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Rural Problems of Today
written by "Groves, Ernest R. (Ernest Rutherford), 1877-1946"
...developed at a time when [Pg 153]religion was called upon to make heroic changes in order to adapt itself to the needs of modern life. Formerly religion gave rural thinking a larger outlook than individual experience by providing an outstretching theological environment. Rather lately this environment has ceased to satisfy the needs of rural people. Religion has in the city become social in a way of which our fathers did not dream, and in the country it must find its vigor also by introducing the believer to his social environment in such a way as to emphasize social function, as much as personal inward obligations formerly were emphasized by theology. We need, therefore, for the best interests of the country that the native sense of personal importance characteristic of rural thinking should be brought into contact with social need, so that it may function socially. Out of this movement will issue most happily a great social optimism in the country and individualism will lose nothing by being adjusted to modern [Pg 154]social needs. The chief agencies that socialize rural thinking are the church, the school, the press, secret societies and clubs, and the industry of farming itself. The effective rural church as a socializing agency has a commanding position. Even the inefficient church has more social influence than appears on the surface. In a considerable part of the area of social inspiration the Church has an absolute monopoly. The rural church, however, has been until recently too well content with an individual ethics that modern life has made obsolete. In our day healthy-minded religion is forcing men and women to see their duties in social forms. It is becoming clear that one cannot save his own soul in full degree if attention is concentrated upon personal salvation. The country ministry is beginning to feel the changing order of things and there is an increasing attempt to build up a socializing institution in the Church. ...

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