6.8.2020 – Many divisions

Many divisions
does the pope have? They are there …
though you don’t see them

At the Big Three Conference in Tehran in November, 1943, Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin and Franklin Roosevelt met to discuss plans for operations in World War 2.

Winston Churchill mentioned to Joseph Stalin that the views of the Pope might also be considered.

Stalin looked at Churchill and says something along the lines of, “How many divisions does the Pope have?”

For the most part, the story ends there.

A show stopper of a comment to be sure.

We recently relocated and once again I had to pack and unpack my books.

Whenever this happens I run across old favorites that I haven’t opened in years and before I know it is hours later and few books have been put away.

I came across my copy of “The Fringes of Power.”

The edited diary of Winston Churchill’s Principle Private Secretary (PPS), John Colville.

Colville was 1st assigned to the Prime Minister’s Office under Neville Chamberlain.

He would continue in this office through both of Mr. Churchill’s terms as Prime Minister.

And he, illegally, kept this diary.

I first came across this book at the Creston Branch Library on the North End of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

I lived in the neighborhood of the library in an apartment with no air conditioning.

Often on hot summer nights I would walk down to the library to read.

For some reason, I could always count on the library’s copy of this book to be there.

It is one of those books that you could just open anywhere and read.

Somewhere along the line I picked up my own copy.

Maybe at a Library book sale.

I always have stayed on the war years for the most part.

I remember reading that Mr. Churchill was asked once if he could, what year would he like to live through again?

Without hesitation, Mr. Churchill responded, “1940! Decisions had to made every day!”

But this night I got into the pages about the 1950’s.

I was reading how Mr. Churchill had arranged to be in the United States in January 1953 so he could meet with both President Truman and a week later, President Eisenhower.

Colville recorded how on the night of January 8th, there was a dinner at the White House

Colville writes, “There was some talk about Stalin. Truman recalled how at Potsdam he had discovered that the vodka Stalin drank for toasts was really weak white wine, and how when W.S.C had said that the Pope would dislike something, Stalin answered …”

I was happy to be able to finish the quote, “How many divisions has the Pope.”

It is a famous quote.

Unexpectedly, Colville’s diary entry continued.

“W[inston] said he remembered replying that the fact they could not be measured in military terms did not mean they did not exist.”

I had not heard of Mr. Churchill’s response.

He certainly gave as good as he got.

They are words for people today who use the name of God in vain.

I am not talking about people who cuss, though taking the name of God of vain has come to mean that in some circles.

The 3rd of the 10 commandments states, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” (Exodus 20:7) in the King James English.

The New International Verison of the Bible puts it , “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God,”

In vain,

Do not misuse.

Carelessly, thoughtlessly, irreverently, silly banter and make empty promise are all terms used for this verse in other English translations.

Reminds me of someone.

Someone who should know better thought I doubt it sometimes.

Someone who uses the Bible and the Lord’s name pretty carelessly.

Someone who needs to be reminded that if you cannot measure his power in military means, it does not mean its not there.

That someone would do well to be aware of that power.

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