1969 And Welcome To It
Any day now my mailman will deliver the monthly magazine of a small regional denomination. Its leading article, the usual review of the year gone by, never varies in January. I could write it in advance: crime has increased; you can’t walk the streets at night in safety; the Man of Sin’s local lackey (“that so-called bishop”) continues his baneful influence in state government; insidious humanism is being purveyed from television and radio stations; the long-haired hordes have taken over the country’s education system; and people generally are harkening unto the voice of the charmer. Like its predecessors, 1969 was a dismal failure, best forgotten, twelve disastrous months in which sin was rampant, virtue unrewarded, and the warnings of a faithful remnant unheeded. A gloomy, rigid, legalistic commentary on that-was-the-year-that-was and good riddance to it. Forecast for tomorrow: rain all the way. Its treatment of the year makes me want to paraphrase Mark Twain: “There’s a lot to be said in its favor, but the other is more interesting.”
Yet the editor is a kindly man who has greeted me warmly on the two occasions we have met, despite my incriminating links. I’m sorry for him (he is probably sorry for me), and for all who are obliged to write to order. I have a delightful memory of one of that editor’s colleagues, far from home and watchdogs, telling seminarians to guard against inordinate preoccupation with bibliolatry. His illustration: “If the Bible says the bush burned, then the bush burned whether the bush burned or not.”
But to return to that magazine. I wondered what it needed to balance its not wholly unjustified Weltanschauung, and decided that a capacity for saying thank you would not be out of place. 1 wish, for example, they could have printed a letter from one of my oldest friends, both of whose parents died in quick succession. With an obscure form of cerebral palsy that denies him control over shaking limbs, makes speech indistinct, and confines him to a wheelchair for life, he has an alert mind that devised an instrument (made to his instructions) to attach to his slightly less affected foot, allowing him to type. Speed: one line in twenty-five breathless jerking minutes.
Enclosing a poem he wrote for “The Day of Grace” (Christmas), he says: “God has been kind to me, and I know He will always be with me. I offer thanks for those blessings He gives to each one of us.”
Well, 1969 maybe wasn’t so black after all. I don’t know how long he took to compose the poem, but just typing it and the letter meant eight hours of his life. I wish my day’s work produced such a powerful sermon.
I agree with the philosophy in “ ’Tis the Season to Be Gluttonous” (Nov. 21). If every Christian American would start a “fasting fund” by putting aside the money he would have spent on some unnecessary snack, relief agencies like ours would not have to work so hard to raise funds so we can put a little meat on the bones of some of the “tiny skeletons.”
If this idea caught on, particularly among idealistic youth, they would do something about it, I’m sure. We recently received a $200 check from Montana Evangelical Youth, the proceeds from a “sacrifice banquet” which they initiated at the annual convention of The Evangelical Church of North America, held recently in Billings, Montana. Bread sticks and thin rice soup took the place of the annual roast beef banquet, and the young people sent their “fasting fund” to us to help feed starving children.
EVERETT S. GRAFFAM
World Relief Commission
King of Prussia, Pa.
Conking Out On Death
Thomas Howard certainly has a nice writing style, impressive educational credentials, a certain amount of fame. But methinks he conks out when it comes to the theological implications of Christ’s death (“The Human Experience of Death,” Nov. 21). While it is true that physical death was an enemy met and overcome by our Lord, it is not true that physical death was the basis for the great anguish evidenced by his scream of “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” His cry of anguish came as God the Father laid on him the sins and iniquities of us all. Thus to build so much of his article around the death of Christ brings only confusion. We, as believers, will never have that experience to go through. Ours will be purely the participation in the battle with death, not the bearing the weight of sin.…
I did appreciate Mr. Howard’s line of thought that death is one of the common experiences of life, held by all. And yes it is a part of being transformed into the image of Christ. And yes it is a real enemy. But the battle is also fought by our Lord.
A Withering Policy
After reading your editorial, “The President’s Viet Nam Policy” (Nov. 21), I am convinced that political observation is not your specialty. You begin by saying, “President Nixon’s long awaited speech on November 3 broke no new ground, offered no new substantive changes of policy, and probably did little if anything to alter public opinion.”
Until President Nixon put forth the policy of gradual withdrawal of forces from Viet Nam and the Vietnamization of the war, there were only two alternatives prominently discussed, either to stay in or get out, either of which would encourage the enemy to continue the war. The first would be used to divide us at home, the second would give them a military objective. No wonder we could see no end in sight of the war.
The Nixon genius not only denies the enemy both of these advantages, but it would uniquely and wisely deny the Communists the opportunity to work the negotiations racket on us in a Viet Nam settlement. This, we contend, is a substantive change of policy and will probably see this war wither on the vine within a year. No wonder the new left came wailing out in “moratorium” anguish.
The fact that public opinion was altered dramatically, probably more than by any other single speech in history, is demonstrated by an unprecedented jump in opinion backing the President in his Viet Nam policy from a reported 65 per cent to 78.2 per cent within the space of a two weeks’ sampling.
It should be mentioned, too, that President Nixon’s challenge, bringing out the “silent majority” in such amazing force, probably altered some Communist opinion too about a seriously divided America. JAMES E. HANSON Evangelical Presbyterian Church Bellingham, Wash.
Nobody knows if his plan is right or not, but we must go along, and if he is wrong, he will be responsible and we can register our dissatisfaction at the polls. Yes, but it is the young American boy who must take all the risk when the political statesman is right or wrong; for the politician it is only the office he may lose, while the youth may lose his life. The young man under twenty-one has no other place to protest than in the street; he cannot vote for three years after he has been eligible for the draft. While we wait for the next election three years from now, another 90,000 American boys may be killed—plus all the other humans, no matter what name they bear. I don’t think we can wait that long to end an immoral war where we are twisting even the morals of the youth who are fighting it, when even the American soldiers are alleged to kill a whole village of people—women and children who plead for their lives. Instead of making men out of the boys in the military, we are making murderers out of them.
WALTER A. STEEN
Floral Park, N. Y.
Janet Rohler’s “What’s the Mutter with Astrology?” (Nov. 21) prompts me to point out a fact the astrologers never emphasize to their clients and admirers.
Astrology is inextricably interwoven with reincarnation, both deriving from that fount of Eastern occultism that extends back to prehistoric civilizations. A basic tenet of reincarnation is that souls, through thousands of successive lives, struggle to shed their egocentricity and worldly concerns.
The outstanding mark of the perfected Eastern mystic is his freedom from all influences of the stars, freedom from this “wheel of life.” For the stars are said to affect only the worldly, egocentric nature of man. His spiritual nature is God-centered and therefore free from astrological influences.
This astrological reincarnation process of “salvation” is said to take eons to accomplish. But faith in Jesus Christ, we know, brings the same salvation in a matter of seconds, the same freedom from the “wheel of life”! Therefore the question of the validity of astrology is purely academic—who needs it?
WILLIAM R. PALMER
Monmouth Junction, N. J.
“John Brown’s Student Body” (News, Nov. 21) has filled me with dismay, for it appears that it can only be described as unfriendly. This news item is substantially in error in matters of readily verifiable fact, and I must face the question: How many of your other articles and news items are similarly inadequately researched and are perhaps in error? Surely you must be concerned that such an apprehension may hang like a cloud whenever your magazine is read!
ROGER F. COX
Dean of Academic Affairs
John Brown University
Siloam Springs, Ark.
To think any college which calls itself Christian would, by “a faculty-dominated committee,” not allow “neatly clipped” mustaches and beards to be worn by its students! Is it possible to find anywhere a more vicious example of un-Christian legalism?
But, almost infinitely more important, the school is in a town where local law dictates that “Negroes must leave town by 5 P.M.”! Has any member of the faculty or student body any Christian commitment at all? How much longer (“The Arkansas school is marking its fiftieth anniversary this year”) will it be until the “Christian” students and faculty members rise up in holy wrath and make a really gut protest at the local level until such an un-Christian and vicious law be removed from the community?
DONALD K. BLACKIE
The Collegiate Church
Des Moines, Iowa
Please be advised that Siloam Springs, Arkansas, does not now, nor has it ever had an ordinance to the effect that Negroes must leave town by 5:00 P.M., nor is there any ordinance pertaining to this subject.
Siloam Springs, Ark.
I am a student at John Brown University.… It has been discovered that a JBU student wrote the article even though he was not identified in the article. This student made a mistake, I feel, in analyzing student reaction to a speech made by Senator Mark Hatfield who spoke here on October 25. Senator Hatfield received a standing ovation after his speech not necessarily because the majority of the student body agreed with his views or because he gave a great speech. He received a standing ovation out of courtesy to Dr. John Brown, president of JBU, who stood up first. The standing ovation was definitely not spontaneous.
BRUCE W. CLARK
Siloam Springs, Ark.
I hardly think that the student body of JBU can be considered a “prototype of Southern religious-political conservatism” … because the student body is a cosmopolitan one coming from almost all of the fifty states and a few foreign countries. As a matter of fact, for the past decade, at least, the majority of the students have come from California, the Midwest, and the North Atlantic states.…
That Hatfield received a standing ovation means comparatively nothing any more at JBU. This is not to downgrade the Senator; the JBU student body has handed out “standing ovations” like silverware at the dining hall. And I might add they were quite frequently led by Mr. John Terry—who in my opinion can hardly be accepted as a spokesman for the student body or the faculty.…
I say these comments as a person who loves his alma mater and deeply appreciated the training I received there.… I do feel that JBU and campuses like it need our prayers in the face of the neo-evangelical trend facing America as well as, it appears, does Mr. Hatfield need our prayers.
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