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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 11, No. 7. June 23rd, 1948

V.U.C. Graduate Reports on World Christian Conference

V.U.C. Graduate Reports on World Christian Conference

The second World Conference of Christian Youth was held in Oslo in July last year. Beryl Taylor, a VUC graduate, who was a delegate from the National Council of Churches at the Conference, has sent the following report to "Salient."

It was an exciting day for us when we were given a public farewell in St. Pancras Town Hall, London, on the eve of our departure to Oslo for the second World Conference of Christian Youth. A group of two hundred delegates left Tilbury for Gotenborg. Delegates came from seventy different countries, in fact every country in the world except Russia and Japan. They represented all walks of life and many had been participants in the war as active combatants, prisoners of war, underground workers, displaced persons or internees of concentration camps.

The majority wore their national costumes, the heavily embroidered frocks of Czechoslovakia, the straight kimonos of China, the brilliantly coloured saris of India and the butterfly boleros of the Philippines. We from New Zealand felt miserably plain in having to wear just common European garb. Nobody seemed to speak the same language. Even the Indians spoke English when they wanted to understand each other. Delegates were literally thrown together, having to extract themselves from the confusion.

Christian Unity

Underneath this joy of meeting new and interesting people, there were two fundamental realisations. One was that there were real differences separating us. We all had different cultural backgrounds; different theological approaches, economic, social and political traditions. We even had differences in the colours of our skins. The second realisation was that despite these differences, we had the major attribute in common. We were all Christians. The sense of oneness of the Christian youth throughout the world was intensely felt but the shock that there were so many differences between us enabled us to face the reality of the world.

On the opening day, Indonesia and Holland began active warfare, then the Burmese Ministers were assassinated. India was suing for independence from Britain. All these nations were represented, working meeting and praying together, trying of produce some small contribution to world peace. Oslo was definitely not a Utopia divorced from current affairs but at Oslo these nations could meet on common ground under a common belief in Christ.

Changing Standards

The speakers gave graphic descriptions of the world today. Mlle. Barot spoke on "Confronting Moral Chaos." After this second world war, there has been a complete reversal of the entire conception of Western ethics. Children in France were taught, for seven years, to lie about the Jew in the cellar. Now they are taught that lying, black marketing, or forging of papers is wrong. Who are they to believe and where is their sense of security? The loss of respect for death [unclear: du-g] the war [unclear: has] led to the loss of respect for life.

Pastor Niemoller of concentration camp fame, said that after two wars, the optimism of the people has swung to nihilism and in Reinhald Niebuhr's words, the world now has fallen either into "the sleep of complacency" or into "the drunkenness of despair."

So we left Norway, each returning to our own respective countries, taking with us innumerable International friendships and hoping that through our Christian fellowship, we may achieve some unity which is not evident in the present world.