The only trouble with a completely full and busy life is that you have no time to sit down and write about your experiences. I know that I still love this weekly visit with you, because, when I hear a good joke, or hear something inspiring, my first impulse is to tell you about it. The column today (deadline Sunday p.m.) will be a hodge-podge of ideas and events. As I wrote the word "deadline," I could just see my dear Aunt Daisy (who now receives the Press) shake her 87-year-old head, and say resignedly, "Florence hasn't improved a bit in all these twenty-odd year." This habit of procrastination is what my friend Stella, in Las Cruces, N.M. calls the "Florencian system." ... to her warm, blunt heart!) A little joke came to Father Taylor via "The Evangel," a little paper put out by the First Christian Church of Long Beach, Calif., and mailed to him each week by Mother's niece, Dorothy Smith: "Why did the porcupine and the frog decide to get married and go to housekeeping? Because the frog has the greenback, and the porcupine has the points." "Points" are a constant reminder that there is a war on (As if we could forget it for a moment). And that reminds me of a true story. Virgil Jr., who works part time in a drugstore, had to placate an annoyed woman customer, who didn't like the way a new boy fixed her sundae. Virgil fixed it for her, and, since he knew her well, he told her smilingly that, if he dared, he'd remind her that "there's a war on." A friendly man at an adjoining table said "I've made that remark for the last time. I work in the postoffice," he went on to say. "The other day a woman came in and made some complaint about certain postal service. We are so shorthanded, and work under such handicaps that I was quite irritated at her remark. In my short temper I pulled the old bromide, 'Lady, don't you realize there's a war on?' "She said not a word, but pulled a telegram out of her pulse, 'The War Department regrets to inform you that your son .... was killed in action on such and such a date.'"
Last Wednesday evening the members of our church and all interested visitors had the privilege of hearing Rabbi Barnett Brickner, of Cleveland's Euclid Ave. Temple, tell of his experiences in American army camps all over the world. President Roosevelt has sent a representative each of the Catholic, the Protestant, and the Jewish faith, to make a study and give a report on the spiritual welfare of our men and women in the Service. Rabbi Brickner was the honored and entirely worthy emissary of the Jews. He is one of the big - and broad - men of our time. He told of his visit with Gen. Mark Clark - "a thoroughly democratic and charming person." He asked Gen. Clark what was holding up the line. (This was in Italy) The latter told him to go up to the front, and see for himself. Rabbi Brickner soon found out. The rains had come, and the trucks and tanks and infantry were sloshing their way through deep mud; the terrain of northern Italy is almost impassable, when you consider that the Germans had set their machine guns and heavy artillery in the high places. The rabbi witnessed a scene he will never forget: A whole company of Yankee boys kneeling in the snow, praying. A squadron of German bombers swooped over them, and everybody scrambled for cover. When the moment of terror had passed, the rabbi thought the prayer service was over. But no; the boys came out, and knelt again - no doubt thanking God for deliverance. Rabbi Brickner did not try to paint a rosy picture .... how could he? But there is no question but that our boys have become more deeply religious. They are close to the sternest realities of life - and are constantly touching the hem of eternity. They look to God for help, for most of the time He is all they have.
Even old "blood and guts" Patton, who is probably the roughest and most profane of them all, is a deeply religious man. He showed Rabbi Brickner the beautiful prayer he wrote. The challenge that comes to us out of these experiences of our spiritual leaders in our far-flung army camps is this: our boys, when they come back, are not going to be satisfied with the old pink tea religion. Theirs must be a red meat religion - real, and hearty, and satisfying. There will be no half-way measures with them. We at home need reconditioning, mentally and spiritually, to meet the tremendous need of these boys. Where their faith is shattered, we must rebuild it, stone by stone. Where they have kept strong - all through the bitter hell they have gone through - they will have only contempt for us if we have allowed our moral and spiritual sinews to shrivel and become palsied. And for our precious boys who won't come back, we must not desecrate their memory with a mere lip service that does not carry the conviction of a rededication of our lives to the "cause they have thus far so nobly advanced."
Florence B. Taylor.
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