THE QUIET MEN

My life is moulded by magazine ads. I rarely miss one. They shape my buying habits: I would hesitate to purchase a camera, because I am sure the ads next month will add electronic focussing to the parallax-corrected coupled rangefinder, automatic aperture control, and the other marvelous attributes that make such exciting reading. An ocean trip is out of the question. It would be too disillusioning to one accustomed to the ultimate luxury of the steamship ads.

The ads that I select for framing, however, are always philosophical in character. Just now I am under the influence of “The Quiet Men.” The two-page spread shows a lonely scholar deep in contemplation. According to the poetic essay across the page, he is making an unrelenting assault on a frontier of scientific knowledge. His vocabulary does not include the word “impossible.” He is a quiet man. Since this glimpse is afforded by an aviation company, presumably he is grappling with the kind of pure research that will “extend man’s dominion to the moon.”

He wears the traditional habit of the modern scholar: button-down collar, tweed jacket, knit tie. His bowed head has a Princeton tonsure. His austere cell is lined with neat boxes of learned journals.

I have had my hair cut, my jacket cleaned, and organized my ad clippings in shoe boxes. I find myself more and more given to a chin-in-hand posture. It discourages conversation. If my column becomes shorter, it is because I am becoming a Quiet Man.

Even Pastor Peterson noticed my reflective behavior. He wanted to know what I was dreaming about. I explained that creative thought at the growing edge of knowledge is lonely work and not readily communicated. He heartily approved of my example. If enough Christian leaders ...

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