The Writings of Revilo P Oliver 1908-1994


by Professor Revilo P. Oliver (Liberty Bell, April 1992)

IN ITS ISSUE for 24 February (erroneously dated "February 17" on the first page and in the banner), Christian News complains of Liberty Bell's "vicious attacks against Jesus Christ and Christianity." Its editor was particularly incensed by my sportive little article, "Theological Fun," in the February issue of Liberty Bell.

Christian News reprinted my article in tiny type, which, however, can be read with the aid of a magnifying glass by anyone who has good eyesight. It then complains that Liberty Bell does not follow the canon of free speech because "it has refused to publish a response to its vicious attacks on Christianity."

Liberty Bell and I have always treated the editor of Christian News with great respect, believing him to be what is very rare in the salvation-business these days, an honest man, who says what he believes. I am sure that he is so fair-minded that he will perceive how unfair is the second part of his complaint.

There is, first of all, a vast disproportion between the two periodicals in the amount of space available in each. You have this month's copy of Liberty Bell in your hand and will note the size of each page and the use of 10-point, 11-point, and sometimes 12-point type for articles. Christian News is a tabloid-size newspaper of twenty-four pages published weekly. It contains each week twenty-three pages of reading matter (the last page is now devoted to colored cartoons for the kiddies.) Each of twenty-two pages contains five columns set in the smallest size of type commonly used in newspapers; the editorial page has three columns, but usually in the same small type. As a result, Christian News publishes in three weeks about as many words as Liberty Bell publishes in an entire year.

The first task of every editor is to determine the most effective use of the space that he has available to provide articles that will interest his readers and convey information that will be novel and useful to most of them. Almost all of the readers of Liberty Bell grew up in homes in which they were exposed to some variety of Christianity and are familiar with the claims made for that religion. It is unlikely that a single one of the Christians who read the weekly issues of Christian News was exposed to common-sense scepticism and rational thought in his youth. Most of them have minds hermetically sealed against fresh air from the real world.

Mr. Dietz tells me that, despite this great disparity, he accepted, on 12 March 1990, a challenge to publish a reply to an article in Liberty Bell by Nicholas Carter. He was sent a lengthy article by a Dr. Surburg which he had to decline because the manuscript was so poorly typewritten, not only slovenly but heavily interlined and confused, that it would have been summarily rejected by any commercial periodical, such as the Atlantic Monthly or National Review. His request for a manuscript so typewritten that a compositor could set type from it directly was not answered. (1)

(1. I am sure that Mr. Carter keenly regretted the failure to supply a proper copy of Dr. Surburg's article, which was eventually published in Christian News. Mr. Carter would have had a "Roman holiday," throwing Mr. Surburg and his infinitely trite arguments to the lions, as, according to one of the grossest Christian myths, the Romans are supposed to have thrown the dear, sweet Christians. The best commentary on that tall tale was an Italian cinema entitled "O.K., Nerone!" In the film, the famished lions come bounding up from their cages beneath the floor of the Coliseum and out onto the arena. They halt suddenly, eyeing in dismay the unsavory horde of epileptics, misfits, and lunatics that is wailing, praying, and gesticulating. The lions hesitate, but, after all, they are ravenously hungry and the Christians are all that has been provided for their dinner, so they reluctantly attack the unappetizing food. The next scene is in the tunnels beneath the Coliseum. The lions are heard groaning in their dens, and one sees troops of slaves rushing in, bearing, suspended on poles, huge boxes of bicarbonate of soda. Needless to say, it is an historical fact that the Romans, accustomed to tolerate every kind of grotesque superstition among their subjects, never executed anyone for his or her religious beliefs. Conspiracies against the state and especially attempts to burn down cities were, of course, another matter.)

The best that Liberty Bell can do, therefore, to meet the challenge to "present both sides" of the question is to urge all readers who are not familiar with the arguments for Christianity to subscribe to Christian News, Route 1, Box 309A, New Haven, Missouri (63068); $20.00 per annum. It is a bargain. I am sure no other weekly tabloid of twenty-four pages has so low a price for subscriptions.

I shall further recommend the tabloid to readers who may have heard with tedium the various arguments for most of the varieties of Christianity. Liberty Bell has frequently quoted or cited Christian News, invariably, I believe, with commendation, and I have repeatedly described it as "the best single source of information about developments in, or relative to, religious activities in Western nations today." I have also recommended the Christian News Encyclopaedia (4 volumes; a fifth is in preparation) as an invaluable historical record of recent religious activity.

Christian News is probably the best of hundreds of periodicals ostensibly devoted to the religion. I must observe that, in contrast, Liberty Bell is unique. It is, to my knowledge, the only periodical that tries to cover, with strict objectivity, almost all aspects of the plight of our self-doomed race.

Liberty Bell is unique, and if it ever ceases publication, I shall desist from all further effort to persuade our race to reconsider its suicidal yearning for extinction.

Liberty Bell is totally independent. It reprepents no organization or clique; it is not the production of an editor who publishes to display himself in print. I do not recall having seen an editorial in it, and only rarely does it contain an editorial note.

To show that Liberty Bell is sui generis. I shall list the principle reasons why I write for it.

There is no editorial tampering with what I write. What is published is what I have written, and almost invariably after I have read and approved page proofs. I am responsible for my own errors, but I never have to apologize for errors inserted by well-meaning editors.

There has never been a suggestion that I reduce the English language to the small part of it that is currently used and abused in newspapers, which are necessarily addressed to a multitude of semi-literate readers.

There is no propaganda line. Periodicals that are published by organizations that try to recruit members justifiably insist that their articles conform to the organization's principles and propaganda, and contain nothing, however factual or logical, that would offend members or potential recruits. Even periodicals that are not the house-organs of a political movement usually have editors who have formed in their own minds a picture of the kind of subscribers they wish to attract, and are chary of displeasing that imaginary body by what Christian News calls "straightforward and rough language" that may seem not overly nice and decorous, especially on some particularly sensitive topic. The policy of Liberty Bell is to shirk no demonstrable fact or logically drawn opinion: "straight ahead and damn the torpedoes." This may not be profitable, but it is not disingenuous, and will (or should!) win the confidence of realists. (2)

(2. I use the word in its proper sense as an antonym of 'idealist' and 'religious.' One unfortunate legacy of Christianity is the use of 'realism' to designate the school of Scholastics who claimed that 'universals' (i.e., Platonic ideae) were real, i.e., had a physical, palpable, and objective existence somewhere.)

Most publishers of periodicals (including Liberty Bell Publications) also publish or stock books, which may provide a considerable part of their income. What makes Liberty Bell so remarkable is that I have never been asked to commend or even mention a book on its list, and I have never heard from its editor the common plea, "Please don't notice X's book, because, if you do, our people will buy it and so will buy less of our books."

I review and commend books which I judge to be important and useful to my readers, regardless of who publishes them.

You will not be able to appreciate the great significance of this fact if you have not had a considerable experience of the activities of the so-called "right wing" in the United States. The Reverend Mr. Otten should be prepared at least to surmise what is involved, since he has had the editorial problem of being confronted by letters from 'revisionists' (as persons who believe in historical truth are now called) who tried to use the pages of Christian News for personal attacks on other 'revisionists.'

There are scores of would-be leaders who are presumably dedicated to the formidable task of replacing the Jewish government of the United States with one that is not hostile to our race and civilization, but who spend most of their time and effort in feuding with one another. The reasons for this lamentable and disastrous state of affairs are many besides petty vanity, and I shall attempt to analyse them at some more opportune time. One could, with only a little parodic exaggeration, say that the "right wing" has adopted the motto of the old Marxist "popular front": "no enemies except on the right"!

Mr. Dietz's bitterest enemy, I believe, is a "right-wing" publisher who, piqued by a certain rivalry in publications, has not only published flagrantly libelous charges against Mr. Dietz personally but even descended so low as slanderously to try to use the Federal Bureau of Intimidation to harass Liberty Bell Publications. I have recommended in the pages of Liberty Bell several books from this publisher and shall continue to do so. That is proof of the editor's dedication to our cause and of a most extraordinary ability and willingness to rise above all personal considerations.

I hope that Christian News will not regard that dedication and surmounting of personal feelings as a Christian virtue.

This article originally appeared in Liberty Bell magazine, published monthly by George P. Dietz from September 1973 to February 1999. For reprint information please write to Liberty Bell Publications, Post Office Box 21, Reedy WV 25270 USA.

Copyright ©2000 Kevin Alfred Strom.  Back to Revilo P. Oliver Index