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SMAD. An Organ of Student Opinion. 1935. Volume 6. Number 3.

The Cockpit

page 3

The Cockpit

The Daring Lad on the Flying Trapeze.

Some two weeks ago in Room A2 there was given a talented exhibition of spiritual conjuring and gymnastics by the general secretary of the N.Z.S.C.M. It was amusing (although in some respects painfully pathetic) to watch Mr. Miller playing hide-and-seek with intangible and untranslatable fancies which have no root in the real world. However, at the end of forty minutes he had to the satisfaction of all Christians present, presented a universal cure for all our diverse social ills. The solution is engagingly simple—all that is necessary is to bring about "the personal intervention of God in the individual," and hey, presto!

"Every little trouble
Will vanish like a bubble."

Concerning the nature of this wonderful new state, Mr. Miller knows surprisingly little, except that it will be just "heavenly." Perhaps a slight insight into its possible material conditions may be obtained from Mr. Miller's staggering statement that "Fascism has solved the material problem very satisfactorily."

As a basis for this alleged "personal intervention," one must have an unquestioning faith in a highly specialised Christian God (Mr. Miller assures me that his God is the only true God and that all other varieties are worthless misconceptions) despite the fact that 1800 years of apologetic writing has not produced a plausible explanation, on theistic lines, of the terrible prevalence of evil or a plausible reconciliation of the alleged omnipotence and love of God: despite the fact that the moment religion attempts to build its title to empire over the minds of men not on faith which defies rational examination, but on the worth of the testimony, which invites it, analysis of its value upon any scientific basis, is utterly destructive of its essential validity. And there is no religious creed to which this generalisation does not apply.

Anyone who compares the easy confidence in the Christian truth of a century ago with the position today can hardly fail to admit that the evolution of scientific technique has driven its claims from the field of rational acceptance. There no longer even exists the agreement among Christians as to what constitutes the essence of the religion. It even seems open to Bishops to deny the central mysteries of the Incarnation and the Resurrection without in any way prejudicing their title to holy orders.

The gradual retreat of religion before the onslaught of scientific investigation is undeniable. Are we going to be blind enough to base our struggle for mental and material development on such unstable and uncertain grounds? Further, what adequate proof have we, beyond Mr. Miller's assurances, that this "personal intervention" will inevitably bring the material and spiritual paradise which Mr. Miller so enthusiastically envisages Strong suspicions as to its inadequacy are immediately excited when we survey the history of the Christian religion with all its horrors and absurdities. The ferocious laws of the 17th and 18th centuries are a disgrace to civilisation. The Assize calendars are a chronicle of outrageous crimes and atrocities. For centuries the bigotry of the Church has stood stubbornly in the path of reform and the advancement of empirical knowledge. It persecuted Bruno, maltreated Galileo and derided Darwin. For 1800 years Christians (in accordance with statements from their Bible) supported slavery. Never has the Christian Church fought for the prevention of war, rather have those gathered in the churches prayed to their "loving Father" for victory, and have sung Te Deum Laudamus when the carnage has been great. Even to-day pious Bishops calmly receive salaries exceeding £15,000 per annum when little children literally starve in indescribable poverty. "Blessed are ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. But woe unto you that are rich for ve have received your consolation. Luke 6-24). But perhaps I'm a little severe and Jesus was merely ironical when he said "by their fruits shall ye know them." I wish I could deal with the social implications of Mr. Miller's Plan for Recovery through Religious Revival—how Christianity secures individual contentment for the convert, at the cost of neglecting the grave social issues involved in the problem of social justice, and so on, but space limitations prevent it. I have only indicated several of the more elementary of the many serious objections to Mr. Miller's argument.

One final point, if this "personal intervention" in the life of the individual is so desirable both to God and man, why does not the "omnipotent loving God bring it about universally at once?

—The Black Girl's Brother.

"Signs of the Times."

Dear "Smad"—

Under the above heading there was published in the "Dominion" of March 1, 1935. the following paragraph:—

When applying to the Victoria University College Council last night for the right to control the college cafeteria during the present year, the Students' Association executive gave as one reason for the loss recorded on the undertaking last year the fact that many students were now bringing their lunches from home and were foregoing dinner at night in favour of light tea. The application was granted.

Another good reason why the cafeteria does not pay is that many students prefer to go down into town for their dinner, for the very obvious reason that they can get a far better meal at less price. At the cafeteria, soup, entree and sweets with a cup of tea, cost, 1/3. Often one likes another cup of tea—that means 1/5. At the best dining rooms in town ("The Elm," for instance) one can get a far better choice of food, more food, and sometimes better food, and service for 1/3. Three courses together with plenty of bread and butter, a pot of tea, and service, costs the same price.

Many students bring their food from home because they do not think the expenditure for a meal of such dimensions as they can eat warranted. They would be probably be paying 1/6 for the amount of sandwiches, cakes and fruit that they bring from home for their lunch. Those of us who cannot be bothered to bring our lunch, and who do not mind spending, so long as we get value for our money, usually have a light meal—for no one can say that the light refreshment supplied by the cafeteria is excessively priced. The tea is not all that could be desired—to meet the increase in price of 100% this year, I would suggest a little more milk per cup, and an extra spoonful or so in the pot to keep the colour dark and the flavour full.

It seems that at the cafeteria we get least value for our money in the entree. If the cost of the middle course were reduced to sixpence, the cost per meal would be approximately the same as that at city meal houses, the only difference being that we help ourselves instead of sitting down at our own table and having our own food brought to us. Still, most of us do not mind that What about it, Studass?


In Defence.

Dear "Smad"—

As the year grows older and students become brain-fagged (some never suffer from this), grumbling and grousing become very prevalent. Freshers, having cast their down, produce the real feathers of undergraduateship, and, at this stage, commence to find fault with the nest that has, and still is, sheltering and mentally feeding them. The older birds, both cock and hen, having lost interest in their scholastic eggs (addled, no doubt, through age and failure to hatch) commence the moan.—"The 'Caf' has gone off;" "The food is poor;" "The library never has any books you want:" "The library staff is not keeping up to scratch" This last one is the favourite subject for a moan.

All I say is, let these grumblers (and they do arise), go elsewhere try and find another nest.

It was my misfortune to have to attend one of our other Universities last year, and, compared with the life at V.U.C., the place was miserable.

Its library contained a minimum number of books, 75% of which one could not take out as they were specially reserved: the library staff was hopeless, knowing nothing about the infinitessimal number of books they did have. The cafeteria was supervised by a — words fail me! It was female in gender, elderly, who actually stopped students from putting more than one spoonful of sugar in their tea! This takes some believing, but I can vouch for its truth. The men's common room was large, in fact, more like a barn or manger, where a few silent, God forsaken students ate their lunches, making the room even more unpleasant.

There was no student-life of any importance; older students were hard to get to know and the atmosphere of the whole place was depressing. I missed being shuffled along by "Brookie,' 'and if I could have heard his familiar snap it would have helped to brighten things up. It's surprising how old V.U.C. men who go to other colleges, miss "Brookie."

To those students, fledgelings and old birds both, who do not like this nest at Salamanca, I will quote the following passage from the Scriptures:—

"If yer knows a better 'ole, go to it.'



Peace among men
And brotherly love,
The basis of culture.
Five centuries bloody
The Phoenix has flown
And now once again
At an altar unknown
It sinks in the flames.
But what from the ashes,
A dove—
Or a vulture?