March 30, 1958

Two items this week were pointed up that certainly have moral implications, even if not strictly religious ones.

All of us are doubtless familiar with the revelations brought out by the Harris Committee Investigating shenanigans in the Federal Communications Commission. You will recall that Mr. Mack was forced off the commission because it was alleged that he accepted money from a lobbyist seeking that agency’s approval of a TV channel in Miami for an airlines company. Reportorial gossip had it that he was virtually told by the White House to get out or be asked to resign, and that while he was trying to explain his innocence, Sherman Adams hung up on him. The next day, his resignation was on the president’s desk and was promptly accepted. Rumor had it still further that the White House wanted Mack to resign in order to shunt aside too much probing by the committee into activities the presidential staff may have engaged in in lobbying for friends of theirs with the various agencies. Be all that as it may, or many not, we saw the spectacle this week of one R.G. Hyde, a veteran of 30 years in the business of regulating radio and television, coming before the committee and admitting that he permitted his hotel bills to be paid by executives of radio and TV corporations while at the same time he turned in his expense account of the full $12 per diem allowed by the government for the same hotel bills and other traveling expenses.

Mr. Hyde professed to see nothing in either accepting pay twice for such bills, or for accepting favors from individuals whose businesses he was regulating. All this aroused Frederick C. Othman, in his column for March 27 to comment as follows:

“All I can say as a taxpayer who never yet asked the boss to pay bills which didn’t exist is that we’d better change the laws.… The fact that nearly all the FCC commissioners collect double on their speech-making forays doesn’t make the situation any better. The sums involved are ticky-tacky, but neither does that affect the ethics of the operation.

“These commissioners,” Mr. Othman goes on, “are top brass in the government. They’ve got fancy offices. They receive plenty of bowing and scraping and each one of them earns $20,000 a year. They shouldn’t have to stoop to chiseling on the old expense account.

“He [Mr. Hyde] said he relied on a ruling of the comptroller general in 1954, holding that it was OK for a bureaucrat to take the $12 a day, even though he didn’t have to spend it. Now we’ve got a new comptroller and he professes to see something not quite kosher in such collections….” There is more, but the issue is covered fairly well in the excerpts I have quoted.

The public has a right to know who is using his position in public office to secure favors that may not be a violation of the letter of the law, but certainly violate any true spirit of that law. Public officials should have their expenses paid by the government, and not permit themselves to be under obligation to private concerns, especially those which they are supposed to regulate. And that goes for commissioners, members of Congress of whatever party, members of the executive department, and any other public office.

Wasn’t there a lonely Galilean who, some twenty centuries ago, commented upon how difficult it is to serve two masters at the same time? The application is as true of government officials today as it was of whomever he was talking then. The public has a right to know, but whether it will or not, remains to be seen. Until or unless it is convinced that thorough job has been done of investigating all who have been suspected of such unethical practices, the presumption will be that the whole thing is pretty much of a whitewash affair.

The other item deals with government officials also; this time, state employees. Under a United Press dateline of March 27 appeared this statement:

“State employees will be asked to make the ‘traditional’ contributions to the gubernatorial campaign of Buford Ellington, the candidate backed by Gov. Frank Clement…. Employees of the State Safety Department are being asked for contributions…. The solicitation is expected to reach all departments except those financed partly with federal funds…. Contributions from workers in those departments would violate the Hatch Act, officials said…. The usual contribution asked from state employees is 10 percent of the take-home pay for one month…. Safety Commissioner Hilton Butler said the request for contributions is ‘traditional’ and is strictly on a voluntary basis.”

That is the end of the UP dispatch, but the matter received such reception in the press and on the air that, apparently, the governor felt it necessary to make his own explanation. That explanation appeared two days later, yesterday, again under a Nashville dateline from the United Press, and I quote:

“Governor Frank Clement denied yesterday that any ‘pressure’ is being put on state employees to contribute to the campaign fund for Buford Ellington, one of six candidates for governor…. At his press conference Clement said, ‘contributions are strictly on a voluntary basis.’ He said, ‘there has been no order out and there has been no pressure.’”

This reporter has been engaged in public service at federal, state, and local levels too long not to know that such voluntary matters are rarely that. One does not have to contribute, but if he fails to make such “voluntary” contributions, he may well find the road ahead pretty rocky. Was it not the Bard of Avon who said that “methinks thou dost protest too much”? Few there be who will fail to see a moral involved here, too, law or no law.


In these days of rising prices and increasing unemployment, an anachronism within themselves, one could, if it were not such a serious matter, be more than amused at how the Republicans are, we fear, minimizing the severity of the depression, while the Democrats, equally anxious to make political capital out of a misfortune under their opponents’ administration, are, we hope, exaggerating the situation. Both sides are proposing nostrums, panaceas. Greater spending, lowering of taxes, re-creation of New Deal depression agencies, and so on ad infinitum. However, a rather curious proposal emanates from the Committee for Economic Development, an arm of the National Association of Manufacturers. It calls for a temporary, “across the board” tax cut of 20 percent if the economy in March and April drops below the February level. According to the committee, this would result in available capital for plant expansion, etc. It fails to mention that, apparently, one reason for the depression of the moment is that our plants are turning out more of certain items than the consumer can or will purchase. So it wants to go on expanding plants to turn out still more.

And to the unwary, a 20 percent tax reduction for all sounds fair, but isn’t. The need is for greater consumer purchasing power, and that comes more readily by making money available to the lower income groups. A 20 percent tax reduction would place, theoretically at least, $20 in the hands of a citizen who pays $100 in taxes, but it would place $2,000 in the hands of one who pays $10,000. Actually, if the committee wants a straight across-the-board tax cut that is both fair and which puts more money in the hands of those who need it most, i.e., the low income groups, it should recommend raising the exemption from its present $600 to, say $1,000. Both large and small taxpayer would then be given a boost of an additional $400 on which they would not have to pay an income tax. This would be getting it around to recognizing (with Burns) that “a man’s a man for a’that.” Do you suppose the committee is taking advantage of what it hopes is our inability to do simple mathematics? If so, then there might just be a moral involved there too.


A National Council of Churches Official reported in Minneapolis on the released time religious education program throughout the United States. Mrs. Alice L. Goddard, director of weekday religious education for the council spoke at a luncheon in St. Paul. She estimated that 4 million children of all faiths are released from public schools once a week to attend religious education classes. She said classes for most of the Protestant children are conducted on an interdenominational basis. The council official added that she prefers to call released time, “shared time.” This, she said, implies for the child that it is a part of his regular workweek.

Well, to paraphrase Montague, a violation by any other name is still unconstitutional. What sins, secular at least, we commit in the name of doing good! Wonder if those in charge of released time for the 4 million ever take the First Amendment seriously, or read court decision after court decision under it which rules such released, or shared, time is illegal?


Army Secretary Brucker appeared this week before 3,000 Presbyterian laymen in Chicago to defend the U.S. defense policy. He spoke before the 10th annual meeting of the National Council of Presbyterian Men. He said it is not un-Christian for America to arm herself with missiles and nuclear weapons in defense against godless Russia. But he warned against relying on armor alone. In the final analysis, he said, it is the power and grace of the whole armor of God to which we rightly and confidently entrust our future. There is more, but this is enough to indicate the line he took. Did you ever know any public figure advocating a policy who did not try to wrap that policy in mother love, the little red schoolhouse, the grand old flag, or divine approval? The truth is that God must be disgusted at the way the human race here is rushing to destruction by trying to develop ever more terrible weapons to kill more people in a shorter time. The idea that he is stepping in and taking sides is identical to the idea of the Greeks, e.g., during the Trojan War, where the gods stepped in and fought, on both sides, incidentally, and against each other. Probably, under the present scheme of things, there is nothing we can do at the moment but go ahead with a defense policy involving thermonuclear weapons, but let us keep out of our argument the idea that we are doing it with divine approval. Such is nonsense, and to some of us at least, sacrilege.


Quite of another nature is the urging of a world famous missionary educator that Americans pledge a dollar a week for five years to help save a billion persons in Africa and Asia from hunger, misery, illiteracy, and communism. Dr. Frank C. Laubach, a pioneer in literacy training has spent 45 years working in Asia and Africa and has taught millions of people to read with his training methods. He said the U.S. is taking a propaganda beating in those continents from communist technical aid experts. He said communism has, in effect, 400,000 missionaries among the people there. By contrast, not more than 400 American missionaries are working to help these people improve their farming methods and living conditions. Well, maybe not, but we still have Brucker and our missile program. After we get through with using these, there’ll be not so many who survive to teach. Anyway, Dr. Lauback’s suggestion makes sense, and few there be who would not insist that it, rather than that of Brucker, has divine approval.


Christian leaders have joined in the strongest condemnation of violence against Jewish community centers in Nashville, Tennessee, and Miami, Florida. Protestant and Catholic leaders expressed horror at the bombing of the two centers. Damage was estimated at around $36,000 at the two places. Fortunately no one was hurt in either incident. Dr. Harold E. Buell, president of the Greater Miami Council of Churches, declared the violence and apparent prejudice lying behind it damages the influence of American democracy, while the Rev. Thomas Baker, executive secretary of the Tennessee Council of Churches, asked all Nashville residents of all faiths to contribute enough money to repair the Jewish center there. More violence will follow, he warned, unless we of Nashville show by word and deed that we abhor the act and motive. Father Charles M. Williams, chancellor of Nashville Catholic Diocese, called the bombing a terrible thing. Bigotry and prejudice, he said, are to be deplored at all times.



March 23, 1958

An unusual new church, built in the shape of a huge fish, was dedicated at Stamford, Connecticut. The $1.5 million building is the new First Presbyterian Church. The fish shape was chosen because it was the symbol for Christ used by early Christians forced to hide in the catacombs to escape persecution. It is an imposing structure, 60 feet high at its highest point, and 234 feet long. On both its long sides are some 20,000 jigsaw stained glass windows in the colors of ruby, amber, emerald, amethyst, and sapphire. The thousands of inch-thick windows are embedded in the shapely sloping gray slate walls. On one side of the nave the stained glass windows depict the crucifixion; on the opposite side, the resurrection. The basic structure is of precast concrete panels held together by steel rods. Inside the 750-seat church, the lack of supporting pillars gives a feeling of soaring space. Behind the communion table is a 320-foot cross faced with wood from the Coventry Anglican Cathedral, which was bombed in World War II. More than 2,000 persons attended two separate services at the dedication. Dr. Eugene Carson Blake, clerk of the U.S.A. Presbyterian Church, delivered the dedicatory sermon at both services.


At Youngstown, Ohio, a helicopter was used to lift the cross in place atop the city’s new Catholic cathedral. The helicopter rose from a parking lot across the street. Attached to the whirlybird by cable was the 300-pound aluminum cross. Workers stood on a scaffold on the 1330-foot church tower and guided the 20-foot cross into its socket. Bishop Emmet M. Walsh of Youngstown blessed the cross before it was lifted aloft by the helicopter.


Many area meetings are being held around the country to acquaint Lutheran pastors, choir directors, organists, and others with a new Lutheran service book and hymnal. Lutheran officials announced at New York that advance orders from publishing houses have been received for all 635,000 copies of the first edition. The book will be distributed by publishing houses of the eight denominations belonging to the National Lutheran Council. Dr. Edgar S. Brown, executive director of the department of worship of the United Lutheran Church in America said the service book and hymnal is expected to hasten the day when more than 4 million Lutherans in the U.S. and Canada will be united in their forms of worship and their hymns.


At Kansas City, Kansas, a commission of the American Baptist Convention recommended that the denomination locate its administrative headquarters and its agencies at New York’s Interchurch Center. The center is being built on Riverside Drive in Manhattan. The National Council of Churches and a number of denominations will occupy the center. These recommendations were made to the convention’s general council. Final action on the headquarters location will be taken in June by the convention’s annual session in Cincinnati.


In Hastings, Nebraska, the evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society has acquired 419 housing units built 10 years ago by the federal Public Housing Administration. The cement block homes are in Hastings’ Spencer Park and are part of an 805-unit development. The society has an option to buy the remaining units. Four hundred persons now living on social security and old-age assistance will find homes in the area. This is the Lutheran organization’s most ambitious project to date. The society operates 58 homes and two hospitals in a dozen Midwest states.


In New York, Saint Luke’s Chapel, one of the oldest church buildings, has been restored along with a block square setting in a five-year program costing $1 million. The chapel is part of Trinity Episcopal Church parish.


At Jacksonville, Florida, a new flagship for the Presbyterian Mission Fleet in Alaska was launched. The 65-foot motor ship will carry a clergyman to isolated logging camps and fishing villages along the rugged Alaskan coast.


At Hanover, New Hampshire, the Dartmouth College Library announced it had received as a gift a Breeches Bible once owned by Jon Alden. The Breeches Bible gets its name from the fact that this translation stated that Adam and Eve made breeches out of their fig leaves.


In Boston, directors of the American Unitarian Association announced the nomination of Dr. Ernest W. Kuebler to succeed the late Dr. Frederick May Eliot as association president. Delegates must approve such nominations at the association’s annual meeting in May.


In Warsaw, Poland, Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski reported he has personally supervised the distribution of $2 million worth of American relief supplies. The supplies came from U.S. Catholics through Catholic Relief Services Agency of the National Catholic Welfare Conference.


In Jerusalem, Israel, an American Jewish leader announced that an archaeological school will be opened there in the fall of 1959. Dr. Nelson Glueck made the announcement. He is president of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute in Cincinnati. The institution is sponsoring the archaeological school. It will be a graduate institution for both Christian and Jewish scholars interested in advanced biblical and ancient Near East studies.


At Taipei, Formosa, a visiting American church relief official said he found Formosa still badly in need of relief supplies. The official was Dr. R. Norris Wilson, executive director of Church World Service, who is touring centers in 22 countries. He said nationalist Chinese officials had stressed to him their gratitude for the aid American churches already have sent to Formosa.


In Madrid, Spain, a noted American Catholic priest announced plans for a series of religious radio broadcasts that he expects eventually will reach as many as 2 million Spanish families. He is Father Patrick Peyton of Albany, New York, founder and leader of the Family Rosary Crusade. He has been in Spain supervising the completion of color films portraying the mysteries of the rosary. The busy priest took time out to plan a Spanish network series of family hour broadcasts to be heard every Friday evening.


And here is a sign of the times:

In Chicago, First Immanuel Lutheran Church became concerned over rising unemployment among its Spanish-speaking members. The church held an employment clinic, bringing in state employment service representatives to brief the members on job and training opportunities.


A quotation garnered from the news somewhere this week seems worth passing on to you in these days of investigations of labor rackets, Federal Communication Commission shenanigans, etc., apparently ad infinitum. It goes like this:

“A weak man in office is like a squirrel in a cage, laboring eternally, but to no purpose; like a turnstile, he is in everybody’s way, but stops nobody; he talks a great deal but says very little; looks into everything, but sees nothing; and has a hundred irons in the fire, but very few of them are hot, and with these few that are he burns his fingers.”


This program has consistently taken the position that religion, any religion, should objectively seek truth, and discard that which is unbelievable or unworkable, whoever said or advocated it. In short, religion should be practical and mature. There are several identifying features of a mature religion:

  1. It should be free, for growth can take place only where the human spirit is unshackled, and a mature religion will not be afraid of freedom. It will not shut up the human spirit in a prison of creeds, nor chain it to a single source of truth.
  2. It will be growing as man’s understanding of the universe and himself continually expands.
  3. It will go beyond indifference to a deep and abiding concern for the welfare here and now of humanity.
  4. It will practice, not a passive tolerance with respect to its great sister faiths, but an active cooperation in good works and in the appropriation and assimilation of all that is best in them into itself.
  5. It will give the feelings of the heart full scope and expression under the guidance of the alert and informed mind.
  6. It will be concerned with society and its problems as much as it is with the individual, for it is doubtful if the individual can be saved apart from his society; it is likely that we can be saved only within its context of struggle for righteousness, justice, brotherhood, and peace.


Doubtless many of us experienced all sorts of reactions the other day when Randolph Churchill over TV blew his top. No monitor mercifully threw a switch to save him from his folly. His profanity and obscenity went out over the whole network. Churchill is a reporter and knows that the newspaper code is that when an actress gets drunk and abuses police officers, that is news. If she is the daughter of one of the world’s greatest citizens, that is hot news. There is some question about how much if any of juvenile and domestic court proceedings should be reported, but the freedom of the press is fundamental to a democracy and no restriction should lightly be placed on it. No such question is involved in this case. In the U.S. you just can’t get drunk and bawl out police officers and get away with it. Also, the more prominent you are the more likely you are to get your picture in the paper. In the Churchill episode, however, I suspect that many of us got a kick out of a reporter being subjected to his own impertinent technique. It was a case of the interviewer being interviewed.


The last item comes from an editorial in our own local paper in its March 18 issue. It says:

“A Jewish community center is bombed … A federal judge’s life is threatened. Thus does hatred, in alliance with cowardice and sacrilege, rise again to challenge the citizenship of Tennessee. The forces of anarchy have demonstrated there is no depth to which they will not stoop. In their depraved insanity, they have defied both God and man. They have put themselves beyond the pale…. Law-abiding citizens must react with vigor and resolve. Total resources of the state must be made available to bring the guilty to justice. United public opinion must be mobilized so that its weight may prove an unbearable burden to any who would thumb their noses at law and constituted authority…. Nashville bows in shame today. It could be our town tomorrow…. All citizens have a continuing job to do. By respect and example, they must do their part to uphold that which is right. And they must labor in the knowledge that flouting of the law in a small way makes it easier to flout it in a large way. They must never forget, either, that one concession to the enemies of the law may open the floodgates of destruction.”

This reporter is not presumptuous enough to try to improve upon that statement. He should like to add that a great American, and former president, said some years ago that a threat to the freedom of any man anywhere is a threat to the freedom of all men everywhere. That is as true of the Jewish faith in the Nashville bombing as it is of the Christian or any other faith anywhere. A threat to one is a threat to all.



March 16, 1958

Since the dawn of the Sputnik age, we Americans have been flailing around in a tizzy about the status of education in this country, revealing to the world that we are sure that something is wrong, but revealing equally as clearly we are not sure what. Like we do so often in a crisis, scapegoats are sought and panaceas are proposed. From one salient view, the spectacle is ridiculous; from another, it is tragic.

In St. Louis some time ago, a superintendent of schools in Iowa charged the public with being to blame for the mess education is in. The public, equally generous with blame, is saying it is the fault of the schools. Politicians, with their usual balanced view, are trying to place the blame, either on whichever side will lose them the fewest votes, or taking a neutralist stand and talking about setting up a National Academy of Science. An ex-governor of this state made a speech the other day in East Tennessee during which he proposed setting up a State Science Academy, to be supported by state funds, to be located at Oak Ridge, and to be supervised by the state university. Local school systems are scrambling around, trying to do something (just what is not evident from available reports) but perhaps they are mistaking action with progress. One near here a few weeks ago announced a drastic overhaul of its systemic procedure, then announced the next day that it was nothing new; that it was simply an expansion of plans long in the making. But this announcement convinced few people. Most of us probably recognized that system was suffering from an acute cause of Sputnikitis.

Several basic facts must be considered, along with some theory. A great American once defined education as the debt the existing generation owes to the next one. Most of us can accept this as axiomatic. If we do, then the next assumption is that our children deserve the best from this generation that we can possibly give them in the way of an education that will better enable them to live effectively in the topsy-turvy world we shall bequeath them. Virtually all are agreed upon this. The only question is “What is the best education?”

In the first place, there is no royal shortcut to learning. Learning is a laborious, never-ending task, and while there is no virtue in doing things the hard way for the sake of doing something in a difficult manner, the sugar-coated, everything-should-always-be-interesting-to-every-student, notion is not only silly; it results in much purposeless activity that is about as realistic in today’s world as the proverbial Alice in Wonderland. Yet, that is what the educationists have been spouting so long that this reporter, who taught during the worst delirium tremens of the progressive education age, has long since become disgusted with such nonsense and tried to avoid coming in contact with it. Any education that is worth anything involves disciplining both mind and muscle, and whether we like it or not, a generation of American young people have been nurtured within the schoolroom, when they should have been matured in that room. It is not their fault; it is the fault of those who mistook fancy for fact; who confused interest with intrinsic merit; who insisted that it did not really matter what scripture a teacher taught as long as he had been baptized in the right religion – which meant the type miscalled “progressive.”

In the second place, while money will not work educational miracles in and by itself, it can cure the teacher shortage, about which there is so much wringing of hands, but far too little plunking down dollars. Young people in college today look at the world pretty realistically. They see a world in which their social order is a closely-geared economic one, in which money is the entree to those material things which they have learned – rightly or wrongly – are necessary for satisfactory living. When they see that teaching, as an occupation (It has not yet, maybe never will, reach the dignity of a profession), fades into the financial background when compared with other occupations, they are attracted toward the shining light of adequate remuneration for their lifetime services (Ofttimes when they would prefer teaching, if they could afford to do so).

Then, aside from the financial returns in teaching as compared with other fields, when they consider the restrictions placed upon teachers, because they are teachers, they are further discouraged. No teacher should be made to occupy a second-class citizenship status because he teaches. Certainly he should be a good citizen, which means he should have all the rights of free speech, freedom of association, freedom to think his own thoughts, and behave himself just as any other citizen, which means within the limit of the law. It is a rather curious observation, from a teacher’s viewpoint, why it is that society entrusts us teachers with the ability to develop good citizenship traits in their children, but does not permit teachers to demonstrate those same traits in their own personal behavior.

The powers that be must consider another facet of the problem of securing efficient career people in their schools, a facet that looms large in the thinking of many school teachers. That is the fact that they are subjected so long and so often to preaching and scolding: preaching about how great a service they are rendering, scolding about what they should have done that they did not, or should not have done which they did. Most of us have heard the word “dedicated” thrown at us so long that when we hear it from someone, that person’s stock takes a bigger dip with us than the stock market did in 1929. One cannot pay his grocer, butcher, and candlestick maker with dedication. All workers in every field should have a certain amount of loyalty and devotion to and interest in their work. School boards, supervisors, and administrators would do well to leave it at that if they want to get teachers and keep them.

A third, and perhaps more important consideration about our current educational tizzy is that we should not jump to the conclusion that the part is greater than the whole. So much has been written about our need to speed up science and mathematics that one would think, if he did not keep a sense of balance, that all we needed to reach an educational Eden would be to recruit (through bribery, force, or otherwise) all bright young people and put them through a rigorous course of training in the natural sciences and math. Then all would be well with our world. The stark fact is that if that were done, we would then stand less chance of maintaining any world for long at all than we do now. Surely we need good scientists, the best we can find and train; the same is true of mathematicians. But our progress in the field of invention in science, invention of material things has so outstripped our development in human relations that this is a problem with us and the rest of the world now, more so than Sputniks or missiles. We have done a good (or bad, however you look at it) job of training scientists who can invent death-dealing devices; we have made little headway toward developing a generation that can find, or has found, better ways to reduce prejudice, hatred, religious discrimination, racial friction. One can only speculate what would be accomplished within a generation if as much emphasis and prestige were put upon the development of peaceful adjustment as is now put upon launching an explorer into space. Whatever educational changes are made, they should certainly seek to improve both quantity and quality of education, in all fields of learning, from kindergarten through the university. Perhaps if equal emphasis had been placed on the humanities and the social sciences a generation or two ago that was placed on poison gas, germ warfare, fighter planes, etc., we would not be in the straits we are today.

There is a moral responsibility resting upon each and every one of us, a responsibility to provide the best this nation can afford in the way of a thorough and realistic education for young people. This will not be done unless we proceed on the basic acceptance of the fact that learning requires work on the part of both teacher and student. Neither can do the other’s work for him. It also requires the best teachers that can be provided, for what goes on in the schoolroom determines the quality, or lack of it, of our educational system. To get and hold such teachers requires not only expenditure of money, it requires respecting the right of those teachers to be human beings, not members of a third sex. And, finally, it requires balanced emphasis in all the fields of learning, not in just one or two.

Over 100 years ago, Edward [Deering] Mansfield, a careful student of education, America and elsewhere, summarized:

“If America has presented anything new to the world, it is a new form of society; if she has any thing worthy to preserve, it is the principles upon which that society is instituted: Hence, it is not a Grecian or a Roman education we need; it is not one conceived in China, Persia, or France. On the contrary, it must have all the characteristics of the American mind, fresh, original, vigorous, enterprising; embarrassed by no artificial barriers, and looking to a final conquest over the last obstacles to the process of human improvement.”

If he were writing that paragraph, in the context of today’s world, it is likely he would make few changes. Whether, in our preoccupation with the very real dangers that exist today, we will provide such a desirable kind of education, only time, and what you and I do, will tell. But American cannot afford the luxury of failure. It is too late for that.


I read editorials and receive material through the mail reminding me that competition is the American way; that it will bring abundance. Maybe so, but the writers of this stuff appear to me to be completely insincere. They avoid competition like the plague. They want tariffs to reduce competition; price-fixing (so-called) and mis-called “fair trade” legislation; chain stores; bank consolidations; corporation mergers; uniform insurance policies; big capital-owning manufacturing subsidiaries; fewer steel, aluminum, and car companies. They even want church union. There is such a thing as being honest with yourself, as well as with the public. What they really want is competition in fields other than their own, i.e., it is good medicine for the other fellow.


A pertinent note in connection with our preoccupation with development of scientists to the exclusion of other important fields, comes from a statement of Congressman Frank Thompson, Jr., Democrat of New Jersey, who said recently, “We have seen today a message go to Congress on education: 100 percent for science, mathematics, but nothing for the humanities. We could achieve technological superiority which is greater than anyone imagined, and still, if we do not have people educated to understand human beings, it would be an empty victory. Suppose for instance, some Soviet biologist comes forward next month with a discovery in biology as startling as was the Sputnik breakthrough. Would we then have a message asking us to educate 40,000 biologists in the next few years?”


Our secretary of statements reiterated this week that we must negotiate, if we do at all, from a position of strength. Well, it would make a great more sense to try to negotiate from wisdom than from a strength that we do not have. It looks as though we must choose between co-existence or co-extinction, as invidious as may be the alternatives. We have good reason to doubt Russia’s sincerity, but no agreement is going to be reached by anyone anytime unless it is based on a realistic acceptance of facts.


And while on the subject of Russia, it seems pertinent to report that the presidents of two major Baptists conventions will visit Moscow next month. They are Dr. Clarence W. Cranford, president of the American Baptist Convention and Rep. Brooks Hays of Arkansas, president of the Southern Baptist Convention. They plan to leave for the Russian capital April 15, and will spend five days as guests of Russian Baptists. Both leaders are expected to speak in Moscow’s first Baptist church.


March 2, 1958

More than 15,000 programs were placed on TV stations last year by the Broadcasting and Film Commission of the National Council of Churches, it was reported at the commission’s annual meeting this week in New York. Of the total, 56 were half-hour network programs presented over 140 CBS or NBC stations. In addition, the commission sponsored 260 radio programs. Dr. S. Franklin Mack, executive director, said three of the TV programs were widely acclaimed and received awards. These were the “Look Up and Live” series for teenagers, “Frontiers of Faith,” and “Off to Adventure,” a new children’s series. The “Frontiers of Faith” series is one in which segments are presented alternatively by Protestants, Catholics, and Jews.


In Detroit, church building experts were warned not to let the church of tomorrow become a building with a spiritual vacuum. The warning came from Dr. George M. Gibson, a professor at Chicago’s McCormick Theological Seminary. Dr. Gibson spoke to several hundred architects, artists, denominational church executives, and laymen attending the 18th Joint Conference on Church Architecture, which was sponsored by the Church Architectural Guild of America and the department of church building of the National Council of Churches. Dr. Gibson warned that many churches built in the last 30 years virtually deny in their architecture what they are saying in their doctrine. He said it must not be forgotten that while the church building must be functional, its primary purpose is sacramental. But at the same meeting the executive director of the council’s church building department said that fear of building new types of churches may paralyze both thought and action. The Rev. Scott Turner Ritenour spoke at the department’s business meeting. So, it would seem, you pays your money and you takes your choice in the matter of when and if a given type church building is functional or sacramental. By the way, the medieval ecclesiastics never did agree on how many angels could dance on the point of a needle, either.


A Jesuit sociologist this week held out high hopes for the progress of interracial brotherhood in the southern states. He is the Rev. Albert S. Foley, professor of sociology at Spring Hill College in Mobile. Spring Hill is the only racially integrated college in Alabama. Father Foley spoke at a John A. Ryan Forum presented in Chicago by the Catholic Council on Working Life. He said seeds of brotherhood, not of civil strife, are being planted in desegregated southern universities, seminaries, theological schools, and secondary schools. The priest went on to say that a whole new crop of southern minds is being reared. In them, he added, we repose the greatest hope for the well being of the region in time to come. He praised the restraint of southern Negroes, and lauded Christian Negro ministers for their leadership in Montgomery, Alabama. He also praised Methodist, Congregationalist, and Episcopal clergymen in predominantly Protestant areas of the South who, he said, have made significant steps up the road to brotherhood.


In Atlantic City, New Jersey, the American Christian Palestine Committee called for an intercredal conference to protect the Holy Land from communist penetration. The committee, holding its annual meeting, suggested a conference of Christian, Jewish, and Moslem leaders. In its issued statement, the committee said, “It is of the utmost importance that the three faiths find a way of reconciling and jointly furthering their spiritual goals in the land sacred to all. Unless they do, they run the risk of losing the holy places to the communists.”


More than 1,100 bishops, ministers, and church workers gathered in Washington this week for a three-day convocation on urban life in America. The conference was sponsored by the Methodist Church. The participants heard a report saying that Methodist and other Protestant denominations have a great evangelistic opportunity. The report went on to emphasize that the opportunity in so-called inner-city areas is the greatest in the last 50 years. To this inner city, the report went on, come the newest arrivals in the metropolis, the European immigrant, and more recently the newcomers from the South, both white and Negro.

Another sociological study reported at the conference concerned class-consciousness in the church. It deplored the fact that middle-class laymen monopolize leadership posts in the Methodist Church, and warned that the church is in danger of losing the interest of the poor and underprivileged because of a tendency to minister only to middle and upper income groups.

Speaking at the meeting also was Dr. James G. Ranck, a psychologist at Drew University. He cited religious divisiveness as a form of segregation in this country which astounds secularists and provides propaganda for communist Russia. He scorned what he called the alienation of Jew and Christian, the rift between Catholic and Protestant, and the ridiculous denominational fragmentation of Protestantism. He urged all religious forces in the U.S. to form a united front in proclaiming the fallacy of secularism and the primacy of moral and spiritual values. And he concluded by urging religious forces to cooperate more actively in every area of human need.


Much the same idea was expressed in New York this week, where 3,000 men gathered for an eastern area regional meeting of the National Council for Presbyterian Men. At this meeting, Dr. Henry P. Van Dusen, president of Union Theological Seminary, urged the laymen to join in an all-out campaign for united action on the common responsibilities of all Christians, suggesting that churches and laymen cooperate in every community to set up interdenominational guilds of Christian lawyers, physicians, bankers, teachers, industrialists, and men in other occupations. Such groups, he said, could face and think through the ethical problems, the perplexities, the Christian tasks and opportunities in each profession.


Recently returned from his second visit to the Soviet Union in the past five years, the Rev. Dr. Reuben Youngdahl of Minneapolis told of numerous talks with the Russian people who, he said, are fearful the United States will start a war. Dr. Youngdahl, minister of Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, said this week in an interview in Omaha that his talks had been encouraging in that the Russian people are no longer afraid to talk. He described them as apparently having divested themselves of what he termed “the dictator complex” so noticeable on his first trip to Russia. Dr. Youngdahl reported that Baptists in Moscow have added one more church service by popular demand, for a total of three. He also noted that 58 churches are now open in Moscow. The Minneapolis clergyman explained, “The people volunteer information now, and couldn’t be more friendly and helpful. Yet they keep asking why, if we don’t plan a war, do we build bases all around them?” Commenting on nuclear energy, Dr. Youngdahl quoted noted scientist Dr. Arthur Compton, “Science has created a world in which Christianity is imperative.” Few would disagree with that, but some of us would substitute the word “religion” for Christianity, for nobody but the bigots is so Pharisaical as to insist that there is only one religion interested in saving mankind from its own folly.

Dr. Youngdahl has asked a question that goes to the root of the problem of establishing a working peace with the communist world, a problem about which we hear little from our officials. Peace grows out of a common understanding of different viewpoints, and that cannot come about without until and unless there is mutual communication, something that neither Mr. Dulles nor Mr. Khrushchev is as concerned about as both are about Sputniks and similar engines of possible destruction. It certainly is not coming about as long as we refuse passports to American newsmen who wish to go behind the Iron Curtain to let us know what they find. This is trite, but apropos at this point, “What the people don’t know can and probably will hurt them.” And having been a bureaucrat for nearly nine years, albeit on the lowest rung of the totem pole, and knowing something of the bureaucratic mind, this reporter is all the more resentful that men of little vision are given power to tell the American people what they can and cannot hear, through censoring what will be released to the public about the workings of the government. We need more eggheads than fatheads in those places.


Since its founding 50 years ago next Wednesday, The Christian Century, of Chicago has come to be considered one of the most outspoken voices in American Protestantism. Some have called it the conscience of American Protestantism; some have called it other things, not quite so complimentary. Certainly, on more than a few occasions, it has prodded, coaxed, and occasionally slapped the wrists of Protestant churches – no matter what the denomination.

In its 50 years of interdenominational service, the magazine has stood solidly for two things: relating the whole gospel to the whole secular world, and seeking reunion of Christians through integration of denominations.

Boasting a world circulation of 40,000 and a staff of 60 correspondents scattered around the globe, the magazine’s managing editor is a Presbyterian minister, Dr. Theodore Gill. He concedes that the publication has frequently drawn the ire of each of the denominations because its undenominational position offers the opportunity to comment independently on developments within all denominations. He recalls that many Methodists were unhappy with the magazine for a time when it questioned the tempo of their action 10 years ago in the field of race relations. Now, Dr. Gill comments, “We have been as vocal as anyone on the real strides they have made in the last two years.”

He goes on to note that many Lutherans protested when The Christian Century questioned the church’s handling of the issue of the defrocked ministers in Milwaukee two years ago. It was the magazine’s feeling, says Dr. Gill, that the ministers had failed in their pastoral responsibility to their young colleagues.

Billy Graham is the target of one of the magazine’s most recent controversial stands. Dr. Gill has this to say on the matter: “We are the only religious journal that has minimized the significance of Billy Graham’s revivalism. We consider it a serious threat to real Christian evangelism.” Pursuing the subject further, Dr. Gill calls the Graham brand of revivalism “a tissue of archaisms and irrelevancies which muffles the gospel it seeks to display.… We consider revivalism,” he goes on, “a reminding to some forgetful souls of what they have forgotten for a while. It is not evangelism, which is the penetration of the antagonistic world by the Gospel.” Well, that is Dr. Gill’s diplomatic way of taking issues with Mr. Graham. This reporter has from time to time on this program taken issue with him in other ways, but, unfortunately, not as skillfully as does the editor of The Christian Century.

The magazine has had about three editors in its first half century. Charles Clayton Morrison served from 1908-1947, and at the age of 83 he still contributes articles. Methodist minister Paul Hutchinson was the second editor. The present editor, Dr. Harold Fey, a Disciples of Christ clergyman, took over in 1956. The contents of the 50th anniversary issue are typical of this very influential religious journal. It has articles by Dr. Fey, South African novelist Alan Paton, by Morrison, one by Jewish scholar Will Herberg, and a review of a new book by the Roman Catholic philosopher, Jacques Maritain.

And as a footnote, it might be observed that the contents of this issue are indicative of its materials generally. It recognized that the religions of mankind have arisen and developed because people in all times and places have been moved by certain basic and impelling needs, fears, aspirations, desires. Such feelings, unanalyzed and usually at some dim level of awareness have motivated human beings everywhere to those activities and beliefs which make up the substance of religion. In time these activities are formalized into rituals, and the beliefs systematized into theologies, in each instance with the culture influencing further the ultimate pattern of the particular religion. It is always essential, and The Christian Century continually points that out, that we do not mistake the form for the meaning of religion. Substance is always paramount to semblance.