At the time of my first visit to the World Calendar Association, Miss Achelis was not there; but I had an interesting visit with Mr. Charles C. Sutter, who is one of the editors of the Journal of Calendar Reform. Mr. Sutter supplied me with samples of the organization's literature, and suggested that if I wished to see Miss Achelis personally, I should return the next morning at ten-thirty.
When I called the next morning, the young lady at the desk told me that Miss Achelis was in conference. After hearing my explanation that this was my last day in the city, the young lady volunteered to find out if Miss Achelis could see me. In a few minutes she returned, and led me to a room where I found, besides Miss Achelis herself, Mr. P. W. Wilson and Mr. Sutter. I may explain that Mr. Wilson is very active in the calendar-reform movement. A prominent writer and journalist, he is listed in both the English and the American "Who's Who," is a former member of Parliament, and contributes regularly to the New York Times.
I had not expected to have more than a few minutes of casual conversation with this group. However, I found them much interested in gaining a fuller comprehension of our reasons for opposing the calendar reform. Our interview lasted about an hour and a half or two hours, and during that time the reasons for the peculiar attitude of Seventh-day Adventists toward calendar reform were fully discussed. The calendar reformers realize that Seventh-day Adventists are their chief opponents. But they are interested in removing our grounds of opposition, if that be possible.
"You could go right on observing Saturday under the reform calendar," Mr. Wilson pointed out to me. "In that way you could be just as different from the rest of the world as you are at present, and yet you would be no more different—you would have no more inconvenience than you at present experience. You could retain your denominational peculiarity, without getting into any special difficulties."
"With us it is not a question of retaining denominational peculiarities," I answered. "We do not keep the Sabbath in order to be peculiar. We keep the Sabbath because God says so. If by simple obedience to the Word of God we become peculiar, we cannot help that. But it would be impossible for us to observe Saturday as it occurs under the reform calendar. For really it is not Saturday that we observe; it is the seventh day of the week. Under your system, the seventh day of the week would sometimes fall on Saturday, sometimes on Friday or Wednesday, and in leap years on two days—beginning on a Tuesday, let us say, but falling on a Monday for the last six months of the year. We regard the law of God as supreme. We regard the Word of God as of more importance than all the words of men. And for this reason the Seventh-day Adventists—and I presume certain other religious bodies—could never consent to govern their lives and practices by a calendar which strikes directly at the fourth commandment of the law of God, and at the week which He Himself ordained in the beginning."
It was then suggested that perhaps a meeting might be arranged between the calendar reformers and certain representatives of the Seventh-day Adventists, so that we might determine how we would relate ourselves to the blank-day feature of the "World Calendar." In answer to this, I said that I could not, of course, speak officially for the denomination; but as one who had been a member and a minister of that denomination for several years, I felt quite safe in saying that while we had no objection to any changes in the reckoning of time that might be proposed, we did object strongly to the blank day. But Miss Achelis, Mr. Wilson, and Mr. Sutter felt that this feature was an essential part of their calendar, and said so. I explained that I felt sure that our people would fight the blank day to the bitter end.
"You people, then," said Miss Achelis, "are opposed to progress."
"It is not a question of progress," I answered. "For the Seventh-day Adventists it is a question of obedience to the commandments of God. We do not keep the seventh day of the week in order to be reactionary; we observe that day because God in His Word has directed those who serve Him to do so."
We parted on the best of terms. "You must remember that the majority rules," said Miss Achelis, as I left. I must confess that I have since thought about that expression a great deal. I cannot keep from feeling that in this matter the World Calendar Association is the most dangerous of our enemies. I think that the Cotsworth Plan is dying. It changes too much. Popular inertia would oppose it. But the World Calendar is another matter. It may easily become popular; there are signs that it is already becoming popular. Its propaganda is unusually effective and appealing. It is therefore against the World Calendar that we must work. In the meantime, let us wish long life to the International Fixed Calendar League, for by its opposition to the World Calendar it has perhaps done as much to stave off the blank day, with resultant distress and persecution for our people, as we ourselves have done.
What can our people do?
We can pray that God in His goodness will hold off these so-called "reforms" until His work is finished. We can circulate appropriate literature, and make clear to persons of all denominations what is really involved in adopting the blank-day system. Through our Religious Liberty Department, we can keep a watchful eye on developments both here and abroad as they affect this issue. Certainly the matter will come up again before the League of Nations, unless the most unexpected changes intervene. For that day we must be prepared.
Mountain View, Calif.