Molding the Public Mind

The impact of Adventist writings upon the thinking of men who are today grappling with tremendous world issues is clearly discernible.

By J. R. FERREN, Secretary, General Conference Bureau of Publicity

The impact of Adventist writings upon the thinking of men who are today grappling with tremendous world issues is clearly discernible. The atomic bomb, its destructiveness and future disposition, were under discussion in the House of Representatives in Washington on Tuesday, Octo­ber 9. As reported in the Congressional Record the following day, the Honorable Louis L. Ludlow of Indiana spoke as follows:

"Mr. Speaker, when we contemplate the terrifying pos­sibilities of the atomic bomb, the product of the genius of our scientists, we should do so with'a full awareness of our responsibility as a righteously motivated and God-respecting nation to see that, insofar as we can control its future, it is not used inhumanely.

"A thoughtful editorial on this subject appears in the publication enti,tled Signs of the Times, and I ask unani­mous consent that it be inserted in the Congressional Record. It is as follows." (A4557.)

With this introduction, the editorial entitled "They That Take the Atom," which appeared in the Signs of the Times of September 18 was pub­lished in the Record. This, many will remember, is a striking article based on Christ's words, "They that take the sword shall perish with the sword." Matt. 26:52. It is good to see it in this prominent place, where the leading statesmen of the land may read it.

On the same day, according to the Congressional Record, another member of Congress, the Honorable Homer D. Angell of Oregon, asked to have printed in the Record an article that he had read in a different issue of the Signs. He very seriously set forth facts and fears concerning the atomic bomb, its mighty power for good or for destruc­tion. Then he said:

"A very interesting discussion of atomic power by Ar­thur S. Maxwell, which appeared in the magazine Signs of the Times in its issue of October 2, 1945, is as fol­lows: 'Atomic Power and the Race for Doomsday—End of the World No Longer Impossible.' "

Then follows the prophetic presentation from the Signs of that date. The reprint with its his­tory, facts, and quotations covers two thirds of the page (A4539). It presents in full such texts as Malachi 41 ; 2 Peter 3 :10 ; 2 Thessalonians :8 ; and Revelation 14:7.

Reaction seen recently to a quite different type of literature is likewise encouraging and should guide us into a more definite and larger program to multiply such incidents. This is the influence of The Midnight Cry. Editors prone to run articles that throw ridicule upon Adventists because of their connection with the Millerite movement are acknowledging their errors in so doing after reading this book.

A writer on the Lowell, Massachusetts, Sunday Telegram, in apologizing for a typical story he had written on the 'centenary of Adventism ordinarily dated from 1845," has this to say in the issue of October 7:

"I now know . . . that I was unintentionally offensive 'in using the phrase 'Millerite delusion,' as per many previous writers; that my reference to a Dracut legend of a Millerite donning ascension robes to await the end of the world should, if mentioned at all, have been quali­fied by stating that these ascension-robe stories appear to have been wholly mythical; that, while I gave credit to William Miller for being a less ridiculous figure than ordinarily supposed, and to present-day Adventists as be­ing in good works and aspirations one of the most es­timable of Protestant denominations, I should have made more of the respect and veneration which the latter still feel toward the former deist who from Scripture reading convinced himself and others that a second advent was. close at hand.

"I likewise wrote without knowing how thoroughly the myths and legends of the early failures of Millerism to predict the correct date of a second coming have been exposed in The Midnight Cry, by Francis D. Nichol, printed at Washington in 1944, and second edition, 1945. This serious, well-documented book is, incidentally, one to make an old newspaperman again ashamed of his so-called profession, for it shows up the American press as frivolously and, often upon slight or no basis of fact, maliciously making fun of fellow human beings."

Many leading papers of the country have given favorable reviews of this new book. Editors wield a mighty power and should be given a chance to know the truth on this subject. Many will react as did the book reviewer on the New York Herald Tribune. He gave two columns to The Midnight Cry in the August 26 issue. After a sketch of the historical background, he said:

"The rise and fall of Millerism are well known to all students of theology. And most laymen in New England and the Midwest have been brought up on stories of the fanatical imbecilities of the Millerites---how they gath­ered and shouted, how they tailored ascension gowns of pure white muslin for the great day, how they climbed hills and mountains, even barns and apple trees, in order' to get a good view of the event; and how many went stark mad and had to be confined. The files of all news­papers of the period, and the pages of a number of re­spected histories- and other serious works are studded with- tales of the wild-eyed followers of William Miller. These stories have long since congealed into a folklore that is as firmly believed as is Henry Longfellow's verse about Paul Revere.

"Now comes Mr. Nichol, a prominent member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, with a truly monumental and enlightening study of Millerism, with especial regard to the allegedly insane acts of its cohorts. With a self-avowed bias, but with great good humor and a vast amount of research, he has made a book that must be reckoned with.

"Mr. Nichol has done a remarkably clear, fine, and im­portant book, and it stands virtually alone in its field. Though I admire the book and found it of intense inter­est, I regret it must largely dissipate the more lurid of the folk tales about the Millerites, wondrous stories cher­ished for years."

Such reversals of beliefs publicly acknowledged should set this denomination on fire in behalf of a movement to place The Midnight Cry in the hands of every editor in the country.

One more incident for which the Publicity De­partment of the General Conference can take no credit, but which illustrates a point. That point is that editors are looking for attractive, readable articles on practical Christian living.

Eider B. A. Scherr, home missionary secretary of the Kansas Conference, wrote an article on prayer for the Signs of the Times. It appeared in the issue for August 28, beginning on the first page. Its title was "Making Prayer Count—If Your Prayers Aren't Answered You May Find the Answer Here."

The managing editor of the Los Angeles Exam­iner read the article and wired the Signs for permission to republish it in all Hearst papers. The article was featured in the Sunday, September 16, issues of all twelve Hearst papers, with a combined circulation of approximately 6,000,000. It later was reprinted by the Topeka, Kansas, State Jour­nal, and at least one magazine has requested per­mission to publish it.

Truly Seventh-day Adventist publications are reaching leaders in many spheres of influence and are highly valued. Such results should encourage our writers and stimulate a much greater circula­tion of our books and periodicals.

Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

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By J. R. FERREN, Secretary, General Conference Bureau of Publicity

January 1946

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