JANUARY 7, 1953
NEW YORK, Tuesday—I don't often read the Christian Century, but someone sent me the December 10 number because of an article about the United Nations in it. After reading this piece I wandered just beyond to a short contribution, called "The Wise Men from the West." If you haven't already read this parable, be sure to get it and read it. It paints not only the pitfalls of the past but the pitfalls of the present.
There are so many things in our Western civilization to wonder about today. Our forefathers were not citizens of the strongest nation in the world, they had not developed as yet great economic power, their military strength was practically nil, and it took a long while because of slow communications systems to tell the world about anything that was going on in this new part of the world. Nevertheless, they had an idea and an ideal and the great men among them clung to the thought that the basic thing they wanted in this country was a nation of free men where justice was available to all.
Like all ideas, this idea hasn't always had clear sailing. We have done many things that provided neither freedom or justice, but the idea still lives and I wonder if right now it doesn't need to be pulled out and dusted off and have some very fundamental thinking done about it. Are we developing this idea or are we in a period, such as we have been in occasionally before, when the idea has been almost lost?
On the same page as the parable about the wise men of the West, there is a poem about Christmas Eve and it deals with one of my customs I like best of all: "I will set a candle in my window to light the Christ child." I love to see the houses at the Christmas season with their lighted candles in the windows and I like the symbolism that we are inviting the Christ child to enter our homes. There must be times when He returns to our earth and feels somewhat shut out and lost in this modern country of ours. But when we light the candles in our windows then He knows that the hearts of the people have not changed but wait His coming with joy and anticipation.
This brings me to another article in this magazine. It's about Michael Scott. I hold no brief for Michael Scott; in fact, I barely know him, but I have seen him among the delegates to the U.N. His task must have seemed to him very difficult and often disheartening. At one time I thought he seemed somewhat too emotional and perhaps the people were right who whispered that he might be a Communist. But I finally came to think that, Communist or not, his main desire was to help these people, the natives of Africa, whom he represented.
Michael Scott has often come here very ill and yet somehow he has managed to do his work.
This magazine article tells me that under the permit from the U.S. which allowed him to come to the U.N. this past year as an observer representing the International League for the Rights of Man, which is an old non-Communist organization, he was: "advised not to speak in public while here." Speaking evidently includes preaching, for the Episcopal Bishop H.W.B. Donegan invited him to preach in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and Mr. Scott had to ask the bishop and the dean to ascertain from the State Department whether he could accept the invitation. I wonder what could be so dangerous in this sermon.