There was a period when pleasure of almost any kind was frowned upon by the intensely religious—the "unco guid," as they are sometimes called. The theater was regarded as evil; dancing was considered a device of the devil; the almost irrepressible longing of the young to be charming, well dressed, and personally attractive was looked upon as an indication of a hopelessly frivolous nature. Sunday was made as grim and dull as could be and spent in severe silence; the only occupation permitted, apart from churchgoing, was the reading of "good books." The high spirits of childhood were repressed firmly, but not always successfully, for young people often revolted against the grayness of the good life as thus presented and came to identify wickedness with color and gaiety.

While respecting the sincerity and purity of many religionists of a former day, one cannot help seeing that their ideas involved some confusion. They understood that something had to be given up, willingly made the sacrifice themselves, and rather ruthlessly enforced it on others; but they failed to see that it is a belief in material pleasure that has to be given up, and that this sacrifice is a small price to pay for spiritual joy; that it is in fact a giving up of shadow for substance.

From this excessively narrow concept of religion the churchgoer sometimes came to be thought of as an unsmiling person, wearing aggressively plain clothes, disdaining all charm and lightness of heart. On the other hand, Christian Scientists desire to be distinguished by their poise, friendliness, and happiness. These characteristics have frequently drawn the visitor to their services and impressed the individual stranger. Christian Scientists are rightly considered a happy people, and yet they certainly are a church-loving people. To them Church is their true home and an unfailing source of blessing and comfort.

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April 29, 1950

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