Intro & Background LBS – written different time – meld with other version

September 8, 2015

LSB’s British authors & WWII:

The 104 letters in the anthology “Letters of the Scattered Brotherhood” were originally written by religious leaders of the Church of England during the 6-year buildup to the WWII, and the 7 years of actual armed combat between the Allied and Axis powers.

Day and night bombings raids on the larger cities of Britain (London Blitz) and the countryside by the German Luftwaffe went on unabated for months on end. With the exception of three small and politically inconsequential neutral countries, Britain was the only western European country that had not been invaded and occupied by the Nazis between September of 1939 and May of 1940.

Each letter published in the LSB was individually written by an author who was personally living through the relentless military aggression of Hitler and the Italian dictator Mussolini. Against this backdrop of war, the advice by these authors about spiritual growth, loving-kindness for one another and how to go about finding inner peace is all the more meaningful.

As modern-day Americans, it’s hard to understand just how unrelentingly grim and anxiety-provoking the years between 1936 and the end of the war in 1945 were for Europeans. Except for the three neutral countries of Switzerland, Ireland, and Sweden, and Spain, which was under a fascist dictator, every country that now constitutes the European Union was either forcibly ‘annexes by Nazi or Italian Fascist troops, or had been militarily attacked or invaded and occupied, with its population exploited or exterminated by Hitler or Mussolini’s henchmen.

Had the United States suffered the same kind of military aggression and occupation, our democratic government would have been violently overthrown and replaced by Hitler’s infamously brutal dictatorship. Imagine if only three small states in the US (Vermont, New Hampshire, and Connecticut) and a politically neutralized state (Oklahoma for example) were still unoccupied and theoretically ‘free’ in a sea of unbridled military aggression, while American citizens in the other 46 states were dying in huge numbers. Under these dire circumstance, I wonder how many of us (including me) would have been able to maintain our religious faith or inspire hope in others.

Fortunately for us, America was safely behind the buffer zone of the Atlantic Ocean, while most of the civilians of Europe were experiencing hand-to-hand combat in the streets. Bombs rained down on Europe with untold civilian casualties as Americans slept safely in our beds,.

By war’s end, over 50 million soldiers and innocent civilians died as a result of Hitler and Mussolini’s military adventures and their systematic, industrialized methods of state-sponsored extinction of whole populations.

These countless victims included Hitler’s own personal rivals, political dissenters, a very large number of ordinary German citizens, mentally and physically handicapped children, retarded adults, outspoken protestant ministers and Catholic priests, uncooperative union organizers, gypsies, gay men, and ultimately, two-thirds of the Jewish population of Europe.