Paul’s book of Romans probably did more to shape Christian theology than anything else written. To the early Christians he was a hero, a martyr, a man who gave his life for his ideals, a great and good man. Some, perhaps many, modern analysts do not accept his religion or give him a place in the succession of philosophers. They point out that his work does not have the inner integrity demanded of philosophy today. But he is a massive figure in church history and in any examination of Christian origins he cannot be ignored.
The following is a quotation from one Tom Savit, and whether you agree with him or not, his statements are always thought-provoking. He says, “Recent prosecutions for subversion in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and other states were based on what people read, statements made, and meetings attended. Today in the U.S. you do not have unlimited right to read what you want to, say what you want to, and to assemble with fellow citizens. Communist practices have made great gains among American enforcement agencies.” Is this true?
One hears a great deal these days about its being unfair to ship munitions to this country or that. The issue in the matter should be clear enough, namely, that it is not right to ship munitions to any people, i.e., sending them the means to kill and maim human beings. It would seem that the U.S. in supplying the means of death to any people is an accessory before the fact of the greatest crime of which humans are capable. In effect, the U.S. by so doing is condemning to death unknown persons convicted of no crime.
Since your reporter is not a movie fan, any evaluation of movies that he passes on to you is likely to be that of third persons. So it is with this one, “Picnic,” which seems currently to be one of the favorites. Dr. Harold Scott of Salt Lake City … says about the move, in part and largely in paraphrase:
“The film pushes the old theme of romantic love, physical attraction, being the proper basis for marriage. The film had the audience breathlessly hoping that the gal would run away and marry the incompetent numskull with the big biceps, and that’s what she did to the satisfaction of the audience…. There are an estimated 160 million people in the U.S., nearly half of which are males. It is irrational to hold that any woman must fall into the arms of the first male of no prospects because she is physically attracted to him … [This is] thoughtless marriage philosophy exploited by contemporary magazines and dangerous films like ‘Picnic.'”
Two articles in as many magazines currently on the newsstands are worth calling to your attention. One appears in the April 3 issue of Look, entitled “The South vs. the Supreme Court.” It is a symposium of viewpoints about the segregation issue, ranging all the way from the most pro- to the most anti- segregationist. It is a 23-page report you cannot afford to miss if you are interested in understanding something of all sides of this rather torrid issue involving human rights.
The other article appears in Time, and like most articles in that magazine, is so phrased to create as uncontroversial an effect as possible. It is entitled “The South,” but the contents all deal with Senator Eastland of Mississippi, the perhaps self-appointed spokesman for the pro-segregationists.
From reading both articles, you will get, not a thorough, but a somewhat penetrating insight into the cauldron that is boiling throughout the South, producing a ferment among white and colored alike.
At sundown tomorrow, Jewish families throughout the world will begin a candle-lit meal with a prayer: “Praised art thou, O Lord our God, ruler of the universe. Out of love Thou didst give us … seasons of joy and this … our festival of freedom.”
The occasion will be the meal of worship and story telling and song. It is the start of the Jewish Passover, which has been described as the first great uprising against the institution of slavery. Moses began it with his cry, “Let my people go.” Dr. Abraham Feldman of Hartford, Connecticut, president of the Synagogue Council of America, sees that rebellion as the start of a long, still unfinished march, for the promised land of human dignity. The Passover celebration includes symbolic foods, psalms, devotions, and laughter. Mostly it is telling the “Haggadah,” the passing from father to son of an ancestral lesson in liberty. It has been going on for more than 3,000 years, and is the oldest continuously kept ritual. This Jewish heritage of freedom is stamped on many pages of American history, beginning with the Pilgrims. In the American Revolution, many colonial patriots shouted an angry “pharaoh” at the British. The tradition will be emphasized at synagogue services on the first and last days of Passover, with rest from work on those days. In between will be a week of fasting on unleavened bread and gifts to the poor.
Coinciding with the Jewish Passover observance is the Christian season of Holy Week, marking the death and resurrection of Christ. Today is Palm Sunday, and Christian churches will begin a week of special services to commemorate what is known as the “Passion of our Lord.” Passion in this sense means pain, affliction, or torture. The services and worship pass through Maundy Thursday, the night of the “Last Supper” of Jesus and the 12 disciples … through Good Friday, the day of the crucifixion … and reach their climax on Sunday, Easter, the day of resurrection.
The Rev. Jules Jeannard has resigned as Roman Catholic bishop of Lafayette, Louisiana. The 77-year-old prelate figured in a racial integration dispute last year when two women were excommunicated after a third woman had been beaten. She taught white and Negro children in religious classes. The two women were later restored to the privileges of the church. Bishop Jeannard retains his title because Pope Pius XII has made him a titular bishop. He will be succeeded by auxiliary bishop Maurice Schexnayder, of Lafayette. Bishop Jeannard gave poor health as his reason for resigning.
The Negro boycott of city buses in Montgomery, Alabama, has become a famous skirmish in the Southern segregation feud. The question is whether the boycott weapon will be used more widely now, creating a serious economic situation throughout the South. In Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina, the use of economic weapons by both whites and Negroes is growing into a real problem. And it is present to a lesser degree in Georgia and Louisiana. Organizations on both sides – the pro-segregation citizens councils and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People – refuse to take responsibility for the boycotts. Ford dealers in some Mississippi towns have complained they are losing white customers because the Ford Foundation has supported civil rights movements. The Falstaff Brewing Company made a public announcement last year that it had nothing to do with the NAACP. Business had fallen off after word circulated that the company made contributions to that organization.
The merchants are caught in the middle. One merchant says his business would have been ruined had he not supported the local citizens’ council, and now his store is being hit by a Negro boycott. In Montgomery, the boycott, which has cost the bus company some $100,000, has not spread to other economic levels. Negroes still trade in stores run by whites, and no apparent wholesale job losses are reported to have occurred because of their action. However, in north Mississippi, where most Negroes are plantation workers or own small businesses, those who have worked for integration have been refused credit and fired from jobs.
Orangeburg, South Carolina, experienced the longest boycott. It started last September when 20 Negroes signed an integration petition. Both whites and Negroes have suffered, but the boycott continues. One white leader says, “No matter what they do, we’re not going to let them come into our schools.” And that would seem to be a real concrete idea – permanently set and fixed.
Nine Protestant church leaders who made a 10-day tour of Russia have returned to the United States with the view that religion is dying out in the Soviet Union.
They point out that the Russian government no longer persecutes the church, but that the Russian church leaders have a narrowly confined view of the church’s function. A joint statement issued by the Americans says the Soviet church leaders regard their function as that of saving souls and preparing people for the next world, and that they show little concern for the social or intellectual life of their people. It was the prevailing assumption, the statement said, that science involves reason; religion involves feelings. The American churchmen believe the greatest usefulness in establishing relations with Russian churchmen could be in encouraging the Russians to practice more aggressive Christianity.
While the churchmen may be entirely sincere in their belief, it is difficult to see how, under present circumstances, Russian churchmen could, in their words, practice a more aggressive program. Anyone familiar with the history of the Russian Orthodox Church under the tsars knows full well that it was used widely as a means of bolstering and maintaining the then status quo. How much of this remains in the thinking of the present church leaders as a result of their pre-revolution heritage is unknown. However, it is pretty certain that any churchman in Russia today that dared criticize the existing social and economic order would pretty soon find himself in trouble with a government that brooks no criticism….
With the coming of Easter week starting today, the most sweeping change of Roman Catholic ritual in 400 years goes into effect. The entire Catholic liturgy of Easter week has been revised by decree by the pope. The reforms are designed to make the ancient Easter rites more meaningful to the modern generation. The new ritual provides for greatly increased participation by the congregation in acts of worship formerly carried out mainly by officiating clergymen. In parts of one service, English will be used instead of Latin. Hours of service have been changed too. Those of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday have been changed from morning to evening, to make it easier for working men and women to attend.
National leaders of four Protestant organizations for college students are holding a two-day meeting at Chicago to discuss plans for merging. The groups are the Congregational Christian Churches, the Evangelical and Reformed Church, the Disciples of Christ, and the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. A spokesman says the college students in the four groups, numbering about 300,000, likely would be more amenable to merging than their elders. And that by merging they could sponsor more effective campus programs through united efforts.
At Sarasota, Florida, the unique drive-in church is building a new building. A $185,000 V-shaped structure is being built behind the outdoor pulpit which the Rev. B.L. Bowman now uses to preach to his congregation on wheels.
There will be two auditoriums and a second-floor pulpit in the new building, but the minister says that does not mean he’s abandoning drive-in services. It means only, he says, that some people like to leave their automobiles to attend church and his drive-in will be able to accommodate them as well as those who prefer their cars. The idea for a drive-in church, patterned after drive-in theaters, was dreamed up by the Rev. Bowman while he was chaplain in World War II. Similar churches have been organized since.