Signs of the Times

Jan J. van Capelleveen Editor of Religion for the "Rotterdammer" newspaper in Rotterdam, The Netherlands in Christianity Today Washington, District of Columbia [Reprinted by permission]

The gains of materialism have proved that they do not satisfy. Immediately after the war, people clamored for material things. First it was food, then the refrigerator, afterwards television and the car; now it is the second house.... This postwar demand was natural. My wife had lived for half a year on tulip bulbs. And I can still taste the bitter sweetness of sugarbeets, which kept us alive during the last year of the war. Swedish bread, floating down on parachutes from the air during an immense rescue operation, looked heavenly to us. The first piece of chocolate an American soldier gave me turned into nectar in my mouth.

But man cannot live by bread alone forever. German doctors are said to have a pile of prescription notes on their desks with only three letters on them: F.D.H., meaning Fresse die Helfte (Eat half). The car we finally can afford has become a concern in the overcrowded narrow streets. ... Materialism is leaving a bitter taste in the mouth, a void in the heart, and a big bill on the desk—from the drugstore and doctor.

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September 23, 1967

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