But He not only had no such thing than Rome's was trying to upset the in mind, but such a thing is utterly Roman Empire and was a traitor. heathenish, a stone blindness to His The martyrdoms in the arena were not intention, and directly opposite to prompted by religious ferocity or aimed His mind. at suppressing any one's religion: they He never organized anything. His were political; they were the proud pro- twelve apostles were no club, but tests of the “red-blooded Americans” merely His chosen friends. They of that day and place who would never had but one official, a treasurer, stand nothing but one hundred per and he went wrong. He found twelve cent. patriotism.
friends (really more, for masculine hisChristianity struck the world very torians did not count the women), and much as the League of Nations strikes said to them that as He had made a "bitter-ender" in the United States friends with them, so they were to go Senate. And the fears of the Roman out and make friends with the rest of persecutor and of the stand-pat sena- the human race.
The idea was a gospel of contagious or conduct, it would have bred a Chris
a friendship, but it fell into a world tendom that would simply refuse to go obsessed with the triumphant fallacy to war. But what could a church do of the Roman Empire, and sold its when it was represented by a whole soul for a mess of organization- motley crowd of denominations each pottage.
more anxious to cry with the pack of Christianity is essentially unorgan- nationalist propagandists and to inizable. When you organize it you crease its own organization and presdestroy its chief charm. You change tige than to find and fuse with the a living spirit into a dead steam-roller. heart of its brethren everywhere?
a It may be proper enough and advan- The colossal crime went on. The tageous to form societies, groups, broth- message of Jesus was peeped by only a erhoods, and other organizations inside few "pacifists," who were despised and Christianity to further the interests of hated quite as roundly as troubleChristianity, but for any such body to making Christians were suspected, call itself the church, meaning that its thrown to the lions, or roasted in the membership is coterminous with the days of Nero, and hated for precisely body of Christ's followers, is as absurd the same reason; for universality was as for the Republican party or the quite as much a crime in 1917 as it American Legion to claim that not to was in the time of Paul. Because of belong to it is not to be an American. the primal sin of exclusiveness and de
The whole organization idea of the limited organization, the church, when church is antiquated; it fits the time the world went mad, had no arresting when men believed in a world-car- word to say. pentry of seven days, each twenty-four With each regiment of the slaughterhours long, and evolution was de ing armies went a chaplain, but all the nounced as a heresy. But the world poor fellow could do was to attend the is past that form of thought. We mangled victims and extend to them a know now that God does not make hope of that brotherhood in death anything by carpentry, not even king- which it had been treason to practise dom come.
He grows things. If the in life. kingdom of God ever gets here, it will The result of this exclusiveness, this be because it grew, not because some- identifying of Christianity with an orbody "put it across."
ganization, has been that real ChrisIt was because of this fundamental tianity has been forced out into the apostasy that the church has made its highway, since it could not grow in the amazing failures. When the Great garden. It could not die. It is the War broke out, it had no sentiment by truth, and truth is inherently inextinwhich to stop it. All it could do was
All it could do was guishable. There is more Christianity to throw a few denatured platitudes in the world to-day than ever before, into the devouring flame of mad na- but it is not confined to the temple. tionalisms. If the church from the It is permeating homes, markets, polibeginning had refused to be anything tics, education, literature, every debut coterminous with humanity, if it partment of life, while congregations had set its face like flint against all in the churches dwindle. barriers, whether of race, blood, creed, And perhaps this is destiny's design.