During his period of convalescence in 1943 - the year of the Casablanca, Quebec, Cairo and Teheran conferences on the future of Europe - Buchman had time to think about and talk over what lay ahead for the world and for his work. The Soviet Union, it seemed to him, had an aggressive belief about how the earth should be run, a faith which had shown itself capable of winning adherents in every country. America, too, was originally a nation founded in a faith with a universal appeal. Yet that faith was seldom now related to practical affairs or politics, and seemed unlikely to be prominent in the public mind when it came to shaping the world after the war. How could this factor be brought home to the American people, and what should be done about it?
Michael Hutchinson, a thirty-year-old former Scholar of Balliol College, Oxford, who was working with Buchman in North America, had talked to him about 'ideology'. ‘I don't think I'd use that word,' Buchman had replied. 'I would rather say "a big idea".' In fact, up to this point, Buchman had only used the word 'ideology' in a negative context, as something to he combated or overcome. But the more he pondered the matter, the more it seemed clear to him that any idea with a world-wide outlook and programme, and which made a total demand on a person, could properly be called an ideology. Christianity, as Christ preached it, was such an idea. Where it differed from the materialist ideologies of the day was that it prescribed a total obedience not to any person, but to God.
The word 'ideology', in fact, was neutral. It had acquired a bad name because it was being used almost exclusively by those materialist brands which, in practice, meant tyranny. Yet the word implied a degree and breadth of commitment which the word 'religion', through the half-heartedness of many religious people, had lost. Why should not America live out her original faith with such fire and thoroughness that it would offer an attractive and universally-recognised alternative to the materialist ideologies?
With such thoughts developing in his mind Buchman arrived back at Mackinac at the end of June. As he boarded the boat for the crossing he was, according to one of those with him, tired but gleeful. 'He sang what he imagined to be the "Mackinac Song" and looked long and lovingly across the waters as the island came in sight. It was an effort to get off the boat and to climb into the carriage which took him off to Island House.'1
On 18 July, still looking frail, he talked informally to several hundred people at the Assembly about the thoughts he had been maturing. 'Today', he began, 'I want to talk about great forces at work in the world.' He spoke of Karl Marx and how, gradually, Communism had become 'a tremendous force'. Then of Mussolini and Hitler and how their ideas had, at first, brought 'a seeming order'. 'So we have Communism and Fascism - two world forces,' he continued. 'Where do they come from? From materialism, which is the mother of all the "isms". It is the spirit of anti-Christ which breeds corruption, anarchy and revolution. It undermines our homes, it sets class against class, it divides the nation. Materialism is democracy's greatest enemy.'
Then he spoke of the concept of Moral Re-Armament as an ideology with a different origin 'where the moral and spiritual would have the emphasis'. 'Communism and Fascism are built on a negative something - on divisive materialism and confusion. Wherever Moral Re-Armament goes, there springs up a positive message. Its aim is to restore God to leadership as the directing force in the life of the nation... America must discover her rightful ideology. It springs from her Christian heritage, and is her only adequate answer in the battle against materialism and all the other "isms"...
'People get confused as to whether it is a question of being Rightist or Leftist. But the one thing we really need is to be guided by God's Holy Spirit. That is the Force we ought to study... The Holy Spirit will teach us how to think and live, and provide a working basis for our national service...
'The true battle-line in the world is not between class and class, not between race and race. The battle is between Christ and anti-Christ. "Choose ye this day whom ye will serve."'2
The young Norwegian artist Signe Lund3 was there. 'I was riveted,' she recalled later. 'The speech came out of his guts. He knew that by launching out as an ideology, he was sending us as well as himself out into a dangerous world.' This was further clarification of the thought he had been reaching for at Visby, the understanding of the particular role of his work at a particular stage in the world’s history and of the direction in which he must be ready to go. It was a realisation that the war for the world would in future be fought out not between countries, economies or armies but between sets of ideas: that the basic divide was between materialist ideas of right and left on the one hand, and the moral and spiritual ideas at the heart of the world's great faiths on other. It was a vision of the battle between good and evil within the individual soul being reflected in the affairs of the world, and the acceptance that he and his small band of colleagues had a particular role to play in that battle.
This step forward was not to make him or his ideas any more popular among the complacent or the relative moralists; but it was to give an impetus to his thinking and his operations during the coming years. Conscious acceptance by a group of people of the role of an 'ideology' did entail temptations to self-importance and self-effort. To Buchman it remained simple: 'The whole gospel of Jesus Christ - that is your ideology.' But he would have to carry with him a group of people not all of whom yet had his grasp of the root experience of this ideology, an undertaking demanding courage and wisdom of no ordinary kind and the extent of which he may or may not have comprehended during those summer days among his friends.
The previous day he had led his first meeting since his illness. But although he spent much time talking with individuals and small groups, he took little public part in the summer-long Assembly that year. He first went off the island - for a dentist appointment during which he did 'quite a lot of walking and stair-climbing' - on 13 September. The next morning he called in two friends to write down thoughts which were coming to him, 'the first time for some weeks and flowing just like the old days'. 'Thoughts came for the next steps for the fight,' one of them recorded. 'He felt again at grips with the problem. He hates more than anything to feel that there is no place where we can get on the attack.'4
Buchman spent the winter quietly in Sarasota, Florida, the guest of a hotelier who had been to Mackinac and who put a small hotel near the Gulf of Mexico at his disposal as, in the usual way, the number of people round him grew. Here he cultivated many friendships, old and new. Artur Rodzinski, the newly appointed conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and his wife Halina spent Christmas with him. Cissie Patterson, the proprietor of the Washington Times-Herald, had evenings where she invited Adlai Stevenson and the Chicago composer, John Alden Carpenter, and her editors to meet him. He also became fast friends with many of the famous Ringling Circus troupe whose winter headquarters were in Sarasota, and was much taken by the family life, the integrity and the sheer courage of the circus people.* But he refused to do anything public in the community. This baffled some of those around him.
(* Asked whether he would prefer to see Mr Ringling's famous horses or the Fat Woman, he immediately opted for the latter.)
Then, one day he surprised them still more by announcing that he was taking his whole party, about twenty strong, to the local playhouse. The play was to start at 8.30, but for some inexplicable reason he insisted they should all be there by 7.30. He was met by a distraught manager. The second lead, he told Buchman, had had a heart attack. He had no understudy. The play could not go on.
'Oh, don't worry,' said Buchman confidently. 'My friend Cecil Broadhurst will be delighted to play for you.'
An astonished Broadhurst was rushed backstage and given a script. One or two scenes were quickly rehearsed and Broadhurst, a talented actor, got through the performance with script in hand. The manager was delighted and said he hoped Broadhurst could play for the rest of the week. Broadhurst was sorry, but he had to go to New York to see his draft board the very next day. Once more the manager was in despair.
'Oh, don't worry,' said Buchman again. 'My friend Robert Anderson will be glad to play for you.'
The week went off triumphantly, and all Sarasota heard of it. Indeed, it was said that the occasion healed a breach between the playhouse and the local newspaper, which for the first time or months printed a notice about the theatre.
Arthur Strong, the English photographer, who had come to Sarasota a little before the theatre party, had been greatly puzzled not only by Buchman's inactivity but by his insistence that all the party should rest and not take any local initiatives. 'Most evenings Buchman would have the whole party in for supper, and we would sit on for hours over the table, while he drew people out, one by one,' says Strong. 'It was the first time I had been with him since his stroke, and I noticed a real change. More listening and waiting. Less attacking. A much greater sense of humour. I think he wanted to show us that God had a better way to approach Sarasota than our activism.'
'The stroke, maybe, took some of the self-effort out of him,' Barrett once commented.
Alan Thornhill adds, 'Frank at Sarasota was truly remarkable. He seemed to vary from extreme weakness and illness, often only speaking in his brand of German, to these surprising exploits with people. I think his life-changing there must have been a direct outcome of his prayer to be a great life-changer. In all my times with Frank, I never knew him so mellow, so sensitive.'
Early in 1944 Buchman was variously rumoured by certain American papers to be in Germany, in prison in England, or in hiding in America. A national publication, entitled Cross and Doublecross, appeared on American newsstands at this time. It accused Buchman of seeking a 'soft peace', and claimed that he had been responsible, among other things, for the abdication of King Edward VIII and the Munich Pact; had been at the heart of the appeasement-oriented 'Cliveden Set' in Britain before the war; had, during the war, tried to engineer peace through arranging Hess's flight to Scotland; and, finally, had been responsible for turning the war against Russia by inducing Hitler to attack the Soviets.
Buchman kept in touch with his friends in Washington. Truman, in his position as chairman of the Senate Committee investigating war contracts, had during the past four years demanded and obtained a high standard of honesty which had saved the nation billions of dollars. In 1943 he, Admiral Byrd, Congressman Wadsworth and other political, business and labour figures signed the foreword to a report on the industrial work of Moral Re-Armament.* Truman told a Washington press conference, 'Suspicions, rivalries, apathy, greed lie behind most of the bottlenecks...these problems, to which the Moral Re-Armament programme is finding an effective solution, are the most urgent of any in our whole production picture . . . What we now need is a fighting faith which will last twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and fifty-two weeks a year . . . This is where the Moral Re-Armament group comes in. Where others have stood back and criticised, they have rolled up their sleeves and gone to work. They have already achieved remarkable results in bringing teamwork into industry, on the principles not of "who's right" but of "what's right".'5
(* The Fight to Serve (Moral Re-Armament, 1943). Other signatories included the Vice-President of Cramp Shipbuilding, Vice-Presidents of the AFL and CIO, and the previous year's President of the American Society of Newspaper Editors.)
Truman, with Congressman Wadsworth, attended a showing of The Forgotten Factor at Philadelphia in November. There he added, 'If America does not catch this spirit, we shall be lucky to win the war and certain to lose the peace. With it there is no limit to what we can do for America and America for the world.'6
Truman and Wadsworth sent a thousand personal letters inviting the political and military leadership of America to a showing of The Forgotten Factor at the National Theater in Washington on 14 May 1944. To prepare for this showing Buchman went to Washington. He concentrated now on getting all the arrangements for this performance perfect, including the play itself, every detail of which interested him. As he was watching a late rehearsal on the afternoon of the performance word was brought to him that the father of one of the backstage crew, Jim Cooper from Scotland, had died. He immediately met Cooper in a room in the theatre and told him the news. He asked him how his mother would manage financially, and told him about the death of his own father and the certainty of life after death which it had confirmed in him. He then abandoned the much-anticipated public event, took Cooper home for supper and spent the evening with him.
Truman also failed to appear. Shortly before the showing he had said to two of Buchman's colleagues, 'They are trying to get me to agree to be nominated as Vice-President, but I think I could do more by staying in the Senate. Please let me know what you think.' When they returned the next day Truman had accepted the nomination, one condition of which was that he drop all connection with any other groups, however worthwhile. They were told that Truman was 'in conference', and a large man, unknown to them, added, 'From now on, we're arranging the appointments and strategy for Mr Truman. He'll have no opportunity to see you in future.' This proved to be true. There is no evidence, however, that Truman changed his view on Buchman and his work, and during his Presidency some of Buchman's colleagues maintained close contact with his chief labour negotiator, John Steelman, Director of the US Conciliation Service.
Buchman spent his birthday that year with Charles and Margery Haines at their historic Wyck House in Germantown, Philadelphia, and next day took a large party to Pennsburg and Allentown, giving a running commentary all the way. Here he used to fish with Daddy Shiep; there his old headmaster was buried; that was the place where he took twelve girls to a dance. Fifty-six people had lunch in his old home in Allentown, and, with the neighbours dropping in, it was eighty-five for tea. One of them was Arthur Keller with whom he had gone to Montreal when they were sixteen. Buchman stayed the night. Next day just eleven sat down to a lunch of chops, mashed potatoes, dandelion greens and pie.
Buchman was at his most relaxed when he was back in his boyhood surroundings, entertaining people in his own home, visiting his old friends in theirs, never mentioning his work unless he was asked about it - 'an old friend in an old tweed jacket'. He loved to return there, and to show off the beautiful countryside to his overseas friends. But it was no more than his cradle. Alan Thornhill once said to him, 'I can't think how you ever tore yourself away from this place.' Buchman replied, 'I couldn't wait another minute to get away.'
From Allentown Buchman moved on to New York and then to Boston, where he paid a visit to his old friend Mrs Tjader. At that time he could still only walk short distances, and he arrived before her house in a wheelchair. Mrs Tjader came out of her front door and looked down at him from the top of a flight of twenty stone steps. 'Oh, Frank, you're ill!' she exclaimed. 'Ill!' retorted Buchman, got out of the wheelchair and stumped, unaided, up the twenty steps.
From Boston he returned via Detroit to Mackinac. 'Brevity, sincerity, hilarity! In that spirit we will get to know each other this morning,' was his opening to one of the only two meetings he led at the three-month Assembly that summer. At the end of Mackinac he decided to spend the autumn and winter quietly in Southern California and then to take part in a full-scale action programme on the West Coast with The Forgotten Factor and other plays in the spring. He was invited to spend the winter months in the Los Angeles home of Miss Lucy Clark, which he equipped with Mackinac-trained cooks to cater for a household of a dozen and many visitors. Meanwhile, theatres were being booked all up the coast for the spring campaign.
For the rest of 1944 and the first half of 1945 Buchman seems to have left most things to his lieutenants - and to have been well-pleased to do so. 'The work is in competent hands,' he remarked on 3 April. And later that month: 'An absolutely perfect evening and I didn't have to do a darned thing about it.' His health was steadily improving, though occasions when he could manage a full day without a rest are mentioned as noteworthy in his secretary's diary, and sometimes he spent the whole day in bed. 'The Lord has given me a wonderful peace,' he said in January, and by June he wrote to a friend, 'You will be interested to know I am my old self again. At a reception yesterday, a reporter, who interviewed me fifteen years ago in Seattle, came over and said, "You don't look a day older." So I have recaptured the blush of youth and am storing up masses of energy for some visits I hope to pay very soon.'7
That letter was written from San Francisco where the United Nations Conference on International Organization was in progress. On 12 March, at the Yalta Conference, Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill had decided to hold the San Francisco Conference in April, precisely when Buchman had a theatre booked there. 'It looks as if you had been guided to the right part of the world three or four months before Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin knew anything about it,' wrote a member of the British delegation.8
Buchman had already given thought to the quality needed in any new international organisation. At Mackinac the previous summer, when the first delegates came from Europe, he told them, 'I had a vision early this morning of your cities - Stockholm, Copenhagen, Berne and London - their rulers learning to be guided by God. Then there would be less confused thinking. Any new League of Nations must have that atmosphere. But then the task will still lie ahead - to build men who so live in the councils of nations that "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" is a practical purpose, not a pious hope.'
The Yalta Conference had been officially hailed in America as a triumph of co-operation between wartime allies now uniting for the purposes of peace, which this new international organisation would safeguard. Russia's aims had not been clear to an ageing Roosevelt, who felt that he could easily handle Stalin. The dividing up of great areas of Europe, which followed Yalta, was not foreseen. One of Roosevelt's chief aides. Admiral Leahy, later wrote in his memoirs, 'The ink was hardly dry on the Yalta Protocol before serious difficulties of interpretation arose.'9
On 12 April 1945, a few days before the San Francisco conference opened, President Roosevelt died. President Truman took over. On 25 April Buchman attended the opening ceremony of the Conference, which Truman began by saying, 'Let us not fail to grasp this supreme chance to establish a world-wide rule of reason, to create an enduring peace under the guidance of God.'
Six days later came the end of war in Europe. Buchman listened to the radio announcements early in the morning by Truman in Washington and Churchill in London. Relief that the conflict there had ceased was tempered by the thought of the suffering and destruction it had left behind, and by the fact that a real peace still needed to be created.
The San Francisco Conference ran into difficulties before it began. Molotov would not attend until the West had given the Soviet Union its way on Poland. When he arrived Halifax described him as 'smiling granite'. And Halifax was driven to lose his temper - a rare occurrence - by Gromyko's immobility. Gradually, however, the Charter of the United Nations was painfully evolved, with damaging concessions. The central issue was the extent of the veto to be held by the Great Powers. The smaller powers distrusted it altogether, while the Soviet wished it to be available to stop any matter being even discussed in the Security Council. In the end a compromise was reached. Another main issue was the fate of non-self-governing territories, for which the theory of 'trusteeship' was, not without a good deal of conflict, worked out. Field Marshal Smuts,* in the end, 'thought the whole world could reasonably look forward to an era of security from war, in so far as the three Great Powers were all, broadly speaking, satisfied Powers'.10
(* Prime Minister of South Africa and a member of the British War Cabinet.)
Two of Buchman's friends offered to entertain any of the delegates who wanted to meet with him. Over lunches and dinners in their home, or in the Fairmont Hotel, where he would watch and meet the delegates, Buchman heard many contradictory views aired. One day he lunched with Bishop Bell of Chichester and John Foster Dulles, who told him that the Russians had only temporarily put aside the concept of world revolution. That night at dinner he heard that a leading British diplomat was equally convinced the Russians would not return to world revolution, but wanted to work loyally through whatever organisation was set up by the Conference, an opinion which Halifax shared.11 Sitting in the Fairmont Hotel he watched Molotov with his bodyguard of eight move with a wedge-like unity through the lobby; he also saw the diplomats for whom social contacts and the autograph hunters had the biggest attraction.
Out of one private dinner party came a request from a group of delegates for a special performance of The Forgotten Factor. A committee drawn from ten countries asked for it to be put on the official programme, and this was arranged for 3 June.
General Carlos Romulo of the Philippines, chairman of his country's delegation, who had for weeks been a thorn in the side of the British delegation because of his attitude on trusteeship, headed the committee with the British diplomat, A. R. K. Mackenzie. In introducing the play to the audience, General Romulo said, 'I see many of my fellow-delegates here, and that fills me with joy because what you see on the stage tonight is something that can be transferred to our conference rooms.' Many agreed with him. Adlai Stevenson told one of Buchman's friends how 'Scotty' Reston of the New York Times had said to him afterwards, 'This is what your old conference needs. You could do with some of it up in the "Penthouse"' (where Secretary of State Stettinius, Eden, Molotov and others met for private bargaining sessions).12
Romulo himself was as good as his word. After seeing The Forgotten Factor at its first showing, he completely changed the tone of his next speech on trusteeship. When he had finished speaking, he passed a note to Mackenzie with the words, 'The Forgotten Factor?' Alistair Cooke reported that, as the conference dragged on, journalists had been listing the unsolved issues which were preventing them from going home. 'The list last night was formidable, but now to the astonishment of delegates and press alike, it would seem that Dr Evatt,* has undergone a personality change and General Romulo has unaccountably fallen in love with the British.'13
(* Australian Minister of External Affairs.)
From friendships made during the three months in San Francisco came invitations to Buchman to visit Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and India. Field Marshal Smuts, however, had picked up a rumour in London and warned his secretary, Henry Cooper, an old friend of Buchman's, 'not to get in too deep as he was told MRA had fascist leanings'. Cooper, unshaken, took answering information back to his master.
When Buchman celebrated his sixty-seventh birthday in the Century Club at the beginning of June, Indian, Chinese, Middle Eastern, South American, Greek, Yugoslav, British and French delegates came to greet him. Carl Hambro had left to accompany his King back to Norway, but Rudolf Holsti, again Foreign Minister of Finland, had just arrived and was present. Rear-Admiral Sir Edward Cochrane presented a pledge on behalf of a thousand servicemen to raise, in the next six months, $50,000 for Buchman's use 'in memory of those who have given their lives' on many battlefronts. Their message to Buchman read in part: 'In the war of arms your vision of Moral Re-Armament has shown us what we are fighting for. In the war of ideas MRA has spearheaded the battle to restore moral standards and the guidance of God to men and nations. On the beaches of Dunkirk and Normandy, on the shell-swept mountains of Italy, on the coral shores of Pacific isles, on the war-torn soil of Asia, through stormy seas and flak-filled skies, your promise not to turn back has given us the steel to advance to victory.' Buchman was moved to tears.
The San Francisco Conference ended. After being warmly welcomed by President Truman at the final session reception on 26 June, Buchman left for Mackinac.
En route, he and his party called on 'Poppa' Globin, the ex-bootlegger who had lent them his casino at Lake Tahoe five years earlier. ' "Poppa" wept when he saw Frank,' recorded one of the party. 'Then he put on a large steak dinner for us all.' 'All complimentary!' Buchman insisted in telling the story.
Further adventures ensued when they boarded their train. Buchman had wired a friend's grandmother to meet them during their stop at Omaha, Nebraska, if she would like to do so. 'Frank and I ventured on to the platform,' notes Martin. 'His policy was to send me to every likely looking lady over seventy - and then just to every lady over seventy. Drawing a number of blanks he reduced the age to sixty and dispatched me to do the rounds again. The expression of some of the attendant husbands, as I ignored them and inquired if their wives were Mrs Thomas Hunter, had to be seen to be believed. Finally, Frank pointed out one more lady, but as I approached I recognised her as someone we had already tried. Only then Frank was satisfied and we retired to the train again.'14
Next day, in Chicago, Martin continues, Buchman went on 'one of his gigantic handkerchief shopping benders'. 'Once every two years or so he buys them in bulk for birthday gifts for the team. He begins by asking for a few handkerchiefs, and goes through the whole stock rejecting until he finds one he likes. Then he says, "How many do you have of this?" The answer invariably is, "How many can you use?" To which he says, "Oh, about ten or twelve dozen." The attendant either faints or does business. The price goes down, the obsequiousness mounts and Frank leaves, generally with two gross of handkerchiefs. "What do you need so many for?" asked the girl today. "Oh, I have a lot of poor people I give them to as presents!" replies Frank blandly - and accurately.'15
1 Martin diaries, 29 June 1943.
2 Buchman, pp. 139-45.
3 Now Signe Strong.
4 Martin diaries.
5 New York Herald Tribune, 12 April 1943.
6 19 November 1943. For full speech, see Buchman, pp. 361-2.
7 Buchman to Cuthbert Bardsley, 13 June 1945.
8 A. R. K. Mackenzie to Buchman, 25 March 1945.
9 William D. Leahy: I Was There (Whittlesey House, 1950), p. 318.
10 Earl of Birkenhead: Halifax (Hamish Hamilton, 1965), p. 547.
11 ibid., pp. 547-8.
12 Martin diaries, 3 June 1945.
13 Manchester Guardian, 20 June 1945.
14 Martin diaries, 28 June 1945.
15 ibid., 29 June 1945.