The man who more than anyone else brought about the solution to the teen-age problem was Eric Liddell. It is rare indeed that a person has the good fortune to meet a saint, but he came as close to it as anyone I have ever known. Often in an evening of that last year I (headed for some pleasant rendezvous with my girl friend) would pass the game room and peer in to see what the missionaries had cooking for the teen-agers. As often as not Eric Liddell would be bent over a chessboard or a model boat, or directing some sort of square dance — absorbed, warm, and interested, pouring all of himself into this effort to capture the minds and imaginations of those pent-up youths… .
In camp he was in his middle forties, lithe and springy of step and, above all, overflowing with good humor and love of life. He was aided by others, to be sure. But it was Eric’s enthusiasm and charm that carried the day with the whole effort. Shortly before the camp ended, he was stricken suddenly with a brain tumor and died the same day. The entire camp, especially its youth, was stunned for days, so great was the vacuum that Eric’s death had left. Langdon Gilkey, from Shantung Compound, his memoir of his experience in the Weihsien Internment Camp during World War II. Were it not for the movie Chariots of Fire few people today would know the name of Eric Liddell, but in a strange way the film distorts his memory. He was a great athlete, but that was not his vocation. He is one of the few figures of the 20th century whom one can straightforwardly and unhesitatingly call a great, great saint. I could not possibly admire him more than I do.
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