THE RED CAP ON THE CROSS

From The Tribunal October 3rd 1918

This is a further update in a series of extracts from the No Conscription Fellowship’s journal, published in the UK between March 1916 and November 1918
_For further extracts go to:_http://nfpb.org.uk/tribunal

The symbolic importance of the red cap and the cross needs no emphasis. The former has attained international significance, whilst the latter, after a chequered history of nearly 2,000 years still points the way to a world-wide fellowship. We are living through times of drastic change. Revolution is in the air. When it comes “will it be a dance of death or a pageant of life?”

Richard Roberts, who asks this question in “The Red Cap on the Cross” (Headley Bros., 2/6 net) believes that the Christian Church is confronted with choice between “new wars and a new religious synthesis,” and enquires “Has it a word with which to face the tremendous emergencies that at hand?” He sees clearly that the modern church with its selfish “gospel of benefits” is not ready to cope with the situation.

The title of his new book – taken from Lamennais’s “Paroles d’un Croyant” – gives the key to what he believes to be necessary if revolution is to bring about the establishment of a new and better society. In 1825, Lamennais wrote “Society is dying; and they are disputing about the clothes with which to cover it, so clear is that the disease is in its clothes.” Like the great French reformer, Mr. Roberts perceives that economic readjustments and political changes, however necessary, are not of themselves likely to take us nearer the co-operative commonwealth. The end of capitalistic exploitation may quite easily be the beginning of a new kind of tyranny. Society needs a new body before it needs new clothes. Class war can effect only a change of clothing. We are members one of another, and if our hopes for the Future are to be realised, there must come a change of heart. “For the old single slogan of Freedom, we must adopt the double slogan of Freedom and Fellowship.”

Mr. Roberts is convinced that the movement of the peoples towards freedom must be actuated by a strong spiritual impulse. Religion and revolution must go hand in hand if the latter is avoid disaster. If the red cap is to accomplish its purpose it must be nailed to the cross. “There is a creative quality, a restless originality in the released moral impulse which drives it to outdo its own best, to stretch out beyond its own highest achievements. it is not satisfied with loving neighbours; it presses on to the love of enemies. Christian morality has a starting point but no terminus.

We must have the will to fellowship – “So true to itself that it will count no man an enemy to be defeated, but a brother to be won, and will go forth with an unconquerable patience, to create a society in which there shall be no rancour or hate or self-seeking, no bitterness or partisanship or any other divisive thing, but a great and willing co-operation in the making of men and in the enrichment of life.”

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