But Answer Came There None
It has been said that neuroses might be graded according to the inability to tolerate ambiguous situations. Another revealing factor surely is the way in which a man copes when confronted by the unexpected. Look how some opportunist on the New York Times went all madly partisan on the front page (no less) when the Mets did the miraculous this fall—as ambiguous and unexpected a circumstance as you will find.
Another press report last week offered a touching little cameo in telling how something literally out of the blue caught up with a holidaying couple. I quote: “Mr. Joe Clarkson and his wife Mona were strolling along the beach when a voice from the skies politely asked them to move out of the way.” The speaker was a pilot whose engine had failed and who was silently sweeping toward them for an emergency landing. Though the incident itself was not without interest, I liked best of all the sequel as solemnly given by the reporter: “Later the pilot apologized to the couple on the beach.” He acted like a gentleman throughout. In a tight ambiguous corner I could trust myself to a boy like that; he evidently has not a neurotic bone in his body.
Billy Graham tells that on the very day he arrived in England to conduct a crusade some years ago, a balloon enthusiast complained in a national newspaper that “the British regard balloons with utter indifference.” When floating over the country, he declared, he would call down to people, but they completely ignored him. Above his lament was the poignant headline: “If you hear a voice coming from the sky, please talk back.”
While I have always admired English aplomb I doubt if there is a more depressing sight than a man always superbly in control of himself. Even the very English John Ruskin agreed with this view in “Of the Pathetic Fallacy”: “However great a man may be, there are always some subjects which ought to throw him off his balance.”
But to come back to that frustrated balloonist. He reminded me of something relevant but elusive. I found it after two hours’ dogged searching (editor, please note) and some serendipitous literary encounters, in Dante’s Purgatorio:
And round about you wheeling, courts your gaze
With everlasting beauties. Yet your eye
Turns with fond doting still upon the earth.
I’m sure I could have pressed the analogy to better advantage, but those two hours took it out of me, and I merely proffer the whole idea as containing the germ of Something Profound.
To Market The Message
In your November 7 issue I read of an opening in sales for which I would like to apply (“Salesmen Wanted”). The product, I understand, is “Christ and His Good News.”
Dr. Halverson states that there is a market for this product and everybody needs it. No competition. How nice, if true.
In marketing we distinguish between unknown needs, known needs, and apparent needs. Very sophisticated—but true. Either his market has unknown needs or he assumes the need—but I have not had many come clamoring to me for the product as packaged. Nor have I found competition absent. Mephistopheles, Inc., has done an excellent job in selling Materialism. His sales are zooming.
Islamis, Inc. and The Buddha Co. are making much faster progress than we are. The younger generation are buying Nihilism, Inc. What they are rebelling against is pat phrases and generalities such as Dr. Halverson’s article.
I agree with Dr. Halverson in principle, or I could not long remain a Christian, but when, in God’s name, are we going to get off the dime and get up to date?
WENDELL E. LAKE
You’ve got to be pulling our leg, or else the editorial department needs flashy attention-getting headlines. I’ll grant that “Christianity’s Greatest Challenge” (Nov. 7) is a fine article, well written and researched, but it has to come to the inevitable “how to do it” in four or five simple steps. It reminds me of the instructions I receive with the toys I have to assemble for my children at Christmas time.
Do you honestly believe that Christianity’s greatest challenge comes from outside of Christianity?… Unbelief is still unbelief, whether in or out of the Church.…
The article might still stand, but please forget the title.
ROGER PH. DREWS
Evangelical Lutheran Church
Spiro The Splendid
There are many admirable features in the November 7 issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY … All were blunted for me by the slighting remarks about Vice-President Spiro T. Agnew (“M-Day in Retrospect”). Sad, sad, very sad.… Is Mr. Agnew to “applaud” such Communist-instigated demonstrations?… I weep for those who read and are influenced by the impudent snobs at the Washington Post, the New York Times, and Time magazine. Your editorial has prompted me to write a note of encouragement to our splendid, splendid Vice-President.
RICHARD H. MACKAY
The question on the front cover of your November 7 issue, “When Should a Christian Weep?” has a proper and adequate answer in your editorial columns. But there is another answer.
A Christian should (in fact, is driven to) weep when he reads such unfair, biased, uninformed, judgmental and sweeping tirades against Christians as you published on the back cover of the same issue under the title “Current Religious Thought”.…
As one who has some responsibility for preserving the good reputation of a major Christian denomination, I protest the inference in the article by John Warwick Montgomery that the American Lutheran Church, among others, is something less than “a Bible-believing Church” which holds with Luther and the Scriptures that “there is none other name under heaven, given among men [than Christ], whereby we must be saved.”
LESTER F. HEINS
Public Relations Director
The American Lutheran Church
I have deep respect for the scholarship of Dr. John Warwick Montgomery but none for his judgment. Your readers suffered a series of dire predictions and warnings concerning the “evil” of pulpit-and-altar fellowship, if the brethren of the Missouri Synod decided to practice it with their fellow Lutherans in the ALC, last spring.
Now that the Missouri Synod did go along with the proposal we have an article entitled “Missouri Turns a Corner,” which is as slanted and biased a report as I have ever read! In which corner of the desert does the learned professor bury his head?…
Dr. Montgomery wants the Missouri Synod to keep its skirts clean by nonassociation with the ALC. How puerile. Thank God that the Lord of the Church has brought the Missouri Synod into the mainstream of American church life, and that fellow Lutherans can “drink wine together on our knees.” Will the learned doctor be among us?
The American Lutheran Church is basically a conservative church. We love our Lord and believe in our church. So do our friends in the Missouri Synod. And we want to get together. Why is Dr. Montgomery so sore about that?
Church of the Abiding Presence
I congratulate you on publishing Harold Brown’s “Rome and Reformation Today” (Oct. 24). It’s articles like these that save CHRISTIANITY TODAY from utter catastrophe. For example, equating the Marine Corps with Red China (via Eutychus) is for the sick Left. And in Current Religious Thought one reads about Miss Bernadette Devlin’s “Catholicism” and “Christianity.” I thought everyone—literally everyone—knew that Miss Devlin is a Marxist. What’s with you people?
That’s Not Funny
To say the least, I had to do a little eyebrow-lifting when I read in “TV or Not TV” (Oct. 24) that “Laugh-in” in your opinion “is one of the funniest and most absorbing on television,” “demands full attention,” etc. On the same day I read in my newspaper that the producer and head writer of this show, Paul W. Keyes, has resigned and in parting called the show “slanted, vulgar, and dirty.”
Frankly, I have never been able to watch “Laugh-In” through an entire program. If this is humor, it must be sick humor.
Could Isaiah 5:20 apply to a Christian magazine who fosters such a program as “Laugh-In”?
MRS. LEE SCHEHRER
From Science To God
After some deliberation, I feel that I must object to at least one sentence in the review of my book, Come Let Us Play God (Oct. 24).… We have had this nonsense for far too long, that scientists are amoral and that there must be this wide gap between science and religion. My whole book is designed to try to bridge whatever gap exists and in fact to point out that while we must play God, we had better do it pretty humbly and prayerfully so we do avoid the pride that goes before the fall.… I would like to know where I “admit that scientists proceed successfully without introducing God into their hypotheses.”
LEROY G. AUGENSTEIN
Chairman, Biophysics Dept.
Michigan State University
East Lansing, Mich.
Of course Professor Augenstein is aware of the danger of pride. I merely suggested that the record does not support his view that human beings, perennially the victims of pride even when they cowered in fear of nature, may suddenly become humble exactly when they have begun to control nature. I applaud the aspiration.
Second, on God and scientific activities: my reference is to page 136, where Professor Augenstein remarks that “the only question really is, was the order [of Nature] created or did it arise by itself? I happen to believe very strongly that it was created by God. As an experimental scientist I really don’t need to worry about this question as I go about my day-to-day business.”
The commendable crusade he is now embarked upon—in which I wish to join him—is a spin-off from his scientific activities.
I gave this book a careful, honest, and quite favorable appraisal. I am now engaged in a small campaign to persuade the (all too few!) alert pastors of my acquaintance to use it in their church education programs.
RALPH L. LYNN
Dept. of History
The Truth About CBA
In the news story about the Graham crusade in Anaheim (Oct. 24), there is a statement that is not supported by the facts. It is said that Conservative Baptists did not support Billy Graham in 1963 but did so this time. I do not know where your news reporter got his story, unless he copied it from the Los Angeles Times that made the same mistake.
The truth is that in 1962 we took a stronger stand as a CBA than we did in 1969! Please do not confuse us with the “hard core” that has opposed Billy Graham through the years. Actually, our CBA men have been among the most active workers, and the churches have been most loyal in participation and attendance.
WILLIAM C. THOMAS
Conservative Baptist Association
West Covina, Calif.
Faith In Space
In your news story on “Project Astronaut” (Oct. 24) you stated that more than 300,000 letters had been received and were presented to NASA.
At the time of the presentation to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, over 2½ million letters and petitions had been received by the Family Radio Network. The mail continues to come in, and we expect that eventually over four million persons will have spoken out in favor of allowing our astronauts to express their faith while in space or on the Good Earth.
Family Radio Network
San Francisco, Calif.
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