Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Merger of the Congregational Christian churches has been approved unanimously by delegates to the Tenth Triennial General Synod of the Evangelical and Reformed Church. The newly formed organization will be known as the United Church of Christ and will have some 2 million members. It will be the sixth largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. The action culminates a 16-year movement toward union between the two denominations.
At the same conference, a minimum salary of $4,000 a year has been proposed for some two thousand ministers and executives of the VA Evangelical and Reformed Church. That salary is $400 above the current income.
Lake Junaluska, North Carolina: An Australian clergyman has told delegates to the World Methodist Conference that the Church must provide salvation for a world reeling from threats of war, racial strains, and economic changes. The Reverend Harold Wood told the 2,500 delegates form 70 countries that the Church must proclaim the Gospel to a world which has almost lost hope. Only the Church, he said, can provide the liberation and salvation that are needed.
Vatican City: Vatican sources say Catholics have full liberty of opinion on the question of whether there is life existing on Mars or any other planet in the universe. Although speaking unofficially, theologians say there is nothing categorical in Catholic doctrine on the question. In any case, they add, the plurality of inhabited worlds would present no problem for the dogma of redemption.
Nice, France: Roman Catholic authorities have called for medical reports to establish whether a miracle occurred in the case of a Communist who reportedly was healed at Lourdes. The Communist, Louis Oliveri, is said to have recovered from paralysis while bathing at the holy shrine. Archbishop of Nice, Paul Remond, said no pronouncement of a cure can be made until doctors have made their report to the verification office at Lourdes. Oliveri said his right side had been paralyzed from a fall from a ladder and a hospital chaplain had suggested he seek a cure at the shrine at Lourdes.
In Denver, Dr. J.H. Jackson of Chicago again has been named to the presidency of the National Baptist Convention.
A mood like a tearful twilight, but also like the fresh lilt of sunrise is pervading Jewish homes and synagogues. It is an extraordinary sense of reverence born of the Jewish spiritual new year. Observance began Wednesday evening and will continue until next Saturday evening. The president of the Rabbinical Council of America, Rabbi Solomon Sharfman, defines it as a time of spiritual regeneration. The celebrants join their voices in prayer and psalms, such as, “I will lift mine eyes unto the hills….” Jewish tradition holds that before God will pardon a transgression, the sinner must first seek the forgiveness of the person who has been wronged and try to right the wrong.
The new National Chaplain of the American Legion is the Reverend Bernard Gerdon of Indianapolis. Father Gerdon was a Roman Catholic chaplain in World War II and in the Korean fighting. He was elected at the Legion’s final convention session at Los Angeles on Thursday.
The director of the information center of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City says Communism will never undermine the Christian church. The Reverend Charles McManus says Christians must be honest in expressing their own spiritual worth. What the Communists do not understand, continues father McManus, is that God had redeemed us and uses us to carry out his policy and program. The remarks were made to the more than 400 lay and clerical workers of the New York Catholic charities at their annual Day of Recollection service.
One item in the week’s news recalled to mind that this reporter dealt with the same subject some months ago, and in this year of elections, it might be well to think seriously on it was we are besieged from both sides to support this or reject that. The subject is the question of what is happening to the family farm, and where do we as a people want to go in the matter of our farming pattern. To put it bluntly, there are two alternatives: to let things go on as they are, and the family farm as known historically in America will disappear, to be replaced by the tractor in the field, huge farm corporations controlled by capitalists and managed from executive offices in the cities, and farmed by hired help who spend little if any other than their working hours on the soil.
Now it is easy to indulge in bucolic nostalgia and revere the family farm as an element of our past, and to do so wholly without regard to the march of mechanization in agriculture. On the other hand, it is undeniably true that the huge surpluses we hear about today are largely the creation of the giant corporate farms, not the result of the activities of the family-sized farm. Furthermore, the family farm contributed something to human values that the corporate farm cannot. First there was, of course, the family security felt by the farmer as he realized that he lived within an economic framework that would provide him and his the necessities of life. Second, there was the constructive, creative satisfaction he and is family received by seeing concretely the result of their efforts in managing the soil, planting crops, nurturing them to maturity, and harvesting the results. And third, but by no means least, farming was not only a way of making a living, it was a way of living at life, and there is little doubt that the farm family felt in a way that they were partners with the Creator in utilizing natural forces to produce foodstuffs to sustain human life.
Perhaps few of us would go so far as the speaker at the Catholic Rural Life Conference did a few years ago when he declared that the farmer’s is a dedicated calling, as much as is the minister who is called to serve the spiritual needs of humanity, but there is little doubt that the framework of farm living encouraged, inculcated, and nourished a set of values that find no counterpart in non-rural living.
Well, as a people, what do we want to do about it? Neither party offers anything in the way of discouraging the trend toward fewer and larger farms and the concentration of land ownership and management in fewer and fewer hands. The two differ only in how much parity they will advocate. Neither offers anything suggesting the use of governmental efforts to encourage more widespread farm ownership for young people who wish to make careers of farming. As one humorist recently put it, farm population is declining because the farmer’s daughter moved to town to get a job, and the farmer’s son had to move to town to get a date. A lot more farmers moved to town because they decided to follow their profits.
Politicians throughout our history have given lip service to the nobility of the farmer’s calling, but few have done very much to ennoble that calling, and now it looks as if the time is not far distant when the small farmers, as Mr. Benson recently put it, will be plowed under and family farm life will be only something our children will read about in history books. When that is true, the homely but sound virtues spawned by family farm living will doubtless be transferred to the textbooks also. So, we can do either or a combination of three things. 1. Set forces in motion to stimulate and encourage ownership and operation of farms of family size; 2. Take the attitude that nothing can or need be done about it, which seems to be what we are doing now; 3. Decide that we want large-scale agriculture and set forces in motion to speed up the process of concentration of ownership and management. Whatever we do, whole scales of human values and human satisfaction will be involved.
Last Sunday I devoted a major portion of the time on this program to a consideration of the integration debacle at Clinton, Tennessee. Little need be added, I take it, to relate what has happened since. Sturgis, Kentucky, and a nearby community seem to be repeating much the same picture as did Clinton and Oliver Springs. However, something new has been added in the form of a statement that emerged from the President’s news conference on Wednesday of this week. When asked about his attitude toward use of federal force if necessary to uphold the law, the President took refuge in a statement that is entirely true, but leaves us about where we were before the question was asked. His words are, “It is difficult through law and through force to change a man’s heart … but I do believe that we must all, regardless of our calling, help to bring about a change in spirit so that extremists on both sides do not defeat what we know as a reasonable, logical conclusion to this whole affair, which is recognition of equality of men….”
Now nobody can object to this statement. Certainly changing attitudes, or spirits, or whatever you want to call them, is a major problem in dealing with the question of integration. However, the President did not declare himself on or even recognize the fact that what Clinton and Sturgis are dealing with is behavior resulting from attitudes. We may not change people’s hearts by force, but behavior is something overt that can be controlled, and that is what the National Guard contingents in the two states are at their present locations for. Furthermore, behavior that violates this law is violation of a federal law, and while this reporter is a staunch believer in states rights, he also believes that the national rights of the individual citizens are paramount to the prejudiced behavior of citizens who would deprive him of those rights. The President’s statement, while true and admirable, tells us nothing of where the administration stands on the matter. Veritably, the so-called middle-of-the-road is getting crowded these days, by non-committers in both parties.
A final item deals with a column by a syndicated writer this week who urges school teachers not to be “justa,” going on to defining “justa” as the reply that is often received when a teacher is asked her occupation, to the effect that she is “justa” teacher. The writer goes on, “I urge them to take pride in the wonderful profession to which they are devoting their lives. They deal with children and have unlimited opportunities for molding human character and implanting ideals.”
Well, all true enough. But many teachers are getting pretty bored with hearing all this. We know it already, and repeating it will not help much. As to whether teaching is a profession is a matter of how one defines profession. From this reporter’s viewpoint, it hardly rates as one. Many of us teach for three reasons:
- We like the kind of work entailed: study, reflective thought, organization, presentation of materials.
- It affords us a living, of a sort, though the layman has little if any idea of the demands made upon the teacher in many ways, simply because he is a teacher, and those demands far outweigh the scope of the salary of the average teacher.
- We have faith in the possibility of people, through learning, to learn not only to make a better living but also to live better lives.
Maybe you can think of other reasons, but boiled down, those seem to this reporter, who has spent many years in the classroom, to about cover the subject. Personally, I don’t care much for the missionary preaching that is handed out to teachers about the nobility of our calling. We already know all about that for we’ve heard it hundreds of times, many times extended to us in lieu of salary increases. Maybe I’m ill-adjusted, but I guess I’m just a teacher.