How Glenn Clark Pursued World Peace
What I have to offer here is a PDF of Glenn Clark’s book On Wings of Prayer, an account of his journey around the world in 1954 to learn from praying people and prayer groups how we might find spiritual solutions to world tensions and global eruptions that were not resolved by war nor by diplomacy.
These tensions and eruptions are still with us today, and Glenn Clark’s assessments are as relevant as they were 70 years ago. He writes candidly about the Russia and the threat of nuclear war, Taiwan and China, Korea and Vietnam, Palestinians and Jews, and, most pointedly, Europe, America and western treatment of the “dark races.” His assessment of the excesses of western capitalism helps us see our complicity in the rise of desperate immigration and climate change.
What Glenn Clark offers is a way forward based on spiritual solutions. As the cover says, “In palaces and humble dwellings around the world the author met with praying people and prayer groups, and it was in these hearts of sincere devotion that he found the answer to world tensions and global eruptions.” The book is, as the inside jacket says, “a rare combination of factual reporting of conditions and experiences and an inspirational prophecy based upon recent observations while on a world journey. It will appeal to praying people. It will thrill everyone who wants a new and better world in which to live.”
Clark concludes his book with three chapters discussing Three Ways of Solving World Problems: the way of war, the way of adjustment (economics and diplomacy) and the final step toward world peace: prayer. He quotes President Eisenhower addressing the World Council of Churches on August 19, 1954,
The goal should be nothing short of inviting every single person in the world who believes in the power of a supreme being to join in a mighty, simultaneous, intense act of faith. That act of faith might take the form of a personal prayer by the hundreds upon hundreds of millions delivered simultaneously and fervently for the devotion, wisdom, and stamina to work unceasingly for a just and lasting peace. If this mass dedication launched an unending campaign for peace, supported continuously by prayer, I am certain wondrous results would ensue.”
Glenn Clark’s travel began on January 2, 1954 but his journey began one day earlier. He writes in the Prologue, “New Year’s Day I spent at Koinonia Estate just outside of Baltimore meeting in discussion and prayer with twelve men of God. The day following, January 2, I boarded a plane at the International Airport and my journey around the world began.”
Clark’s world tour experience and the statement by President Eisenhower led him to reassemble his team at Koinonia. He writes,
A group of church leaders, government leaders, and people of influence from all over the nation met for three days of discussion and prayer at the Koinonia Foundation outside of Baltimore to discuss some of the most effective ways by which we could “set ourselves to implement such a program.”
Does this inspire you as much as it inspires me? If so, you might ask what is this place Koinonia?
You can read more about it here, but the Koinonia Foundation acquired a 44-acre estate in the Green Spring Valley north of Baltimore, and soon launched a program, and community life, featuring retreat, study, spiritual community–and training to take literacy, agriculture, health, and similar practical skills into the undeveloped world. Glenn Harding, perhaps Glenn Clark's most loyal collaborator, was the organizer and first director of the Koinonia Foundation. Much of the Peace Corps’ program was modeled after Koinonia’s. The community’s center of gravity was nonsectarian Christianity, with strong Quaker influences.
It just so happens that I live only a few miles from what was the Koinonia Estate. It is now a beautifully kept wedding venue with a separate building for conferences. In a few weeks it will be the venue for Koinonia Spring 2023, A Day Of Peaceful Living through singing, reflective prayer, inspiration and community discussion. We gather on Thursday, April 20, 2023 at 8:30, meet from 9-4 and we provide lunch at noon. Koinonia Spring 2023 is important because many people want to live more peacefully.
It just may be that the essential components of peaceful living are, in no particular order, a daily time of inspiration, reflective prayer, heartfelt discussions with others, and singing in some form or fashion. Koinonia is a day devoted to these four essentials. Both our morning and afternoon sessions include heartfelt singing and an extended reflective prayer and meditation, an inspirational speaker, and a time to share insights about living more peacefully.
So much for how we can live peacefully as individuals. But how can we live peacefully as a people? Let me make a personal appeal to each of you, based on a motto Glenn Clark quotes in the opening paragraph of his book:
The bees carry pollen where they gather honey.
The honey we gather will be the peace each of us may experience on this day of rest and relaxation. But the pollen we carry will be the interaction we have with one another. Koinonia 2023 is designed start to finish to bring diverse people together in pursuit of a communal experience of peace. Glenn Clark and his colleagues journeyed around the globe, meeting with humble people, opening their hearts to the needs and aspirations of those they met, and returned home with a new understanding of the spiritual underpinnings of a peaceful world order. WE MUST DO THE SAME. This is what we hope to achieve when we gather on April 20th.
Please join us.
And please invite others.
Sunday, March 26, 2023
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Notable quotes from On Wings of Prayer by Glenn Clark
p.20 That was the purpose of our journey around the globe—to explore and demonstrate the practicability and efficacy of this power of love, when combined with the power of prayer, to solve the problems of the world.
p.30 They illustrated, as you will see as our journey proceeds, what our whole trip around the world points up: that tremendous power for the Kingdom can be released when all Christian groups work together in harmony. Give Jesus eleven dedicated Christian men of different denominations and creeds who will work together like eleven men on a football team, and He can change the world.
p.31 Nations, as well as individuals, can become victims of jealousy, of resentment and of greed, and Germany was no exception. With her it took the form of a sort of claustrophobia—shut in as she was in all directions from the sea ... Since the only safeguard of nations is to have a frontier, it naturally follows that when frontiers are closed in one direction they must open in another or the nation will go psychopathic.
p.48 There is indeed a strange partnership in those twin hills, the Acropolis and Mars Hill, standing there side by side. One is sacred to the intellect, the other sacred to the soul. Wherever Greek civilization went without Christianity it degenerated. Wherever Christianity went without the undergirding of Greek culture, it lapsed into superstition and barbarism. But wherever Christianity and Greek culture went side by side, great civilizations were the result. See: https://public.wsu.edu/~campbelld/amlit/hellenism.htm WHEW!
p.74 If we have a right to select our own guardian spirits I have already selected John, the beloved disciple, as mine. So I turned to him in fancy and whispered, “Do you think I would have the right, before I leave this Holy Land, to go back two thousand years in time and find Jesus as He walked in Palestine and ask him for special advice for my age?” “I will myself take you to him,” he seemed to reply. “When the time is ripe I will tell you.”
p.91 “We three are on a trip to build a Belt of Prayer around the world, and the chief purpose of that journey is not to see the outside of things, but to find the inner spirit of every country we visit.
p.95 Before we can understand a nation we must be able to see the good in established institutions which to outsiders might at first sight seem anything but good. ... And we in America have been amazed that a nation like India should be bound hand and foot by such an out-moded custom as the caste system. However, knowing that every evil has its germ of good, one of the first things I undertook when I reached India was to find the germ of good in the caste system.
p.100 Moses laid down rules in the book of Leviticus that no Jew must ever eat blood. Not till it is all drained from the flesh can the meat be eaten. For blood is life—and it is a crime to eat life. The Hindu goes a step further—not only is the blood to be abstained from but no creature that ever had life must be eaten.
p.107 In answer to my questions the bishop told us how his adventure into Muslim mysticism had made of him a spiritual explorer, questing from stage to stage, trying to meet in the unseen world Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed and finally hoping to reach and enjoy union with Allah. But Allah he conceived to be a god of cruel justice who punished severely. When he opened the gospels to learn of Jesus, ranked as a prophet in the Muslim hierarchy, he found not only a prophet, but a loving Savior who was willing to die for the sins of mankind.
p.123 We in this country are convinced that our democratic way of life is the best way. It is best because its roots are mercy, justice, faith, love—the teachings of Jesus. Only the unadulterated teachings of Jesus will make this earth “as it is in Heaven. And only the real application of the Sermon on the Mount will make it possible for Democracy to survive. Democracy is basically a doctrine of respect for the individual, for each of God’s children.
p.128 At the center of both Gandhi’s and Vinoba’s lives is the law of love, and the expression of that love in non-violence. Gandhi applied this law with phenomenal success in the political sphere and India achieved her freedom from foreign rule non-violently. Now Vinoba is applying it in the economic sphere, showing that it can yield phenomenal results also to free the impoverished from their poverty.
p.129 I couldn’t help but think how the crisis the world is in today ought to stir American Christians to start a spiritual crusade that will give the wealthy possessors of Christian-America a maximum opportunity to sense their responsibility to the world before the sleeping dark billions begin exerting violent pressure forcing us to do so. (REPARATIONS)
p.157 Indo-China was not in nearly as great danger from Communism as Burma, but the events that followed proved conclusively the thesis that I have presented: that the Jesus way, by which I mean the just and merciful way, applied to national relations, has never once failed, and that the power-politics-way has failed whenever tried.
p.160 “Whatever may be the political tides in France, one thing has become increasingly clear. All colonialism must come to an end. Independence is the most powerful slogan of the century. America has the first historic claim to that slogan. We should reclaim it. The day we do we will have acquired a moral authority among the people of the world that no force can ever destroy.”
p.168 And the irony of the holocaust in this friendly city was that most of the destruction came not from bombs dropped by enemy Japanese flyers but from shells from American battleships in the final effort to drive the Japanese out. War does not pay. We, the winners, in the process of winning destroyed the very foundations of a prosperity we were trying to preserve.
p.180 I had a particularly good visit with Miss Jenkens whose parents were missionaries in China and cousins of Agnes Sanford, mother of my lovely daughter-in-law. A tall chap who was graduated from Hamlin about the time my daughter, Marion, was graduating from Macalester asked me to autograph A Man’s Reach. He has two copies of I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes which, he said, he and his family live by. He quoted his mother as saying, “Some say Glenn Clark is a liberal, but if he is I am liberal, too.” These missionaries are all conservative but their fundamentalism is like ours and centers around the fundamentals of Jesus. It is not the fundamentalism which gets preoccupied with fighting about rituals and creeds.
p.183 Here on Formosa the revelation that came to me was how close heaven is to earth. The lovely people in the Leper Colony especially live very close to heaven; in fact, these victims of fate, exiled from family and friends, have almost nowhere else to look but to heaven. On the streets of Teipei, thronged with exiled “nationalists” separated from the mainland of China only by a narrow strait which bombers loaded with death could span in six minutes, I looked at people whose lives could be wiped out in a twinkling of an eye Never did I realize how fragile human bodies are and how temporary life on earth can be, as I did here. And never did I realize more strongly how only the solutions that are born in heaven can ever solve the problems that are born on earth. Something like this must have been in the mind of the consecrated church organist when she named her three sons, Everlasting Life, Resurrection, and Born Again. These three sons are all wonderful preachers now.
p.191 It is easy for critics sitting in comfortable arm chairs today to go back over past history and point out where and how China could have been saved from Communism. Most criticism is summed up in a slogan of five words: “Too little and too late.” The slogan is correct but the application is wrong. The too little and too late should be applied not to the military field but to the ethical field. Had our statesmen and capitalists helped Chiang to bring about the needed reforms before the Communists beat us to it. Democracy would now be so anchored in China that neither force of arms nor of propaganda could drive it out.
p.195 Indeed I would like to repeat that testimony on every page of this chapter for it is such a stupendous task to make the American public realize that China was lost not because of lack of military preparedness but because of lack of spiritual preparedness.
p.208 The reason I am so interested in the work of Merrell Vories is because he is a living manifestation of what the world so needs—the application of the teaching of Jesus in all the areas of life—the school, the factory, the playground, the home, everywhere. ... This knowledge has a slow but sure influence throughout the building and labor trades, which are not being directly evangelized by any other agency.
p.207 I can surely recall some Christlike souls who never went through the fires of sin, suffering, and catastrophe, but received their impetus into the spiritual life by the invasion into their lives of some heavenly inspired persons whose lives had become miniature reflections of Jesus himself. Whenever a radiant contagious spiritual leader lets a part of his real contagious experience of prayer and love be injected into the heart of another, something permanent happens.