The Bible continues to be the world’s all-time bestseller. Recently disclosed figures put total world circulation of the Bible, Old and New Testaments, and portions of the scriptures at just under 27 million at the start of 1957. That’s nearly 1 million more than for 1955 and almost 3.25 million more than 1954. At the close of 1956, at least one whole book of the Bible had been published in 109 languages, including many now obsolete. However, during the past 25 years some portion of the Bible has been circulated in between 600 and 700 languages.
Figures furnished by the American Bible Society and other agencies show the top five nations in the sale of complete Bibles are the United States, Germany, England and Wales, South Africa, and Brazil. The Rev. Dr. Frank Price, who directs the missionary research library maintained by the National Council of Churches, points out that the Bible continues to be published, circulated, and studied in Communist China, where seven Bible houses are maintained in major cities. Dr. Price notes that since 1949, more than 171,000 complete Bibles and 170,000 New Testaments, and more than 3 million portions of the Bible have been distributed in Red China, in addition to 43 editions printed from old plates already in the country.
These are not merely cold statistics, Dr. Price declares, but living and inspirational facts which show the Bible to be a truly universal book in a world that still possesses a babel of tongues.
Professor Walter Freytag of Hamburg University in Germany says his recent three-week tour of Communist China impressed him because the people seemed to have a new spirit of self-respect. Dr. Freytag, who is professor of missions at the Hamburg University, made the trip at the invitation of the Chinese churches.
In Shanghai he reported seeing 50-100 percent of church members in six separate churches on one Sunday. He also disclosed that some splendid churches had been built recently and many others had been enlarged or restored. Dr. Freytag said, however, that fundamental criticism of the political system in Red China was noticeably absent. Anyone who becomes a Christian, he declared, automatically cuts himself off from the Communist Party and joins a minority which is respectfully tolerated at best.
The role of the religious counselor was the subject of a recent survey by Wellesley College in Massachusetts among social workers and both Protestant and Catholic clergymen. At a later date a similar study will be made among Jewish, as well as other, clergymen.
The survey by two sociologists showed Protestant ministers to be unanimously agreed that the counselor’s role is expressive of their parishioners’ wishes. They felt that a church member turns to the pastor because he represents the concern of the religious community. Also that parishioners expect their minister to understand fully and appreciate their inner feelings and spiritual needs. (Perhaps this is expecting the impossible.)
Catholic priests interviewed said generally that the pastor’s role as counselor derived from the priest’s intimate relationship with God. They felt that it was their duty to remind the parishioner of religious duties and to explain particular religious points involved in his problem. When these objectives have been accomplished, they said it was the priest’s duty to refer the church member to the proper church agency for further help.
The study disclosed the social workers were not inclined to give the pastoral counselor a place on the team. They criticized clergymen for overestimating their own resources and capacities. However, the social workers conceded there is a role for the minister or priest in psychiatric cases having a religious compulsion of some sort, or where a clergyman might persuade a religious person to enter a hospital or other institution.
It looks as if the Whitley County, Kentucky, grand jury has joined neighboring Knox County [Tennessee] book burners. That grand jury criticized circulation of a book written by a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, and asked for further investigation as to why the Corbin Public Library was circulating it. In the words of the jury’s final report, the book entitled “The Big Sky” by A. B. Guthrie, Great Falls, Montana, contained indecent language. The Kentucky case, however, is more to be accepted than that of the Knoxville Board of Censors. In the latter case, it is a group of laymen set up to determine what the public shall be permitted to read; in the Kentucky case, it may be that the case is headed for judicial hearing, where the volume in question will be examined in the light of statues governing obscenity. That is how it should be, but newspaper reports indicate that the librarian, Mrs. Edward Cummins, is also tried by public opinion in the community before legal proceedings are through. Understandably, when questioned about the matter she had no comment. A book, as well as a person, has a right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty. And the librarian should suffer no condemnation in making the book available to the public. That is prejudging according to ignorant prejudices.
An item that did not receive much attention in newspaper coverage was a late summer meeting in Nova Scotia by 20 renowned scientists from many different countries on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Their purpose in meeting was “to assess the perils of humanity which have arisen as a result of the development of weapons of mass destruction.” At the end of their meeting they issued a statement which is, or should be, of great importance not only to those interested in science, but to the layman as well. Recent satellite developments by Russia underscore the importance of their report.
The scientists spent part of their time reviewing the hazards of radioactive fallout; but wisely, they did not stop with this. They went on to emphasize that nuclear war, and not merely fallout, is the true danger. “We are all convinced,” they said, “that mankind must abolish war or suffer catastrophe; that the dilemma of opposing power groups and the arms race must be broken down.” Beyond this, they raised the question: What is the responsibility of scientists in the face of the dangers which confront humanity? Their answer is a complex, and an incomplete one. They say that scientists can help prevent war “by contributing … to public enlightenment on the destructive and constructive uses of science and by contributing … in the formation of national policies…” What they do not say is just how they shall contribute to the formation of such policies. Men of science, it would seem, are now well aware that the fruits of their labor are of paramount importance for the future of mankind; indeed, the uses to which such fruits are put well may determine whether mankind has a future. They point out that war would leave no country untouched; that arms limitation is not enough; that so-called small wars are now the greatest peril, for they would almost inevitably invite participation by the great powers and bring on a general holocaust; and they go on to enumerate what, in their judgment is the political responsibility of scientists.
This responsibility involves, they say, more activity on the part of scientists in influencing political leaders; stressing ways and means scientific and technical progress can be used constructively; that science must be completely free from dogma; and so on.
Well, it would seem that scientists have begun to worry about the potential dangers of what they have created, and this is well. The discouraging feature of the picture is two-fold: Few scientists have or seem to have much influence over the politicians, and politicians insist upon worn dogmas that have little realism in today’s all too realistic world. It is trite to point out again here that 170 years ago 13 struggling, weak little states solved the problem of lack of strength by developing a federal union which, despite its imperfections, has through the years made us into the people we are. Politicians don’t like even to mention such a possibility in the international field, but it is difficult to see how there is any other solution to survival of freedom in a world that is overshadowed by the power of an atheistic, ruthless, dictatorship.
Alabama Polytechnic Institute, Auburn, Alabama, recently fired a professor because he advised obedience to the Supreme Court desegregation of schools. It is, indeed, passing strange that the trustees of a state institution of higher learning should be subversive of law and order. It is not only strange; it is both immoral and treason to their trust. The interference of a board of trustees with the matter of faculty personnel is, of course, outrageous in any college or university, and presents a practical problem. But it can be met courageously, and has been so met in many institutions as at Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and elsewhere. Theological seminars have had to battle against brainwashing. If the administration and faculty stand firmly for freedom of thought and expression, they can win. If freedom is denied at Alabama Polytechnic Institute, it becomes just another hillbilly institution. It is not a question of segregation or no segregation; it’s whether it can be discussed or whether the subject is taboo. When primitive taboos hit a university it is no longer a university and no longer entitled to respect.
In the Sweezy case, Justice Frankfurter said, “In a university, knowledge is its own end, not merely a means to an end. A university,” he goes on, “ceases to be true to its own nature if it becomes the tool of church or state or any sectional interest. A university is characterized by the spirit of free inquiry, its ideal being the ideal of Socrates (who said) ‘to follow the argument where it leads.’ This implies the right to examine, question, modify, or reject traditional ideas and beliefs.”
Had you ever realized that the question, “Are you a communist?” is an emotional response to ideas of which the question is ignorant?
So far, there is no published evidence to indicate whether Sheriff Deakins and Attorney General [Frank] Hawkins are still trying to bring to justice the person or persons responsible for the murder of Everett Jenkins. Until they do, the record of Washington Country looks pretty bad.