Hey! Randy

Do Better

Posted by heyrandy on July 24, 2012

Dedication and Leadership, Douglas Hyde, 1966

It tells us something that this book has been continually reprinted since it first appeared. Hyde has a lot to say. He is blunt. That is good. The book is based upon a series of lectures he gave to a Roman Catholic leadership conference. Hyde tells us that the lectures were to examine why the Catholic church was weak in areas where the Communists were strong.

Hyde had been a Communist. He was editor of the official communist newspaper of Britain. In 1948 he resigned, and he and his family joined the Roman Catholic Church. It is this background that enables Hyde to show the differences between the Communists and the Christians and why the Communists are so much better at working toward their end.

Hyde points out that the Communists are always a small group, but they have much more influence than their size would suggest. This is not a small point. Revolutions are not movements of the masses. It is usually only a few people who carry off the revolt. Most people just watch.

Hyde tells us that Christians can learn a lot from the Communists’ methods. There is not any conflict between the Christianity and Communism in most areas of method. The big difference is in effectiveness.

Communists are committed to their cause. The superficial followers do not rise to positions of responsibility in the Communist Party. The sacrifices are great, the hardships unending, and the rewards meager. Hyde says that the Party can get this level of commitment because it asks for it. The Church does not. In getting the big commitment, the Party also gets the many small commitments. If Hyde teaches us nothing else but this, he has done the Church a great service. It is on this point that the book begins to show its true colors. The book is indicts the Church.

Communists have clear goals. Their big one is to convert the world to Communism. The have innumerable smaller goals to work toward the grand end. They do this by instilling their ideology into their people. They are effective at this. They use their human resources well.

The Communists spread their ideology through their study groups. In these groups the teachings are broken down into small sections and pitched at a level appropriate for the class members. Hyde says that the dropout rate in Communist training classes is low. This is largely due to the teachers making the material interesting. It also helps that the people want to learn. The theory is translated into practice. It is not empty ideas without action. “How did you apply this week what you learned last week?” is a frequent question posed to the students. Communism affects every area of the student’s life, and the Party demands that it does so.

Hyde gives us an example of leadership developement within the Communist Party. Jim was a most unlikely candidate for leadership training. Nothing about him said “Leader.” Yet the man became very effective because of the step-by-step training that the Party used. New recruits are given something to do. It is usually a thankless job such as selling Party newspapers or pamphlets. There are little sales but some harassment. Still, it binds the new member to the Party. What do new church members do? Usually nothing. The Party constantly stretches each of its members. The Party expects, demands, them to grow. Jim was constantly given new assignments in areas where he was not comfortable. He grew. This tells us something about the leadership of the leadership.

Being the best at what you do is important to the Communists. Hyde notes that it is illogical, but it is true that those who are very good in one area have their opinions listened to by men in another area. If you know what you are talking about in one area, you must know what you are talking about in another area. He is right. So be the best.

Communists are famous for their use of propaganda. Others have followed this technique. Hyde points to the poster wars in an election in Italy. The Communists produced first-rate posters, but were effectively countered by their political opponents who used equally good posters. Much Christian work is second-rate, Hyde says. He is right, again. We have all seen it. Hyde is not saying that Christian need to be deceptive, but why not make the truth attractive? With a little forethought and some more effort much could be done to improve the quality of the Church’s media.  Hyde quotes Booth: “Why should the Devil have all the good music?”

Self-criticism is not too often practiced in the Church. The Communists practice it, fiercely. How did this advance the Party’s goals? What could we have done better? Common questions in the Party’s analysis of its efforts. Hyde gives an example of how the local Party accomplished its outward goal but failed in advancing toward the goal of spreading Communism. In another example Hyde show how the Party succeeded in spreading Communism but failed in its outward goal.

Hyde’s book is well worth the effort. It is simple and straightforward. All can profit from it. He has much to teach us. Let’s learn it.

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