The Missiles of October 1962 - Part 1 & Part 2
For thirteen days in October 1962 the world waited—seemingly on the brink of nuclear war—and hoped for a peaceful resolution to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
These two pieces are a response to what was going on in America and the world at this moment in history, each one is a piece of history in and of itself. I will let you explore that history more on your own, the events are well known now.
Eight months later, in June 1963, President Kennedy offered Americans the following words, "For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal."
It may be helpful to remember that President Kennedy was the first Roman Catholic to hold the office, much like President Obama is the first African American to hold this office now.
What you will read here in the text of this sermon is a call to an ecumenical dialogue between Protestants and Catholics, between fellow Christians. It is in my mind a literary allegory or an allusion, a reflection of what was going one between two nations of the world, and a call to greater understanding within the world of that time.
In the years that followed the events of October 1962, we will begin to see a radical openness take shape in the context of an interfaith dialogue. That dialogue continues today, in new and wondrous ways and spiritual practices.
We may hold on to and cherish our core faith, the faith of our fathers and mothers, but we have also learned new ways to pray and interact with people of many different faiths.
Many of us have learned that the Holy Spirit is actively at work within the world and flows through all the faiths of humankind. Reformation in this sense, has taken on a new meaning in the affairs of humankind.
Saint Julian Press
The Missiles of October 1962 - Part 1
A sermon first written by the Rev. Robert P. Starbuck, M.Div., PhD, during the Cuban Missile Crisis in late October 1962, edited by Ron Starbuck. Copyright 2014 Saint Julian Press, Inc.
“Your world was a world without hope and without God. But now in union with Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near through the shedding of Christ's blood. For he is himself our peace...for he annulled the law with its rules and regulations, so as to create out of the two a single new humanity in himself, thereby making peace. This was his purpose, to reconcile the two in a single body to God through the cross, on which he killed the enmity (hatred)." (Eph. 2:12-13)
This is our purpose today as Christians and as Protestants. On this Reformation Sunday we must remember that it is not only a day, which commemorates the martyrs whose blood was shed in testimony of their faith; but it is a day of reform within our own lives. We must not only look back to that historical event known as the Protestant Reformation but we must see and become a part of that historical event, that reformation which did not stop with Martin Luther but echoed down through the ages and vibrates with emotion as we hear and sing such words as;
A mighty fortress is our God,
A bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing;
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe
His craft and power are great,
And armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
The reformation is not merely a thing of the past or even of the present but it is a thing of the future—and its future, the future of your world and mine will depend upon our acceptation of Christ Jesus our Lord, and our belief that out of Him a single new humanity is formed and this new humanity is everlasting peace and tranquility.
In a time when the world is threatened by total destruction; in a time when the minds of men indifferent to one another because of opposing ideologies and ways of life; in a time when hate is greater than love we need to turn and to re-accept this single new humanity which is our gift of power and our only hope for Life in the midst of death. We need more than ever to set afresh the word Reformation —realizing that the significance of the word stems from its meaning to reform, to start life anew, to seek unity in the midst of disunity a unity needed for both the survival of Christianity and the world at large.
We Americans I fear are still blind to the fact that war is no longer the answer to separation. War has always lost more than it has gained—its wounds are never really healed. Take for example our own nationhood. One hundred years have past and the wounds of the Civil War still drain and smart with - fervor and emotions. The embittered feelings, the hatred evolving out of men of one nation penetrate our very being and cause us to wonder of our purpose as Christians.
So it is in international affairs; but even here the problem becomes of great magnitude and complexity. Nation against nation is a step above people against people. We think different, we believe different, our goal is different. We are unable to communicate because we speak different languages. We see only the sins and indifference of the other nation, and the mistrust, which we have toward one another. This is not to say that our present position is wrong, perhaps it isn’t! I don't know if it is.
I don't think President Kennedy or any given member of our State Department knows the answer — so one must merely feel his way as in the dark, hoping and praying as he moves along inch' by inch, minute by minute. I do not know the answer, do you, really?
I did see the hell of war; and the aftermath of WW II in Germany and France remains as a vivid memory for me—the crying of little children, the war-torn faces of widows and orphans, of old men and old women still has not lost its imprint in more than a decade and a half.
Perhaps it is because I am more mature! At the age of 17, I couldn't wait—I had to see action; now eighteen years later and after four children I'm not so anxious. Now I stop and think and pray. I look at both sides of the coin and war is not the answer.
What is the answer? Peace—Love! This is what existence of the United Nations is proposing. This is what both Russia and the United States claim they want. Of course, we call Russia liar and they call us warmonger and liars in return.
Certainly, there is more to be said than to say that we are right and they are wrong. Oh, we want to say this and we do because it sounds good. But we as a nation are not guiltless and it was due primarily to our stupidity and our longing for a firmer economic foothold in Cuba that the Cuba reformation under Castro came into being.
I think we would have wanted a reform too if we had been living under the rule and exploitation of Dictator Batista. Yet we supported him as a nation because of economic reasons only. We didn’t, and I still don't think we really are concerned with Cuba as a people and as children of God. That is. I have a feeling that a greater concern is the re-establishment of economic relations.
This in no way is to excuse Russia of her massive infiltration and her continuous threat of communism the world over. It does however point the way to our sins and our means of manipulation in world affairs and international relations. To me the United Nations is the one organization that can bring peace into the world.
Perhaps, you have lost all faith in the possibility even that a meeting of the minds, be it a summit conference or a gathering with the Secretary General of the U.N. can save the world from complete annihilation. Perhaps you agree with a former president when he said, “I don't believe in them, they don't amount to a damn. I have been to two of them and nothing was accomplished."
What is it that we want to accomplish that a hydrogen bomb would accomplish? U Thant in a recent speech before the Security Council made this statement: "What is at stake is not just the interests of the parties directly involved, nor just the interests of all member states, but the very fate of mankind. If today the United Nations should prove itself ineffective, it may have proved itself so for all time."
Here a man of the Buddhist faith outshines supposedly a Christian nation. While affirming his own faith he recognizes that there are hundreds and millions of people who believe otherwise. He says, I understand this, and because of this understanding I believe in peaceful co-existence.
Whether we like it or not, (he continues) I believe that communism is going to stay; I believe capitalism is going to stay; I believe parliamentary democracy is going to stay...I believe the day will come when these different societies.... are going to exist peacefully. I believe in these things.
I too believe in these things. As a Christian I too believe that the world can be one even as He is one. That in the midst of different cultures and different races and different minds a thread of unity will shape the peace, and the world and men shall live in a universe of love and tranquility. "This was his purpose, to reconcile the two in a single body to God through the cross, on which he killed the enmity (Hatred).”
The Reformation - It's Future. I suppose that this bring us then to the heart of the message, the very core if you please. For on this Reformation Sunday we seek unity not only among the minds of nations and the world; but we strive towards unity among the minds of Christian leaders within the circle of the Church of Jesus Christ. We cannot help but recall the diversity, which separates the Church on this day.
It certainly equals, perhaps excels the diversity, which divided the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians in Paul's day. As Protestants we know the difficulty that is ours in coming to some understanding with those teachings and principles of Roman Catholicism. The anti-Catholic feelings, which many of us have or have had in the past, deeply affect this wound of separation. We forget in the given moment that we are Christians and brothers one of another. Our hatred and animosity inflame the whole self and like cancer cells spread in in all direction. We would rather be damned than to sit at a table for the purpose of seeking the very unity, which destroyed not by God, but by man.
How strange it must seem to those who think in that direction that the leaders of Roman Catholicism and Protestantism are now seeking unity. This does, not mean that as Protestants we can ever forget the history and cause of our separation; or that it will ever be possible to agree on unity as institutions. For as we look at the problems of diversity such as (1) The Sacraments, (2) The Priesthood of all believers, (3) The freedom of mind and thought—our separation is greater than we well imagine.
But, certainly it is possible to find unity in the light of Christ Jesus our Lord—to live in peaceful co-existence;--striving at all time for the unity of one mind and heart, believing that this unity does’ not come about by man’s doings alone but by the spirit of God working in the lives of his children.
Therefore, it seems to me that if unity is ever to come it must come via three directions. First, it must come via of the Church at Rome. In an opening statement at the second ecumenical council (Second Vatican Council-Opened on October, 11 1962), Pope John XXIII furnished these words, "The Catholic church, therefore, considers it her duty to work actively so that there may be fulfilled the great mystery of that unity, which Jesus Christ invoked with fervent prayer from His Heavenly Father on the eve of His sacrifice.”
The present ecumenical council of the Catholic church, — the results of that council will probably not furnish any momentous change in Christendom; but the very fact that so large a body of Protestants are represented there shows for the first time a genuine concern on the part of a Catholic Pope for unity and peaceful co-existence.
Second, if unity is ever to come it must come also in the direction of Protestantism. Not only must our leaders be concerned with unity but we as members of the Faith must support them and be concerned ourselves with the separation. We must examine every way and means for such oneness. If nothing more we must be willing to talk about our disunity—recognizing our differences and moving out from here.
You see people can live together although their minds think different and their thoughts diverge in opposite directions. We have seen this within the family where one is protestant and one is catholic. Oh yes —you can quickly point out (if you must) those families who have failed under these conditions; but I am speaking now of those families who have learned to live and to love in spite of their differences. I think now of such families within our own church who confront this very problem, but because of love solve it and live in unity.
A year ago the Third Assembly of the World Council of Churches, the Protestantism voice was heard. In her message flow these convictions; "We must together seek the fullness of Christian unity. Our brethren in Christ are given to us, not chosen by us. In some things our convictions do not yet permit us to act together; but...let us everywhere find out the things which we can do together now; and faithfully do them praying and working always for that fuller unity which Christ wills for his Church.”
This brings us then to the fixed direction. If unity is ever to come between Protestants and Catholics it must come via God himself. Only if we allow room in our discussion, our debate, and our arguments for the Holy Spirit to work will Christian Unity be possible. It is not so much that we can bring it to past; as we look at our divergent views it frightens us and we see only chaos and further separation. Hence, the minds of men must be supported by a greater mind —one that knows no separation and longs for his children to live in peace and unity.
In the same way wise nations can be brought together. But it requires a given trust in a world of mistrust, and it requires faith in the midst of doubt. As a Christian I do not believe in war; but I believe that unity is possible only through the exchanges of men's minds where God has an opportunity to work in His mysterious way.
Let us pray.
Sermon delivered at Valley View Methodist Church in Overland Park, Kansas, on October 28, 1962.
The Missiles of October 1962 - Part 2
A sermon written by the Rev. Robert P. Starbuck, M.Div., PhD, in response to the Cuban Missile Crisis in lNovember 1962, edited by Ron Starbuck. Copyright 2014 Saint Julian Press, Inc.
In an editorial written for the "American Journal of Ortho- psychiatry" and appearing in the January 1962 issue of that periodical, Dr. Margaret Mead quoted a statement by the World Federation for Mental Health; "For the first time in "human history, men have come face to face with the possibility that mankind might be wiped out.
This fact has radically altered the whole position with regard to peace and war. The choice lies no longer in the bands of groups of individuals, of giving their lives willingly in order that liberty or justice, or freedom from hunger, may prevail, whether for themselves or for others. The dilemma now facing the world is essentially a matter of precipitating, or preventing... a world conflict from which, even though some might conceivably survive, none would live to inherit any possible spiritual. or indeed, material, fruits of 'victory'."
Having just passed another crisis in world affairs which brought us to the brink of war it seems fitting on this Veteran's Day 1962, to look more closely at Man's need and to see that need in light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This morning, I would like to have you look with me in three directions, first, to the world and the survival of the human race. Second, to one of the most talked about and emotional topics of our day-Radioactive Fallout and Fallout Shelters, and third to the working hypothesis which I believe will not only solve our present dilemma but once again will set in motion the reconstruction of the human race into something more than mere survival.
First then, let us look to the world and the survival of the human, race, i.e., the existence of the world and the human race. What is it that keeps the world going--keeps it revolving around the sun every 24 hours? What is it that keeps our temperature at a livable degree? Surely we are aware that a small shift in the distance between the earth and the sun could cause the earth either to freeze or burn up.
Likewise, an alteration in the ratio inside the body of salt to water, of oxygen to carbon dioxide, of red blood cells to white could put an end to life. What is it that keeps our world, our race from destroying itself physiologically? The answer, of course, is equilibrium- balance "Life is made possible by the most precarious balancing act s in the universe,” writes Norman Cousins, editor of Saturday Review. In fact, we can say that the universe is made possible by a balancing creative force, which in its original nature was of a perfect nature. New to the “hows" of such a perfect creation man does not know —this still remains a mystery to the human race.
We do know however, that the world is set up in polarity and the only thing that keeps it in tact is a balancing process. Heraclitus, an ancient Greek philosopher spoke wisely when he said, "Tension between opposites governed by a rational principle which holds them in balance is the key to the understanding of the world."
Might I add — that it is not only a key to the understanding of the world, but it is the key to the survival of the world! In like nature, Plato's whole philosophical system is set-up in polarity and as one studies the Neo-platonic thought of form and matter, being and nonbeing —comparing this with Aristotle's two opposing factors: potentiality-actuality —— man-God, he realizes the imminent danger of his own self and his own world which is now threatened by unbalance and unrest.
Certainly, we have felt this danger in the past two weeks. We have been threatened as never before with total destruction! Yet, I suppose the most startling thing in this whole episode —this whole possible possibility of final destruction lies in the fact that it comes not as natural means where in the unbalancing of the universe is fulfilled by the earth passing to near or too far away from the sun; but the fact that man himself now has the power to destroy life and the world at large.
The very God, who created the world in such an intrinsic way so that all things were in balance, now sees (as we see) his world threatened by those who think they can unbalance his nature and still live! No longer are we living in an age when we can give our lives in war for the survival of others, for even if they should survive they would have no spiritual or material fruits of victory. As Margaret Mead reiterated in her editorial, our choice is now one of precipitating or preventing a world conflict. Our choice is no longer between war and peace, but war or peace-either we learn to live together or we die together. This is our balance - this is our only hope!
Second, we need to turn our attention to one of the most talked about and emotional problems of our day-Radioactive Fallout and Fallout shelters. On November 1, 1961 Alton Blakeslee, Associated Press Science Writer, wrote an article entitled "Emotional Factors Are Extremely High in the Radioactive Fallout Problem." He began his article with these words; "The scariest word of the day is fallout.... The odds are almost nothing that present amounts of fallout will - hurt you as an individual. Yet it is equally true that some people somewhere will be damaged or will die too soon, possibly ultimately thousands of people-from fallout already loosed by bomb tests… Bombs striking cities and missiles bases would suck up millions of tons of dirt, making it highly radioactive, carrying it perhaps 20 miles high. In an hour, it would start falling down, carpeting great areas with radioactivity…
The next day he followed this article by saying, "The greatest toll from Russia's monster 50 megaton H-bomb could be among tomorrow's children. Its radioactive fallout might doom hundreds or even thousands of the world's children——over several future generations—to early death or physical or mental defects from hereditary damage. Almost all geneticists assume that any increase in radiation could cause genetic damage to some people...A National Academy of Sciences committee has estimated 2 billion children will be born in the world during the next 30 years, and that some 4 million of them would possess tangible genetic effects from natural or spontaneous causes. Different authorities estimate 2 to 10 per cent of such genetic defects might be due to natural background radiation. So, even a slight increase in radioactivity produced by bomb tests could increase this rate of genetic mutations."
Of course, he ends his series of articles by saying, "A consensus of the experts; Bomb testing represents a definite but small hazard to human posterity." Yet, might we ask, as Christians is there any such thing as a small right or a small wrong to human posterity? It is a Christian truth (is it not?) that we are all brothers one of another -- we are responsible to the whole human race, not just part of it. When one of us sin we are a part of that sin, and we must accept the other person to the point of suffering with him because of his sin.
Then too, there are more to nuclear explosions than most of us want to think about. Norman Cousins, who has already been mentioned as the editor of Saturday Review, wrote a book entitled "In Place of Folly". It is a book dealing with the dangers of nuclear power in a world of international anarchy; yet as the publisher claims it is a message of hope so long as "we do not crave the destruction of being the last generation of men on earth.”
According to the author this is what happened at Hiroshima. The explosion produced a firestorm. The air swept in from all sides upon the target area, whipping up the flames. As the heat rose, a vast canopy of smoke spread up and out. --The result was a swirl of air, drawing in fresh air to excite and feed the fire. Even at the edge of the firestorm, winds of 40 miles an hour carried the blaze. The large number of frame houses added to the intensity of the fire. It is not necessary to speculate (he continues) on the effects of a hundred-megaton bomb.
Consider the power of a 10-megaton H- bomb...Brick and concrete buildings more than a few hundred feet from the center of the Hiroshima atomic explosion were not destroyed. In a 10-megaton explosion, however, all brick structures would collapse within an area of more than 300 sq. miles. Private underground shelters would experience 'Fall- in'; that is, a building and all the objects inside it would fall into the shelter…Scorching winds from a 10-megaton bomb would deliver serious injury to people even on the outer fringes of a 2,000 square-mile area.
In the early years after Hiroshima, before the advent of both the hydrogen bomb and ballistic missile, the defense of cities was tied to evacuation procedures. Today, any mass evacuation is ruled out. Evacuation depends on adequate warning time; this no longer exists. A nuclear-tipped missile can now cross a large ocean in fifteen minutes or less. This then is why I mentioned Fallout shelters along with Radioactive Fallout. While I realize that fallout shelters may save some lives), I have a real fear within me that they are much less defensive than we are led to believe.
All information flowing from the experts in the field of science point to the need of better and more protective fallout shelters. Yet, on television I recently heard that the Defensive Dept. of Greater Kansas City was concerned because people were not building more shelters; therefore, they were cutting the requirement in half, i.e., to the type and thickness of the shelter.
As I heard this, I thought to myself what is their motive? Is it really a concern for the survival of the human race?
Man's need – More Than Survival. This I submit to you this morning as we explore together our third point or direction! It seems to me that the working hypothesis, which will solve our present dilemma and set in motion the reconstruction of the human race, must start within the individual.
It must start within your life and mine. In a recent article by Dr. Paul Tillich, which I discovered in Tidings, a church paper of the Mt. Lebanon Methodist Church in Pittsburg, Pa., a note of relevancy was present. The article itself entitled "What is the meaning of life?" It was based upon those fundamental questions of: Where do we come from, where do we go? What shall we do, what should we become in the short stretch between birth and death? In other words, man lives in an age where he is concerned with his existence and he asks such questions about that existence!
In fact, in Tillich's theology he insists that man must ask the question before he can receive the answer.
Just as little children confront their parents with questions of their existence so we as children of God confront Him with questions of our existence. The difficult, says Tillich, is that such questions are not answered or even asked if the "dimension of depth" is lost. And this is precisely what is wrong—man has lost the courage to ask such questions with an infinite seriousness—as former generations did—and he has lost the courage to receive answers to these questions, wherever they may come from.
In our Scripture Lesson this morning the period of Israel's history was in the post-exilic era. In her former days before her exile into Babylon she too had failed to ask the questions now under the rule of another people —with lost of freedom she has time to think.
By the waters of Babylon
she sat down and wept;
For there our captors
required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
"Sing us one of the songs of
And she remembered Jerusalem—it was her highest joy! And truly the words coming from the 14th chapter of Hosea depict the response of God to his chosen people in this post-exilic period——the period fallowing' "the destruction of the nation Israel,
I will heal their faithlessness;
I will love them freely,
for my anger has turned from
I will be as the dew to Israel;
he shall blossom as the lily,
he shall strike root as the poplar,
his shoots shall spread out;
his beauty shall be like the olive,
and his fragrance like Lebanon.
They shall return and dwell
beneath my shadow,
they shall flourish as a garden;
They shall blossom as the vine,
their fragrance shall be like the
wine of Lebanon.
It is time that we realize that survival is not enough. Physically we may live from day to day; but unless we take upon ourselves the courage to be and ask questions about our own existence, about our purpose and responsibility in the world --and then unless we have the courage to receive the answer, even though it hurt --unless we do this, we do not live, we do not have the kind of Life found in Christ Jesus our Lord. If we this morning, accept seriously our Christian faith we will go forth asking the question and through faith in Him whom we have come to worship we will find the answer. We will know that we our nothing until this "something" called God is a part of our very being. As the author of our closing hymn wrote in the last verse:
My will is not my own
Till Thou has made it Thine
If it would reach a monarch's throne
It must its crown resign.
It only stands unbent
Amid the clashing strife,
When on thy bosom it has leant
And found in Thee its life.
Sermon delivered at Valley View Methodist Church in Overland Park, Kansas, on November 11, 1962.
Robert P. Starbuck, M.Div., PhD
In My Fathers's House Are Many Mansions (John 14:2) will be a new book to be published by Saint Julian Press in 2018. It will be a collection of essays and sermons written by Robert P. Starbuck, M.Div., PhD, in his fifty plus years as a Christian clergy, and over forty years as a practicing psychotherapist. We'll begin at the beginning and work our way through my father's life. The book's title is of course an allusion to and a metaphor for the diversity found in a literary and artistic dialogue that promotes world peace, cultural conversations, and an interfaith awareness, appreciation, and acceptance. Although, mostly Christian in vocabulary, the messages offered here are ones of universal acceptance across all humankind.