THE arguments used by the radical Christian Socialist group Slant were a dangerous abuse of language, said Mr. Timothy Potts, Lecturer in Philosophy at Leeds University, when he addressed last weekend's Union of Catholic Students conference on "Christianity and Politics".
PEACE RALLY BY THE CLERGY
MORE than 250 clergy of all denominations are sponsoring a public rally for peace in Vietnam at Central Hall, Westminster, today (Friday) from 7 to 10 p.m.
Fr. Simon Blake,. 0.P., chairman of the Christian C.N.D., and Dr. Robinson, the Anglican Bishop of Woolwich, will be among the main speakers. The rally will end with a torchlight procession through London's West End, During the afternoon 350 delegates from peace, church, women's students' and trade union organisations will draft resolutions calling for the withdrawal of troops and an end to the war.
Fr. Blake believes that from a moral viewpoint "we're all involved in this war—because people are pretending to defend religion and liberty—but it's the Vietnamese peasants who pay the price."
If the war continues, he says, "there are going to be no Vietnamese people left". However, when it comes to taking a stand, he sees the British nation seems "more interested in balancing our books than in morality".
Fr. Blake has just returned from an international meeting for peace in Sofia, Bulgaria, organised by the Christian Peace Conference which has headquarters in Prague.
At the meeting 150 delegates from all parts of Europe, Asia, Africa and America agreed there was an urgent need for more energetic peace initiatives among Christians everywhere, especially to end the war in Vietnam.
Fr. Blake, who went with a delegation of seven from the British Council of Churches led by the Rev. Paul Ocstrcicher, was the only Catholic priest at the meeting, although there were many clergy from other denominations and many Catholic laymen.
ANOTHER EFFORT BRITISH CRITICISED Another peace move was announced in London last Friday by Lord Brockway, chairman of the Briitsh Council for Peace in Vietnam. He is trying to gather an international commission of eminent judges to analyse firsthand evidence about the situation in Vietnam with a view to determining whether or not the war is being fought on legal grounds.
A group of lawyers headed by Mr. J. Platts Mills, Q.C., have released a statement declaring that the American presence in Vietnam violates the U.N. Charter.
In the meantime, a weekend peace conference at Spode House in Rugeley, Staffs., organised by the Catholic Institute for International Relations, revealed that psychologists today feel most peace organisations tend to defeat their purpose by asking too much too soon.
The conference, at Leeds, attracted over 150 students from all parts of the country, who spent the weekend examining the problem of whether there was a necessary connection between Christianity and politics.
Mr. CoIm Brogan, the Left's most outspoken critic, was unable to attend the conference as his wife was unwell.
Mr. Terry Eagleton, research fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge, and editor of Slant, saw the term "politics" as having a far wider meaning than it was usually given, as he believed that every human action was a political action.
He argued that Christians should he committed to working towards, so far as possible, the kingdom of God on earth. This, he felt, could only be achieved by a radical reorganisation of society. In this sense, therefore. Christianity was a revolutionary religion, which could only fulfil its responsibilities within the context of a radical Socialist programme.
Mr. Eagleton was careful to point out that we must not be Ied into thinking that Socialism was either Wilsonian pragmatism or totalitarianism.
In a summing up speech, to which it is regretted that Mr. Eagleton did not have the opportunity to reply, Mr. Potts accused Mr. Eagleton of a systematic abuse of language in his very long and complex paper. He felt that, while he sympathised with what he thought Slant was trying to say, the terms used had not been defined in any clear or coherent manner.
Slant, he said, obviously had something important to contribute to the Church, but this message demanded a more intelligible presentation and an absence of those "isms" which, Mr. Potts felt, dragged emotion rather than reason into the arguments put forward.
The summing up had been preceded by a paper by Fr. Charles Boxer, 0.P., from Blackfriars. Oxford, in which he sought to demonstrate what could be achieved in practice when Christianity was seen as a revolutionary force.
He described the situation in a British Army camp in Germany where there was a complete absence of any kind of caring community relationship among the officers, the men and their wives. An improvement in these relationships was brought about by a group of Christians who helped the men and their wives to analyse the problems at their root and so they began to help themselves.
Fr. Boxer's thesis was that Christians should never prop up existing structures in society which were obviously inadequate and were producing devisive forces in society.
Neither should they engage in social work in any paternalistic fashion. People must be helped only in so far as was necessary to help themselves— find their own solutions to their situation; this was the way the revolution could begin.