November 25, 1956

One of phenomena emerging from the resurgence of religionism in this country is the frequency with which religious topics engage the attention of legislators, either with a view of making legislative pronouncement on these topics, or of enacting statutes on the subjects. An example is the insertion of a religious phrase in the pledge of allegiance to the flag to the extent that “this nation under God.”

In the last Congress, for instance, Concurrent Resolution 88 was introduced by Republican Styles Bridges and Democrat Earle Clements, two days before Congress adjourned. It went almost unnoticed in the press, but it threw the Congress into something of a parliamentary tizzy. It was a simple and brief document, proclaiming that “The Ten Commandments, as a primary moral force, behind the three great religions of today, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, should be reaffirmed as the ethical code governing the lives of men and are the means of bringing about lasting world peace and a solution to the many problems of mankind.”

Apparently religious-minded friends had urged upon the two senators the introduction of such a resolution, and, as Bridges explained, was designed to stimulate spiritual thinking.

The trouble was that the First Amendment plainly states in its first clause that “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion…” This clause was not intended to discourage religion but to assure that there would be equal freedom for all. It has been held by the courts to be the basis for keeping separate church and state, and Congress is an arm of the latter, and while Congress has authority to consider just about every known topic, this does not include religion.

The last portion of the resolution, however, read, “Resolved … that we hereby proclaim our faith in the word of God and thereby perpetuate renewed observance throughout the world, by nations and by individuals, of the Ten Commandments.” In view of the fact that it included the word “world” and “nations,” the parliamentarian of the Senate ruled that it could be assigned to the Foreign Relations Committee. But he soon had a call back from a startled clerk asking, “Since when did we have jurisdiction over the Ten Commandments?” And there the resolution died. It will probably come up again in the new Congress, and will again go to the Foreign Relations Committee. Unless constitutional lawyers advise the committee of objections to it, there is likelihood it will be approved and sent to the House for concurrence, and if approved, Congress will have declared formally its faith in God and the Ten Commandments.

Now all of this looks harmless, to some, even desirable. However, there are some serious and sober reflections that arise upon analysis of the situation. The First Amendment plainly means what it says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” and the Ten Commandments are the basis of at least the Judaic and Christian religions. This would seem to rule out such action by Congress as contemplated by Resolution 88. Moreover, aside from the legal question, there is one of policy. If Congress can legally formally pass such a resolution affirming the Commandments today, may it not go further and endorse the Methodist discipline or the Presbyterian catechism tomorrow? And from there it is but a short step to an established religion. Then there is the question of good common sense. The Ten Commandments need no endorsement from a relatively puny body such as even our great Congress is. A religion that needs legislative bolstering is weak indeed, and if it requires mortal enactments in a legislative mill to give it vigor and substance, such enactments are futile and the Commandments are on their way to becoming of no effect.

Obviously, in the light of our constitutional system that has stood the test of the years, or our tradition of no meddling in religion by Congress, and in view of the meaningless effect of such a resolution, it would be well for the Senate to observe individually and collectively the words of the Master when he said “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.”


Some time ago President Eisenhower created, by executive order, the Committee on Government Contracts, charging it with improving and making more effective the non-discrimination provisions of government contracts. Among those provisions is one prohibiting employment on the grounds of religion. Now it develops that the administration is engaging in religious screening of personnel serving in Saudi Arabia, and thereby barring Jews from American installations in Arabia. Obviously, this discrimination against Jews is in direct conflict with the directive given the Committee on Government Contracts. Perhaps this is a case where the administration should ignore the biblical injunction and at least let its right hand know what its left hand is doing.


The moving picture “Storm Center” stars Bette Davis as a librarian who refuses to remove a book called The Communist Dream from her public library when the city council tells her to. When it opened in New York some time ago, the National Legion of Decency, a Catholic organization, condemned it, and defended its action by saying it was done “as a protection to the uninformed against wrong interpretations and false conclusions.” As for the film itself, it has received mixed reviews. Some critics have found it lacking in sophistication and dramatic effect, while others have hailed it as a strong argument for the freedom to read. But all this is beside the point. Here is an influential organization, no doubt sincere in its dedication to principles of decency as its members see those principles, but setting itself up as a self-appointed censor of what pictures people may see. As for its statement that it took such action only as protection against the uninformed against wrong interpretations and false conclusions, well, the legion itself is saying in effect that “only my interpretations and conclusions are correct” and we will permit you to consider only them. And as to being uninformed, how is one to get information if he is denied access to it, and this includes access to pro-communist as well as anti-communist materials. To assume otherwise is to assume that common, ordinary people like ourselves do not have sense enough to see, hear, read, and determine for ourselves the truth or falsity of a statement, whether it be in a film, a book, or from the words of someone with whom we converse. Censorship in any form is anathema to democracy, and this is just as true when it comes from a quasi-religious group as when it comes from anyone else.


A recent letter to the president of the United States reflects not only something of the dire conditions prevailing in Hungary at this time, but also something of what the United Sates means, or could mean, to oppressed peoples. It is from Cardinal Josef Mindszenty and reads as follows:

“As a shipwreck of Hungarian liberty, I have been taken abroad by your generosity in a refuge in my own country as a guest of your legation. Your hospitality surely saved me from immediate death.

With deep gratitude, I am sending my heartfelt congratulations to your excellency on the occasion of your reelection to the presidency of the United States, an exalted office whose glory is that it serves the highest ambitions of mankind: God, charity, wisdom, and human happiness…. May the Lord grant you and your nation greater strength and richer life…. I beg of you do not forget this small honest nation who is enduring torture and death in the service of humanity.”

We can read this letter with only the deepest humility as we realize how far the world structure of things at present permits the powers that be to stop the butchery of the Hungarian murders. And it makes this reporter at least wonder again when or if the peoples of the world are going to demand through their united voices that the outworn, outmoded, helpless system of balance of power is going to be tolerated. President Eisenhower not long ago affirmed his belief in law governing nations as well as individuals. Until such law is a reality, enacted by a world law-making power, we shall go on having our Hungarys, our Suez Canal debacles, and we shall continue to have the flights of Cardinal Mindszentys. It is about time that soul-searching effective reorganization is substituted for the present nationalistic chaos.

November 19, 1956

The Tennessee Baptist Convention ended this week with delegates unexpectedly dodging the race relations issue in approving a committee report which did not even mention the subject, though the chairman of the Social Service Committee had indicated that it would be contained in his report. As originally drafted and published in printed form, the report included a section stating that “We should accept the Supreme Court decision as the law of the land.” However, in its final form the report merely observes that “Obviously we cannot discuss all the fields of human relations,” and adds that because of “time and space limitations, we shall deal with only two things – race relations and beverage alcohol. We choose race relations because of the recent events in Anderson County; the alcohol problem is discussed because of the continuing magnitude of the problem.”

However, no specific stand regarding the crucial issue of denominational stand for or against enforcement, or attempted enforcement, of the Supreme Court decision was left out.


Everybody, religious or otherwise, cannot but be concerned about the complicated and frightening mess into which international affairs have been plunged by the events in Egypt since June and in the Middle East within the past few weeks. Churches around the world have expressed their concern. Pope Pius has condemned the “illegal and brutal repression” and declared that Christians have “a moral obligation to try all permissible means in order that the dignity and freedom of the Hungarian people be restored.” The World Council of Churches said in Geneva that “Christians must stand together with all who, in the struggle for freedom, suffer pain and trial.” The National Council of Churches in the U.S. cabled the Russian Orthodox Church asking it to work for “avoidance of further bloodshed and oppression.” Britain, where the church has often appeared subdued and on the decline, was aroused by Eden’s action and most of the Protestant clergy took their cue from the archbishop of Canterbury who emphasized that this action makes the British people “terribly uneasy and unhappy.” “Britain,” he says, “has stood alone in the world before because she upheld moral principles at great cost to herself. But she stands alone today because she has acted in direct violation of the moral and legal principal to which she pledged herself.” And he calls upon “Christian people (to) [stop the way.”]

And Protestant and Catholic Church groups and individuals have expressed deep concern over the international situation. The Protestant Episcopal House of Bishops terms itself “outraged by the ruthless slaughter and enslavement of the Hungarian people by the tyranny of Russia.” At their meeting at Pocono Manor, Pennsylvania, this week, the leaders of the American branch of the Anglican Communion also expressed misgivings about what it termed the unilateral action taken by contending powers in the Middle East. The statements are parts of a pastoral letter to be read in all Episcopalian parishes and U.S. missionary districts.

Meanwhile, the president of the National Council of Churches, the Rev. Dr. Carson Blake, has made a national appeal for emergency aid contributions. The gifts of money, food, and clothing will be used for the new thousands of homeless and hungry persons in Europe and the Middle East. Dr. Blake also called on the Russian Orthodox Church to present to the authorities of its nation its Christian concern that the Hungarians be allowed to determine their own national destiny.

So far as is known, Josef Cardinal Mindszenty of Hungary is still in asylum in the U.S. legation in Budapest.

Chief Justice Earl Warren has told the National Conference of Christians and Jews that freedom can be endangered in America even in our day. To prevent this, he says, the nation must stay vigilant against intolerance and injustice.


Jewish blind throughout the world now are using the world’s first Hebrew prayer book in braille. Preparation of the nine-volume set has been financed by the National Women’s League of the United Synagogue of America.


Dr. Jacob Agus believes religion should cultivate a sense of reverence for the objective approach in life. The rabbi of the Congregation of Beth-el in Baltimore also thinks religions should cultivate a sense for thinking in terms of humanity, not in racial, national, or political terms. He also told the National Institute for Religious and Social Studies that to serve God as complete humans, we must be objective as well as subjective. The institute is a function of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York City. Every year it is attended by about 200 Roman Catholic, Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish leaders. Very often the lectures and discussions produce fast jottings in notebooks of sermon ideas. The institute meetings are for a study of common grounds of religion as well as differences.


New York: The Rev. Dr. Ralph W. Lowe, pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Buffalo, New York, has been elected president of the Board of Foreign Missions of the United Lutheran Church in America.


Winston Salem, North Carolina: A resolution which would bar Negroes from attending Baptist schools and colleges in North Carolina has been defeated overwhelmingly at the 126th Annual Baptist State Convention. The resolution had been advanced by J. Henry Le Roy of Elizabeth City, representing a group of Eastern North Carolina Baptists. But barely a handful among 1,600 convention delegates rose to support it.


Atlanta, Georgia: The Georgia Baptist Convention, the largest religious group in the State, has refused to endorse the Supreme Court integration decision. Recommendations of a committee for endorsement were rejected by a standing vote of approximately 3 – 1.


Madrid, Spain: The Spanish government has further tightened its laws governing the marriage of non-Catholics in Spain. A decree law signed by Chief of State Franco revises the laws for civil weddings which have not been changed since 1870. In net effect, the new law makes non-Catholic marriages neither more nor less possible, but it does serve to make the procedure somewhat more difficult. Non-Catholics, in order to marry in Spain, must apply for permission to marry, and state reasons why they want to wed.


Washington, Ohio: An Illinois psychologist says persons preparing to enter the ministry should take psychiatric tests. Dr. Charles Anderson, of Hinsdale, Illinois, says such tests would eliminate many heartaches, ill feelings, and difficulties encountered by clergymen.


Lisbon, Portugal: A national pilgrimage will take place today to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, to pray for the salvation of Hungary. Catholics were urged to join the pilgrimage to attend a solemn funeral Mass for Hungarian martyrs which will be celebrated November 28.


Hanover, Germany: Hungarian Protestant Bishop Lajos Ordass is reported safe in a village near Budapest. Ordass, a Lutheran bishop, fled the capital with his family and staff when the Russians attacked. German Lutheran officials plan to send a truckload of food and clothing to the bishop.


New York: The Board of Social Missions of the United Lutheran Church in America has approved a plan to train 100 pastors and laymen for an education and action program on desegregation. Dr. Harold Letts, secretary for social action, says the training plan is based on a statement by the denomination’s 20th Biennial Convention that segregation impedes Christian brotherhood.


It is difficult to see how religion can be regarded as something abstract, something removed from everyday living, though some of you listeners have expressed yourselves otherwise. However, unless religion is interwoven into the very fabric of everyday affairs, it becomes a stilted, meaningless, and ornamental affair. That is why, on this pre-Thanksgiving broadcast, I have no hesitancy in presenting the following which is probably the most important, both tangible and intangible, element of our everyday life for which we should regard with thanks. It is an essay of America, by a high school student, presented two or three years ago in a nation-wide contest. It is by Elizabeth Ellen Evans, and is entitled ”I Speak for Democracy.” It says:

“I am an American. Listen to my words, fascist, communist. Listen well, for my country is a strong country, and my message is a strong message. I am an American, and I speak for democracy. My ancestors have left their blood on the green at Lexington and the snow at Valley Forge…on the walls of Fort Sumter and the fields at Gettysburg…on the waters of the River Marne and in the shadows of the Argonne Forest…on the beachheads of Salerno and Normandy and the sands of Okinawa…on the bare, bleak hills called Pork Chop and Old Baldy and Heartbreak Ridge.

A million and more of my countrymen have died for freedom. My country is their eternal monument. They live on in the laughter of a small boy as he watches a circus clown’s antics…and in the sweet, delicious coldness of the first bite of peppermint ice cream on the Fourth of July…in the little tenseness of a baseball crowd as the umpire calls ‘batter up!’…and in the high school band’s rendition of ‘Stars and Stripes Forever’ in the Memorial Day parade…in the clear sharp ring of a school bell on a fall morning…and in the triumph of a six-year old as he reads aloud for the first time.

They live on in the eyes of an Ohio farmer surveying his acres of corn and potatoes and pasture…and in the brilliant gold of hundreds of acres of wheat stretching across the flat miles of Kansas…in the milling of cattle in the stockyards of Chicago…the precision of an assembly line in an automobile factory in Detroit…and the perpetual glow of the nocturnal skylines of Pittsburgh and Birmingham and Gary.

They live on in the voice of a young Jewish boy saying the sacred words from the Torah: ‘Hear O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy might.’ …and in the voice of a Catholic girl praying: ‘Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee…’ and in the voice of a Protestant boy singing ‘A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing…’

An American named Carl Sandburg wrote these words: ‘I know a Jew fish crier down on Maxwell Street with a voice like a north wind blowing over corn stubble in January. He dangles herring before prospective customers evincing a joy identical with that of Pavlova dancing. His face is that of a man terribly glad to be selling fish, terribly glad that God made fish, and customers to whom he may call his wares from a pushcart.’

There is the voice in the soul of every human being that cries out to be free. America answered that voice.

America has offered freedom and opportunity such as no land before has ever known, to a Jew fish crier down on Maxwell Street with the face of a man terribly glad to be selling fish. She has given him the right to own his pushcart, to sell his herring on Maxwell Street.… She has given him an education for his children, and a tremendous faith in the nation that has made these things his.

Multiply that fish crier by 160 million – 160 million mechanics and farmers and housewives and coal miners and truck drivers and chemists and lawyers, and plumbers and priests – all glad, terribly glad, to be what they are, terribly glad to be free to work and eat and sleep and speak and love and pray and live as they desire, as they believe.

And those 160 million Americans … have more roast beef and mashed potatoes … the yield of the American labor and land … more automobiles and telephones … more safety razors and bathtubs … more Orlon sweaters and Aureomycin … the fruits of American initiative and enterprise … more public schools and life insurance policies … the symbols of American security and faith in the future … more laughter and song – than any other people on earth.

This is my answer fascist, communist. Show me a country greater than our country, show me a people more energetic, creative, progressive – bigger-hearted and happier than our people, not until then will I consider your way of life. For I am an American, and I speak for democracy.

November 4, 1956

This item is sort of posthumous, but it did not get on the wire in time to be included on last week’s broadcast. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of last week, two teachers’ organizations met in Knoxville, Tennessee. The white group, which calls itself the E.T.E.A., met at the University; while not far away, the colored teachers, the East Tennessee Teachers’ Association, met at the Austin High School. It is somewhat an anachronism that there should be continued two groups, meeting separately, based on race.

However, the irony becomes greater when one looks into the matters about which the two groups were concerned. A Dr. William F. Robinson, professor of sociology at Central State College in Ohio, told the colored teachers that the only way that further integration could be brought about was by continued efforts through the courts.

In its closing session, the white association passed a number of resolutions, among them being, and I quote, “…to dedicate ourselves…to the task of improving our own understanding of American democratic principles and their advantages over conflicting principles of life and government.” Apparently no conflicting principles occurred to them regarding the racial separation of colleagues at Austin, who are just as interested in promoting education in Tennessee as is the white group.


All this brings to mind the case of the old Scottish elder, who was faithful in church attendance but the cause of a great deal of trouble among the members. He told his pastor one day that he was going to pay a visit to the Holy Land. “And when I get there,” he said with great enthusiasm, “I’m going to climb Mount Sinai and read the Ten Commandments from the top of it.” “I can tell you something better to do,” his pastor said, “Stay home and keep them.”


What has come to be known in our time as the “Social Gospel” is something that many, perhaps most, Christian people today take for granted. We see the gospel not only as a means of securing reconciliation with the deity, but also as a means of transforming conditions of human life. The Christian ideal is not simply a new heaven; it is also a new earth.

While it is not to be denied that the church from the beginning was a social force, it has taken a long time for it to become the continuing, positive force for reform that it is today in many instances. In the Middle Ages, e.g., the church had great political and economic power, and it used that power to further its own organizational ends rather than the welfare of needy individuals.

But almost from the beginning there was some emphasis upon the social gospel by the church. It early exerted an influence on legislation, on the treatment of slaves, on the treatment of prisoners of war, on the treatment of women and children, on provision for the treatment of the sick and aged. Wycliffe’s Bible and the poor priests known as Lollards, carried the biblical message up and down the country, and historians are agreed that these did much to help and prepare England not only for the Reformation but also for improvement in the lot of the barest level of subsistence. They heard little from their priests to lead them to suppose that they were entitled to a better life. But as they listened to Wycliffe’s Lollards and to the reading of the Bible in their own tongue, something began to stir in their souls and they realized that they did not have to die and go to heaven before they could know a brighter lot. And thus it went, from country to country, as the Reformation swept across Europe. French, Germans, and others came to realize that religion was not necessarily a procedure for enduring hardships here in order to escape them in some hereafter, but a positive doctrine that realized that and advocated the good life for men here and now, as well as afterward.

There are some groups today who frown upon the advocacy by the church of a social gospel. To such people, religion is something abstract from or a segmented, compartmentalized portion of life. Such groups fail to catch perhaps the most important aspect of religion, for while there is no intent to disparage emphasis upon religion as a preparation for eternity, it is more than likely, it is fairly certain, that people who see that through religion, a happier, more plentiful life is possible, will also wish the more ardently to influence others to accept it also.


Two days from now, some 90 million Americans will have an opportunity to perform the most important duty of citizenship – go to the polls and vote for the candidates of their choice for national, state, and in some cases, local candidates. At the national level we shall be choosing the men who will guide the destiny of this country for the next four years. Unfortunately, it is estimated that only a maximum of 60 percent of those who could vote will do so. This discrepancy between the possible and the actual number of voters makes it all the more necessary that those of us who do vote do so with extreme discrimination and with all the information at our command.

Voting is a moral as well as a civic obligation, for government is the institution that regulates in some way all the others. It may step in and regulate the family, religion (e.g., laws preventing the disturbing of public worship); it may and does regulate our economic system, education, and all the other basic social institutions. What it does or fails to do has daily tremendous impact upon the lives of not only all of us, but as we have seen, the lives of people around the world.

The tumult and the shouting are about over. Propagandists, distortioners, exaggerators, as well as the straightforward, objective campaigners have about had their say. We, the voters, have been subjected to a barrage of oratory that tells us that salvation is here; another says it is there. Our task is to evaluate all that has been said in the light of the record – or lack of it – and to determine within our own minds and hearts what is the best for us as a people and also what will be best for the world. What is good for the American people will surely be good for the rest of the free world, for in the long run, our destiny is inextricably interwoven with theirs. Otherwise, freedom will perish from the earth.

So it is that when next Tuesday, you and I enter the ballot booth, the hysteria of the campaign will be over. There, in the quietness of that small structure, we shall do something that very few people in the world can do – vote to perpetuate the present government or vote to throw it out and to institute a new government based on those principles which to us shall seem most likely to effect our safety and happiness. We are the final arbiters, the final judges, and however the outcome, the defeated candidates, whether at national, state, or local levels, will not dare dissent from our verdict. So it is we who are sovereign, not a Hitler, a Khrushchev, or an Eisenhower.

This is the American way, and it will stay that way only as long as you and I exercise the ballot conscientiously and wisely. It is a solemn responsibility as well as a valued privilege. We cannot fail, for if we do democracy fails, and with it all the rights and responsibilities of democracy. Presidents, governors, and magistrates of all kinds will not fail unless we do. What are you going to do about it?


An encyclical letter by Pope Pius XII has taken note of two world-shaking events. The pontiff expressed joy for the release of Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski of Poland and Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty of Hungary. But he asked prayers for the Holy Land and the Middle East. The pope writes of hope that recent events in Hungary and Poland might be a sign of peaceful reordering of the two nations. Yet, he adds, a fearful situation presents itself in the Middle East. The pontiff writes that it is not far from the Holy Land where the angels, flying over the cradle of the divine infant, announced peace to men of good will. He asks that he be joined in prayer for peace and order among the nations. The pope asserted that when men, moved by desire for a true peace, unite to deal with such grave problems, they must without doubt feel impelled to choose the way of justice and not that of adventure on the steep cliff of violence.

Budapest church bells pealed a welcome this week for Cardinal Mindszenty when he entered the Hungarian capital a free man for the first time in seven years. In 1949, a Red court condemned him to prison for life as a traitor. The cardinal blessed the throngs hailing his arrival. Women were kneeling in the streets. Men had their heads bare. And many persons crossed themselves and wept. At a news conference Friday, Mindszenty asked Western political support for the new anti-Russian Hungarian regime. He added that he wants personally to report many things to Pope Pius. Earlier this month, the Protestant world welcomed the release of another famed Hungarian figure. That was the Right Rev. Lajos Ordas, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. He had been imprisoned in 1948 on conviction of illegal currency dealings. Bishop Ordas was declared innocent three weeks ago. But he was not reinstated in his church duties at once. Instead, he was named professor of theology in Budapest’s Lutheran Academy.

Poland’s Roman Catholic primate early this week called on that nation to approach her problems maturely. On his first public appearance since release from house arrest, Cardinal Wyszynski asked for no demonstrations and no disorders. He had been arrested in 1953, and was said to have been released from prison last year. Now, he too, has been restored to his ecclesiastical position.


Delegates for 3,000 U.S. Orthodox synagogues have passed political and spiritual resolutions at their meeting in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The convention of Orthodox Jewish Synagogues of America has expressed deepest concern and anxiety about radioactive dust from H-bomb tests. It declares, “The preservation and sanctification of human life is a prime mandate from the Divine.” The delegates also asked the U.S. Defense Department to make available to Jewish servicemen kosher foods similar in quality and caloric value to regular rations. And they want the U.S. to sever relations with any Arab nation that fails to halt what the convention terms discriminations against U.S. citizens. The Orthodox Jews also backed their National Executive Committee in a test case to maintain separation of men and women worshipers. This refers to a group in Mt. Clemens, Michigan, synagogue that seeks a court order prohibiting mixed seating as proposed by another group within the synagogue.


Efforts from 48 Protestant and two Eastern Orthodox Church bodies disclose that Americans gave their churches more than ever in 1955. The National Council of Churches says offerings to the 50 groups totaled more than $1.75 billion. For the approximate 49 million members thus represented, this meant a per capita increase of 8 percent. The per person contributions rose from $49.95 in 1954 to $53.94 in 1955, a new high. The highest per member giving was in the Free Methodist Church: $193.45.


Two congregations of the different Lutheran denominations are going to merge, even if their parent bodies do not. Union is scheduled this winter for a parish of the American Lutheran Church and a congregation of the United Lutheran Church, in Norwich, Connecticut. A campaign for a building fund for the merged churches has resulted in pledges of more that $122,000. Additional funds will come from sale of presently-held properties. But the congregations will not worship together until the new church is completed. The national bodies of the United and American Lutheran Churches are due to start considering merger at talks in Chicago in mid-December.