August 14, 1955


A Peabody College psychologist, Dr. Nicholas Hobbs, says much more money should be spent on research into human behavior. He pointed out that the nation spends huge sums operating prisons and mental hospitals but only a relative trifle in research to find out what actually sends people to the institutions. The amount we spend annually for research work in human behavior and mental health is less than the cost of a few bombers. Something would appear to be wrong with the scale of values of a nation that places such disproportionate emphasis on these two areas of expenditure.

And perhaps as something of a corollary of this disproportion is seen in the statement during the week of a University of Tennessee sociologist, Dr. W.B. Jones, who has concluded that many juvenile judges and parole officers do not have proper qualification and background for their work. Jones goes on to recommend the establishment of local youth guidance commissions – not connected with the schools – to coordinate work of different agencies dealing with youth.


In Nashville this week educators and others testifying at the closing session of the Kefauver Committee hearings appeared in agreement that recreation and perhaps part-time jobs – and making youth feel someone cares for them – are the best ways to fight juvenile delinquency. The afternoon session closed a three-day hearing of the Senate committee to get ideas and recommendations from educational and religious leaders.


The Russian Orthodox Church is on the receiving end of overtures by two other big Christian groups. About ten days ago Pope Pius made another in a long series of Vatican invitations for the Russian Orthodox Church to unite again with Roman Catholicism. Such a return would heal a breach now 1,001 years old.


But also this week the World Council of Churches moved toward bringing the Russian Orthodox Christians into its membership of Protestant, Anglican, and Orthodox churches. The Great Schism of 1054 A.D. between Eastern and Western churches came mainly from a clash about the authority between the Christian patriarchs of Rome and Constantinople. The pope this week declared the Russian Orthodox would lose absolutely nothing of the divinity and splendor of their own holy rites or of their sacred heritage, while the council on its part wrote the Orthodox Church it sincerely and ardently expresses the hope for full and free relations between the member churches of the World Council and the Orthodox Church of Russia. Barriers between the church and the council are contemporary rather than traditional, and the council already has many Orthodox churches in its memberships.

A spokesman for the Orthodox Church declared recently that unless the idea of the supremacy of the pope is revised, the differences between it and Catholicism are impossible to reconcile.

For that matter, the World Council and its Orthodox colleagues are not exactly of the same opinions. The council wants a closer unity of its 167 Protestant and Eastern Orthodox member churches. But extensive disagreement exists about the possibility of organic unity of the non-Roman Catholic Christian churches. However, the chairman of the World Council’s Central Committee has commented “Any discussion of the problems of Christian unity is a step in the right direction.”


A Canadian rabbi has been named community activities director of the United Synagogue. Rabbi David C. Kogen of Congregation Beth Israel of Vancouver, British Columbia, will take over the post on September 1. The United Synagogue is a national association representing some 500 conservative Jewish U.S. congregations. It is affiliated with the Jewish Theological Seminary in America and the Rabbinical Assembly.


The director of Boy’s Town, at Omaha, Monseigneur Nicholas Wegner, said broken homes are the cause of most juvenile delinquency and that children need “love and attention and a feeling that someone cares.” Father Wegner said also many young people are incapable of completing a high school course, not because they are inherently stupid but because they have not been taught to read properly in the first four grades of elementary schools.


This week another Lutheran pastor was ordered to stand a church trial on charges of heresy on eight counts. There has been no enumeration of the specific charges other than that he is accused by the Northwest Synod of his Church of “preaching and teaching doctrines and opinions” in conflict with the official doctrine. The trial will begin August 30. The man is Pastor John Gerberding, the father of three children. Gerberding recently acted as counsel for the Rev. George Crist, Jr., another Lutheran pastor brought to trial presumably on the same or about the same charges. In the Crist case, the accused was found guilty of denying the virgin birth of Christ, the physical resurrection, and the responsibility of Adam for man’s sinfulness. An additional feature in the charges against Gerberding is that he his accused of denying the divine authority of the Holy Scriptures contrary to the witness of the Scripture itself and contrary to Lutheran confession.


Mr. Herbert Hoover made a speech this week in which he emphasized that we should emphasize the good things in America rather than pointing out our own weaknesses. While the old fellow has seemed to learn little and forget little in the past 20 years, in this case he struck a note that it is well for everyone to keep in mind. Persons who view the news critically are prone, by the nature of the process, to see those things that are out of joint and to dwell upon them in their thinking, sometimes leaving the impression they see only the bad or the parts that work badly, which is not the case.

His words did start this reporter to thinking, however, that it might be well here to heed something of Mr. Hoover’s advice and enumerate a few of the many things that are right with America. Looking at ourselves today in a topsy-turvy world and peering back through historical perspective, it appears that we are about the only great nation in history that has passed through two great wars without having at the same time become imbued with aggressive, imperial ambitions, ambitions that have been one of the besetting sins of some great powers in the past – and also in the present. Not only have we refrained from imperialism, we have given and loaned billions of dollars to aid in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of devastated areas of the world and to feed, clothe, and house millions of the victims of war. Not all of this has been pure altruism of course, but it has not all been enlightened self interest either. There is no doubt that much of it has been motivated by sincere humanitarian feelings.


Again, civil liberties have flourished here despite our recent two wars and despite McCarthy-ism. As a matter of fact, civil liberties were less a casualty during the Second World War than it was in the First, and the end of the First War was followed by an era of official witch-hunting on the part of the Department of Justice that was not duplicated, at least by that department, after the Second World War. Perhaps our worst blunder during World War II was the mass evacuation of the Japanese from the West Coast, based upon the presumption that Japanese ancestry per se was sufficient evidence of untrustworthiness. However, the evacuees (most of them at least) have been permitted to return to their homes.

Generally in this country we have had at all times some race discrimination that has been bad, varying from time to time and as to object of such discrimination. Yet, genuine progress has been made here in plain human decency and regard for human rights. In the light of our history in this connection, the outstanding fact has not been the Bilbos, the Talmadges, and the things that they typify, but the growing opposition to them and our sense of shame when we contemplate their version of the master race.

We have not lived up to the Bill of Rights in our own Constitution, it is true, but then our failures would be construed as virtues compared with the many situations in large areas of the globe. We need fear no spies wherever friends meet and talk, and no police state can compel us to work under Siberian salt mines conditions.

Our history has its shameful passages of ruthlessness, it is true. Witnesses of this fact are the Indians, the slaves brought here against their will, the Mexicans who were victims of a brief imperialist war. In spite of these, however, we have proved on an immense scale the capacity of men of quarreling nationalities to live and work together. There is probably less caste feeling, less snobbery in human relations, here than in any other great nation.

If time permitted, this reporter could go on enumerating such things as the proportion of national income going into the pockets of the average wage earners, the broadest, if yet unequal, educational opportunities for all of any country in the world, and similar achievements which we take for granted. It is good, as Mr. Hoover suggests, to stop and look at the more optimistic aspects of our society occasionally. But to assume continuously a Pollyanna attitude that sees and hears no evil in our midst would be an unwarranted complacency that would blind us to our faults and lull us into stopping our efforts to correct them through constructive reform.


One of the apparently fundamental needs of human beings is the necessity of being loved. This makes the problem of acceptance/rejection so acute that it is a peril to individual conduct and has anti-social implications. The mental and emotional life of an intelligent human being in our culture is a complicated, delicate, and sensitive affair. More conscious than we are of the complicated functioning of the human body, we are aware of the fears, urges, repressions, and longings of our inner life. But man is also a surprising and curious animal. His evolution has been rapid – perhaps too much so. He is full of ambivalences, having the instincts of a beast, but also the aspirations of a saint. Frederick L. Schuman of Williams College reminds us that “Man is the most ferocious and destructive of the meat-eating animals. He is a beast of prey now equipped with uranium and plutonium weapons…. There is in man a vast capacity for hostility and aggression against his fellow creatures.”

Most of us would admit that this is true, but we also know that this strange behavior comes about through fear and frustration. As long as there are social and personal arrangements that engender frustration and fear there will be cruelty. Cruelty brings rejection of others, and a distaste for others is sometimes sublimated in group identification, as in patriotism or religion. While it is entirely possible that great souls are lonely because they have so few to share their dreams, it is also likely that small souls are lonely because they too dream dreams, perhaps lesser ones. But they dream of clean spaces, freedom, of loving and being loved. Many of us would like to dream of flying through clouds when we have to plod through the mud of ugly reality.

In our society one of the chief – perhaps the chief – ends of man is happiness spelled only in the accents of love. To be loved is a necessity. The tragedy is not to be loved. Love in personal relationships is the only thing that can transform the essential tragedy of being in a desert road, in a wilderness, into a mountain of peace and happiness. Rejection is not only a personal problem in our world of today. Whole peoples have felt its pain. The classic example of course, is the Jewish people. And to them we can add the non-whites in South Africa, Negroes and Mexicans in the U.S., and aliens all over the earth.

But I am thinking here more of the millions of individuals in our own culture who have a deep sense of rejection, and who are forced to seek emotional responses in channels other than the normal ones. Some find it in fraternal orders, others in extravagant super-patriotism. While it is said that “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel,” sometimes it can be the last defense of the unwanted. Perhaps such commonly talked-about problems as juvenile delinquency, the increase of certain diseases, the growing rate of illegitimacy, and others can well be traced to the simple cause that those involved may have become so simply because they were rejected by the very persons from whom they had a normal reason to except acceptance. This is something that religions and religious people could well be more concerned about with respect to individuals in their midst.

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