Page:American Journal of Sociology Volume 2.djvu/896

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880 THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY

evoke, as the preface suggests, interest, doubt, distress, and enthusiasm. The interpretations of Tolstoi are followed ; the words of Jesus are taken quite literally in respect to non-resistance, the sin of accumula- ting wealth, living from day to day without care for the morrow, refusal to receive interest on loans, the approval of poverty as itself a good. This peculiar method of interpretation furnishes the basis of his social theory.

By some mental dialectic not easily followed Henry George's doc- trine of the iniquity of ownership in land is deduced from a concep- tion of theology.

Interest and usury are identified; the Fathers are quoted, but Ash- ley's account of the later church teaching and the historical reasons for the change are not noticed.

We might be disposed to ask what substitutes for royalties, rents, interest and profits are possible ; whether a few self-denying ascetics could achieve any modification by accepting his counsels; what mode of selecting competent leaders of industry and government could, even under socialism (p. 148), be devised without competition ; but all this questioning is useless in this case, since "Christians are not bound by considerations of practicability."

The statement (p. 84) that "Christianity is not an individual matter," but is entirely social, is but one side of an important truth. The representation (p. 54) that self-sacrifice is the sum of morality needs to be corrected by the consideration that self-regard is a duty : Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself ; a saying which Harris' Moral Evolution wisely applies to social ethics. Herbert Spencer's familiar vindication of self-preservation is required to give real con- tents to altruism. The attempt to be more generous than the Golden Rule virtually implies suicide. We read this book, as we read all strong poetic and sermonic appeals to altruism, with profound respect when, as in this case, the author is sincere. We feel that selfishness may be partly corrected by eloquent portraiture of heroic virtue and martyr zeal. But if we are seeking a reasonable method of interpreting the New Testament, or a healthy and sane view of life, or a rule by which men in our century can ordinarily best further character and welfare, we shall receive but little practical help in this volume. It presents an economic method immediately practicable in a monastery supported by a competitive society outside, but not a guidebook for men who are to promote progress. C. R. HENDERSON.