500 Talk it Over at Walthamstow
By a C.H. Reporter Walthamstow's Youth Conference on a Christian New Order, mention of which appears on page 1 of this issue, limited its discussions to the Social Points of the Church Leaders' Manifesto, that is, clauses 6 to 10, and was arranged in co-operation with the Principal and Chairman of the Technical College and the Regional and Local Youth Committee, the energetic hon. secretary of the Conference Committee being the Rev. J. R. H. Prophet, of the Anglican Church of St. Andrew. The Anglican Bishop of Barking was present at one of the meetings, and so were the local Member of Parliament and his wife.
The three lectures, ably graduated so as to lead up to the conclusion that Christianity holds the key to social reform, were begun when the first chairman, Alderman J. Hewett, rose on Saturday afternoon, looked down on his young listeners about to inherit a world which their elders are passing on to them in a calamitous state, and said: " The future is yours. The old order has lived a bite too long. It is about time it passed away and another took its place." Canon Coeldn, of St. Paul's Cathedral, followed him by saying that the forging of the New Order involves " some pretty drastic thinking about the past." Had we cared and bothered about the things that have been wrong in this country and in the world, and had we realised we had respon
sibilities? " Our present position is this," he said. " There comes a time after a while when the question how long can we take it, the black-out, the war, and so on depends on this: is it worth the sacrifice?"
Saying that religion cannot afford to neglect the means by which men earn their daily bread, Canon Cockin warned his.audience that a New Order entails sacrifices, and gave them these points for discussion.
" Is education turning out men and women who can bring a constructive mind to bear on the problems of national life? If you were a dictator, what would you ordain should go, and wan would you put in its place? Is your idea Of a New Order the true one? Is the life you plan life as it ought to be? Are the things that men want the things that make life? How will you persuade people to want those things which you consider are right? Shall we want those things ourselves when we realise the sacrifices they entail? Will people persevere through the set-backs inevitable in the forging of a New Order?"
THE CHRISTIAN KEY IS CHARITY At this point there entered Christianity, continued Canon Cockin, for not only would it supply the inspiration, but the guide to social reform itself.
" We shall have to translate into concrete form the commandment Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.' Plans for a New Order will be no good unless I am convinced that every num and woman will -be getting what I would like to get for myself."
After the Canon's address, I mixed with the discussion groups. These are sonic of the remarks I heard : " Wc must make more people go to church." " I don't agree: we must work through methods of infilha tion." I believe in more communal discussions: groups should be formed in connection with the churches." " We consider the New Order should start right now." " The inequality of wealth is too big a job to abolish." " What about the spiritual side, instead of the social?" " If we could only get some one on our side as keen for God as Hitler is' for himself. . ."
Questions proposed included what an enquirer called " The Great How. How are we going to tell the main body of Youth outside this meeting? How are we going to get the New Order across to the outsider? What is our attitude in regard to Youth in the New Order?"
DEBUNKING " LEFT WINGERS "
Dr. Soper, of Kingsway Hall, the next speaker, pleaded for " an inward dynamo of love and good-will on file " as the first step towards the New Order, and referred to the Sermon on the Mount, adding that " we must begin by recognising that every human being, whether good or bad, has a right to food, clothing and shelter." lie found no faith in the Communist conception of a New Order, and said : " I wouldn't trust my Left Wing enthusiasts even with a whelk-stall. There are many doctrines in the New Testament, beginning with the Mag., nificat, which are much more radical than the Communist Manifesto," declared Dr. Soper.
After Dr. Heenan's speech on Sunday afternoon, I again mixed with the discussion groups and heard the following comments: " The average person cannot complain of what the Church has done or failed to do till he has given his assistance to the Church." " The Church is indifferent to social injustices, to the lack of instruction and nutrition, and it should practise what it preaches, like the Salvation Army does."
Other objections included: " If you had a Catholic government you would not have freedom of worship." " Does not planned economy teed to totalitarianism?" " I doubt ;whether France's defeat was due to birth control, but rather to economic trouble." " Can we get Germany through love only, without physical violence?" The majority of the questions, however, were pleas for further elucidation on the question of thc dignity of the family.
When Dr. Heenan rose to reply, he said: " With regard to the co-operation of the churches we are doing that now on the basic principle of the Fatherhood of God and therefore the Brotherhood of Man, for Christ saved all men. we are creating a public conscience to condemn abuses, but it would not do to pretend to agree on things which we do not hold in common. How do I defend my contention that the dignity of the family is the first step towards social reform? Well, I ask for the introduction of family allowances, so that the magistrate, as occurred in a recent case, may not say : ' You have no right to bring children into the world.' Allowances will help to restore family dignity. You ask me how can we make the Kingdom of God as understandable and attractive as in the A.T.C.? Well, as a sky-pilot this is difficult. But remember that Christ promised only the Cross, not a nice time."
Ending with an appeal to his listeners to form themselves into study groups to go further into the question of social reform, Dr. Heenan concluded: " We have decided to co-operate, for we live in a time of intense national feeling. This conference should be a spring-board to more serious study."
.. seen fireproof buildings gutted and you and I may both see Christian civilisation gutted unless we insist that Christ be reinstated in His Kingdom," said Dr. Heenan.
Biddle, the United States Ambassador to the Allied Governments in London.
The speakers were Poles, Czechs and Belgians; and included Professor Prochazka, of the Czechoslovak Prime Minister's Office; Count Balinski-Jundzill, of the Polish Research Centre; Lieut, Jean Neurohr, of the French G.H.Q.; M. Tschoffen, of the Belgian Ministry of Justice; and Miss Barbara Ward, Hon. Secretary of the Sword of the Spirit.
• The chief speaker was Mr. Robert Speaight, the actor.
Bishop Mathew presided, representing the Cardinal, from whom he read the following message: " All success attend the international gathering of the Sword of the Spirit. In these islands are now free peoples of almost all European nations linked together by a golden chain of mutual friendship. We have one common purpose: to uphold the sacred things for which man lives, and to defend the liberties which make life worth living.
' from Britain will radiate the spirit of faith and fellowship which—when victory is won—by God's mercy will unite all nations in a common brotherhood. This is the grandest oppartunity for laying the foundations of European peace and prosperity in mutual good will and confidence. For this reason I rejoice to know that this meeting is taking place and I trust that many more such gatherings may he organised founded on good will and charity."
Speaking to a large audience of Poles, Czechoslovaks, Belgians, French and Dutch on Joan of Arc, who " has become for us the symbol of that valour and enterprise and honour with which we marched to battle in 1914," Mr. Speaight developed the parallel between the France of her days and our own.
THE TRUMP CARD " There were plenty of reasons why France had fallen," he said. " They were perfectly plausible reasons and Jeanne d'Arc was almost the only person to see through them. She saw that the only thing wrong with the reasons was that they were trying to explain something which had never happened.
" France—the people of France — had not fallen. . . It is the way of defeatists to pride themselves on their realism, but it shrivels into the shoddiest and most self-deluded romanticism before the realism of faith and courage. Where they claim to accept they merely anticipate, and where they protest that they hold no cards they forget the last card of all, which they are not quite bold enough to play.
"Jeanne held that card and played it. You, my friends, officers and gentlemen of the Allied and Associated Powers, hold that card and are playing it. Last June our beloved and fearless Cardinal-Archbishop held that card and played it when he founded the Movement of the Sword of the Spirit . . . "