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SMAD. An Organ of Student Opinion. 1931. Volume 2. Number 4.

Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Dear Sir,—Time was when the early Christian would welcome the roaring lion with an encouraging smile, and would regard its jaws as a very easy passport indeed to the Gates of Heaven. In these degenerate times, alas! the Christian adopts extremely different tactics. He reserves his smiles for those in the gallery of the amphitheatre in the hope that if he is sufficiently amusing and well behaved, the authorities will forget to loose the lions. Though I am far from wishing: to see a member of the S.C.M. torn limb from limb before the portals of Victoria College, I would express a wish that that august society would not be quite so blatant in its methods of attracting attention to its activity. Those who proselytise for the society have smeared the pill with jam so thickly as to nauseate those it is meant to attract. An example of what I mean may be seen in the inclusion in the S.C.M. syllabus of two addresses, one by Mr. Mawson on Town Planning, and one by the Italian Consul on Some Aspects of Fascism. It is hard for the lay-mind to believe that these addresses are included for any other purpose than publicity. It would be as appropriate for the Football Club to give play-readings in the gymnasium, or for the Committee of the Free Discussions Club to conduct a basketball match. Similarly when we are told to bring to the week-end camps—what is it?—a mouth-organ, a toothbrush, and a Bible—we feel, or are supposed to, that the Bible won't really spoil the camp, as long as there's the mouth-organ to set it off. The best example of this frantic endeavour to make the best of both worlds, to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds, to sit on the fence and to smother the pill with jam, is to be found in a publication called "Open Windows," which is circulated throughout the College and periodically gluts the lette-rack, thus prohibiting other correspondence. In the June number, among the windows opened we find the following: Shaw's Socialism, John Galsworthy and Gentility. Disarmament, the World Depression and the Russian Experiment, all discussed without any reference to Christianity at all, or else with a cursory remark at the end. I suggest for the next number a series of lives of famous chorus girls. Or more appropriately, a demonstration of just why a Mohammedan can be a good Christian at the same time. It seems to me hopeless to pretend that the S.C.M. is anything else than a Church of England experiment, both in its half-baked intellectuality and in its frenzied desire for publicity. Today we see Church of England clergymen advertising sermons on the "Modern Girl." "Birth Control," and anything else that will swell their fast-dwindling congregations. I fear that similar tactics have invaded the Student Christian Movement.—I am. etc..


The above letter was submitted to the S.C.M., which replied as follows:—

(The Editor. "Smad")

Dear Sir,—"Pro-Neronian" in his letter to you in this number of "Smad" makes a somewhat scornful attack upon the tactics adopted in this College by the Student Christian Movement. I must assume, I think, that underlying the apparent prancing and jabbing of a fencer toying merrily with his opponent, there is in his attitude a certain seriousness of attack. I would say, however, in regard to his letter that, overlooking the rather painfully confused metaphor of his opening paragraph, that were the charges he makes against the S.C.M. strictly true, the S.C.M. themselves could hardly find a defence, for anything in Christian organisation that is ostentatious or loud, vulgar or compromising, misses the whole spiirt of Christianity, and I for one would not then attempt to defend the Movement on any charge of insincerity or gallery-play.

"Pro-Neronian," it would appear, has gone out of his way to make a charge against the S.C.M. The S.C.M. does not fear criticism, and I believe that its open policy rather invites than discourages it. But naturally it is hoped that all such criticism will be well-meaning and constructive. So I feel

This is the show you have been waiting for.

page 12

that where the charges og "Pro-Neronian" have no foundation in truth, they will fall aside quite in-offensively.

His letter may truly be summed up in this, that he condemns the apparently self-conscious attitude of the movement for self-advertisement and its tone of compromise, between the two worlds, as it were, of the material and the spiritual. Having exhausted himself along this line of discussion, your correspondent finishes up with a slice at the Modern Church as a whole. He has failed to realise that the S.C.M. is not a competitor with the Churches nor yet is it the protege of any religious institution, It is open to all students who are interested in Christ, whatever their creed may be. Our work is rather complementary to that of the Churches than in substitution for it. The S.C.M. notes in the handbook should have informed your correspondent of our attitude.

Furthermore, if he had read more carefully the handbook in which he found the names of the two addresses he singles out for scorn, he would have found that Mr. Mawson's address was not on Town planning, but on Citizens in the Ideal City—and surely every good Christian should be concerned about the ideal in city, State, or any phase of the community. Then he objects to the discussion on Fascism. Well, I ask him, "Shall we ban the burning questions of the day from our syllabus of discussion? Shall we refuse to acquaint or associate ourselves with the powerful movements among men to-day? Why should not Fascism, Russia, Disarmament, Socialism, Colour Problems, yes, and Birth Control, be of interest to the modern Christian? Why not anything which is exercising a powerful and moulding influence on mankind, anything which is bewildering the human race? Is not that the spirit of Christ? "No," "Pro-Neronian" waves his hands and says, "Back to your monasteries and dim-lit cells, away from the rest of humanity. This is not for you." And were we not conscious of Christ's own life and teaching, we might meekly accept. But no, we will hear of Fascism and all the rest because Christ bids us to go into all the world.

"Pro-Neronian" has probably not even visited a week-end retreat conducted by our Movement, or he would find more than a spirit of hilarity in these gatherings. But we hope to be human in our Christianity, and we hope that laughter and music will never be ignored from our 'midst—and if we mention a mouth-organ and a Bible, we feel no incongruity in that, though we certainly intend that the Bible should be our foremost consideration. It is apparently impossible for Pro-Neronian to realise that Christians hold for their Bible a very deep affection, and that they value it above all other things.

We welcome your correspondent's dissatisfaction because it shows that he expects great things from the S.C.M., and we sincerely hope that the high demands which he makes upon the S.C.M. will be realised even if in the realisation they do not follow the orthodox tracks which he would have them follow. We surely do pursue these ideals with the utmost sincerity, though in the attainment we will humbly admit we often fall short.—I am, etc.,

"Nbc Tamen Consumebatur."

[The length of this correspondence calls for some apologies. We feel, however, that, the position of the S.C.M. calls for some discussion, especially in the light of whether some of its activities do or do not interfere with those of other clubs or associations. We would like to hear further opinions on this subject.—Ed.]