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Wednesday, 19 October 2011

ww2 Aircrew training - the eternal questions

The seventh entry in my father's wartime journal which suggests we need to put hope in God for answers to recover from the desperate situation of being at war. Previous posts include:

Entry 7 - January 20th

Living as we do, in these difficult times from day to day, it is exceedingly difficult to express concisely our more intimate thoughts on divine relations. There is also the feeling that our true spiritual development has been rudely interrupted by the shattering of our former environment. Nevertheless, in this undeveloped state we seem to be in closer contact with spiritual affairs.

Hitherto life in this emergency has been devoid of meaning and completely empty. Our spirit confined to the narrow realms of our body has no real outlet for expression. We all have high ideals, great ambitions, cherish beauty and dream of love, but our ideals are dissipated, our ambitions broken, beauty banished and dreams fade at dawn. This world is corrupt and lecherous, it destroys the most humble of our hopes and leaves us with nothing save the ashes of despair.

Thus frustrated, humiliated and disillusioned there is one only to whom we can turn and He is God. Perhaps man has flattered himself by imagining that he was made after God's own image. I have neither the desire or the requisite knowledge to even express an opinion, but I know that I have within me something that is immortal and gives me, as it does to everyone, my own individuality.

I hold no brief for any established form or creed of religion. Cant, hypocrisy and symbolism have destroyed the fundamental true beliefs and today there exists but an empty, hollow mockery of worship, the blind leading the blind. We need no advocate to plead our cause, we need no mediator to approach God for our very life, our existence is a living prayer and suppliant for help, guidance and assistance.

To those who may survive there is only one course open to them. That is, to supercede our present system by a scheme of things that will provide posterity, not only with material freedom and expression but spiritual expression as well. We are no longer fighting for our King, our country, our Empire or our capitalists, but we are fighting for a people, we are fighting for humanity. We are striving for spiritual expression. It is a fight to establish a basis for a new renaissance, a creation of an island of sanity, a rock on which we may build a new living edifice to honour God.

For us, however, there is nothing left to live for. We have given up our jobs, our homes, our freedom and now we are prepared to sacrifice even our lives in the sacred cause of humanity. So today I can view the machinations of my body with complete detachment. I can achieve nothing. Collectively and individually we are failures but there is still hope!

Tomorrow we live. Shedding this earthly shell which has surrounded, enmeshed and frustrated us, we shall survive and emerge into a sphere of happiness having, at last, attained our full individual, spiritual expression. For God shall wipe all tears from our eyes and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor sadness, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things have passed away!

In the light of this, death can hold no terrors for us, it is our deliverance and the salvation of humanity. We know that whatever may mar our memory here it cannot sear our souls. There is no fear however much our bodies may wish to evade the issue. Tomorrow, we too, shall live.

Douglas George Banks 1920 – 1989 written in 1941

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2 comments:

nevell said...

"our existence is a living prayer and suppliant for help, guidance and assistance."
Well, that's a pretty healthy, bare bones resumé for a day-to-day faith, considering your Dad's apparent disillusionment with the established church, and the apparent disintigration of his known world.

James and Maggie said...

This is brilliant stuff Peter, all of which seems even more profound given the ww2 backdrop to his thoughts. It leaves me wondering whether he and his RAF chums had some amazing theological discussions of an evening when they weren't flying? This section particularly chimes a chord with me; "I hold no brief for any established form or creed of religion. Cant, hypocrisy and symbolism have destroyed the fundamental true beliefs and today there exists but an empty, hollow mockery of worship, the blind leading the blind." Thanks again for sharing these memoirs. James