28 MARCH 1931, Page 14


[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.] SIR,—After reading Miss Geraldine Coster's article on the "Religious Training of Children," in last week's Spectator, like Ezra of old, I sat down astonied. May I refer to two points in particular ?

"People," says Miss Coster, "rarely seem to have estimated the effect on a group of children of singing again and again such lines as Weary of earth and laden with my sin,' or Hide me, 0 my Saviour, hide, Till the storm of life be past.' " In twenty-five-years' experience' as a parish priest, I have never known children singing these hymns. Hymns of this emotional and subjective character are. naturally -reserved for mission services ; and that any priest with an elementary knowledge of his craft, should choose them for Catechism or Sunday School is frankly preposterous.

Miss Coster goes on to question the usefulness of teaching any religious doctrine to children, and in particular discourages the teaching of the dogma that Jesus Christ is God. The child who is taught this, she says, will inevitably misunderstand it, and lose thereby the greater part of the emotional and inspirational value of the Gospel.

Why a child should "inevitably misunderstand" the truth of the Incarnation, Miss Coster does not inform us. That he cannot fully grasp it is, of course, true : which of us can ? It contains depth beyond depth of mystery beyond the penetration of the greatest mystic. But on the surface, it is a simple truth for simple minds. To try to teach the Christian Religion without this, its fundamental doctrine, is like trying to build a house without a foundation. To vary the figure, it is like striking out the centre-pole of a, tent. The whole structure collapses into a huddle of canvas, without shape, form, or utility.

Doctrine divorced from life is, of course, futile, whether it be for children or for adults. But it is not quite as meaning- less and unintelligent as Christianity without the Incarnation.

.—I am, Sir, &c., G. D. ROSENTHAL. S. Agatha's Vicarage, Birmingham.