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What Shall We Think of the Sinking

of the Lusitania ?

Sorrow for those who have lost their lives in this tragedy seems for the moment swallowed up in what we are wont to call the "larger" issues involved. But it is by no means certain that the legal and national are the largest aspects of such a deed. God judges not by numbers and majorities. In no single respect is that conception of history which underlies the narrative of the Hebrew prophets greater than in its assertion of the interference of Providence for chosen ones. At the same time, no teaching of these same prophets is more worthy of reflection or more unfailingly borne out in history, than that which says, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.' Let us not, then, forget to extend our earnest sympathies to those who are bereaved, and in our determination to maintain our rights, let us not take upon ourselves that prerogative of vengeance which Divine Justice reserves to itself.

From a national standpoint, no phase of the event is more disquieting than its seemingly insolent ignoring of the strong protest of our Government, framed to forestall just such a dangerous trespass on neutral rights. If the extreme anxiety of our Government to avoid hostile measures of all kinds, shown so strongly in the Mexican situation, has led Germany to believe that all representations from Washington may be ignored with impunity, we have reached a serious situation-and one not unforeseen by many who believed that we should have dealt more firmly with affairs to the south of us.

The sinking of the Lusitania ought not to bring on war, but it is to be hoped that those in authority in Germany will see that a continuance of their present policy may very easily do so, and that they will not be so ill-advised as to underestimate the seriousness to themselves of such an eventuality.

Saddest of all, perhaps, is the effect of this ruthless act on the total attitude of our people toward German culture. In this respect it is even retroactive. It affects our estimate of all German art and thought. These we have long held in admiration for a certain combination of philosophy and mystical imagination peculiar to them, and in this admiration we have ignored certain grave and really glaring faults. Now the limelight is turned fiercely and relentlessly on these an undertone of sneering cynicism, a coarseness of humor, a brutal bluntness of sensual presentation. We shall see these things henceforth, I fear, in the engravings of Durer and the poetry of Goethe. Unintentionally but none the less surely we shall close many a German book, once frequent to our hands, and shall open it no more.

Taken in conjunction with certain other deeds, only too well attested, that point to moral failures of German culture, the sinking of the Lusitania is a world calamity. Its total effect can be overcome by one thing and one only a spirit of forgiveness sufficiently broad to countervail the evil and bring forth the good; are we great-minded enough for that? Is Germany great-minded enough to meet such a spirit half way? This is no time for boastful patriotism. It is a time for us to take account of ourselves, for never did the consequences of the absence of true Christian feeling seem more appalling.

A Prayer for Every Man

Our Father who art in heaven, guide the President of the United States, and his advisers, in this dark hour, and grant unto us all that will which shall best promote the Kingdom of Righteousness on earth.

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