“I am convinced that…they will be plunged into war without their will. I like Germany; I like German cities; and I like the German people. But I believe that the rulers of the German people are deliberately and cynically preparing to hurl them into a wicked and a desperate war of conquest…The Germans cannot prevent that war, because they do not believe it is coming. The British could prevent that war if, before it is too late, they could be really convinced that it is coming. That is why I want to convince them that war is coming, because I want to prevent that horrible war”
~ Robert Blatchford
Brian and June Plummer, from the village of Barby near Rugby, made a special visit to the Joad Exhibition in its final week – on Wednesday afternoon, April 19.
Brian, aged 92, is one of the few still alive who saw C.E.M. Joad ‘in action’ on a Brains Trust event in 1946. He read about the Exhibition in the Daily Mail and wanted to make a special visit.
By DAVID ROBERTSON
Welcome to the fifth issue of Solas, the magazine that continues to grow and develop! This month, we have the usual range of articles, from politics and ethics, to arts and culture. The main theme is on bioethics, which for some people, at first glance, might not seem all that important until you realise that it really is a matter of life and death.
Recently, I have been reading a fascinating old book by the atheist philosopher-turned-Christian, C.E.M Joad, The Recovery of Belief (published in 1952). He asserts that the “progressive” atheistic view of humanity results in an arrogance and hubris that will inevitably be self-destructive. “Having raised himself by dint of his own efforts from the level of the animals, he will probably continue to evolve into something greater than himself (Nietzsche, it will be remembered, was still praying of the Superman). Man, in fact, is the highest expression of the spirit of the universe, a spirit which will one day, if it has not done so y et, raise itself in and through his agency to the level of the divine. God, in fact, as Alexander suggested, is waiting to be evolved by man’s efforts. When he arrives, he will be man’s handiwork and man’s descendant.”
It has ever been thus.
It is a short road from the temptation of the devil in the garden – “you shall be as gods” – to the modern arrogance of a humanity which thinks we are the top of the evolutionary tree and can only get better.
Joad became a Christian after observing the inhumanity of humanity in World War Two. The horrors of that war were caused and facilitated by philosophies which believed in the inevitable progress of humanity, the bankruptcy of religion and the emergence of Superman. Another atheist philosopher, John Gray, cites Lewis Namier: “Hitler and the Third Reich were the gruesome and incongruous consummation of an age which, as none other, believed in progress and felt assured it was being achieved.”
After both World Wars, that turn-of-the-century confidence in the inevitable goodness and progression of humanity took a hit. But it appears that as we move on we forget our history and so seem doomed to repeat it. Christians are the ultimate humanists because we recognise that humanity without God becomes inhuman. As humans exchange the glory of the God in whose image we are made, for the lie that we shall be as gods, we end up as dehumanised animals.
An Australian has travelled more than 10,000 miles to celebrate the life and times of philosopher and previous South Downs resident CEM Joad on the 60th anniversary of his death.
The incredible journey was made a reality when Australian Greg Devine read an article published by Ifield resident, Richard Symonds, called ‘The Forgotten Christian Philosopher’ about the celebrated author, Cyril Edwin Mitchinson Joad.
Mr Devine read that the walk from Amberley Station to South Stoke was probably the most beautiful walk on the South Downs – a walk CEM Joad himself took many times – and so he decided to get in touch with Mr Symonds and experience the route firsthand.
On July 28-30, the Australian from Redcliffe (a bay-side town north of Brisbane) travelled to the UK with his wife and a close friend.
“Richard and I hit it off immediately, chatting all the way,” said the 56-year-old.
“He showed me the historic North Stoke church. We then proceeded to the South Stoke Farm, stopping off at St Leonard’s Church.
“Richard then pointed out the building and window at which CEM Joad sat writing many of his books.”
CEM Joad wrote and edited more than 100 books, pamphlets, articles and essays, including ‘An Old Countryside for New People’ and ‘Folly Farm’, until his death in 1953.
He most notably appeared on The Brains Trust, a BBC Radio wartime discussion programme.
“Joad’s writings speak to me of a man who searched earnestly for the truth. He’s inspired me to use language in lively and engaging ways,” said Mr Devine.
The Australian party also visited ‘Meadow Hills’ in Stedham – the former home of CEM Joad. The owners, Sarah and Martin Large, kindly welcomed the tourists.
Mr Devine said: “The garden had become overgrown but Sarah was valiantly working to restore it. She is convinced that Meadow Hills was the location of the farm and house described in Joad’s book ‘Folly Farm’.”
The 60th anniversary of CEM Joad’s death was marked at the Stedham Village Memorial Hall in April.