As I had information in my April 16 Newsletter Column about Angus McLean, I thought I’d give you a very brief overview of who he is. Angus grew up in Nova Scotia in a strict Presbyterian family, became a minister, and preached for awhile on the Canadian prairies. He left the Presbyterian ministry to become a Universalist minister after hearing a lecture by a proponent on the theory of evolution. Even though he gave up the religious ideals of his childhood, he never gave up the values he grew up with such as courage, honesty, and love, that he learned from his parents. This attitude of the importance of the home, and his love of nature, were constant themes in his teaching when he became Dean of the Universalist Theological School at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York. Here is an excerpt of an article he wrote in 1960 for the Universalist Leader:
For so many years we have regarded the home as the greatest educational institution in our society. It is curious, therefore, that many of us tend to act as though the Church School could care for the spiritual nurture of children . . . I began my work in Religious Education with the conviction and the hope that the home is the central and most important agent in the spiritual nurture of the young. I have no reason to alter or change my mind in the light of findings of psychiatric and character researchers since that day. I have long since contended – and still do – that even if the home education is excellent, the child still needs the church school experience. If the home education is good, the church effort can be effective. If the values nurtured in the home are in conflict with what we attempt to communicate in the church school, the home values will win out . . . It is really not accurate [though] to say that the home, as such, is the best educational institution in the world; it is both the best and the worst. In other words, I think that the truth is that the home is the most powerful influence in a child’s life. If its values, its attitudes, its patterns of behavior and interests, and it loyalties are healthy and good, they will take hold. If they are not, they will also take hold . . . . .