WAR WORK DEBATE
The first casualties of war are often the spiritual values. Buchman believed these to be the basis of freedom, and he and his team had been able to carry them to people and situations seldom reached by the Churches. He therefore felt keenly the importance of keeping his trained, whole-time force intact.
Many American leaders supported this view. Thomas Edison's son, Charles, who was Secretary of the Navy, remarked that in national defence, 'Moral Re-Armament sharer equally in importance with material re-armament . . . Without character and a deep-seated moral re-armament bred in the fibre of our citizens .. . there will be little worth defending.'1
The two agencies mainly concerned to ensure the allocation of American manpower in war-time - the Department of Justice and the Selective Service - agreed that the Moral Re-Armament programme had a particular relevance to the war effort. In October 1940 the Justice Department approved the stay of 28 British MRA workers in the country as performing an essential service, and the Selective Service deferred the call-up of Americans, and later British, working with Moral Re-Armament as an essential element in the national defence programme. During 1941 a few of Buchman's American workers were classified as available for military service by local draft boards, but in each case the Presidential Appeals Board intervened and granted them deferment.
Soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor the Chairman of the Presidential Appeals Board, Colonel John Langston, wrote to Buchman, 'I am firmly convinced that as our emergency grows more acute, the need for building the moral stamina of our people will correspondingly grow. The weaknesses of France did not show themselves as pronouncedly in the beginning. I get afraid of the smug complacence of many of our people who have softened to the point that they think they see straight when it is only a mirage. It will take all the morale-building that you and others who are giving their lives to this work can furnish to keep us on an even keel. Already I see efforts to unsettle and confuse Civilian Defence. It is hard to determine when such efforts are the natural, misguided efforts and confused thinking of patriots, or inspired work of subversive groups.
'Moral Re-Armament has demonstrated its value to national defence. The President has so held. But the individual worker needs to make his necessary connection clear and certain as to the quality and type of his training and the actual things he is doing, because there is need not only to have his status proved but to satisfy the public that it is justified and thereby sustain selective service morale.'2
The issue Buchman was beginning to face in America had already become a matter of controversy in Britain. By the summer of 1940 twelve whole-time workers and 240 of MRA's most experienced part-timers had already voluntarily enlisted in the services, leaving only twenty-nine men of military age available to carry on. These twenty-nine were directing a nation-wide campaign sponsored by 360 Mayors and Provosts, concentrating particularly in heavily bombed areas. Their efforts had been widely welcomed,3 except by a section of the London press. In three weeks that August the Communist Daily Worker attacked them eight times and Tom Driberg in the Daily Express six times.4 Their complaint was that the MRA campaign mingled Christianity with morale, while Hannen Swaffer in the Daily Herald resurrected Buchman's alleged statement of 1936 to infer that MRA was pro-Nazi.
Peter Howard, also of Express Newspapers, whom many considered the roughest columnist of all, decided to investigate Moral Re-Armament personally. To his surprise he found his colleagues' accusations groundless, and when the editor of the Express refused to print his answer to Driberg's charges, he wrote a book. Innocent Men ,5* which both gave the facts about Moral Re-Armament as he saw them and described the unexpected change that it was bringing to his own life. The book sold 155,000 copies, and led to his resignation from his highly paid job, since Dick Plummer, the Assistant Manager, in the absence of Lord Beaverbrook and the paper's Managing Director, E. J. Robertson, forbade him to publish it.
(* The title echoed Guilty Men, the book he had written with Michael Foot and Frank Owen under the pen-name ‘Cato’ the previous year.)
Buchman's personality and mission were, from the first, made central to the controversy. Soon after Howard associated himself with Moral Re-Armament, his editor, John Gordon, and Brendan Bracken, then Minister of Information, took him out to lunch and told him categorically that Buchman would be arrested immediately America entered the war. Howard asked them for their evidence. 'Impossible to tell you, Peter,' they said. 'It comes from too high and secret a source.' Knowing of the support which Roosevelt and others had given his new friends in America, Howard discounted their statement. ‘Come back when you can show me real evidence,' he said.
The novelist Daphne du Maurier had meanwhile published Come Wind, Come Weather6 in which she told stories of how ordinary people, affected by Moral Re-Armament, were facing up to war-time conditions. She dedicated the book to 'An American, Dr Frank N. D. Buchman, whose initial vision made possible the work of the living characters in these stories', and added, 'What they are doing up and down the country in helping men and women solve their problems, and prepare them for whatever lies ahead, will prove to be of national importance in the days to come.' Her book sold 650,000 copies in Britain alone.
In the middle of the war of words about Buchman Ernest Bevin, General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers, became Minister of Labour.* According to his biographer, Professor Alan Bullock, he was characterised on arrival as 'a bad mixer, a good hater, respected by all'. 'His ability, his strength of character and determination were obvious,' writes Bullock, but 'his unusual confidence was combined with a marked sensitivity to criticism, which he always inclined to take as a personal attack and with a strong suspicion which, once aroused, put a brick wall of distrust between him and anyone who took against him.'7 In the dire situation of 1940 none of these characteristics seemed to matter compared to the fact that he had the qualities of toughness and courage needed to stand up to the crisis, but they were to have a profound effect upon the fate of Buchman's workers.
(* In May 1940, when Churchill's Government was formed. He entered the War Cabinet in September.)
On assuming office Bevin found that his predecessor, Ernest Brown, had inserted into the Conscription Act a clause granting occupational deferment to 'lay evangelists', a category in which he included the MRA workers, whose work he knew and valued. Brown was a man of faith, where Bevin was a sincere atheist who discounted any spiritual factor in the war effort. In December 1940 he wrote to the Oxford Group saying the position of its workers was being reviewed and asking for comments. Full documentation was sent to him and, in February 1941, a delegation of Members of Parliament presented Moral Re-Armament's case to Bevin's deputy on manpower, Sir William Beveridge.
A. P. Herbert regarded this as a suitable moment to put down a motion on the House of Commons order paper on 27 February asking the new President of the Board of Trade, Oliver Lyttelton, to deprive the Oxford Group of the name and privileges granted them by Stanley, on the ground that Buchman had never denounced Hitler, that his work was 'harmful to the British cause' and that 'he was occupying in the United States young British citizens who might be better employed in their own country'. Herbert's motion gathered forty-nine supporters, while Sir Robert Gower's counter-motion, put down on the same day, was signed by seventy-six Members.
On 14 March, before the Oxford Group had received any reply from Bevin, the Daily Express Labour Correspondent in an exclusive story announced that the Oxford Group's twenty-nine workers would soon be liable for call-up. This caused an immediate public outcry. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the Moderator of the Church of Scotland and the heads of all the Free Churches wrote to Bevin affirming that the MRA men were in fact 'lay evangelists' and therefore protected in their work by the Conscription Act. They were supported by a petition signed by over 2,500 clergy and ministers, as well as by civic, industrial and trades union leaders. Bevin, true to his biographer's characterisation, took this opposition as a personal affront and expressed resentment at what he called 'pressure'.8
On 19 March Oliver Lyttelton summoned the Secretary of the Oxford Group, Roland Wilson, to his office. 'Lyttelton said they had enquired fully into the Group's work and found it to be of value to the country,' says Wilson. 'He said he was empowered to offer us the full endorsement of the government, if we would disavow Buchman "just for the period of the war" since "doubts had been raised about his attitude to Nazi Germany". "After the war," he added, "the link could be restored." When I said that the answer was "No", Lyttelton replied that that was the reply he had expected.' Soon after, Lyttelton attended the current MRA play and congratulated the cast on their work.
On 11 September, in reply to a question from A. P. Herbert, Bevin confirmed officially in the Commons that he intended to call up the men. One hundred and seventy-four Members then put down a motion opposing this course, and their spokesman, George Mathers, demanded a debate on the subject, which took place on 7 October. A few days before the debate Herbert issued a long statement to the press reiterating his belief that 'Buchman is no friend of Britain' and announcing that he had sent a 'secret letter' to Bevin with damning evidence. The Minister, meanwhile, let it be known that he would resign from the Government if he did not win his point,9 and the Government, mindful of Bevin's great importance to the war effort, put a three-line whip upon its supporters, compelling them to attend and vote with him. This course was, in fact, unnecessary as Mathers and his colleagues had announced that they would not call for a vote, but relied on the Minister to recognise the justice of their case - a traditional practice with 'debates on the adjournment', in which category this debate fell.
On the night, everyone expected Herbert to produce his 'secret letter'. In fact, he only produced three letters from unnamed individuals who alleged that other unnamed persons whom they had met were connected with the Oxford Group and had made remarks not unfavourable to Hitler. The debate was scrappy and angry. Trivial issues prevented any intelligent discussion of the basic question of whether one set of Christians should be treated differently from all others and what, in fact, is 'national service'. Bevin rode out the storm, implying among other things that the men were all conscientious objectors. None, in fact, was.
In his biography of Herbert, Reginald Pound writes: 'APH was comforted in his opposition by a letter marked "Secret" from an intelligence department in Whitehall: "You will be interested to know that everybody I have seen who has had opportunity of watching Buchman, in this country, on the Continent and in the United States, is of the opinion that he is working for Germany. A A number believe that he has been subsidised by Dr Goebbels. At the moment proof is lacking."’10 This may have been the 'secret letter' which Herbert sent to Bevin. It could also have been the source of Bracken's suspicions and Lyttelton's suggestion on behalf of the Government. It may or may not be relevant that Driberg was at this time working on supplying information on people and movements for a branch of MI5.*
(*.Chapman Pincher states that Driberg was enlisted by MI5 while a schoolboy and instructed to infultrate the Communist Party, from which he was expelled in 1941 when Harry Pollitt, the Party's General Secretary, discovered his duplicity. After his election as MP for Maldon, Essex, in 1942, however, Pollitt approached him to work for the KGB. For the rest of his life he worked for both organisations, to the knowledge of both. His job was, in each case, to provide information and misinformation and report on the private lives of leading politicians, including close friends, and of any others of interest. Inquiries after his death, writes Pincher, 'convinced MI5 that he had been controlled primarily by the KGB since the end of the war'. It was, according to Pincher, Driberg's 'long relationship with MI5' which 'solves the mystery of why such a notorious homosexual, who was repeatedly caught in the act publicly by the police, was never successfully prosecuted'. (Their Trade Is Treachery, Sidgwick and Jackson, 1981, pp. 198-206.) See also Dictionary of Espionage by Christopher Dobson and Ronald Payne (Harrap, 1985, p. 40), where he is described as, 'a double agent working on behalf of both MI5 and the KGB'. 'The KGB’, they add, 'always had it in reserve to produce pictures of his homosexual affairs...and threaten to shatter his public career if he failed to do their bidding.' See also The Man Who Was by Anthony Masters (Blackwell, 1984). pp. 168-79.)
The debate next day in the House of Lords, initiated by Lord Salisbury, was calmer. Concern was expressed that the Moral Re-Armament workers had been treated hardly less arbitrarily than they would have been in a totalitarian state. Every speaker, except the Government spokesman and one other, deplored Bevin's decision. The Times stated in its editorial next morning, 'It is impossible to think that the Minister has handled wisely or prudently a case which, rejected out of hand, was bound to arouse deep and sincere feeling going far beyond its immediate bounds.'11
Bevin's decision, however, was not reversed. The men now remaining were taken into the armed forces, though because of the need for firemen during the blitz some were able to opt for the National Fire Service in London, permitting them to continue their MRA work in their hours off duty.
Gusts from the Parliamentary storm crossed the Atlantic and epithets like 'pro-Nazi' used in the Commons debate now made their appearance there. So did Driberg, who spent six months that summer and autumn touring America, during which he prosecuted his campaign against Buchman with the newspaper editors who were his hosts. A fresh crop of rumours spread through the country. In particular, a nationally circulated news sheet, In Fact, reprinted many attacks on Moral Re-Armament and so spread them to the major American newspapers.
The Selective Service headquarters asked what lay behind these rumours. A memorandum submitted by Moral Re-Armament in answer read in part: 'We have known for some time that attempts were being made to influence adversely high Washington officials. In November (1941) we were told that a British newspaperman long unfriendly to us had been in this country and was gaining the ear of important officials to prejudice them against Moral Re-Armament. Our informant told us that while he personally had been able to counter successfully this man's efforts in the case of one important official, the newspaperman's strategy was to get the ear of the President, but that, as far as he knew, he only got as far as the President's Press Secretary, Stephen Early.'12
Early had been sent a telegram by the editor of the Bangor Daily News,asking whether Roosevelt had 'specifically endorsed' Moral Re- Armament, to which he had replied that there had been no 'specific endorsement'. When he heard of the use the paper had made of this telegram, Early again telegraphed the editor, 'I exceedingly regret that this telegram has been used to impugn the motives of those associated with the Oxford Group for Moral Re-Armament. Had I believed my telegram would have been used in this way, I certainly would not have answered the telegraphic enquiry I received from you to which my message was in acknowledgement.'13 Similarly, an official of the New York Selective Service was reprimanded by Washington when he passed on to the American press, in his official capacity, statements derived from the London Daily Mirror which had now begun to accuse the British men working with Moral Re-Armament in America of being 'draft dodgers'.
In fact, the British Embassy had once again reaffirmed on 1 May 1941 that all these British workers were in America with the knowledge and permission of the British government. After Pearl Harbor the British Ambassador ordered that no further statements should be made by any member of the Embassy staff as, by agreement between the Allied partners, the status of all British citizens in the United States was now an American matter. The American administration continued its policy of support for the Moral Re-Armament workers after this date.14
Elements in the press, however, reiterated charges back and forth across the Atlantic. Denials were ignored. When Rudolf Hess, Hitler's deputy, made a surprise parachute visit to Britain, the American and Canadian press reported a 'confident announcement' by William Hillman, European editor of Collier's, that Hess was a follower of Buchman and had flown to England to make contact with the Oxford Group for the purpose of negotiating peace.15 Buchman was as surprised to read this as anyone else. Only the Allentown MorningCall printed his statement that he did not even know Hess.16
In the midst of these battles came a public statement by Sam Shoemaker, whose large parish house, attached to Calvary Church in New York, had been for fifteen years the home and office of Buchman's work in America. Shoemaker announced to the American17 and British press that he had decided to end his association with Buchman 'because certain policies and points of view have arisen in the development of moral re-armament about which we have had increasing misgivings'. He would not, according to the Daily Telegraph, say what these 'policies and points of view' were, but added, 'When the Oxford Group was, on its own definition, "a movement of vital personal religion working within the churches to make the principles of the New Testament practical as a working force today", we fully identified ourselves with it.'18 Shoemaker concluded by asking Buchman to remove all personal and Oxford Group material and personnel from Calvary House.
Logan Roots, the retired Primate of China, now working full-time with Buchman, gave his own explanation of this development. 'The simple issue', he said, 'is that Shoemaker has initiated a new parish policy whereby he felt the parish was the prime objective. Buchman, true to his twenty-year-old definition of the Oxford Group as a programme of life issuing in personal, social, racial, national and supernational change, felt the work could not be limited to the confines of a parish but must give itself and its work to every parish and every denomination, and that if the parish would rightly see it the Church could really be a focal centre to save the world.'19
Neither statement, it seems today, quite embodied the whole truth. Buchman had not changed his aims, nor did Shoemaker wish to confine his influence to a single parish. But Shoemaker had, as early as 1925, decided to work within a traditional church framework, while Buchman was convinced that he himself, and also the Church, must reach out into every corner of life, and that this would require a new and revolutionary attitude. The same issue had arisen between them whenever Buchman took a new, cocoon-breaking step.
Behind these differences were the characters and aims of the two men. The friendship between them had been long-lasting and genuine, and Buchman appreciated Shoemaker's skill in helping individuals. But they were both strong personalities and, although Shoemaker was a good deal younger than Buchman, he had never willingly accepted tutelage, and seems to have sometimes chosen to interpret Buchman's directness on personal matters as an attempt to dominate.
For Buchman the rupture was a personal sorrow. He had seen it coming, as personal recriminations against him within the Calvary House community had begun to surface during the spring. These difficulties caused his health to deteriorate, and his doctor had him moved from Calvary House into the country. 'His great concern', writes the doctor, 'was not his health but his friend . . . which caused him great agony of spirit, yet without any word of bitterness or resentment. One day I found him relaxed, and his face shone. It was apparent something tremendous had happened to him. He said he had prayed all night for his friend... "I will live unity," he said to me. "Tell everyone that."’20
When the public statement came he discussed it for the first and last time with a few friends: 'They say there has been a split between us. Not a split, but there's always been a splinter... I can't raise any feeling against him. My temperature does not rise an inch.' To one friend in Calvary Church who wrote asking whether he should cut his association with Shoemaker, Buchman replied that he must certainly not do so, as Shoemaker would need his support more than ever.21 Indeed, Buchman's calm and kindness are evident in every mention of Shoemaker at this period. He also seems to have felt that part of the blame was his. 'I made an idol of Calvary,' he said, 'and it was a mistake.'22
Various solutions were found to the practical problem of where Buchman and his friends would take their belongings. In reality, this development had been inevitable: a world action was difficult to run from a parish house, and a parish difficult to run from what had become a world centre.
The event was used by some of Buchman's critics to try and drive a wedge between him and his considerable support in the Church - and, in some cases, this succeeded. It also gave any who found the current press campaign against Buchman hard to bear an easy way of dropping their connection with him, even if that was not Shoemaker's intention. It did not alter Buchman's own relationship with the Church in any way. 'I believe with all my heart in the Church, the Church aflame, on fire with revolution,' he said two years later.23
The battles being fought round Buchman and Moral Re-Armament embarrassed but did not prevent the progress of the You Can Defend America programme across America. The play had made a long tour through the South and up through the Middle West to Detroit via Cleveland, Ohio, where it was shown for the Annual Convention of the Steelworkers of America. Philip Murray, the craggy, Scots-born leader of the CI0, spoke after the performance there: 'It exemplifies the spirit and the kind of unity for which America is looking.'24
In Detroit it played to 5,000 people a night. The first rush of patriotic response after Pearl Harbor, resulting in increased industrial production, was dying down. The brunt of the war burden was falling upon industry, which was divided by deep ideological disputes. Nearly every major union meeting was a pitched battle between the Communists demanding a Second Front in Europe at once and trying thereby to obtain control of the union, and the Socialists trying to prevent this and restrict discussions to industrial matters.
Buchman believed that 'total victory means we must win the war of arms and also the war of ideas'. 'Both', he remarked, 'are being fought right here in Detroit. The war can be lost or won in Detroit.' Henry Ford was his host in the city over Buchman's birthday in June. He had Buchman and a number of his colleagues staying as his guests at the Dearborn Inn, and he and Mrs Ford were at a large birthday lunch in the Ford Museum at Greenfield Village and several times saw You Can Defend America. Having finally decided to go into the production of aeroplanes, Ford was building up his vast Willow Run plant. Buchman wondered how such organising genius could become equally effective in the war of ideas. 'How can we set up an assembly line to produce men who know how to work together, who can cure bitterness, increase production and supply the imagination for a new world to be born?' he wrote to Ford. 'Where can we find the place to build the Willow Run to produce the ideas that will answer the "isms"? We have re-tooled our industries to meet a national emergency. With the same speed and thoroughness we must re-tool our thinking and living to meet a changing world.’25
The hint which eventually led to the place Buchman was seeking came not from Henry Ford but from his wife. At the birthday party she had remarked that Buchman looked unwell and should take a rest. The heat was oppressive, and she spoke of the cool climate of Mackinac Island, in the Great Lakes where Lakes Huron and Michigan meet. Buchman had already heard that war restrictions had left the island empty, and went to make a brief reconnaissance. Mrs Ford established his bona fides with the proprietor of the Grand Hotel there, Stewart Woodfill, and when a member of the island's Park Commissiqn offered the use of an historic but dilapidated hotel, the Island House, for a dollar for a year, Buchman felt he had found his equivalent of Willow Run. The Island House was in a state of hardly describable filth - with two-year-old food still in the pots on the wood stove - but there was, he noticed, a barn behind the main building, where meetings could be held and plays performed.
An advance party was immediately despatched to make the Island House habitable. Hale was one of them. 'Frankly, the place was such a wreck I thought we were being overcharged,' he writes. 'When I woke up the first morning I found 79 bed-bug bites speckling my body. We scoured and scrubbed and bit by bit got the place de-bugged, de-stinked and de-grimed. But there was still much to do when the main force arrived from Detroit.'26 Nevertheless, the Island House opened as the first training centre for Moral Re-Armament on 9 July 1942.
Buchman and most of his team had meanwhile remained in the Detroit area, and this had irritated the 78-year-old Ford. He grumbled to Charles Lindbergh, who was assisting him in the setting up of Willow Run, that Buchman's force had overstayed their welcome and also that they had asked him to an evening party and kept him up much too long.27 Indeed Buchman and he seldom met after that. However, James Newton and Eleanor Forde, now married, were always welcome, and when Bill Jaeger's mother, Annie, contracted cancer and spent a year at the Henry Ford Hospital, Mrs. Ford, who was devoted to her, paid the bills.
Mackinac Island, situated near the border between the United States and Canada, a short plane flight from Chicago and Detroit but forbidden to all motor traffic, accustomed itself by degrees to receiving delegations first from the Mid-West industries and later from all over the world. Stewart Woodfill, whose Grand Hotel was a massive wooden structure of the last century looking like an ocean liner stranded on a green hill, had moved intimately among the industrial tycoons of the past forty years. He described later his first meeting with Buchman: 'I was curious about what was going on at the Island House. As he explained matters, I was impressed with his dedication to very big goals but my business mind could not grasp how such an organisation could successfully function without membership dues, without fixed income and seemingly without working capital. I invited Dr Buchman to be my guest in my hotel. It was the beginning of an amazing documentation of Moral Re-Armament, to which something was added every year I knew him.'28
Over the Labor Day weekend in early September, this year and in 1943, the Mackinac training centre was visited by labour and management from many parts of America. One of the labour leaders was William Schaffer from the Cramp Shipbuilding Company in Philadelphia, where You Can Defend America had been shown the previous year. He was twenty-nine and his wife, 'Dynamite', and he had already agreed upon a divorce, which meant separation from his two daughters. He met Buchman. 'My first impression was, "What's this bird want from me?" Much to my amazement, I found he wanted nothing. In his own quiet way, without saying much about it, he gave me a great sense of feeling that there was something wrong within myself.'29 Schaffer left Mackinac after four days, thinking furiously. He had been amazed to find Henry Sanger, Ford's banker, sweeping out the porch in his shirt-sleeves; and on his homeward journey he discovered that a former President of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, George Eastman, whom he had regarded with deep suspicion at the conference simply because of the position he held, had sat up in the train all night so that he could have a sleeping berth. 'I knew then, whatever anyone might say, that this was the greatest revolution in existence,' said Schaffer.30 Latter, when The Forgotten Factor wasshown at his shipyard, he realised that Buchman had 'the only answer that was going to save my home, my union and the Cramp Shipbuilding Company'. In 1958 he wrote 'the Schaffer family will always be grateful'.31
Denis Foss, a young British Merchant Navy officer who had been torpedoed twice in twenty-four hours and was now resting between voyages, visited Mackinac that year and noted the beginning of change in another union leader: 'There were maybe a hundred children there with their parents. Just as the Sunday session was starting, Buchman moved from the back of the barn-theatre on to the platform. He sat down and waited for everyone to settle. A little girl walked up and climbed on his knee. Buchman asked her if she wanted to tell the crowded meeting anything. "No," she said, "I just want to be with you." Almost immediately two other children were on the platform, and then the grown-ups discreetly withdrew as twenty others followed. "Well, children," said Buchman. "This is a working session. What are we going to say to these people?" One by one some of the children told us what they had been learning at Mackinac. In front of me sat a man called Nick Dragon with his wife. He was Regional Director of the United Automobile Workers - CIO in Detroit. I noticed that he had tears slowly coursing down his cheeks and heard him say to his wife, "Here I am trying to control thousands of workers and I can't control my own children. Look at them with Buchman. What has he got that we haven't?"’
Foss also describes how Buchman enlisted him in getting his own work more shipshape. As they sat in two deck chairs by the lakeside, he handed Foss the day's New York Herald Tribune. ‘I expect you're like me', he said, 'and have got into the habit of doing two things at once. While we talk about England you read the Herald Tribune and I'll read the New York Times. You tell me if you see anything I ought to know about, and I'll do the same for you.'
Then Buchman said, 'Now, Denis, I want you to tell me where we are going wrong here.' Foss, embarrassed, replied that three things struck him: an extremely untidy front lobby, the absence of people in uniform, and a certain stiffness between the men and women. In subsequent days Foss was approached first by a group of women who informed him that Buchman had said that he had some revolutionary ideas about house-keeping and that they should ask him about them; and then by a posse of journalists accompanied by a cartoonist and a secretary, requesting advice on how to get some of his service colleagues to Mackinac. Foss, having no advice whatever to offer on either matter, suggested listening to God. The results were a sketch written by the housekeepers which produced a transformation of living habits all over the building; and a duplicated newspaper, with cartoons, telling Foss's own experience of the guidance of God under battle conditions, which was sent out in thousands and brought a group of servicemen to Mackinac. On the subject of relationships, Buchman's only comment was, 'Sometimes I am sad I never had guidance from God to get married - I might have been able to help more.'32
Despite the growing tensions over the question of the call-up Buchman said at this time, 'I am living in a zone of calm.' But events were taking their physical toll, and his health was far from good. The summer had brought him no rest. Nevertheless, on 16 September he decided to go to California 'to make the speech of my life', and left Mackinac that day. He arrived in Los Angeles suffering from fatigue and a sore throat, but started his first day there with a phone call at 4 am, and ended it with a scolding to his team, busy performing You Can Defend America, for 'selling a show instead of the philosophy' and consequently not speaking convincingly from the platform or selling books to the audience afterwards.
After a week in Los Angeles he felt that he should go to San Francisco, then to Seattle and back to Mackinac. Again, he left on the day the decision was made. These days were a mixture of fatigue, minor pains, travel, and seeing many people, individually and in groups. Once back at Mackinac, he conferred with his team; encouraged them to cook better, write better, 'talk well and accurately', 'take time to be holy'; made plans for their next moves; followed the battle in Washington over the call-up of his younger colleagues; had Victor Reuther, Walter Reuther's brother and, like him, a leader in the Automobile Workers' Union, to see The Forgotten Factor, walked in the island and spotted blueberries which were picked for the next day's lunch; sent books over to Woodfill at the Grand Hotel; and battled with pain and fatigue. 'I can't think,' he said to a doctor one day. 'It's no good. I never thought my sixties would treat me like this. Do you think I shall be like this to the end?'
urgent question of manpower still remained. With increased demands for the services of his trained men, he still could not plan far ahead until he knew whether they would be available. The Selective Service Administration continued to defer them for six months at a time, but it was now becoming a highly explosive political as well as administrative decision. In Washington, as in Westminster, there were those who believed that what these men were doing was of vital importance. A group of senior public figures headed by Senator Truman,* in April 1942 wrote President Roosevelt a letter in which they said, 'We feel it would be nothing short of a contradiction of the spirit of the Selective Service Act, should these men be assigned to any other type of war-service than that in which heretofore they have been so usefully engaged.'33
(* Truman, a Democrat, was now Chairman of the Congressional 'watch-dog' Committee on War Contracts. His co-signatories were Congressman Wadsworth, a Republican, who had introduced the Bill setting up the Selective Service Administration, and the Presidents of the two national labour organisations, William Green of the AFL and Philip Murray of the CIO.)
President Roosevelt's official response was to acknowledge the letter and pass it to the Selective Service Director for consideration. His personal conviction was reflected in a letter written to his old headmaster, Dr Endicott Peabody, who had been impressed by You Can Defend America, play and book. The President wrote, 'We need more things like that to maintain and strengthen the national morale. From all accounts they are making a splendid contribution to patriotism and I hope a large number of communities will have the benefit of witnessing a performance.'34
But personal conviction and political pressures do not always coincide. The issue was becoming as hot for the legislators in Washington as it had been in Westminster, and was stoked to roasting heat by a section of the press.
The beginnings at Mackinac had been fruitful, but for Buchman it had been a tough summer. As so often he was dissatisfied, feeling the need of a new depth of spiritual experience and a new way of reaching the mind of the country. 'We need the medium to give a richer spiritual life to America,' he said. 'I want to go away and find a whole new vision, an expression of what we need to bring to the nation.'
He decided to go for a few days' rest to a small hotel in Saratoga Springs in New York State, a place where he had spent a holiday in his student years. He arrived a weary man, with no clear idea of what he should do or what resources he would be left to deploy. 'I don't know what the future holds,' he told some friends quietly.'I have a sense I am going to be attacked physically. I have no fear about it, but I want you to know what I feel may happen.'
1 Quoted by Buchman in world-wide broadcast from San Francisco, 4 June 1940. Quoted in part in Buchman, p. 97.
2 Colonel John Langston to Buchman, 19 January 1942.
3 cf. Bristol under Blitz by Alderman T. H. J. Underdown, Lord Mayor of Bristol, published in February 1941; also Report on Work of Moral Re-Armament in Nottingham by Councillor Wallis Binch, Lord Mayor 1939-40 (Hawthornes, Nottingham, July 1941); also Nottingham Journal, 1 March 1941.
4 Between 7 and 31 August 1940.
5 Peter Howard: Innocent Men (Heinemann, April 1941).
6 Daphne du Maurier: Come Wind, Come Weather (Heinemann, August 1940).
7 Alan Bullock: The Life and Times of Ernest Bevin (Heinemann, 1967), Vol. 2, pp.98-101.
8 Hansard, 7 October 1941.
9 Peter Howard: Fighters Ever (Heinemann, 1941), p. 18.
10 Pound, pp. 178-179.
11 The Times, 9October 1941.
12 Martin MSS.
13 Stephen Early to Fred D. Jordan, 19 November 1941.
14 Major-General Lewis B. Hershey to Admiral William D. Leahy, senior aide to President Roosevelt, 3 August 1942.
15 Washington Star, 15 May 1941, et al.
16 Allentown Morning Call,15 May 1941.
17 New York Times, 21 April 1941.
18 Daily Telegraph, 10 November 1941.
19 Statement by Bishop Logan Roots to church leaders (Martin MSS).
20 Dr Irene Gates to Martin, (Martin MSS).
21 Buchman to Paul Musselman, 27 September 1941.
22 John Caulfeild, unpublished MS, 18 November 1941.
23 Buchman, p. 144.
24 20May 1942.
25 Buchman to Henry Ford, drafted 21 June 1942.
26 Hale, Vol. I, p. 98.
27 Charles A. Lindbergh: Wartime Diaries (Harcourt, Brace & Jovanovitch, 1970), p. 674.
28 Contributed for, but not printed in, Frank Buchman - Eighty in 1958.
29 Frank Buchman - Eighty, p. 124.
30 Hale, Vol. I, p. 98; Martin MSS.
31 Frank Buchman - Eighty, p. 124.
32 Denis Foss, unpublished MS.
33 Harry S. Truman and others to President Roosevelt, 16 April 1942.
34 Letter dated 25 March 1942, printed in Frank David Ashbum: Peabody of Croton, A Portrait (Coward McCann, 1944), p. 350.