THE divergence between the Christmas season, with its Advent season of preparation,
and the day to day concerns of men, seems to grow more pro nounced each year. Indeed, the increasing commercialisation of Christmas has become a national and international joke, and it is probably as well illustrated as anywhere in the decorations of London's Regent Street, where angels float above to inspire the masses, by foot or car, to spend their money and frustrate the reasonable purposes of both sellers and buyers by the simple process of a traffic crawl.
But these vexatious absurdities, to be seen in every capital and city of the free world, are surely of small importance as compared with that which seems to be a challenge to the whole purpose of the coming into the world of the Saviour of mankind as the angels sang : "Glory to God in high heaven and peace on earth to men."
4 4 4
DURING the past year we have been witnessing the breakdown of the growing hopes that the great nations of the world would find ways of slowly coming to terms in the gradual realisation that no nation and no man can possibly profit from international tension in a world that has discovered the means of mutual destruction of a virtually total character. And, as this year we draw nearer to the feast of God's birth into our world, we read of renewed rivalry between the Russian and the Chinese Communists on the question of whether the threat of nuclear war is or is not politically a good idea.
In these conditions, let us offer our readers a Christmas present—or rather suggest to them that they buy this Christmas present:
The book is called " Men of Destiny ", written by Sir Stephen King-Hall and published by his own K-H Services, 162 Buckingham Palace Road, S.W.1, for 18s.
The first thing to be said about this book is that it is a political novel, set in modern times, wherein many of the wellpublicised statesmen and politicians of our world appear under thin disguise. The book is not written as seriously as one might have feared. On the contrary, a good deal of amusement is to be derived from the characteristics and antics of our great men, and the story itself possesses all the excitement of the political thriller.
But the story is a parable of the possible, and indeed likely, destiny of mankind so long as the nations continue to put their faith in nuclear armament.
In this story, the great crisis derives from the fact that an ambitious East German Communist leader is seeking behind the back of Moscow to re-unite Germany. To further his ambitions he conspires with a Soviet leader who has hopes of succeeding to the post of Big Boss Comrade Buglov, the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The setting is that there has been growing insurrectionary trouble in many parts of East Germany promoted by a group in West Berlin.
Bluffing the Soviet Communists, the East German leader sends an ultimatum to the Senior Officer, Allied Forces in West Berlin, telling them that the forces of German Democratic Republic will march into West Berlin within a stated time.
There follows a series of international misunderstandings, based in part on the difference of time in different parts of the world, some of the statesmen being asleep and some at their normal day's work. The Americans have every reason to jump to the conclusion that Moscow is responsible, though in fact Moscow is doing its best to save the situation. But the violent American note to Moscow goes out, forcing Moscow to reply in kind.
Nuclear war becomes a matter of hours, and the supreme danger has not been the consequence of any responsible power but of minor personal ambitions. Once the chain reaction of international misunderstandings has started, every action taken makes things worse.
TO avoid the supreme world disaster, the author has to have recourse to a certain amount of romance and science fiction, but there is nothing unrealistic about the description of the appalling situation in which governments find them-, selves—really face to face with the "end " within a few hours The uselessness of effective British mediation as well as of the British detenrent are underlined.
The book, as we have said, makes excellent reading and the crisis described is fairly plausible. But what remains most vivid in the reader's mind is the appalling mental and moral disintegration of the statesmen and the people, making a mass exodus from the towns, face to face with realities after having for so long played the international game with the counters of nuclear rivalry.
To get a sense of the reality of the world we live in this book makes useful reading; but ultimately it is we, the ordinary people, especially the ordinary Christian people, who should be the pioneers of truth behind the nationalistic game of politics with annihilation as the stake.