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 began to practice reflection, he said, our age might learn to give the kingdom of heaven priority over the dominion of space. He suggested I begin my reflection with Scripture and end it with prayer, the constant practice of the great Quiet Man of the Church of Christ.
I am especially grateful that CHRISTIANITY TODAY gave me an opportunity to be heard on the capital punishment issue. The effect of this article has gone far beyond my expectation. Much comment has been adverse, but many letters have expressed lavish praise in presenting the theology on the subject. Colleges and other groups have used the article for discussion.… In Rockford, Illinois, I debated the issue with a prominent lawyer.… The interest in the meeting was phenomenal.
JACOB J. VELLENGA
• Space limitations preclude excerpts from the voluminous additional correspondence on the capital punishment issue following the appearance of “Capital Punishment and the Bible” (Feb. 1 issue).
The author identification in “Concerning Executives of the Church” (Feb. 1 issue) contains an error. I have never been president of the United Lutheran Synod of New York and New England, but was president of the Synod’s Western Conference from 1944 until 1947.
HOWARD A. KUHNLE
Redeemer Lutheran Church
Binghamton, New York
CHRIST IN LAS VEGAS
In … “Christ in Las Vegas” (Jan. 18 issue), we noted no reference to the two Lutheran congregations of the Missouri Synod [which] had conducted services there before 1940.
W. B. STREUFERT
St. John Lutheran Church
Mt. Prospect, Ill.
Regarding the editorial in Jan. 4 issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY … “Young Life Recruiting Provokes Connecticut Clergy,” my experience with Young Life would certainly back up the findings of the clergy in Connecticut. The Young Life movement usually becomes a social clique, wherein basic theological convictions, which are so important in teen-age and adult life are minimized, and wherein the importance of the Church as a saving community is all but lost. No doubt Mr. Rayburn had a good motive in mind when he started the Young Life movement, but in essence the Young Life movement generally introduces the teenager to an artificial and doctrinally unsound ethic, rather than to the Christian Gospel. It is not so much as your editorial implies, a matter of “ecclesiology” as it is a real concern on the part of the Christian clergy that the Young Life movement is becoming a false front church for the teen-age social clique.
PETER N. A. BARKER
St. John’s Episcopal Church
Thank you for the comments … about Young Life.… You might be interested in knowing that here in St. Paul we are having a similar situation. I am a Lutheran pastor and two of my daughters are very active in Young Life. I have been amazed to see the zeal and enthusiasm which that organization arouses in young people and to see also the high type of people which it recruits in our high schools. I certainly think it is a wonderful thing, but the whole movement is subjected to a lot of criticism in our area and I am sad to say that the most severe criticism is from the pastor and the members of one of the very liberal churches in our community. I have gotten the impression that there will be a showdown within the next few weeks and there is going to be a public meeting and there will be people there to denounce the fine Christian organization and from what I gather they seem to imply that the whole thing is backed up by the Communists. It is strange that an organization which proclaims redemption thorugh Christ Jesus should be termed a Communist organization.
Augsburg Publishing House
TRENDS IN METHODISM
On retiring after 41 years in the tropics I wanted to rejoin The Methodist Church. I heard a bishop and a number of ministers preach. Each one made me hesitate about joining and left the impression that Methodism is not what it was 50 years ago. Slowly I reached the conclusion that it is off the beam and has lost its former power. In CHRISTIANITY TODAY (Jan. 4 issue) R. P. Marshall explains what is wrong: Methodism has turned to schemes of world betterment and social uplift as a substitute for the declining evangelistic urge.
Santa Barbara, Calif.
I am much concerned regarding the article by R. P. Marshall.… When he gives the impression that Wesley and his followers have not engaged in controversy or defended their faith, he surely does not know Mr. Wesley met the onslaughts of Calvinism in his day telling them “that their God was worse than the Devil!” When he gives the impression that Mr. Wesley was a ritualist and that this has characterized the Methodist Church throughout its history, this is simply not true. To my mind this is one of the greatest dangers of the Methodist Church and may be one of the factors which may divide it.
It is my belief that the group which advocates this are largely theological liberals and constitute the group which puts little or no stress on evangelism.
LEE RALPH PHIPPS
In our generation, we have witnessed the propagation of a complete change in doctrinal emphasis under the banner of what has been popularly called the “worship movement.” … Very few have perceived that the movement for a richer worship has carried with it new ideas of God, or prayer, and of salvation.
The practice of praying with the back to the audience facing the worship center or “altar,” as many insist it should be called, has become a widespread practice in the churches. The ritual of the Holy Communion of some of the denominations practically requires it if the table is placed against the reredos.… For the major part of Protestantism it was an innovation in the name of aesthetics. But theology is involved here.… The Protestant Reformation stoutly fought against directed genuflexions. We believe that God is a Spirit. His dwelling place is in the hearts of his people. If the minister believes this and really wants the geographical direction of his praying to be in accord with truth, he will pray facing the people. The Roman Catholic tradition does assert that the divine presence is on the altar in the consecrated wafer. In keeping with that doctrine, they bow toward the altar. We cannot accept the doctrine of transubstantiation in the name of aesthetics. Why then should we proclaim it in our worship practices?
Would it not be well for us all to get down our prayer books and read again the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion. The one that is especially pertinent is the 28th. We are perilously near to plain violation of its concluding sentence, “The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was not by Christ’s ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.” The Methodists have this in their 25 articles as number 18. All honor to some of our denominations that, while accepting the worship center, they have insisted that there be some room behind the communion table, and that when the holy supper is observed the table is brought down to the level of the people where it belongs. Is our worship a priestly ministration or a fellowship of faith?
There has been widespread and earnest concern about the dearth and decline of private prayer.… It is in large part the fruitage of our public worship practices.
The Methodist Church
SKIT: ASSEMBLY LINE
“If workers will not come to the church, the church must seek them out where they are. Clergy … (should) not try for church attendance or conversions, but merely show that the church is involved in what men and women do in their working hours.”—Article in a current religious magazine.
SCENE: A Factory, Any Place
Clergyman: Hello, are you Bill Smith?
Bill: Watch out for that swinging arm.… What you trying to do, get me fired?
C: Oh, I beg your pardon, I didn’t mean …
B: Can’t hear a hairy old thing until I shut this cotton-pickin’ motor off.
C: Oh, don’t stop, I hate to bother a …
B: Now, buddy, what’s it all about? Oh, uh, pardon me, Father.
C: Quite all right, Bill. You see my name’s Fred Wilkins, and I’m pastor of the Good Shepherd Church on Eucalyptus Drive.
B: Glad to meetcha. My little girl goes there once in awhile. What’s on your mind, Reverend? She paid her pledge?
C: Oh, you mean—what’s her name?
C: Fine girl. Yes, I’m sure it is. I mean, she did. Oh, yes.
B: Well, what can I do for you? Use Copenhagen?
C: No, thanks. I just wanted to meet you. I—I wanted you to know that we as a church are concerned about you.
B: Concerned about me? I get it. The old woman’s been cryin’ about my boozin’, that it? So you tell me I’m goin’ to Hell.
C: Oh, no, no, no, no. Not that at all. You see, we want you to know that the church is behind you.
B: Whaddya mean, behind me? Behind my boozin’?
C: No, what I mean is, Bill.…
B: Say, what is this anyhow?
C: Well, the church is involved in your work, so to speak.
B: My work! You mean you’re gettin’ a cut out of this lousy outfit?
C: (beginning to sweat) Mr. Smith, we feel that since you don’t come to the church, we ought to bring the church to you.
B: Why in blazes should I go to church? I got my own religion, right here. (Taps himself).
C: Well, we’re not really trying to get you to go to church, to tell you the truth.
B: Then what are you trying to do?
C: Well, we feel wherever you are, that’s where the church is.
B: That’s just what I got through tellin’ you.
B: Oh, now I get it. You’re one of them independent operators. You got a Bible and you want to save my soul.
C: Oh, no, no, no, no, no. You see—
B: I know I’m not what I ought to be, by a long shot.
C: You certainly are an expert with that machine. Mean you’d like to do a better job, is that it?
B: Listen, parson, any fool can run this machine. I’m talkin’ about me. My life ain’t right and I know it. Neither is the missus!
B: Tell me, do you ever have any of them church suppers up there?
C: Yes, as a matter of fact, we do. Of course the next one is our annual meeting and that wouldn’t interest you. But what I wanted to say is that the church is really vitally concerned about your work here, and your relationships with your fellow workers, with the union steward, and the foreman, and management generally; and that as a representative of the church I am eager to bring its redemptive insights to bear.…
B: Yeah, I guess so. Listen, buddy, that foreman’s got his watch on me right now, and I’m startin’ this motor. Sorry. See you at the ball park sometime. So long—watch out for that swingin’ arm!
SHERWOOD ELIOT WIRT
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.