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Woodbine Willie

We need not be alone in this. An Anglican priest, G A Studdert Kennedy saw it. He was a chaplain in the First World War who became known to the troops as Woodbine Willie because he gave out Woodbine cigarettes. Here is his discovery:
On June 7th, 1917, I was running to our lines half mad with fright, though running in the right direction, thank God, through what had been a wooded copse. It was being heavily shelled. As I ran I stumbled and fell over something. I stopped to see what it was. It was an undersized, underfed German boy, with a wound in his stomach and a hole in his head. I remember muttering, "You poor little devil, what had you got to do with it? not much great Prussian blonde about you." Then there came light. It may have been pure imagination, but that does not mean that it was not also reality, for what is called imagination is often the road to reality. It seemed to me that the boy disappeared and in his place there lay the Christ upon His Cross, and cried, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my little ones ye have done it unto me." From that moment on I never saw a battlefield as anything but a Crucifix. From that moment on I have never seen the world as anything but a Crucifix. I see the Cross set up in every slum, in every filthy overcrowded quarter, in every vulgar flaring street that speaks of luxury and waste of life. I see him staring up at me from the pages of the newspaper that tells of a tortured, lost, bewildered world.(1)


Social repentance needs instantiation. We need to come together to commit specific acts of repentance. I attach two pieces of a proposal for such a specific act. And may God have mercy on our souls.

1. Studdert Kennedy, G A, The Word and the Work, New York, Longmans, Green and Co, 1925, pp 57-8

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Nurse Edith Cavell  00:15:00  128Kbps mp3
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Rev Dick Sheppard  00:15:00  128Kbps mp3
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