War of the Worlds

November 1, 2018


On October 30, 1938, the world was invaded by Martians... or so some thought. A somewhat obscure radio program performed a radio version of the H.G Wells classic "War of the Worlds." In that story, Earth is invaded by hostile aliens and a battle ensues. The 1938 radio version was so realistic that some though it was an actual invasion. Much research has shown that the panic wasn't as widespread as thought. Nonetheless, the broadcast has a major place in media history. It also shows how fear can overcome rational thinking.


The famous filmmaker Orson Wells was behind this escapade. He apologized in the aftermath of the program. Some government officials (and newspapers at the time) criticized the stunt believing that the medium of radio was so influential that the public shouldn't have been led lied to. (Newspapers had a business agenda: Radio was a competitor and the print companies feared it's widespread popularity.)


While the panic wasn't universal, many feared that an actual invasion had taken place and the program wasn't being truthful. Some believed the invading forces were actually German. Hitler's Third Reich was in it's early stages in 1938. His takeover of European countries and his empire-building intents were only beginning to emerge. The United States had resisted entering the war on the continent or helping defend Britain. A nationalist, "America First" campaign held at bay any American involvement. 


Two weeks later on November 9-10, German soldiers and civilians invaded Jewish neighborhoods throughout the country (and in Austria) terrorizing Jews and Kristallnacht ("night of vandalizing Jewish businesses. This is known as crystal"). The shattered glass of shop windows was reminiscent of pieces of crystal. This was the beginning of the Holocaust as Hitler's evil intents became evident.

The "war" will be over when love conquers evil.

American Jews suffered the worst massacre in American history last week in the Pittsburgh area of Sq. Hill. The assailant made his hatred of Jews widely known in social media. He was especially riled up by the work of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, a Jewish organization established in the late 1800's to help European Jews acclimate to their new home in the U.S. More recently, HIAS has aided immigrants all over the globe in their journey to find safe haven from war, famine or persecution. The Tree of Life assailant believed that immigrants from Latin American countries were invading American and were going to carry out a genocide against white people. His response: Kill.


Are we witnessing a war of the worlds? In one world, fear of "the other" (person of color, person from a different religion, an immigrant) motivates everything. In this world of fear, dehumanizing people is the norm. The person different from me is less is seen as less than human because they're a threat... carries disease... is bent of "my" destruction. Killing them is acceptable means of protecting "my world."


The other world (Kingdom of God as Jesus would say) is based on love of neighbor, treating others as you want to be treated, considering others as more important than ourselves. In THIS world the other is loved by God because all people are created in the image and likeness of God. In THIS world, love is stronger than hate.


"War of the Worlds" ends with the Martians dying being exposed to human pathogens. It wasn't military might that defeated the invaders. It was exposure to human. As Wells wrote ""slain, after all man's devices had failed, by the humblest things that God, in his wisdom, has put upon this earth."

The end of hatred and violence against those who are different will be as a result of the love one human extends to another. The "war" will be over when love conquers evil.

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Calvin Presbyterian Church

415 East Grandview Ave.
Zelienople PA 16063



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