We Are Also Conscientious
The following article entitled "Go Tell That Fox" is taken from the Congressional Record. It was inserted in that official record at the request of Senator Alexander Wiley, of Wisconsin.
And because we believe there are many fine things in this article worthy of reflection, we are passing it on in the Bible Banner. Particularly does it reveal that there is more than one side to the claim of being "a conscientious objector." It is generally understood that the use of that term is restricted to one whose conscience causes him to object to doing military service. But those who do military service, who are defending with their lives the liberties of men, also have a conscience - they too, are conscientious. Moreover, they are conscientious objectors -- but to what? They are conscientious objectors to a doctrine of non-resistance that aids the criminal and gives the forces of evil the full right of way in every realm of human life. They are conscientious objectors to pledging the Bible to that kind of pacifisms.
In passing this exceptionally excellent article on to our readers, it is understood, of course, that the author of it is a denominationalist and it is not expected that his view of "the church" would be correct or that his use of the term would be according to New Testament usage. But we believe that his conception of the issues of this war is correct, and that his views concerning the compatibility of Christianity with the individual's participation in it are right. The issue is not one for "the church" -- but for the individual, whether a member of the church or not a member of the church -- because it involves the moral rights of men in the consideration of the ethical issues of civilization.
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Go Tell That Fox
(By Frederick Brown Harris)
Jesus could not have hit upon a more exact label-that fox. The Herods representing Rome's totalitarian tyranny ruled with an iron hand. Sometimes, to be sure, they reared for their subjects impressive buildings, even temples, and fostered material advantages, but always at a price. They regimented life. They wielded a wicked, ruthless sword.
It was a Herod who is reported to have murdered many babies in an effort to slay the Babe of Bethlehem. It was a Herod who cared so little for human life, even the life of a rugged prophet of God, that he presented the severed, bleeding head of John the Baptist a ghastly gift to satisfy the whim of a frivolous dancing girl. It was a Herod who in the days when the disciples were first called Christians stretched forth his hand to vex the followers of Jesus. This fox killed James the brother of John with the sword; then, because he saw it pleased the Jews, he wanted to carry the purge further. Herod accordingly threw Peter into prison; when he escaped, the dictator ordered the Gestapo of that day to seek for the fugitive. When they could not produce him, Herod commanded, in true dictator style, that the keepers through whose fingers Peter had slipped be put to death. The last we see and hear of that Herod is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles.
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The Master was warned that His life was in danger at the hand of Herod. What was Christ's reply to Herod's threat? Now, of Jesus, it was said "gracious words proceeded out of His mouth." But let us forget at our peril, the peril of blurred moral distinctions, that that category of graciousness by no means covers all the recorded words of that One who spake as never man spake. Sometimes His words were soft and comforting as a tender lullaby.
Sometimes they were sharp as a sword and hot as molten lava. Sometimes, even in the days of His flesh, He was as John saw Him at Patmos: "His eyes aflame of fire, and out of His mouth a two-edged sword." He who had the capacity for so great a love also had the capacity for a great wrath. Always the two go together.
No record of the Christ's ministry is complete without the words of His moral indignation, words that bite and blister and burn, that sting and smart.
Here we have the reply of Jesus when He was warned that Herod was secretly threatening to kill Him as he had others. Listen, those who in this day of dictators' threats against all that is high and holy are afraid lest they violate the spirit of Jesus in calling a spade a spade, a snake a snake, a fox a fox, a tyrant a tyrant--listen to Christ's stinging reply to the threats of a ruthless ruler: "Go, tell that fox--tell that fox here I am today, doing what I came to do; here I will be tomorrow, still facing my task of casting out devils and healing the sick; and I will be here the third day, until I am through."
Nothing craven nor cringing nor pseudo-pious about that answer! It rings with defiant daring.
In the days since the swastika floated over Germany, I sat in Berlin with a noted church leader. I confronted him with the undeniable deeds of a dictator persecuting the church even as in the New Testament story. He fell back for a lame excuse on Paul's assertion that the powers that be are ordained of God. But there was none of that moral subterfuge in Jesus' answer. Apparently He did not see any holy ordination in Herod's bloody sway.
Here was a creature of the prevailing political system of the time, but there was no attempt to whitewash him. With words of sweetness and light, Jesus did not begin to
philosophize, saying, "we must look at all this from Herod's point of view; we are all involved in Herod's unfortunate attitudes; we must meet his threat with understanding; we have all sinned with him." Jesus did not say, "Tell Herod I think there is a lot of good in him, and I am praying for him that his brutal heart may be softened by love and that we may have peace in our time in Palestine."
Tears of a maudlin type of penitence are blinding some people today to a keen sense of moral distinctions. In the diagnosis of the author of The Keys of the Kingdom, "a vile and Pagan creed has reared its hydra-head--a creed which degrades the morals and the minds of youth, preaches only the fever and the lust of conquest, suppresses all religion, murders the ministers of God, desecrates churches, hangs, shoots, beheads, and burns alive innocent captives, children and old women; in wanton savagery cuts tolerance and liberality from the lives and hearts of men. It is to destroy this horror that we have joined ourselves in battle." The only thing some have to offer to a threat of that kind is a mourner's bench where those attacked can weep their eyes out--not at this foul monstrosity, but at their own part in the world's iniquity. We are asked to repent of the dictator's sins.
We humbly confess we have all come short of the glory. We are all entangled in the world's sin. We all ought to repent. But true penitence does not paralyze, it purges. There are some among us so busy counting the mistakes and faults of the yesterdays that they are oblivious to the Frankenstein whose hot breath is withering the bright and beautiful flowers of today.
When Britain was holding our own front line of defense there were some so busy counting the bungles of Britain that they lost sight of bundles for Britain. Out of historical causes these folks constructed a washbasin in which to
cleanse their hands of any moral responsibility for the grim realities of today. But even imperfect men are not called to spend all their time or strength at a wailing wall. Even men and women whose record contains many blotted pages have a right to fight for God's truth against the devil's falsehood.
John, whom Herod killed, preached repentance. So did Jesus, the Holy One at whose life this dictator without pity or conscience was clutching. But even so, when Jesus framed His reply it was a barbed arrow of utter defiance; in it Herod's sins were vividly epitomized by an apt phrase. "Tell that fox."
That brings Jesus of the flashing eye very near to us in these times. The Herods of today are threatening all the sacred things we hold nearest our hearts. They are warring against the garnered treasures of the centuries, bought with a crimson cost. We cannot discount nor minimize the resourcefulness of those running rampant and roughshod over the cherished rights of man. They have the treacherous cunning of a fox. With diabolical ingenuity they hide not their designs, they disguise not their threats. They have spread their hellish blueprints in books for all to see. They have uttered words so brazen and blasphemous that civilized forces of decency have refused to believe the putrid pages are really the maps of an attempted new order. The ravening threats of Herod the Fox are so fantastic as to be perilously disarming.
In a jumbled, illogical book printed by the millions, one of these human foxes declares: "If nations fight, all considerations concerning humanity resolve themselves into nothing and are excluded." Thus speaks blatant bestiality: All considerations concerning humanity are nothing, are excluded.
Faced by such a threat of Herod the Fox, the one pertinent question that looks every intelligent Christian in the face is: "What shall be the answer of the followers of Jesus to the openly avowed purpose of ruthless gangsters to raid the right of man?" When the great heritage of human freedom is attacked by fanatical, mechanized forces representing a throw-back to the barbarism of the Middle Ages, when all the flowers and fruits of the Christian centuries are trampled by regimented hordes armed with the weapons of destruction which modern science has fashioned, what shall be the answer of the followers of Jesus to this stupendous moral challenge?
The anguished question which Thomas Carlyle declared rent the air of his troubled day is heard once more: "Can the church help us or not?" For any religious leader to shout, amid the din of this titanic struggle, that the church is not at war is an irrelevant and impertinent observation. Neither is the Rotary Club at war. But the embattled powers which we all face are at war with all for which the church stands. Certainly all church members are involved in this global conflict. God's children are puzzled and distraught.
When multitudes turn to the church of the living God for guidance and strength and assurance, they expect to hear something else than just curses for all war. Surely, the eternal verities of religion must be related to this day when revolution shakes the earth.
A secular paper has rightly declared, "The church that does nothing to raise its voice against all war, and does not take a side in this war, either lacks the sense of moral distinctions or the courage to stand up against brutal tyranny and monstrous injustice. If the church has nothing to say about this war, is not willing to help win it and bring its moral and spiritual forces to bear upon it, then the chances are it will have no hearing after the war. The church that is too holy to become spiritually involved in this war is mortgaging its future and repudiating its mission."
May I say that I verily believe that the voices which are to be heard in the post-war world must speak now. Voices silent now in the presence of this abomination of abominations will not be potent later. The summons is, speak now, or else forever hold your peace. Those who will not speak out for freedom, right, and justice will lose their voice, their right to be heard. Those who will be trusted to build for the future are those who are now in the thick of the fight to make that future possible. The beatitude of the peacemakers is upon those who through the blood and sweat and tears of today are making possible any peace worthwhile living for, or dying for.
It is one of the most inconsistent phenomena of today that so many people who will have nothing to do with the war--because, they say, it is an utterly evil thing--who seem to feel that they are upon a higher level of ethical conduct than those who are in the thick of the fight and who, unspotted from the warring world, thank God they are not as other men, nevertheless talk glibly about the post-war plans for peace. They even offer themselves as the architects of a just and durable peace which would never come if the majority accepted their attitude.
This century will be dominated either by the ideals of free men or by the pitiless bayonets of tyrants. As Dr. Robert A. Milliken, the great scientist, has put it: "Our children are going to live either under the Atlantic Charter or else under the Gestapo and the brutalities of Mein Kampf." Unless we win this war there will be no peace to make--only debasing servitude to accept. Like our Master, we must form some reply in our hearts to Herod the Fox.
May I present certain convictions which color my reply as an individual Christian, as a minister of the gospel, and as a shepherd of the flock of Christ, in this age on ages telling?
"I Am A Conscientious Objector"
I am a conscientious objector. Because of those objections, facing the threats of Herod the Fox, I am compelled to say, Here I stand. God helping me, I can do no other. For anyone who follows his conscience, no matter what the verdict, I have profound respect--that is, for his conscience; not always for his intellectual processes and his moral eyesight. However, while I can understand how one can face the results of nonresistance so far as he himself is concerned, how he can face the consequences of such a choice in the lives of others I cannot understand. The human misery and tragedy to others for which such an attitude gives the green light would make that decision, however conscientious, haunt me forever. A conscience that preserves its own integrity while humanity is being butchered, I still must respect but, frankly, I cannot understand.
First, I am a conscientious objector to any interpretation of the teaching of Jesus which makes the cross of Calvary an instrument in the hands of the enemies of that cross.
For me, the cross is the eternal symbol that there are some things worth dying for. I am a conscientious objector to turning the cross of Jesus into an opening in the moral dikes of the universe. I object to making the holy cross the sign of an ethical betrayal where the putrid pestilence of unabashed and unbridled paganism pours through to flood the good earth. I have a conscientious objection against making Calvary, that sacred place of moral splendor, a place of abject surrender.
Second, I am a conscientious objector to the theory that war is the supreme evil.
War is horrible; it is un-Christian; it is all the dreadful things which have been charged against it. You may pile the accusing adjectives as high as the Washington Monument, and I will agree. But a world with the pattern
of the swastika stamped upon it is worse than war, infinitely worse. A return to barbarism and slavery is worse than war. Better the earth be desolated and decimated than for the Nazi stamp to be put upon human life for centuries to come.
Third, I am a conscientious objector to the doctrine that nonviolent protest will prove the salvation of anything which is now threatened. On the contrary it hands over everything to the pagan usurper.
Two conscientious friends of mine call themselves pacifists. They oppose physical force. They favored appeasement, a negotiated peace-anything to avoid war. They considered those who saw the coming danger and sounded the alarm warmongers. One of these, who still says his country made the wrong decision in going to war, remarked to a friend as they walked near a riverside discussing the horrible implications of armed conflict, "I would be willing to jump into the river to bring this war to a close or even to shorten it by 1 hour." One who heard of that remark appropriately replied: "Well, if he and all who share his attitude were to jump into the river it would create a serious problem for the department of sanitation but do little to stop the frenzied conquerors."
Idealism can go mad. It is dangerous to love an ideal more than humanity. A conscience can become so abnormally sensitive that it may insist on preserving its own integrity even while humanity is being nailed to a cross of torture.
Another pacifist friend, in reply to the question, "With what would you meet the threat of an invasion by these pagan hordes?", said, "I would meet it with a vigorous protest against invasion and tyranny. I would meet it with a courageous refusal to harbor the invader, refusal to turn over to them commerce and industry and the machinery of government. Instead of an attempt to kill, I would meet them with an attempt to conciliate and to convert, an appeal to their better nature." Then he added, "An aggressor, because he is a human being, cannot go on killing people who are not harming him."
Now I have a conscientious objection against such fatuous illusion. Hold that statement up before the record of Hitler's Gestapo. What protection is that attitude against such subhuman fiends as they have proved themselves to be? One might just as well try to appease a viper with a violet.
Think of facing with a protest against invasion a foe who murders by the hundreds innocent hostages even in a country which surrenders without a fight; a foe who in savage revenge for the killing of an arch-killer boasts to the world that all the men in the town of Lidice were shot, all the women placed in concentration camps, all the children placed in institutions, and the ancient town leveled to the ground! Think of meeting with a protest and with an attempt to convert the invaders who raped Poland, pulverized Rotterdam; who bombed and looted Warsaw University, one of the greatest seats of learning in Europe, with 10,000 students and 9 faculties; who came to Craco University founded in 1364--older than any university in Germany invited 170 of the teaching staff to a fictitious lecture, arrested them all, threw them into a concentration camp where 129, including women over 70 and some scholars of international fame, died from brutal treatment! Think of seriously suggesting courageous refusal to harbor an invader to those who polluted the ancient splendor of Prague after the Munich betrayal; who in an attempt to suffocate the intellectual leadership of that glorious land, killed dozens of students in the university, beat with sadistic savagery those who had Masaryk's picture displayed, forced male and female students stripped of all clothing into icy water and in freezing winter weather drove some with whips and cudgels around a riding school until their hearts and lungs were bursting. What happened to girl students before the horrified gaze of helpless male friends is as bestial and perverted a story as blackest paganism knows. And the suggestion is to meet such invaders with the supposition that an aggressor will not harm you if you don't hate him!
I am a conscientious objector to any so-called Christian doctrine which would lay my country in ruins and condemn its inhabitants, especially its women, to horrors for which there are no words.
Certainly Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick is no warmonger. He has courageously preached against Satan casting out Satan. And, yet, hating war as he does, listen to him as he says:
"Only sentimental fiction can suppose that a sacrificial love is so powerful that sooner or later it must overcome all obstacles and melt the most reluctant heart. Our social security rests back on coercive force, upon governments and laws, upon courts and prisons, upon armies and navies. This is not commonly said in the pulpit, but it had better be. We Christians customarily proclaiming our reliance upon the persuasiveness of sacrificial goodness need a factually true picture of our situation, depending as we do for our common security upon coercive force. Were that organized social coercion to disappear and nothing be left except voluntary friendliness, society would fall apart."
And so having heard one of the greatest preachers and prophets of our generation say that, listen to another whom we all honor, Dr. Lynn Harold Hough, who even now is winging his way over the ocean for his ministry of healing and hope in bombed London this summer. Dr. Hough as a Christian thinker says a profound thing:
"The Christian doctrine of man gives to man a terrible freedom, whose misuse leads to desperate tragedy; and in this tragedy the good forces of the world must in a critical time turn against the evil forces with all the power at their command. When the free man is a free bad man you cannot subdue him by kindly ways. You cannot win by the invincibility of a friendly smile; he will regard your kindness as weakness, and he will trample you underfoot. You cannot evangelize a lion when your head is in the lion's mouth. Only the swift use of the knife in your hand will prevent the closing of those terrible jaws."
All this I steadfastly believe.
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If the democratic forces of the world had maintained their military strength the present war would never have occurred. There are some local and international danger spots from which you remove the police at your own deadly peril.
And so I am a conscientious objector to the doctrine that there is no force in Christianity with which to confront recalcitrant evil.
That calloused deviltry is to be allowed at will to trample righteousness into the dust whenever it is powerful enough, while the forces of goodness stand impotently by, is to me a tragic travesty of the whole teaching of the New Testament. You have emasculated the Gospel, you have taken the moral backbone out of its justice and out of its judgment, when you deny that in the divine scheme of things there is no place for physical force. There is a sword bathed in heaven; there is the severity as well as the goodness of God.
This is my creed, because I am an humble follower of the Christ who so blazed with indignation at the mere thought of harm coming to one person from the brutal aggression of another that He said solemnly that it were better for such an aggressor to have a millstone tied around his neck and be cast into the midst of the sea than that one of these little ones perish. God furnishes the deep blue sea; but often He uses very soiled and unworthy hands to find the millstone, to furnish the rope and tie it, and to see that the neck and the sea meet.
Of course, war is but the surgeon's knife to cut away some malignant growth which, if not removed, dooms the organism to death. A knife is never a cure. Force is never the last word; it but clears the way for the constructive forces to do their healing work. War can halt some external work of evil, but its function is negative, eliminative. Just as the recuperative powers of the body must assert themselves after an operation has removed the rebellious cells which threaten death, so good will, friendship, cooperation, are the ultimate attitudes which must be relied upon at last for international health and strength. That is the heart of Gen. Douglas MacArthur's Father's Day message, sent by cable to the United States from Australia. Says the general:
"I am a soldier, and take pride in the fact. But I am prouder, infinitely prouder, to be a father. A soldier destroys in order to build. A father builds, never destroys. The one has the potentialities of death, the other embodies creation and life. And, while the hordes of death are mighty, the battalions of life are mightier still."
Not waiting for his country to definitely enter the crusade for humanity, early in the summer of 1941, John G. Magee, Jr., an American boy, joined the battalions of death -the defenders of life; he enlisted to destroy in order that a new world might be built. Turning his back upon a brilliant academic career at Yale, he returned to his home in Washington. He had thought through certain fundamental questions with regard to his own religious faith and as to what his action and attitude must be in the world crisis. He had decided on his own answer to the Fox and his threat to freedom.
In the great decision he had made as to what to do with his life he found himself in full agreement with that other airman, a member of the Royal Air Force, whose letter was delivered to his mother after he himself had kept the rendezvous with death. Instead of the face of her boy, the mother found herself looking at these words which were his valedictory for her:
"Today we are faced with the greatest organized challenge to Christianity and civilization that the world has ever seen. And I count myself lucky and honored to be the right age and fully trained to throw my full weight into the scale. The universe is so vast and so ageless that the life of one man can only be justified by the measure of his sacrifice. You will live in peace and freedom, and I shall have directly contributed to that. So my life will not have been in vain."
That was exactly the attitude of Pilot Magee, as he joined the crusade for democracy and humanity. There are beautiful memories cherished in his family circle of the communion taken in the church of which his father is one of the pastors and of prayers in the home circle the night before he left for his training in Canada as an air pilot.
With that training behind him the fall found him in England, ready for the fray. Reports of those who saw him suggest the buoyant lift of his spirit, even his boyish laughter as he soared high with his answer to the Fox, in the exultant freedom of the trackless air. In full flight, 30,000 feet above England's green and pleasant land, a poem etched itself in a perfect pattern of words upon his mind. This valiant young knight scribbled the verses on the back of a letter to his mother. Within 4 days after Pearl Harbor he fell with crippled wings and broken body. But those last lines of his which reached the parents, proud even in their grief, have been compared to Flanders Fields
and other deathless lines of the First World War. Now that he has forever slipped the surly bonds of earth, listen to his soaring lines:
Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth Of sun-split clouds-and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of: Wheeled and soared and swung High in the sun-lit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung My eager craft through the footless halls of air. Up, up the long delirious, burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace Where never lark or even eagle flew
And while with silent lifting mind I've trod The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
With these words ringing in our hearts, a precious legacy left by those who so recently have paid the last full measure of devotion, and who speak not just for themselves but for the hosts of dauntless youth who have failed not God nor man, let us solemnly make our answer to the world menace presented by the dictators' threats.
"Tell That Fox We Know What He Is Fighting For"
Of course, we realize that there were many contributory factors to this global war, such as the pressure of dense populations, the necessity for raw materials, resentment at the power and prestige of neighbors. We know that in the record there are penalties and handicaps exacted by victors which enflamed nationalism and lowered self-respect. We know that fear led those who had the power to adopt policies that planted the grapes of wrath which a fanatic promising everything could explode with the matches of a suppressed fury. But all that added together does not touch the heart of this conflict. A knowledge of some of the ingredients does not make any less hellish the explosive blast the dictators have mixed.
The Axis Powers for a decade have held a drawn sword over the rights of the individual, against human personality, against all the freedoms. Fascist leaders have rightly said that Christianity cannot live in their new order. As this stupendous conflict has unfolded we see it in all its sadistic and satanic horror as an attempt to turn the moving hosts of humanity back to barbarism, back to servitude, back to mental, spiritual, and physical thralldom.
The record of the past 150 years, which is only about 15 minutes on the clock of the centuries, makes the direction of humanity unmistakable. Even selfish imperialism yielding to the climate of the new day has been training subject peoples for self-rule, and giving it to them in increasing measure. America and the British Empire had been sowing the good seed of democracy around the world. Then came the aggressors with the cunning of foxes. Under the specious plea that the have-nots were demanding a new world from the haves, they launched an attack on the moving columns of humanity. With the chronic fixation of the Prussian virus which has poisoned the blood of humanity for centuries, Herod the Fox promised the righting of all wrongs by a subtle technique of savage hates, false hopes, perverted ideas, and with myths of a super race and of a world destiny. No wonder DeSales in his great book declares that "Germanism in its most positive manifestation is one of the most dangerous forces of human destruction that history has known." A fanatical and strengthened Germanism sprang from its lair while other countries slept and dreamed of peace. It seized upon a growing universal protest of the peoples of the earth against want and scarcity and a determination to find plenty. The Fox grasped the steering wheel of that protest, the ominous mutter of millions of common people who were dissatisfied with their lot. The crafty dictators promised the good things of life for their own people with the virtual subservience and slavery of the rest of the world. To all who bowed down in servile idolatry to the Nazi Baal they offered the comforts and security of a more sanitary prison. These good things of life for which all yearn were to be obtained by murder, lies, plunder, and loot, by deriding and denying what tyrants call the slave virtues of Christianity. Truth was to be exiled, for the truth always makes free. In this attempt to lead humanity back to the pit out of which it has emerged, truth is what the Fox says it is.
Here is one page in a thousand of that black record in the book of lies. A German professor of biology confided to an English friend that he knows, as a scientist, that the basic dogma of Aryan superiority is utterly false; yet with anguish of mind and heart he declared he had been ordered to teach it to his students on pain of being thrown into a concentration camp with unspeakable horrors awaiting his wife and children. And thus education becomes just the tool of the state to compel its citizens to surrender body, mind, and soul to the absolute sway of the leader. That legalized perversion of truth destroys the very foundation of the good life and corrodes and corrupts the accumulated riches of man's long climb from clod to cloud.
What Herod the Fox is endeavoring to do to the churches which in the name of Christ are continuing to say, not "son of man, fall down before a dictator, but Son of man, stand upon thy feet," is written on the vivid skies by the brave protest of the Niemullers and by the courageous defiance of the Catholic and Protestant bishops of Germany and Norway. For them the furnace has been heated seven times hotter than ever before; but still they reply, "We will not bow down."
And so from the free shores of America we give our answer.
Tell that fox we know that the fundamental issue is whether humanity is to march on or to go back.
Tell that fox we know that the common people of the world are contending for freedom, decency, and justice; that they are defending the crown of jewels of humanity; that they are fighting for a chance to build a better world for all men. They have glimpsed the glittering towers of the earth of a redeemed humanity whose "alabaster cities gleam undimmed by human tears."
Tell the fox we know of a hundred things rooted in the past that are now irrelevant, because this is a fight between a slave world and a free world.
Go, tell that fox we know that the flags of the crooked cross and of the rising sun are signals that where that cross flies liberty dies and where that sun rises freedom sets. Czechoslovakia and France cry aloud as to the blighting torture of that cross. Korea and China attest the scorching terror of that rising sun.
Tell that fox that the attempt to lead a retreat back to slavery and darkness will dismally fail. We are told why it will fail in The Moon Is Down. John Steinbeck puts immortal words into the mouth of the mayor, that little man who knows he is to die because he refuses to bow down. The mayor turns to the conqueror who can never conquer the souls of freemen and says, "You see, sir, nothing can change it. You will be destroyed and driven out. The people don't like to be conquered, sir, and so they will not be. Freemen cannot start a war, but once it is started they can fight on in defeat. Herdmen, followers of a leader, cannot do that. So it is always the herdmen who win battles and the free men who win wars." That is what we say to the threatening fox--we refuse to be herdmen.
And we tell that fox also, in the ringing and defiant words of Vice President Wallace, that "Here in the United States are 130,000,000 men, women, and children, who are in this war to the finish. Our American people are utterly resolved to go on until they can strike relentless blows that will assure a complete victory and with it win a new day for the lovers of freedom everywhere on the earth."
Go, tell that fox who has dared to "spit straight into the eyes of God and man, we will fight with a relentless fury which will drive the ancient Teutonic gods back cowering to their caves."
And we turn to that dauntless leader called for these times, the volcanic wrath of whose speech resounds like echoes, of the ancient Hebrew prophets, whose words as was said of Job's "have kept men on their feet," even when Dunkirk's black night caused trembling knees to sag-we turn to that intrepid world statesman who, with our great President sat in this sanctuary in that historic pew, as he reverently worshiped with us last Christmas morning-for no reply to the dictators would be complete without the voice of Winston Churchill whose phrases march and charge and smite:
Tell that fox, thunders Churchill, "These gangs of bandits have sought to darken the Light of the World, have sought to stand between the common people of all the lands and thence march forward into their inheritance. They shall themselves be cast into the pit of death and shame, and only when the earth has been cleansed and purged of their crime and of their villainy will we turn from the task which they have forced upon us. Whatever the cost and the suffering, we will do our duty, God helping us to the end."
Tell that fox that both his boast and his doom are found recorded in ancient words of Sacred Writ:
"We have made a covenant with death and with hell are we in agreement. We have made lies our refuge, and under falsehoods have we hid ourselves. But thus saith the Lord God, Your covenant with death shall be disannulled, your agreement with hell shall not stand. The hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies and the waters shall overflow your hiding place.' The mouth of the Lord hath spoken it."
"Tell That Fox That We Know What We Are Fighting For"
We want nothing for ourselves that we do not want for all the world. The war aims as they are emerging are more and more sharply focused on the screen of the future. We join the peoples of the world in fighting for the rights of individuals and for the conquest of new rights as members of the universal brotherhood. The attack on the democratic revolution can only be met by accelerating the democratic processes, by democratic professions made into programs. Those who in this epic day have eyes to see and hearts to feel and moral courage to fight will be sons and daughters of the final revolution. America is mobilizing her might to fulfill the prophecy engraved on her own Independence Hall Liberty Bell:
"Proclaim liberty unto all the land and to all the inhabitants thereof."
Democracy has the final answer to the world's struggle of ordinary people for a better way of life. Our own democracy mending its obvious flaws must go on from political freedom to economic freedom. That is the only kind of an America God can bless. There has been something dreadfully wrong in a prosperous democracy where one-third of its people are ill-fed, ill-housed, ill-clothed. This is a battle
for the souls and bodies of men. Back of the bombs and airplanes, submarines and battleships, back of the soldiers of freedom lying in foxholes in fetid jungles and infested swamps, back of the men fighting on, around, and above the seven seas against overwhelming odds, gaunt-cheeked and tight-lipped, back of those in deadly peril on the sea, on the land, in the air, dying that freedom may live, is the battle of ideas and ideals. The armies locked in deadly struggle stand for different conceptions of the way in which human life shall be ordered and conducted. There face each other two different conceptions of the nature of man and of God. The real conflict is between the powers of darkness and the hosts of light. Humanity is fighting for its life. It is literally we or they.
The outcome of this struggle will have vast effect upon the next period of human history. The decision as it molds the future is of importance so stupendous that in comparison all other considerations pale into insignificance. We fight for a democratic wage which offers gains without chains. The dictators offer material things with the acceptance of mental and spiritual fetters. The democratic heart and the democratic world spurn such an offer even from a benevolent and efficient dictator.
This is a total war, for total democracy, for total humanity. Pearl Buck flashes a red light to embattled democracies with the oil of Asia in her lamp, as she warns: "Democracy, if it is to prevail at this solemn moment in human history, can do so only if it purges itself of all that which denies democracy--if it dares to act as it believes." Of course, the bright new world of our dreams cannot be brought into being at the mere waving of any peace wand. But ancient and accepted attitudes can and must change at once if a new world of equality is to be built. Every creed and color demand that they be treated as equals. That is the revolution which is on. The rout freedoms are not just to be set to music, they must be set to work. By its fruits is any economic system to be known from now on.
President Roosevelt, in inspiring words, has sounded forth a trumpet that shall never know retreat, as he declared to Congress and to the world:
"In the future days which we seek to make secure we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression--everywhere in the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way-everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understanding which will secure every nation a healthy, peacetime life for its inhabitants--everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor-anywhere in the world."
That means that if any system leaves human beings, who are willing to work and able to work, without food and without shelter, without opportunity for development, that system is built on sand; and the storm is on the way which will send it crashing to the ground, and great will be the fall of it.
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Here is mirrored God's plan for the entire world. If we are for that, we are on God's side. It is vain to debate whether or not this is a holy war. If we are fighting for mankind everywhere we are fighting for holy objectives, we are fighting for the men and women and children of Germany and of Japan as well as for ourselves.
The new spirit which is to change the Face of the world
is manifested in a recent statement by the mayors of several English cities. As one reads those words, utterly devoid of any suggestion of hate or of vengeance--the voice not of church leaders but of political servants, elected heads of England's devastated cities--it makes one realize why an American dreaming fondly of the white cliffs of Dover wrote those poignant lines:
"I am American bred. I have seen much to hate here (in England), much to forgive; but in a world where England is finished and dead I do not wish to live."
But here is the declaration of the English mayors:
"To restrain aggression is a Christian obligation; to take revenge, never. Today many of our homes, our cathedrals, our schools, and our factories are damaged or destroyed by war, but the spirit of our people has never been higher. The destruction which we see around us presents an obligation to plan and build a noble, civic, national, and international life. In the hearts of our people that rebuilding has already begun. War is teaching us that the whole world is a unit in which the needs of each can be met only by taking into consideration the needs of all."
Here is revealed a Christianity which judges us and our causes as well as our enemies. The world shrunk by science is now one room where voices carry. No nation aileth to itself. An open sore anywhere poisons the arterial blood of the world. Ignorance, superstition, blighting poverty anywhere is a peril everywhere. No one is safe until all are safe. Selfish isolation but builds vaults which will prove to be sepulchers where the very privileges meant to be guarded are smothered and strangled. All discrimination based on race, color, or creed, in the end proves to be a boomerang. These are axioms of the new order which gleams through the tribulations of today. God the Father of all mankind is for it. If God is for us, who can be against us? This is the faith humbly, yet exultantly, in which we must keep step as one great brotherhood marching with undivided ranks toward the dawn.
The call of today gilds with a new glory every church spire, hallows with a new splendor every church altar, lifts to a new eminence every Christian pulpit. It is a challenge which dynamites the calm conventions of complacent Christianity. But we must beware lest we assume that the vital proclamation of the Christian Church is simply right views. It is not that. It is good news.
The church has the secret of how good men can be made for the good order. Blue prints for Utopia are futile unless matched with white characters. Outer altitudes depend on inner attitudes. Reformation never gets far without regeneration. There must be new creatures for the new creation, new minds, and new hearts for the new world.
Knowing that this is the victory--even our faith in God, in our cause, in the better world, and in better men--we send our reply to the tyrant's threats.
Tell that fox we know what he is fighting for.
Tell that fox we know what we are fighting for.
Tell that fox we know what the final issue of this fight will be, because the dictators are fighting the universe; they are fighting the stars; they are fighting God.
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In the name of the Lord our God we set up our banners as we fight for individual freedom and against autocratic authority; as we fight for responsible self expression and against servile submission; as we fight for enlightenment and truth and against ignorance and sophistry; as we fight for the state as the servant of man's material and spiritual well-being and against the state which degrades man into a regimental robot; as we fight for that which exalts the individual as a child of God with an eternal destiny and against that which debases personality into a mere cog in a dictator's totalitarian machine.