Protestant Educators

Picture of William C. Bower

William Clayton Bower (1878 - 1982). A major influential leader of the early 20th century religious education movement. Bower taught at the College of the Bible, in Lexington, KY, and at the University of Chicago Divinity School. Author of The Curriculum of Religious Education (1925), Bower championed the use of the scientific method in the study of religious education, a controlled-experience approach to curriculum, and values education in public schools. A major writer and influential leader through the middle of the century.

Biography

Early Life and Education

William Clayton Bower, a descendant of French Huguenot and British immigrants, was born on a farm near Wolcottville, Indiana on February 6, 1878. His early religious training was in the Wesleyan Methodist Church at Green's Chapel near his home. Because the congregation was on a circuit, his family spent alternate Sundays worshiping at a nearby Baptist church. Bower preached his first sermon at Green's Chapel at the age of 16, the same year he graduated from high school as the only male in a graduating class of three students. He spent the year after graduation teaching school in a neighboring town to earn the money for college. Thus began an educational career that extended until his death in 1982 at the age of 104.

Bower attended Tri-State College in Angola, Indiana, graduating with a B.A. in 1898. There, he met Troas Hemry, whom he married in 1900. They had two sons, Philip Graydon and Clayton Hemry. During his college years, he supplied pulpits at a Methodist Church in Pleasant Lake, Indiana and a Christian Church in Angola, Indiana. Charles S. Medbury, the pastor of the Christian Church, had a profound influence on the young Bower, who became a member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) during his college years. Over the course of his distinguished career, Bower answered questions about his reasons for leaving the Wesleyan Methodist Church by answering, with a wry smile, "In order to become a Christian!" (Wigglesworth, 6). He received further education at Butler College (now University) in Indianapolis where he came under the influence of Jabez Hall, Edward Scribner Ames, and Winifred Ernest Garrison.

Bower served Disciples congregations in Indiana and New York for the next ten years before continuing his education at Columbia University, where he received his Master's Degree in 1910 and completed coursework toward his Ph.D. in 1918. Among his teachers at Columbia, the most influential were William H. Kilpatrick, E. L. Thorndike, and George Albert Coe. The latter would be the scholar with whom his own academic work would be most linked. Following his graduation from Columbia, Bower served as pastor of the Wilshire Boulevard Christian Church in Los Angeles for two years before beginning his academic career in 1912.

Bower was called to fill the recently established Alexander Hopkins Chair of Bible School Pedagogy at the College of the Bible (now Lexington Theological Seminary) in 1912. The previous two years had seen the deaths or retirement of the entire faculty and administration of the College, with the exception of the Dean, Hall L. Calhoun. With such a transition in leadership, R. H. Crossfield, president of neighboring Transylvania College (now University), became President of both institutions. Crossfield was determined to fill the faculty at the College of the Bible with "progressive scholars" representing the "New Theology" and appointed Bower and A. W. Fortune in 1912 and Elmer E. Snoddy and George W. Hemry in 1914.

Almost immediately, there were signs of controversy over the appointments. Letters from ten students, with the support and possible instigation of Dean Calhoun, led to Bower and the other three new appointees being brought before the Board of Trustees of the College in May, 1917 to face charges of heresy. At issue were charges that Bower and the others taught the theory of evolution and practiced the historical-critical method of biblical interpretation (charges Bower later gladly agreed were true) (Wigglesworth, 6). The nine-day trial resulted in acquittal on all charges. The tide of the trial was turned after excerpts from a book on evolution were read to one of the most vocal of Bower's opponents. When the trustee objected to the ideas in the passage, the critic quickly had to admit that the published words of support for evolution had been his own (The Disciple, 27).

Bower taught at College of the Bible until 1926, serving as Dean for the last five years. He accepted an appointment to teach at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago in that year, and continued in that position until his retirement in 1943. Among his colleagues at Chicago were two former professors from Butler, W.E. Garrison and E.S. Ames. His academic work there was greatly influenced by the process theology of Alfred North Whitehead (Wigglesworth, 6). He continued his appreciation for the educational theory of John Dewey as well.

During his tenure at the University of Chicago, Bower served as a director and vice-president of the Religious Education Association, was a member of the International Lesson Committee (beginning in 1917), and was a member and secretary of the Educational Commission of the International Council of Religious Education until its merger with the International Lesson Committee in 1928. Bower chaired the subcommittee of ICRE that published the "New International Curriculum of Religious Education" in 1920. This successor to the Uniform Lesson Series took the findings of the liberal/ progressive school of education and the contributions of educational psychology (under the influence of scholars like Dewey, Pierce, and Coe) seriously and shifted the focus of church school curriculum from a subject-centered, tradition-based curriculum to an experience-centered, "graded" curriculum (Moore, 35). The publication of this curriculum series marked a major turning point in the history of religious education. The ICRE's "Bower Report", published in 1922, described religious education as centered on the life situations of the individuals involved, with the Bible, tradition, and theology seen as resources from which persons might respond to these life situations (Moore, 40). He remained an active member of the ICRE beyond his retirement from the University of Chicago, and co-wrote the history of that organization (with Percy C. Hayward), Protestantism Faces Its Educational Task Together in 1949. While at Chicago, Bower (known by his students as "The Deacon") served as acting dean of the Divinity School on several occasions during the absences of William Cadman Colwell.

Following his retirement, the Bowers returned to the home they still owned in Lexington, Kentucky and embarked on a very active "retirement" of thirty-nine years. Bower taught courses at Transylvania, the College of the Bible/ Lexington Theological Seminary, and the University of Kentucky. His long-standing belief that Christian religion and contemporary culture should be united in the life of the Christian through education was demonstrated through his activities in his retirement years (Seymour, O'Gorman, and Foster, 111). He developed a major in "Religion as a Phase of Culture" within the sociology department at the University of Kentucky. His leadership in this institution led to the development of the Kentucky Program of Moral and Spiritual Values, which advocated the importance of including the discussion of religion and values in public school education. His book, Moral and Spiritual Values in Education, published in 1952, reflected the work of the program he helped to develop. At Transylvania and College of the Bible, Bower taught courses in "The Living Bible" and "The Church At Work in the Modern World". He remained an active force in discussions of church school curriculum, the relationship between religion and society, and public school education throughout his career, serving on the School Board of Lexington, Kentucky, as a member of the 1940 White House Conference on Children in a Democracy, as a member of a commission studying the mission to the "Orient" conducted by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and with the Kentucky Program of Moral and Spiritual Values.

A consistent advocate for "creative activities" in religious education, Bower's own creative side was engaged when his son gave him a gift of oil paints for Christmas, 1949. He took up his new hobby with a fervor and attention to detail. At the age of 71, Bower began a passion for painting that would last the remaining thirty-three years of his life. Many of his later articles and books were accompanied by Bower's illustrations, and several of his paintings hang in prominent locations in churches and other institutions associated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The shrine building at the Cane Ridge Meetinghouse near Paris, Kentucky, which is considered one of the "birthplaces" of that denomination, features historical stained-glass medallions based on Bower's original paintings.

Bower's mind and wit remained sharp until his death at the age of 104. He is remembered as one of a handful of scholars who made religious education respectable as a scholarly enterprise (Melchert, 20). He was one of the foremost advocates for the liberal/ progressive school of religious education and was a leading figure in the developments in church school curriculum during the early part of the twentieth century. His insistence that the traditional approaches to religious education were too transmissive and authoritarian led to his call for a religious education that began with and directed reflection upon present experience under the direction of the Christian tradition. "The educational program of the church," he said, " is experience-centered, seeking to help growing persons to meet and resolve life situations in Christian ways with the resources of the funded religious experience of the past." (Bower, 1943, 3). This consistent approach to religious education is reflected in the seventeen books he authored or co-authored and the more than one hundred articles he contributed to various journals. He saw religion as inseparable from the cultural experience of persons, and advocated the inclusion of religion within the development of values in public education. William Clayton Bower left a legacy of intellectual integrity, precision of thought, and commitment to an exploration of religion in all of life that has impacted the development of religious education in the twentieth century.

Works Cited

Much of the biographical information in the article comes from Stevenson, D. E. (1983). William Clayton Bower: Pioneer in religious education. Discipliana, 43 (3), 35- 40.

  • Bower, W. C. (1952). Moral and spiritual values in education. Lexington, Ken: University of Kentucky Press.
  • _______ (1943, June 6). Where life and religion are one. Sermon. University Church (Disciples of Christ), Chicago, Illinois.
  • _______ and Hayward, P.C. (1949). Protestantism faces its educational task together. Chicago: National Council of Churches.
  • _______ (1957). Through the years: Personal memoirs. Lexington, Ken: Transylvania University Press.
  • Honeycutt, Valarie. (1982, July 26). Dr. William Bower, educator and theologian, dies at 104. Lexington (Kentucky) Herald. p. B6.
  • Melchert, C. F. (1970). Theory in religious education. In Marvin J. Taylor (Ed.). Foundations for Christian education in an era of change (pp. 20-29). Nashville: Abingdon Press.
  • Moore, M. E. (1983). Education for continuity and change: A new model for christian religious education. Nashville: Abingdon Press.
  • (1982, November 7) Obituary. The Disciple. p. 27.
  • Seymour, J.L., O'Gorman, R. T., and Foster, C. R. (1984). The church in the education of the public: Refocusing the task of religious education. Nashville: Abingdon Press.
  • Wigglesworth, M. F. (1976, October). Anniversary interview. The Bethany Guide. St. Louis: Christian Board of Publication. pp. 3-6.

Contributions to Christian Education

Harold W. Burgess calls William Clayton Bower "probably the second most influential of the classical liberal theorists (after George Albert Coe)" (Burgess, 82). Bower's understanding of religious education drew upon the work of educational philosophy, educational psychology, and developmental psychology as well as theology and biblical studies, prompting Allen J. Moore to place Bower among those scholars like Coe, Ernest Chave, and Harrison Elliott who "were as much at home in general educational dialogue as in religious discussions and were committed to wedding the two" (Moore, Allen J., 89). Bower listed such early twentieth-century thinkers as John Dewey, William Scribner Ames, Alfred North Whitehead, and his teacher, George Albert Coe, as well as the work of the Religious Education Association as his primary influences.

His academic career spanned thirty-two years at the College of the Bible (now Lexington Theological Seminary) and the Divinity School of the University of Chicago, but his career as a teacher, author, and educational leader lasted from 1912 until his death in 1982 at the age of 104. Bower was an influential member of the Religious Education Association, serving as both a director and vice president of the organization in its early years of existence. His leadership of the International Council of Religious Education and the International Sunday School Lesson Committee contributed to sweeping changes in church school curriculum, taking the developmental differences among students seriously and beginning the curricular process with the experience of the student. His clear presentation of the liberal/ progressive school of religious education made him one of the foremost voices in the theological debates of the first half of the twentieth century. Bower's contributions to the field of religious education may be organized around five primary themes: his presentation of the liberal/ progressive approach to the field; his role in the development of a new approach to church school curriculum; his significant scholarship; his leadership role in a variety of religious education organizations; and his advocacy for the centrality of religion in all of life, especially in education.

Bower's academic career began in the midst of the controversies surrounding the so-called "New Theology". Following the deaths of the president and several members of the faculty at the College of the Bible (now Lexington Theological Seminary) in Lexington, Kentucky, the institution's new president, R.H.Crossfield, began in 1912 to fill the faculty with "progressive university men" who represented the "liberal" approach to theology and biblical studies. The move produced immediate friction between those who supported the traditional theology and the new members of the faculty. In 1917, a group of ten students led by Ben F. Battenfield-- with the support and encouragement of the institution's dean, Hall C. Calhoun-- wrote letters demanding the removal of the professors who taught this "destructive" theology. In May of that year, Bower and his colleagues (including President Crossfield) were called before the Trustees of the College to face formal charges of heresy. The charges against them centered around two issues: the use of historical-critical methods of biblical study and advocating the theory of evolution. The public and controversial trial led to the vindication of Bower and the others. He saw this as a victory for academic freedom, not only for other colleges associated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), but for all colleges and universities (Stevenson, 37-38). Bower remained on the faculty of the College of the Bible, serving as editor of the institution's journal and as dean for the final five years, until 1926, when he moved to the University of Chicago.

Bower has long been identified as one of the leading spokespersons for the liberal/ progressive school of religious education, as Burgess' characterization would suggest. The frequently rancorous debate between the progressives and the emerging neo-orthodox scholars in the 1930s and 1940s tended to identify Harrison Elliott and Bower as the primary representatives of the progressives. H. Shelton Smith, who voiced the neo-orthodox criticism of progressive religious education, mentioned Bower as frequently as Elliott in his critique of this approach to the discipline (Smith, 1942).

Bower was critical of traditional approaches to religious education (and, indeed, of all education), which he saw as "backward looking, formal, authoritative and remote from the actual experience of living persons." Progressive education, which he advocated, essentially reversed the flow of education. "The principal shift of emphasis has been from the recovery and reproduction of tradition to an attempt to deal directly with the experience of growing persons in their interaction with their real and present world... In this direct approach to religious education through experience, the great traditions of religion-the Bible, the heritage of Christian faith, the development of the church, the techniques of Christian living and models of thought and action-become resources for interpreting, evaluating, and redirecting a given experience in terms of living and operative Christian values." (Bower, 1941, 386-7). This emphasis upon the centrality of the personal experience of the growing individual, under the guidance of the subject matter of the Christian faith, was characteristic of Bower's approach the religious education. He claimed the curriculum of the church should be based "upon the enriched and controlled experience of the learner, not upon materials." (dust jacket for Bower's The Curriculum of Religious Education, 1925). The goal of religious education in Bower's understanding was for the individual, and for society, to live Christ-like lives (Burgess, 104-5).

Bower developed a five-step approach to the educational process that has been influential on the method of religious education: "1) Assist persons to reflect objectively on the actual situations they face in life experience; 2) help persons construct and understand the experience in light of their own past experience; 3) guide persons to understand the experience in light of the cultural heritage of the religious group and society; 4) engage these reflections with one another, searching for meanings, values, possible responses, and outcomes; and 5) decide upon the action or behavior that should be adopted." (Bower, 1930, 135). This summary illustrates the way Bower's approach to religious education involves guided reflection upon experience, utilizing the "cultural heritage" of the faith as a resource for developing the values by which one lives a growing personal faith.

One area in which Bower's contribution to the field has been most obvious was his leadership in the development of curricular changes. Bower began membership on the International Lesson Committee in 1917. In 1920, this organization produced a church school curriculum that reflected his belief that religious education should be centered on life experience. The curriculum resource "broadened the subject matter to include social interaction and life experience." (Moore, M.E., 35) The new curriculum resource was graded, rather than uniform, and attempted to involve students in mid-week experiences outside the congregation as well as the Sunday morning classes. The resource directed teachers to adapt learning activities to the learner, to fill the lessons with problems for students to solve, and to present opportunities for students to relate personal life experiences in a controlled social situation. (Miller, 33-4) Bower expanded his work beyond the International Lesson Committee to serve on the International Committee of Religious Education from the early 1920's until the merger of the two bodies in 1938. He co-authored the history of the ICRE in 1949. He considered the change of emphasis in curriculum resources from the Bible to the "understanding of the religious needs of growing people" to be the most important change in religious education in the twentieth century. (Wigglesworth, 5) His book, The Curriculum of Religious Education (1925) became the standard text for discussion of curricular issues in the first half of the century.

Bower's intellect and his scholarly contributions helped to bring a sense of integrity and respectability to the field of religious education. For good or ill, the lay orientation and focus on the basic information of the Bible and theology had given the impression that religious education was limited to crafts, paper and pencil work, and surface-level discussions of general biblical knowledge. Bower, Coe, Elliott, Chave, and other religious education professors of the early part of the twentieth century were trained in education, theology, and historical-critical biblical studies, and engaged in discussions with the leading educators and scholars of their day. Charles Melchert points to the attention these leaders gave to the best research in education: "What [Bower and the others] tried to do was take seriously the educational nature of religious education. Prior to this time, and again in the 1940's under the influence of neo-orthodoxy, religious education was regarded as more religious than educational." (Melchert, 20-21) Bower's leadership role in the ICRE included several conversation partners who were outstanding thinkers in general education. (Miller, 33)

The Religious Education Association, which was founded in 1903 by such intellectual giants as John Dewey and William Rainey Harper, encouraged "inquiry, open-minded and critical discussion, with the objective of bringing religion into education and education into religion." (Wigglesworth, 5) Bower was a long-time director and vice-president of the REA, and remained a powerful voice within the field long after his official retirement from the faculty at the University of Chicago in 1943. He was a frequent contributor to such scholarly journals as the Journal of Religion, Religious Education, and the International Journal of Religious Education. His seventeen books and more than one hundred journal articles represent an impressive and wide-ranging body of work in the field. Bower was known as a meticulous writer, and his attention to detail was almost legendary in religious education and education circles.

The final area of contribution that deserves mention is Bower's insistence that the work of religious education should not stop with what takes place in the Sunday school classroom. He was convinced that religion and spirituality were to be found in every aspect of an individual's experience. His work with church school curriculum sought to bring attention to living a Christian life, both within the life of the church and throughout the "secular" world. He believed that religion is an integral part of the human experience, and advocated the inclusion of the teaching of religion and values in the public school curriculum. Bower put his commitment to the effective combination of religious education and general education to practice through his membership on the Lexington (Kentucky) Board of Education while a member of the faculty at the College of the Bible (1918-26). When he returned to Lexington following his retirement from the University of Chicago, Bower taught courses in the sociology department at the University of Kentucky and established a major there entitled "Religion As a Phase of Culture". This work led to his leadership of a commission that produced the Kentucky Program of Moral and Spiritual Values. His 1952 book, Moral and Spiritual Values in Education outlined his belief that education of all kinds is inseparable from religion and that religion is, at its very root, linked with education. Bower was a staunch advocate for "creative activities" in religious education throughout his career. This interest in creative expression reached a personal level when he took up oil painting at the age of 71. William Clayton Bower's contributions to the field of religious education are numerous. An article in the Kentucky Christian that celebrated his 100th birthday in 1978 described him as "one of two or three foremost leaders in Christian education in America" and concluded: "Bower's contributions to Christian education, which focused on the importance of learning from experiences which are enriched and guided by the Gospel, were incorporated into the Bethany Graded Series and the Christian Life Curriculum of the Christian Church and have their impact on the new [sic] Christian Education: Shared Approaches, curricular offerings planned for use by about ten denominations." (Kentucky Christian, May 1978) Similar evaluations have been offered from interdenominational, international, and interdisciplinary sources throughout his long and illustrious career.

Works Cited

  • Bower, W. C. (1930) A curriculum for character and religious education in a changing culture. Religious Education, 25, 127-33.
  • _______. (1928) The curriculum of religious education. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons
  • _______. (1952) Moral and spiritual values in education. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Press.
  • _______. (1941) Religious education faces the future". Journal of Religion, 21, 385-97.
  • Burgess, H. J. (1996) Models of religious education: Theory and practice in historical and contemporary perspective. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.
  • Kentucky Christian (1978, May).
  • Melchert, C. F. (1970) Theory in religious education. In Taylor, M. J. (Ed.) Foundations for Christian education in an era of change (20-29). Nashville: Abingdon Press.
  • Miller, R. C. (1956). Education for Christian living. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc.
  • Moore, A. J. (1984). Religious education as a discipline. In Taylor, M. J. (Ed.), Changing patterns of religious education (pp. 89-105). Nashville: Abingdon Press.
  • Moore, M. E. (1983). Education for continuity and change: A new model for Christian religious education. Nashville: Abingdon Press.
  • Smith, H. S. (1942). Faith and nurture. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.
  • Stevenson, D. L. (1983, Fall). William Clayton Bower: Pioneer in religious education. Discipliana, 43 (3), 35-40.
  • Wigglesworth, M. F. (1976). Anniversary interview. The Bethany Guide. October. pp. 3-6.

Bibliography

Books

  • (1919) A study of religious education in the local church. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • (1921) The educational task of the local church: A textbook in the standard course in teacher training. St. Louis: Teacher Training Publishing Association by the Bethany Press.
  • (1925) The curriculum of religious education. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.with Edward Scribner Ames.
  • (1929). Experiments in personal religion. Chicago: American Institute of Sacred Literature.
  • (1929) Religious education in the modern church: A textbook in the standard leadership training curriculum outlined and approved by the International Council of Religious Education. St. Louis: Printed for the Leadership Training Publishing Association by the Bethany Press.
  • (1930) Character through creative experience. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • (1933) Religion and the good life. New York: Abingdon Press.
  • (ed.) (1935) The church at work in the modern world. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • (ed.) with Ross, R.G. (1936) The Disciples and religious education: A volume in celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Department of Religious Education of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). St. Louis: Christian Board of Publication.
  • (1936) The living bible. New York: Harper and Brothers.
  • (1943) Christ and Christian education. New York: Abingdon- Cokesbury Press.
  • (1944) Church and state in education. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • With Hayward, P. R. (1949) Protestantism faces its educational task together. Appleton, Wis.: C. C. Nelson Publishing Company.
  • n.d. Religion and the dynamics of culture (typewritten manuscript). University of Kentucky Library and Transylvania College Library.
  • (1952) Moral and spiritual values in education. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Press.
  • (1957) Through the years: personal memoirs. Lexington, KY: Transylvania College Press.
  • (1962) Central Christian Church, Lexington, Kentucky: A history. St. Louis: Bethany Press.
  • (1963) Robert Milton Hopkins: Christian statesman. Lexington, Ken.: College of the Bible

Chapters in Books

  • (1913) Fellowship with Christ in his sufferings. In Proceedings, International Convention (pp. 27-34).
  • (1928) In Ames, E. S. (Ed.). Experiments in personal religion. Chicago: American Institute of Sacred Literature.
  • (1930) Trends in institutional religion. In the Campbell Institute, Trends of modern religion (pp. 18-26).
  • (1931) Curriculum. In An introduction to religious education. New York: Cokesbury Press.
  • (1931) The curriculum of religious education. In Lotz and Crawford (Eds.). Studies in religion. New York: Cokesbury.
  • (1931) A major in religious education in the college of liberal arts. In Tower, M. C. (Ed.). Religion and higher education. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • (1931) The Nature, content, and form of the curriculum of religious education. In Lotz, P. H. (Ed.). Studies in religious education.
  • (1931) Religion and everyday living. In Proceedings of the Ohio State Educational Conference (pp. 462-470).
  • (1931) The teaching of religion. In Towner, M. C. (Ed.) Religion and higher education. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • (1934) Introduction. Yieh, Tsung-kao. The adjustment problems of Chinese graduate students in American universities. Chicago: University of Chicago. Ph. D. thesis.
  • (1934) Religious education for our day. In Proceedings of the International Convention (pp. 40-47).
  • (1935) Facing the future. In Bower, W. C. (Ed.). The church at work in the modern world (pp. 264-94). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • (1935) The growing-point of Christianity. In Bower, W. C. (Ed.). The church at work in the modern world (pp. 1-18). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • (1937) The quest for God through knowledge. In Lotz, P. H. (Ed.). The quest for God through understanding (pp. 194-204). St. Louis: Bethany Press.
  • (1940) A functional concept of religion. In Garrison, W. E. (Ed.). Faith of the free (pp. 1-11). Chicago: Willett, Clark and Co.
  • (1942) Educating for a new world order. In Knox, John (Ed.). Religion and the present crisis (pp. 126-141). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • (1947) In Shrigley, G. A.C. (Ed.). Daily prayer companion. Buffalo, NY: Foster and Stewart Publishing Corp.
  • (1956) In Cole, S. G. (Ed.). This is my faith: The convictions of representative Americans today (np). New York: Harper Brothers.

Articles

  • (1913) The church must train its leaders. College of the Bible Quarterly, 4, 3.
  • (1917) Statement of professor W. C. Bower. College of the Bible Quarterly, 8,10-11.
  • (1917) A suggestive approach to the reconstruction of the curriculum of the school of religion. Religious Education,, 12.
  • (1917) What a college of the Bible among the Disciples of Christ should stand for and teach. College of the Bible Quarterly, 9, 2-5.
  • (1918) An interesting letter from a charter member of the southern California branch of the Christian Bible College League, and professor Bower's reply. College of the Bible Quarterly, 10, 8.
  • (1918) The College and the war. College of the Bible Quarterly, 9, 8.
  • (1919) The facts about "The Protestant". College of the Bible Quarterly, 10, 2-4.
  • (1920) Religion and the nature of man. College of the Bible Quarterly, 10, 26-31.
  • (1921) Relating religion to life. College of the Bible Quarterly, 11, 7-12.
  • (1921) Some helpful books on religion. College of the Bible Quarterly, 11, 31.
  • (1923) How might churches plan for the next twenty years. Religious Education, 18.
  • (1923, May 10) The meaning of correlation: steps in procedure. Church School.
  • (1923) The organization of religious experience. Journal of Religion, 7.
  • (1923, November) The proposed program of the international curriculum of religious education. The Church School.
  • (1923) The responsible mind. College of the Bible Quarterly, 13, 24-32.
  • (1924) Alumni notes. College of the Bible Quarterly, 14, 31-32.
  • (1924) Joint committee on international curriculum. International Journal of Religious Education, November.
  • (1925) The church and the family. College of the Bible Quarterly, 15, 3-16.
  • (1925) Present tendencies in curriculum making. International Journal of Religious Education, September.
  • (1926) Are there five formal steps in teaching? International Journal of Religious Education, April.
  • (1926) Character building in a democracy: A review of Dean Athearn's address. International Journal of Religious Education, June.
  • (1926) News of the college. College of the Bible Quarterly, 14, 15.
  • (1927) Basic principles of curriculum construction. International Journal of Religious Education, June.
  • (1927) The church as educator. Religious Education, 22.
  • (1927) Closing addresses of the Chicago convention. Religious Education, 22.
  • (1927) Co-operative thinking: An experiment in teaching technique. Religious Education, 22.
  • (1927) Curriculum as enriched and controlled experience. Journal of Religion, 7, 505-519.
  • (1927) Curriculum demands on leadership. International Journal of Religious Education June.
  • (1927) The curriculum of religious education. Bethany Church School Guide.
  • (1927) Research in the curriculum. Religious Education, 22.
  • (1927) Summary of the discussions of the Chicago REA convention. Religious Education, 22.
  • (1928) Building a theological curriculum around the problems of students. Religious Education, 23.
  • (1928) The curriculum as an instrument of religious education. The Elementary Journal, May.
  • (1928) The place of the personal relation to God in the curriculum. International Journal of Religion, March.
  • (1928) Pre-vocational work in college for the prospective minister. Christian Education, June.
  • (1928) The project principle from the standpoint of the curriculum. Religious Education, 23.
  • (1928) Religious education and behaviorism. Journal of Religion, 8 (1), 151-152.
  • (1928) Religious education and the psychology of religion. Religious Education, 23.
  • (1928) Religious experience through crisis in individual growth and social experience. Institute of Sacred Literature. University of Chicago, April.
  • (1929) Case studies, life histories, and related procedures. Religious Education, 24, 351-354.
  • (1929) Character education through creative pupil experiences. Department of Elementary School Principals Bulletin, 8, 569-72.
  • (1929) Church and character education. Religious Education, 24, 471-474.
  • (1929) Education among the Disciples. The Baptist, November.
  • (1929) Education through creative experience. Journal of Religion, 9, 551-567.
  • (1929) Human motives. Journal of Religion, 9, 319-322.
  • (1929) Important developments in religious education. The Congregationalist, May.
  • (1929) Nature and use of research. Religious Education, 24, 300-307.
  • (1929) With Slaughter, S. W. Reflections on the Des Moines convention. Religious Education, 24, 387-390.
  • (1929) Religion as discovery. Religious Education, 24, 502-504.
  • (1930) Adjustment of the church to a changing culture. Religious Education, 25, 216-219.
  • (1930) Christianity and religious education. Journal of Religion, 10, 297-299.
  • (1930) Curriculum for character and religious education in a changing culture. Religious Education, 25 127-133.
  • (1930) Do current trends in institutional religion constitute an adjustment to contemporary social change? The Christian, 6.
  • (1930) The Effect of social change on current trends in the curriculum of religious education. Religious Education, 25.
  • (1930) The International Council of Religious Education: An appraisal. Religious Education, 25. 865-867.
  • (1931) Aims of religious education. Journal of Religion, 11 (1), 139.
  • (1931) The contribution of religion to character. The Bethany Church School Guide, May.
  • (1931) Church and state in education. Journal of Religion, 11 (1), 138.
  • (1931) The educational significance of Jesus. Journal of Religion, 11 (1), 138.
  • (1931) Psychology applied to religious work. Journal of Religion, 11 (1), 138.
  • (1931) Religion and everyday living. Proceedings of the Eleventh Ohio State Educational Conference.
  • (1931) with Enne, E. E. Trends in curriculum theory with a selected bibliography. Religious Education, 26, 259-271.
  • (1931) The use of the Bible in religious education. Westminster Leader for the Church School, September.
  • (1932) Emotion in religion. Journal of Religion, 12, 438.
  • (1932) Experimentalism in education. Journal of Religion, 12, 145-146.
  • (1932) How people grow. International Journal of Religious Education, 9, 10+.
  • (1932) Jesus as a resource for Christian living. Bethany Church School Guide, October.
  • (1932) Rebuilding a world of reality. Religious Education, 27, 904-911.
  • (1933) Education for character. Journal of Religion, 13, 238.
  • (1933) State and church in education. Journal of Religion, 13, 239.
  • (1933) Frank, R. W. Religion and character (Review of Bower's Religion and the good life). Journal of Religion, 13, 355-357.
  • (1934) If a city's citizens became Christian. Epworth Herald, March.
  • (1934) Religious education for our day. The Christian-Evangelist, December.
  • (1936) The nature and function of religion: Report of the Chicago Discussion Group. Religious Education, 31, 95-99.
  • (1937) Approaches to character education. Elementary Journal, March.
  • (1937) The challenge of reactions to liberal thought and religious education. Religious Education, 32, 117-124.
  • (1937) Character and how it grows. Elementary Magazine, February.
  • (1937) The contribution of religion to character. Elementary Magazine, May.
  • (1937) The place of religion in character: The nature and function of religion. Elementary Journal, April.
  • (1937) Reaction and neglected values. Religious Education, 32, 5-12.
  • (1937) What Is character? Elementary Magazine, January.
  • (1937) What Is Christ's challenge to the world? Church School Journal, November.
  • (1938) Adult education in modern life. Presbyterian Tribune, April 28.
  • (1938) Dr. George Albert Coe made honorary president. Religious Education, 33, 130.
  • (1939) Points of tension between modern religious education and current theological trends. Religious Education, 34, 164-172.
  • (1940) Education for a peaceful society. Church School, August.
  • (1940) Making the Bible interesting to young people. Church School, September.
  • (1940) The White House Conference on Children in a Democracy. Religious Education, 35, 76-82.
  • (1940) The White House Conference on Children in a Democracy. The Christian Home, September.
  • (1941) The books of the law. Epworth Highroad, March.
  • (1941) Bringing the Bible back into our experience. Epworth Highroad and Classmate, July 5.
  • (1941) Church and school co-operate. The Church Woman, September.
  • (1941) The gospels. Epworth Highroad and Classmate, June 7.
  • (1941) The hagiographa. Epworth Highroad and Classmate, April 5.
  • (1941) Has Christian religious education departed from the faith? International Journal of Religious Education, December.
  • (1941) The letters of Paul. Epworth Highroad and Classmate. May.
  • (1941) Making the resources of religion available in education. Religious Education, 36, 3-8.
  • (1941) The modern task of religious education. Religion in the Making, November.
  • (1941) Our debt to Bible scholars. Classmate, January 4.
  • (1941) The prophets speak to our time. Classmate, February 1.
  • (1941) Reinhold Niebuhr's Nature and destiny of man: A symposium. Christendom, Autumn
  • (1941) Religious education faces the future. Journal of Religion, 21, 385-397.
  • (1941) Religious education on released time. Christian Century, 58, 980-981.
  • (1941) What do we want those who come up through the teaching of the church to think about the Bible? International Journal of Religious Education, 17, 6-7.
  • (1942) Christian education after nineteen centuries. Religion and Life, December.
  • (1942) Does the Bible live for you? Child Guidance, May.
  • (1942) Factors that influence the growth of personality. The Christian Home, May.
  • Miller
  • (1943) Critical re-evaluation of the biblical outlook of progressive religious education. Religious Education, 38, 3-9.
  • (1944) Critique of Dr. Ligon's article from the point of view of the concept of personality involved. Religious Education, 39, 339-340.
  • (1944) Protestantism's inner conflict. Christendom, Summer.
  • (1944) What's right with the Disciples: Their attitude toward the Bible. The Christian-Evangelist.
  • (1945) The teacher and her Bible. Child Guidance, September.
  • (1945) Training of the ministry for a new world order. Religious Education, 40, 12-18.
  • (1946) Jesus as a teacher. Child Guidance, September.
  • (1946) Next steps in making religion reasonable. The Scroll, December.
  • (1947) An adventure in friendship. The Garnet and the Gold, July.
  • (1947) An area of concentration. Religious Education, 42, 74-75.
  • (1947) Education for the new world. College of the Bible Quarterly, Spring.
  • (1947) Religion and liberal education. College of the Bible Quarterly, Spring
  • (1947) Evaluation of the relation of religion to public education: The basic principles. Religious Education, 42, 186-187.
  • (1947) Two aspects of modern education. College of the Bible Quarterly, 24, 25-46
  • (1948) The training of the faculty in a church-related college. Religious Education, 43, 331-336.
  • (1950) Moral and spiritual values in public education. Bethany Church School Guide, September.
  • (1950) Religious education for liberal progressives: Evaluation of E. J. Chave's article. Religious Education, 45, 74-76.
  • (1951) Evaluation: Moral and spiritual values in the public schools. Religious Education, 46, 201-203.
  • (1951) Kentucky Program of Moral and Spiritual Values in Education. Religious Education, 46, 201-203.
  • (1951) A Program of Moral and Spiritual Values in Education. Educational Leadership, 8, 471-474.
  • (1952) The contribution of George Albert Coe to the psychology of religion. Religious Education, 47, 67-70.
  • (1952) A program of moral and spiritual values. The Christian-Evangelist, January 23.
  • (1953) Critique of the function of the public schools in dealing with religion. Religious Education, 48, 169-170.
  • (1953) Protestant religious education. Religious Education, 48, 291-309.
  • (1953) Trends in moral and spiritual values in the public schools. Religious Education, 48, 22-25.
  • (1954) Function of the public schools in dealing with religion. School Executive, 73, 87-88.
  • (1955) Proposed program for achieving the role of religion in education. Religious Education, 50, 111-118.
  • (1955) Protestant higher education. College of the Bible Quarterly, 32, (4).
  • (1956) Different approaches in dealing with religion in the public schools. Religious Education, 51, 243-245.
  • (1956) The Kentucky Program of Moral and Spiritual Values in Education. Bulletin of the Bureau of School Service, College of Education, University of Kentucky, June.
  • (1956) The ordination of professional religious educators. College of the Bible Quarterly, 33 (2).
  • (1956) Taking account of religion. Kentucky Schools Journal, 34, 12-13.
  • (1960) Recent trends in Christian education: An appraisal. Religious Education, 55, 243-247.
  • (1956) Illustration. B.W. Stone. History of the Christian Church in the west. College of the Bible Quarterly, 33,1-53

Book Reviews

  • (1927) Toward the Christian revolution by Scott, R. B. Y. and Vlastos, G. (eds). Religious Education.
  • (1928) Purpose in teaching religion by Fiske, G.W. Journal of Religion.
  • (1929) The campus by Angel, R. C. Religious Education.
  • (1929) Character building in colleges by Harper, W. A. The Christian Century.
  • (1929) The effective college by Kelley, R. L., et al. Religious Education.
  • (1929) An integrated program of religious education by Harper, W. A. The Christian Century.
  • (1929) Motives of men by Coe, G. A. Coe. Journal of Religion.
  • (1929) Religious education and the state by Jackson, J. K. and Malmberg, C. Journal of Religion.
  • (1929) A social interpretation of religion by Hart, J. K. Religious Education.
  • (1929) What is religious education? by Coe, G. A. Journal of Religion.
  • (1930) Objectives of religious education by Vieth, P. H. Journal of Religion.
  • (1930) The pastor and religious education by Munro, H. C. Journal of Religion.
  • (1930) Psychology for religious and social workers by West, P. V. and Skinner, C. E. Journal of Religion.
  • (1931) Character education in church and state by Tuttle, H. S. Journal of Religion.
  • (1931) Christ and modern education by Raven, C. E. Journal of Religion.
  • (1931) The church school in action by Getman, A. K. Religious Education.
  • (1932) Character in human relations by Hartshorne, H. Journal of Religion.
  • (1932) The dilemma of religious knowledge by Bennett, C. A. Religious Education.
  • (1932) Educating for citizenship by Coe, G. A. Journal of Religion.
  • (1932) Education and the philosophy of experimentalism by Childs, J. L. Journal of Religion.
  • (1932) Presbyterian parochial schools by Sherrill, L. J. The Register.
  • (1932) Religion in transition by Ferm, V. Christian Century.
  • (1933) Character in human relations by Hartshorne, H. The Intercollegian.
  • (1936) Psychology and the promethian will by Sheldon, W. H. Religious Education.
  • (1936) Religion and the church of tomorrow by Wyand, F. B. (ed.). Religious Education.
  • (1937) The kingdom of God in America by Niebuhr, H. R. Christian Century.
  • (1938) The case for theology in the university by Brown, W. A. Religious Education.
  • (1939) Bibliography of John Dewey by Thomas, M. H. Journal of Religion.
  • (1939) The drama of our religion by Baldwin, A. G. Journal of Religion.
  • (1939) The growth of religion by Wieman, H. N. and Horton, W. M. Journal of Religion.
  • (1939) Jesus and the educational method by Weigle, L. A. Christian Century.
  • (1939) Making the Bible live by Chamberlain, G. L. Religious Education.
  • (1939) The open doors of childhood by Sherrill, L. J. Religious Education.
  • (1939) Types of religious philosophy by Burtt, E. A. Religious Education.
  • (1940) Can religious education be Christian? By Elliott, H. Christendom.
  • (1940) The church and a Christian society by Barklay, W. C. Journal of Religion.
  • (1940) The church school and worship by Paulson, I. G. Religious Education
  • (1940) Liberal education in a democracy by Cole, S. G. Journal of Religion.
  • (1940) Vital problems of Catholic education in the United States by Defarrari, R. J. Religious Education.
  • (1941) Faith and nurture by Smith, H. S. International Journal of Religious Education.
  • (1942) The destiny of man by Stace, W. T. Christian Century.
  • (1942) Essays on Catholic education in the United States by Defarrari, R. G. Religious Education.
  • (1942) Fundamentals of democratic education by Ulich, R. Christian Century.
  • (1943) The Bible is human by Wallis, L. Christian Century.
  • (1943) The school and the urban society by Reavis, W. C. Religious Education.
  • (1946) The source of human good by Wieman, H. N. Religious Education.
  • (1947) A functional approach to religious education by Chave, E. J. Religious Education.
  • (1948) The Bible in the church by Grant, R. M. Christian Century.
  • (1949) Pastoral counseling by Hiltner, S. The Crozier Quarterly.
  • (1950) The nature of personality by Allport, G. W. Religious Education.
  • (1954) The function of the public schools in dealing with religion by Linton, C. The Humanist 3.
  • (1954) The function of the public schools in dealing with religion by Linton, C. The School Executive, March.
  • (1956) John Dewey's thought and its implications for Christian education by Gutze, M. G. Encounter, August.

Books, Dissertations, Articles About William Clayton Bower

  • Cresswell, M. L. (1945). A study of the views of William Clayton Bower with the purpose of determining the basic issues involved in modern religious education. Unpublished M.R.E. thesis, Biblical Seminary in New York, New York, NY.
  • Cully, I.V. (1984, July). William Clayton Bower and religious education. Lexington Theological Quarterly, 19, 61-80.
  • Frost, E. (1964). The relation of Bower's theology to his philosophy of education. Unpublished B.D. Research Project, College of the Bible, Lexington, KY. (OCLC Accession No. 46403817).
  • Healey, R. M. (1969, May- June). Instruction in values. Some unfinished business [two moral education programs analyzed and evaluated]. Religious Education, 64, 163-171.
  • Jones, M. J. (1957). The place of God in the educative process according to George A. Coe, William C. Bower, and Harrison S. Elliott. Unpublished Th. D. Thesis, Boston University. (OCLC Accession No. 34998067).
  • Kathan, B. W. (1978, September- October). Six protestant pioneers of religious education. Liberal, moderate, conservative. Religious Education, 73 (Special Edition), 138-150.
  • Kim, J. W. (1964). A proposed program of Christian education for the local protestant church in Korea based on the thought of William Clayton Bower. Unpublished M.A. Dissertation, Howard University, Washington, DC. (OCLC Accession No. 25982483).
  • Lawrence, K. (1971). William Clayton Bower's theology and philosophy of Christian education as related to his theological background. Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, Boston University, Boston, MA. (OCLC Accession No. 26103205).
  • Olsen, S. L. (1950). A Lutheran appraisal of the philosophy of William C. Bower for Christian education. Dissertation Abstracts International, 11(01), 0185. (University Microfilms No. AAG0002193).
  • Pittman, R. H. (1946). The meaning of salvation in the thought of George Albert Coe and William Clayton Bower. ADD, W1946, 0004. (University Microfilms No. AAG0158832).
  • Raj, Y. R. (1972). The religious educational concepts found in the writings of William Clayton Bower. Unpublished M.A. Thesis, Howard University, Washington, DC. (OCLC Accession No. 30480433).
  • Richey, M. S. (1954). Conceptions of man in the thought of George Albert Coe and William Clayton Bower. ADD, W1954, 0005. (University Microfilms No. AAG0191716).
  • Studer, S. S. (1951). An analysis and evaluation of the functional approach to religious education as proposed by William Clayton Bower. ADD, W1952, 0188. (University Microfilms No. AAG0183133).
  • Thigpen, J. N. (2000). Curriculum in Christian education. A comparative analysis of the theories of Clarence Herbert Benson and William Clayton Bower. Dissertation Abstracts International, 61 ( 02A), 551. (University Microfilms No. AAI9963188).
  • Warren, H. A. (1997, Winter). Character, public schooling, and religious education, 1920-1934. Religion and American Culture, 17, 61-80.
  • West, L. T. (1977). William Clayton Bower, a vision of a more meaningful Sunday school. Unpublished M.Div. Research Project, Lexington Theological Seminary, Lexington, KY. (OCLC Accession No. 45818414).
  • Westerhoff, J. H., III (1978). Who are we? The quest for a religious education. Birmingham, Ala.: Religious Education Press.

Excerpts from Publications

(1936). The living Bible. New York: Harper and Brothers.

When we approach the task of the religious person in terms of achieving a religious adjustment to the present world rather than in terms of reproducing the original religious experience of the past, the function of the Bible is set in a new light. It ceases to be an authoritative norm and becomes a resource of incalculable value for current religious living. (43)

Experiences of any and every sort constitute the subject-matter of religion. It is in the comprehendingness, the integration and the idealization of all forms of experience that their religious quality consists. Any particular experience is religious when it is viewed, judged and conditioned in its execution by reference to the total meaning and worth of life when life is set in its universal context. (198)

(1941). Religious education faces the future. Journal of Religion, 21, 385, 397.

Critical analysis of religious education since the beginning of the present century will show that its chief concern has been to bring religion into vital relation to the experience of growing persons. (385)

In this direct approach to religious education through experience, the great traditions of religion-the Bible, the heritage of Christian faith, the development of the church, the techniques of Christian living, and modes of thought and action-become resources for interpreting, evaluating, and redirecting a given experience in terms of living and operative Christian values.... Historic Christian values thus retain their normative value, but in a functional rather than in an authoritative sense. They are normative in the sense that they are growing values, being constantly tested by fresh experience and undergoing expansion and enrichment as man's interaction with his world of reality deepens and widens. (397)

(1943). Christ and Christian education. New York: Abingdon- Cokesbury Press.

Modern Christian education after nineteen centuries is seeking to bring the ideals and purposes of Christ back into functional relation to the experience of growing persons and of the Christian community. By a functional relation of religion to experience is meant the effective operation of religion within experience in the service of the higher spiritual ends in the life of persons and groups... Religion is not something added to human experience. It is an integral part of man's experience and operates within his experience to shape and direct it toward spiritual ends... From a functional approach, Christian education seeks to accomplish what it believes Christ sought to accomplish under the conditions of his world-to bring living persons into a vital experience of the Christian values of life. (36-37)


Recommended Readings

Books and Monographs

(1928). The Curriculum of religious education. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.

Many scholars regard this as the standard textbook in religious education curriculum theory for the first half of the twentieth century. Bower outlines his claim that the curriculum of religious education should be based upon the present experience of the learner, which is to be enriched through the use of the resources of the faith.

(1929). Character through creative experience. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

This book presents Bower's program of enriching the experience of the learner through problem-solving activities, based upon the experiences brought to the lesson by the students. A good illustration of the teaching methods used by Bower.

(1933). Religion and the good life. New York: Abingdon Press.

Bower discusses religion as a functional process in the emergence of the self in which one seeks a twofold integration: 1) an integration within the self; and 2) an integration with the environment within which one lives.

(1936). The living Bible. New York: Harper & Brothers.

Here Bower outlines his understanding of the Bible as primarily a resource for helping persons grow in their personal faith. Bower does not see the role of the teacher as teaching the "end-products of a past religious experience", but helping persons use the values presented by the Bible to continue their growth as spiritual persons.

(1944). Church and state in education. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Throughout his career, Bower advocated the role of religion as an integral part of the development of persons and society. In this book, he argues that the separation of church and state can be maintained while still recognizing the importance of the human and spiritual values of non-sectarian religion within the institutions of society.

(1949). Protestantism faces its educational task together. With Hayward, P. R. Chicago: National Council of Churches.

Following a long tenure of leadership in the International Council of Religious Education, and in response to the ongoing debate between the liberal/ progressives and neo-orthodox scholars about the direction of the field, Bower was asked to co-author this history of the ICRE and to assess the future direction of the field.

(1952). Moral and spiritual values in education. Lexington, Kentucky: University of Kentucky Press.

After Bower retired from the University of Chicago in 1943, he and his wife moved back to Lexington, Kentucky, where he taught courses in the sociology department at the University of Kentucky. These courses sought to demonstrate that the teaching of religion served a vital role in the development of positive moral values. This in turn led to his leadership in the Kentucky Program of Moral and Spiritual Values in Education. This book outlines the findings and result of that program.

(1957). Through the years: Personal memoirs. Lexington, Kentucky: Transylvania College Press.

As he approached his eightieth birthday, Bower reflected on his life and his career in a very personal and informative way. This book provides insight into the impact of Bower's career upon himself as well as upon the discipline.

Articles

(1927) Curriculum As enriched and controlled experience. Journal of Religion, 7, 505-519.

This article is one of the earliest statements of Bower's understanding of religious education as a process of enriching the present experience of persons through the introduction of the resources of the Bible and theology.

(1936). The nature and function of religion: Report of the Chicago discussion group. Religious Education, 31, 95-99.

In the beginning of the 1930s, the Religious Education Association held a series of regional discussions of the state of the discipline. Bower chaired the group that met in Chicago, and this article represents a report of their findings about the nature of religion and of religious education. The group's conclusions mirror his belief that religion is to be located at the intersection of personal experience and engagement in the world.

(1939). Points of tension between modern religious education and current theological trends. Religious Education, 34, 164-72.

The mid- 1930s saw the intensification of the debates between the liberal/ progressive scholars and the emerging voice of neo-orthodoxy. In this article, Bower defends the position of the liberal/ progressive school of religious education against the challenges of neo-orthodoxy.

(1941). Religious education faces the future. Journal of Religion, 21, 385-97.

This article contains one of the clearest presentations of Bower's understanding of the contributions of the liberal/ progressive approach to religious education. He places the emphasis of religious education, once again, upon the experience of growing persons with their world.


Author Information

W. Alan Smith

W. Alan Smith received his B.A. in Religion from Florida State University (1972), M.Div. (1976) and D. Min. (1983) from The Divinity School, Vanderbilt University, and Ph.D. in Theology and Personality with an Emphasis in Religious Education from the Claremont School of Theology (1991) and has taken additional graduate work at Florida State University and the School of Theology, the University of the South. He is currently Professor of Religion at Florida Southern College, where he has been on the faculty of the Department of Religion and Philosophy since 1987. He is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

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