What Pearl Harbor Did To Us
The sneak attack on Pearl Harbor profoundly affected all of us and startled a reluctant nation into instant realization that it must fight or perish. Our government very properly declared war on Japan and her criminal coconspirators against this nation. There was one dissenting voice in Congress, a woman, whose pacifism would not admit "a change" to save the nation from destruction. Christians generally, who love peace and hate war, recognized and accepted the desperate situation and supported the government. It required painful inner struggles on the part of many of them and some adjustments in matters of conscience were not easy. We tried to help along by a discussion of issues relating to the Christian's relation to his government. We did not expect that our views would be universally accepted by the brethren, but we did expect something better from some sources than to have these views attacked in the vicious way they have been. The issue has been ignored, our position perverted and our motives impugned. This is not a complaint. We might have expected it. The result is gratifying in a way from our point of view, for the brethren in the main are a discerning lot and it has led many to conclude that since we have not been met, we cannot be. About the best one leading editor has been able to do about it, was to criticize our grammar, disparage our financial rating and play up the fiction that Pearl Harbor blasted us into "a change" that enveloped us in the darkness of an inconsistency we will never escape from. This was lamentably lame for the editor of a leading paper and the repercussions were more painful to him than to us. He has gone to desperate lengths to find witnesses to embarrass us, making an abortive attempt to use our father to discredit us. This one really back-fired. My father, a veteran preacher, now doing a fine work with the church in Coleman, Texas, writes me:
"I am glad you used the letter, or the part of one, I sent you. Let them rave, it does not hurt, not even disturbs me. I think too much of myself to even come back at what they may say. I don't care in the first place, and in the second I am not going to waste time with them."
My father is not indifferent to the issues, nor is he wholly in accord with us in some positions we have advanced, but he knows a fair fight when he sees one, and he makes no effort to conceal his disgust over the sort of opposition we have met. They called up the wrong witness in this case. This same editor stumped his toe with disconcerting results on two other witnesses against us whom he paraded on his editorial page. Their expressed disgust was not directed against us. The disappointed editor faced one of them in person and accused him of changing and playing up to Foy Wallace, Jr., so he could get to preach for a big church Foy had influence with. The editor seems to have a sort of mania for evil surmising. Such things are to be regretted.
We have frankly met the charge that we "changed since Pearl Harbor" together with the ugly insinuations the editor intended to convey in that connection. Some things in that connection have moved Brother R. L. Whiteside to write me a few observations with permission to publish them should I so desire. Brother Whiteside is widely known for his able and conservative views, calmly arrived at. Here is what he has to say. It deserves a careful and thoughtful reading.
Have you a copy of the Life of Elder Benjamin Franklin' by his son Joseph and Headington? If so, read, beginning on page 246. Of course, the man who criticizes another for changing, thereby really assumes that it is wrong ever to change, and that he himself never changes. Strange philosophy-once wrong, always wrong; and a sinner, always a sinner! It is what a man is now, not what he used to be, that counts. To array a man against himself is poor business. I never did array Briney against Briney. If I cannot meet what a man now says. I will not play the weakling by saying, `But here is what you used to say.' If Briney had formerly been in favor of instrumental music, and later turned against it, would any of us have said, `But here is what you used to say'? If not, why not? Would even an editor say to a Christian, `You are inconsistent and unreliable; you used to be an alien sinner, but you changed"? There is an old saying about the fellow that changes, and the one that never changes. Saul of Tarsus made a radical change, and gloried in it. The only consistency worth anything is this: set your heart on learning the truth and eliminating every error of thought and practice; and then, no matter how often you have to change, you are consistent. To be consistent with a high purpose is better than to be consistent with an ignorant past. That's my philosophy."
And that's the right philosophy. Brother Whiteside maintains his reputation of writing a whole volume in a paragraph and saying about all that needs to be said on a point without careening all over creation to do it. I cherish this gem of "philosophy" as something that has done me good. I recommend it to the editor of the Gospel Advocate. It ought to do him good, too, and furnish some salve he may need to take some sting out of some badly needed adjustments he needs to make and ought to make in his attitude toward some things and some men.