`Che Church Before the World
SEE LEADING E ARTICLE —PAGE 4
WHAT is reality ? Surely quite
simply everything that happened yesterday, is happening to-day and AAA happen to-morrow : everything emwrienced, suffered and felt by nations and individuals, everything reported and commented upon by newspapers, revealed—and even more, obscured—in the words of states men. But reality is also the mystery imminent in all these happenings, the beyond that lies hidden in the things of this world, the mighty We that we perceive in all we see and hear, day by day and year by year—the life we perceive but do not know, for it is beyond conception. Reality is existence for which all mankind and every individual bear responsibility for ever and pay the price again and again ; something of which mankind cannot he a spectator only. but which it must lecreate time and again so is to be able—or be forced— to reap what it has sown. Reality is history as art offer which is ever renewed, an opportunity ever recurring in new forms—history as our own positive or negative, wise or foolish attitude to this offer—history as the decisive event, in which we understand or misunderstand her opportunities, opportunities which are either a blessing or a curse to 1.1S—or, what is more common. both.
The Challenge of Contemporary Reality
All this is also tine of contemporary reality. the reality of the world after the second Great War, the reality of our day when it seems so much more difficult to win the peace than it was to will the war. The reality of our day consists not only in the relationship of powers to One another—not only in those tensions which, even as we watch, must either be relaxed peacefully or bleak in dangerous explosion—not Only ill the new hopes and fears that fill our hearts when we think of these things and in the new experiences we have to master. Our contemporary reality consists also in the presence in all these flatters
of a mystery, of a beyond, of a mighty life, in which we play an active part, because it demands from us an answer
--and we must respond. even it it is only by silence—because it challenges us. so that our behaviour must neces
sarily be an act of obedience or of disobedience. Our contemporary reality is certainly also the decision we take when we decide either to make the right use of the possibility and opportunity offered to us, or to make the wrong use of it, or—what might turn out much worse—to make no use at all of it. it is the Christian Churches that should say clearly that /rue reality, today as always, is founded and fulfilled by the will and act of Clod. Let me try to express the most sublime truths in the most simple terms I can find ; the will of God is His faithfulness, which binds Him to man as man's ally and helperThe act of God is the work of His grace, in which Be gave Himself for man in the person of Jesus Christ. making man's cause His own and assuring its success once and for all, so that the only thing that remains for us to do now and for ever is to live upon Flis forgiveness and in the hope of His revelation. and in gratitude for the freedom He has given us. This God is the founder and master of reality. to-day as at nit times. He is the Lord of history : and thus Jesus Christ is the. true Reality. the true Mestety, the true Beyond and the true Life to-day. as always. We are wrong about reality if we see it otherwise. We cheat ourselves with illusions; peoples and individuals, the statesmen and the masses take wrong decisions. make mistakes in using en neglecting possibilities or opportunities that arc being offered them to-day—because they act upon sonic other assumption than the recognition of this true reality. And the only possible result will be that the supposed, the imagined reality, the reality they have misunderstood, will of necessity, sooner or later, in one way or another, be fatal to theta. Jesus Christ is the true Reality, is the Deliverance offered freely to all That is the message the Christian Churches should be proclaiming in ,a clear voice, to-day as at all times.
A Needed Response Would that one could now continue: that is indeed what is happening! The Christian Churches arc indeed the places where this message and this message alone is proclaimed with all power, ill all seriousness and with joy—so that it resounds throughout the world! Would that one could now say with assurance: " Yes, 11C1 C. in the Christian ( [lurches we are truly in the heart of Ii mg reality and above its contradienone, here. the. false ideas of our times are unmasked, the false hopes shattered, the empty threats robbed of their terrors: the Christian Churches have something to all the world of honesty and wisdom. obedience and determination. responsibility and solidarity, spreading a light—small perhaps. but clear and saeritabes. Would that the Christian Churches in Germany to-day, for instance. would do one thing. and one thing only: tell the. German people that the evil dream that has almost proved their destruction, was dreamed to an end 2.000 years ago by the will of God and through His decision and act, and there is therefore no reason at all to continue dreaming it in any Petra whatsoever, but the profoundest reason and a great opportunity to teach a new Germanya new spirit.
Would that the Christian Churches would turn to the Communist East a face in which it would recognise—not the pious trickery of a West whose final intention is to preserve the capitalist system—but Christ and the human freedom created long ago, and now to be lived fully and unreservedly. Would that the Christian Churches of the West were bold enough to make clear to their members and to all the world, that the godlessness that emucitied Christ and that He refuted in His Resurrection, was not the theoretical godlessness of the '' atheists" but the practical godlessness of the pious, of the representatives of the "Christien
' of those days, and that the motel of this—namely. the penitesiLv and conversion of the righteous—rs Long overdue.
But we must consider things as they are, for the Christian Churches do not
appear to be respected or even recognised as carrying out this duty. The claim occasionally made by their ofiicial spokesmen that the voice of the Churches should be heard on the problem of rebuilding the new world, has found not the slightest response. There arc parts of the world—I think of all those where Communism has the last word—where the voice of the Churches is suspect and unwelcome as a matter of course, because it is part of the ideology of a looms ruling class. There arc other parts of the world where the Churches arc treated with. benevolent tolerance or even respectfully tecognised—as a Sunday affair, entirely divorced from reality, a matter of personal edification, some abstract metaphysical necessity—but of course with everyone agreeing that the Churches arc harmless—useless in posteIke and of no importance. And there arc yet other parts of the world in which the possibility of a connection between the Christian messaec and questions or international, national and economic life, the possibility of true reality in these spheres, has never been considered or even suggested.
The World's Attitude It must be plainly Stated that it will not do for the Christian Churches to complain about the general hardness of heart—however well-founded that complaint might be. It is the very men who have special responsibilities in the Churches who belong to the ranks of the obdurate, who are strangers to the spirit of God and trust far more readily in themselves than in Jesus Christ. It would indeed not be out of place to turn the tables for a change and to ask : and how about the spirit of God in the Churches themselves? Have the Churches themselves heard, understood and received the word of God's faithfulness and grace, so that they can appear before the world as Ilse vehicle of that word with power— power which certainty ought to be theirs, but which they quite clearly lack to-day. The world is out of joint. But is everything in the Christian Churches as it should be? If I were a member of the Government in any country, or held even a leading position in a Party, or sat on the editorial board of a leading political journal, I should do my utmost to farce the Christian Clutrches of that country to answer this question: Why are you not saying what you ought to say, and saying it with power and cloquence? Why don't you force us to pay attention to you and listen to you? We should like to sec you less timid, more consistent, bolder. We often have the impression that you are afraid—of what really? We see so little of cleatem Christian decisions, of definite Christian attitudes that might mean something to us. We see you so often in some neutral, intermediate position. Because you are TOO cautious—or perhaps nut cautious enough in the real sense—we see you supporting the wrong side, as you have dohe in the past. We often see you coming forward too late, when the action called for has already become the " right thing to do," when it is no longer dangerous, when everybody anyhow subscribes to the opinion to which you then give your Christian blessing. It is seldom that we see you battling against the current. And you spread so little light and joy around you, When you make yourselves heard it is usually with cares and complaints, lamentations and aecusations—usually the lamentations and accusations belonging to a generation which is now old and was never really young—usually the concerns of a small clique not really in touch with contemporary reality. We can't breathe freely in your atmosphere. For in your company one breathes the air of a law,
of an outlook on life. the air of principles and postulates, not the air of life. And we cannot escape the uncomfortable impression that you are more interested in yourselves than. as you assert, in the glory of God and man's salvatiou.
You cannot impress us in this way; you cannot help us. Your message cannot be important to us, cannot even seem worth paying attention to. When you use this language you tell us nothing new, nothing that we would not know more about without you. We hear your claims and your promises, We think of what they [night mean in terms of living reality. But we cannot discover that your claims and promises arc justified by what you have to offer us to-day. Conic back again to-morrow, but come back different it you want to be taken seriously. That is what the world ought to say to the Christian Churches, which are so good at finding fault with the world. True, this may be unjust, for there arc those in the Churches of all countries, both individuals and whole groups, who turned the tables long ago, that have long been busy saying this very thing : our own house is not. in order ; we must set our own house to rights first. We must tirst learn to believe again in what we say and what we assert—we must first learn again to stand rip fur our beliefs—must first learn again to he what we claim to be. Then and only then wan we justify the claims we put forward and fulfil our function. We must first of all learn to abandon ourselves to the true reality, in a very different way; only then will the world find that it can believe us again. We ourselves must first of all become more Christian, that is, more child like.
In the Church herself voices are not lacking which have long been telling her this. But these voices are everywhere in the minority, they form everywhere the opposition. And there is probably no political diplomacy that can handle a minority so wonderfully, that can so gracefully render an opposition harmless, as a Church diplomacy.
It is the diplomacy of those who want to ignore the question that the Church should ask herself. It would thus be
no injustice to the Churches to address them in the way I proposed, for, on
the whole, they show themselves entirely
unmoved by that question. That is just as true of the Church of Geneva
as of the Church of Rome, of the
Church in Germany as of the Church in the Allied countries. At the best,
after this great war, they are going through a kind of restoration, instead of being in the midst of the reformation they so sorely need.
For space reasons We have been obliged to make a fen' cuts in the above
text. We have endeavoured not to weaken in any way The writer's 111e.)sage.—Ethi UR, CH.)
MAINLY ABOUT LEAVES WHEN the leaves come down, we should think of compost. Not all leaves have the same food-value; but all help to build up that humusy richness that makes a good garden. Of course, if your leaves are oak and beech, you can make special piles of them. Of other things we inay say that they certainly improve the general compost-heap. Even sycamore, elm and other " soggy" leaves go well with the rather twiggy stuff that we cut down after the Michaelmas daisies and other herbaceous plants are finished. Chop everything up with a sharp spade. Old compost may now be distributed about the garden for forking in, or for use where permanent subjects arc being set out. Leaf-fall is the right time for moving fruit trees and bushes. The earlier the better, in my opinion. Roots are quickly formed to establish the newly planted trees, so that a quick start is made in spring. Cabbages and the brassica tribe have not been satisfactory everywhere this autumn ; but many are fortunate enough to have a splendid yield of
brussels. Huge buttons " can be seen growing even where the leaves have not been taken off. This is sufficient to show that a lot of talk about defoliation is misplaced.