Denver: The editor of the Episcopal Church news magazine has raised the question whether Christianity can get too “popular.” Dr. William S. Lea, recently chosen dean of St. John’s Cathedral in Denver, says in a special article for the United Press that thoughtful Christians are concerned about relating their beliefs to the real problems of the modern world. He sets forth seven steps for cementing religious awakenings:
1. The parish church has to show forth in its common life what is proclaimed from its pulpit;
2. Evangelism and the church’s mission begin at home but does not end there;
3. Every layman must be a minister;
4. A greater application of the Gospel to all life;
5. The need to recognize the principle of contagion: He says that “Christianity is more often caught than taught;”
6. Jesus talked about God-centered living, not about religion. Religion is not a biblical word at all;
7. The need to proclaim the principle of redemption.
By relating Christianity to these steps, Dr. Lea believes that the current religious revival in America will have a more lasting effect, and, by implication at least, if it is not so related, it is simply superficial manifestation that will soon vanish.
The president of the National Council of Churches indicates that communist practices call for serious questions about the Western world’s treatment of women. Dr. Eugene Carson Blake says the communists try to treat women as if they were men. He also told a meeting of the World Council of Churches, meeting at the Yale Divinity School, that the Western paternalistic society assumes the man to be the head of the household and the leader in all activities. (An assumption, this reporter should like to interpolate, that is more apparent than real.) Anyway, Dr. Blake goes on to say that the communist attitude raises the question whether the Christian church needs to find an alternative between the two patterns. Ideally, there should be a partnership between men and women on an equal basis, but making use of the special abilities of each sex. He asserts that it would appear a Christian society should hasten on its own initiative to remove legal and other artificial barriers; I should like to add, to both men and women.
Rabbi Jacob K. Shankman of New Rochelle, New York, has been elected chairman of the American Board of the World Union for Progressive Judaism. Announcement of the election has been made in the biennial convention of the union in Amsterdam, Holland. Rabbi Shankman succeeds Rabbi Ferdinand M. Isserman of St. Louis, Missouri, in the American post.
Just before the weekly Moslem noon prayers Friday, one of the Islamic world’s leaders was buried in the “Land of the Setting Sun.” The body of the Aga Khan III will lie first in a temporary brick tomb in a corner of the courtyard in the old imam’s villa at Aswan, on the Nile in Upper Egypt. Later a permanent mausoleum will be built for the remains of the 79-year-old Islamic Moslem leader, who died in Switzerland.
At Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, Bishop William T. Watkins of Louisville, Kentucky, has told a five-day session of Methodist pastors and district superintendents that “We southerners have a fearful responsibility in the matter of race relations, and we must be careful not to consider the same old problem.” “This is a new hour and history has turned a corner to face a brand-new situation when the worth and dignity of an individual, regardless of race or color, is being fully recognized and fought for around the world.” He goes on, “Race relations is not merely a southern or American problem.” But “America’s future and well-being, it’s leadership in world affairs, is at stake in this whole matter.” Few realists would disagree with that.
Many, perhaps most, of our Puritan forefathers were stalwart Calvinistic Englishmen and of course we are proud of them. But from around 1650 to the present, theology has experienced revolution after revolution: the protest of Pynchon; the concession of Jonathan Edwards; the Arminianism of the Wesleyan revival; the anthropology of Channing; Bushnell’s “Christian nurture”; the social gospel; and today philosophic humanism moving in one direction and despairing neo-Calvinism moving in the opposite direction. Once in a while we need to pause to survey the distance we have come and to envision the road before us. It will suffice little to waste our energies battling for a system of theology, whether it be humanism or Calvinism, and losing sight of the essential nature of religion (all religions) itself.
Religion is man’s response to the totality of the universe. The critical examination of this phenomenon is a philosophy of religion – any religion. The study of religion is a derivative and summative science. Religion has no data that are not also the data of other disciplines. The study of religion is the study of man on this planet from the standpoints of value, meaning, and appreciation. Since these are all involved in human experience, there is nothing in life that is foreign to religious examination. Thus practically religion is the science of life, the art of living. Psychology calls it “adjustment.” Religion can be studied in solitude, but it’s doubtful that it can be practiced in solitude. A. Eustice Hayden helpfully suggests that religion is simply “the shared quest for the good life.”
As one tries to examine the trend of scientific advance and tries to answer the question of whether modern scientific development was inevitable, given the nature of the human species, it is easy to arrive at the conclusion that technical progress is an inescapable necessity, like the law of nature of itself. There is little hope of trying to hold back the unfolding of science. But such a conclusion raises cogently the question of conflict between necessity and freedom, or determinism and freedom of the will. If civilization moves by unchanging laws, then what is the sense in our endeavor to direct it or to give it reasonable purpose? Would it not be better to accept a fatalistic attitude and live gaily from day to day? How can we speak about guilt and collective crime when we have recognized the inevitability of the development from the savage with bow and arrow to the airman with a hydrogen bomb?
One answer may be that the real world, which at times seems to be predetermined, sometimes seems to be a place where free will operates, and may actually be both. Just as light sometimes seems to be a train of waves, and sometimes a group of corpuscles, while both descriptions are really different aspects of the same physical situation, so also the apparent contradiction between predetermination and free will is not a real contradiction. Metaphysicians may proclaim one or the other of these doctrines but common people can accept the dual nature of the universe.
It is true that the hydrogen bomb is a devilish invention and that there is opposition to its manufacture and testing. The man who had directed the production of the first uranium bomb, Robert Oppenheimer, tried to resist production of the hydrogen bomb and was squeezed out of the Atomic Energy Commission for his pains. The principal promoter of the hydrogen bomb, Edward Teller, not only developed the theory of the bomb, but has agitated for its production. Thus he has inscribed his name in the book of world history – whether on the debit or on the credit side, the future will reveal. Teller’s justification of his course ran something like this: If we do not make this bomb, the Russians will. As a matter of fact, the first H-bomb explosion took place only a short time afterwards.
The leading statesman of the big atomic powers are in the habit of declaring that great war has become impossible. But neither their own foreign offices, nor the governments of smaller states take much notice of such declarations. The old diplomatic game, the bargaining and quarreling about small advantages, continue as if nothing had happened. Immensely expensive preparations are constantly being made for a war, which must under no circumstances be allowed to come about. Such is the crazy situation in which we find ourselves. It looks as if our civilization were condemned to ruin by reason of its own structure.
At the present time, fear alone enforces a precarious peace. However, that is an unstable state of affairs that must be replaced by something better if catastrophe is to be avoided. It is not necessary to look far in order to find a more solid basis for the proper conduct of human affairs. It is the principle which is common to all great religions with which all moral philosophers agree: the principle which in our part of the world is taught by the doctrine of Christianity; the principle which Mahatma Gandhi actually carried into practice before our own eyes, in liberating his own country, India, from foreign domination. It is a renunciation of force in pursuit of political aims except insofar as collective force, under control of the community – in this case, the world – is applied in an orderly way to prevent those who would destroy mankind from carrying out their evil purposes.
National sovereignty run amuck is a principal force blocking the development of such a community. Vested interests, in the form of markets, bureaucratic positions, personal and group status and prestige, as well as plain ignorance, combined to distort, misinterpret, frustrate the efforts of those who believe that the free world must rapidly, while it has a chance left, move to develop a world order based on law and democratic process that will curb the Hitlers and Stalins, and others much nearer home, but who here shall remain nameless, who would fasten upon mankind the terrible destructiveness of its own inventions. It is these who regard anyone advocating world order under law as being destructive of the status quo, and they are right. But a great prophet once remarked that “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Vision and action are needed urgently now before inevitable conflict under the present system may well cause us all to perish. I personally prefer one world to none.
This last item is one that every person in Washington County should have in his consciousness and on his conscience. On April 30, a citizen of this community was murdered in cold blood, premeditatedly. It was almost a month before the first arrest was made in the case. Another arrest was made a week ago. Within this past week, an almost unbelievable series of events have occurred.
Two independent investigators employed by the county have withdrawn from the case, stating as their reason that they did not have cooperation from the chief law enforcement official of the county, an elected official. One report has them stating that he actually impeded the investigation.
To further compound the confusion, a legal firm, one of the best-known in the region, that had been hired by the father of the murdered man to aid the prosecution, withdrew from the case, giving as its reason that it could not get the cooperation rightly expected from the chief legal officer of the county, also an elected official.
To add a touch of something or other to an already chaotic situation, one of the accused has employed the services of a much-advertised attorney to conduct her defense.
In lengthy statements that, to this reporter at least, confuse rather than clarified the basic questions, both sheriff and attorney general avowed their earnest desire to see justice done, the latter saying that he was requesting a special prosecutor from the state capital to conduct the prosecution.
All of these things have left the public disturbed, confused, disgusted. The blood of Everett Jenkins cries aloud and loudly, not for vengeance, but for simple justice. Those to whom the people of this county have entrusted enforcement of the law have failed, either in procedure or purpose, to function effectively, or this sorry mess of affairs would not have developed. The public has a right to a simple and unequivocal answer to the sheriff’s own question when he heard the second arrest had been made: “What’s going on here?”