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Trials of an Editor

Aubrey's job as a writer and editor at the Baptist Sunday School Board required sensitivity to a wide range of opinions of the readership of the Board's publications. At times it was impossible to avoid offending someone–as shown by the following correspondence from the early 1940's. [Names and places have been changed.]

First Baptist Church
Smithville, Texas
January 24, 1943

Dear Mr. Hearn:

Your article in the Training Union quarterly for Jan. 24, and the Discussion Number Five, gives a quotation from Herbert Spencer in which he stated, “To be a good animal is the first requisite to success in life, and to be a nation of good animals is the first condition of national prosperity.”

I am calling your attention to this matter because it was called to mine after having been aired in the young people’s department by a real christian lady; but also one who has been told by J. Frank Norris that all Convention Baptists believe that we sprang from a monkey. She just knows you are a modernist and trying to poke it down our young people’s throats that we are of monkey descent.

I shall appreciate it if you will give me a word of explanation as to the reason for the quotation. And your position in the matter of your belief in the bible plan of origin.

This lady has great influence over, not only the young people, but our entire membership. And I am trying to defeat her effort to destroy the influence of our Convention Baptists. She was born here almost, has lived here since a young woman, and has much weight; it would be impossible to get her out of leadership in the church.

Of course, if you are not a baptist, and I happen not [to] know, you have a perfect right to write as you please as far as either the lady or I am concerned. However, our baptist magazines should not allow any thing to come through them that might reflect upon us. And we have in the southland plenty of tainted people that will take exception to that statement because of the lies of Dr. Norris.

I assure you that I write this in the best interests of His cause. And I remain

Sincerely yours,
Jack Jones, Pastor

Nashville, Tennessee
January 29, 1943

Dear Brother Jones,

Your letter of January 24 is appreciated. You may tell the young lady who questioned my quotation from Herbert Spencer that it refers to the health of the American people. The conclusion she reached was utterly unwarranted.....

I trust that the above paragraph answers your queries. I should be glad to correspond with the young lady if there are further questions.

C. Aubrey Hearn

Smithville, Texas
Feb. 22, 1943

Dear Brother Hearn,

Bro. Scott gave me your letter of Jan. 25. I think your lesson in our B.Y.P.U. Quarterly was one of the best we have had and much needed at this time.

I am glad you.....do not believe in evolution. Then why quote Mr. Spencer who does believe in evolution???? Certainly, I know you were referring to the health of the American people, but our bodies should be something much more than “good animals.” Many young people are taking his advice and making “good animals” of their bodies. That is just what Hitler teaches his young people. Baptists won’t go to Hell teaching evolution, but they get so close to the edge quoting Spencer, Kagawa and some other “bright lights” they are likely to fall in.

Yours truly,
Mrs. Mary Smith

Nashville, Tennessee
Feb. 26, 1943

Dear Mrs. Smith:

I am grateful for your gracious remarks concerning my lesson in the Baptist Young People’s Union Quarterly for January.

As for my quoting Herbert Spencer, there is room for a difference of opinion. Just because I quote Mr. Spencer in one sentence does not mean I agree with everything he had to say. I have observed that most writers quote people with whom they do not agree, and most people who are not writers do the same thing. If I wish to quote a man, I do not take the time to read the history of his life and all his works and see that I agree with everything he says. If I did, I would probably not quote very many people. Therefore, I cannot see any point to your criticism of my program.

Sincerely yours,
C. Aubrey Hearn