Andy Hardy And The Divine Percentage

It’s odd how often profundity sneaks in where you least expect it, making you wonder sourly whether it was intentional, or why you didn’t think of it yourself. At least that’s how I tend to react, and it does me no credit. I mention this after having perused press reports in different places of interviews with three movie stars. Perhaps I was wrong in anticipating meager intellectual fare, for who are potentially more equipped to recognize reality than those given to make-believe?

Here, first, was Jerry Lewis defending himself against critics who praise the slapstick classics yet ignore his movies. “It’s their loss,” he commented, “that they don’t examine the film carefully enough.… It takes a great deal of intelligence to understand what life is all about, and life does include slapstick.”

The point is irrefutable. Charlie Chaplin, who proved it once for all in City Lights and other moving pieces, underlined it last year when asked for an octogenarian’s advice to the young. One could sense the poised pencils as the maestro pondered. Then came the accumulated wisdom of eight decades: “Don’t go to Harvard University without a steel helmet.” Anti-climax? No, sir!

But what interested me even more than the others was the account of a newspaper interview with Mickey Rooney. The former boy wonder, Hollywood’s most popular star (they said) three decades or so ago, has a story and a philosophy both pathetic and revealing.

Nudging his half century, divorced six times and now married yet again, Rooney is quoted as saying: “Thank heaven I’m a religious man. When things get too bad, even for me, I get my strength from meditating on Sundays.”

The words may fall strangely on the ear, but the man who made and spent millions has in some sense fastened on a tremendous truth. “God,” he declared, “gave me everything and more—much more—than a single human being has a right to expect on this earth: talent, fame, and fortune … but I knew they were only on loan to me; that soon they would all pass. Trouble is, what I hadn’t realized was how high the interest on God’s loan was!”

Well, some might have expressed themselves rather differently, but the impact of the whole confession suggests that those Sunday meditations may yet bring Mr. Rooney nearer the God whose workings he so clearly acknowledges. It reminded me of James Melville’s words long ago: “No man can show the right way better than he who hath oft-times chanced upon by-roads.”

EUTYCHUS IV

Aye—And Nay—To ‘Eye’

Congratulations to you on the issue of January 2 and particularly on “Young Churchmen Eye the Seventies.”

It is reassuring to read statements by young Christian thinkers, lay and clergy, who appear to be in touch with their own times and at the same time alive to the Christian Church.

JOSEPH H. HEARTBERG

Executive Secretary

New Jersey Baptist Convention

East Orange, N. J.

What they are saying, if I read them correctly, is that establishment evangelicalism is going to have to be more compassionately involved in social and environmental problems, and less rigidly defensive about a specific set of doctrines, if it is not to lose many of its most dedicated and alert young people.

ROBISON B. JAMES

Associate Professor of Religion

University of Richmond

Richmond, Va.

The Age of Aquarius, it appears, will shortly give way to the Age of Ecology.… Indeed, one of the youthful editorialists (Howard Moffett)—my own age, incidentally—admonished believers that they were poisoning their streams with filth and their hearts with hate. I thought, Poor boy, he does have a pretty bad hang-up.…

The very idea that anyone would think that the task of the Church is in any way related to purification of air and water, important though this may be, seems to speak volumes for the lurid confusion which now reigns as to the real mission of the Church. Perhaps one of our problems is the hesitance to come to grips with theological pollution in our own ranks.

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RICHARD H. MACKAY

Watertown, Mass.

Mr. Moffett has sensed very correctly that our problems … are not alone rooted in Viet Nam, inflation.… But, in seeing “no panacea—Christian or otherwise,” I wonder if Mr. Moffett has placed a finger on what is really our basic ill—that of not knowing the extent and power of Christianity.… A converted society, possible only through conversion of individuals, can make matters different.… The basic doctrines of Scripture, which we’ve neglected … must again be made clear from the pulpit, clear in our lives.

DAVID W. SLATER

Delmar, N. Y.

I was amazed at a statement made by Howard M. Moffett, “I believe that one of the most serious sins of the Church has been to suggest that to convert our society would be to save it.”

I am not unmindful that there are tremendous injustices in the world today and that many persons who are nominal members of churches contribute to these injustices. However … I truly believe that if we could convert “our society,” this very conversion would literally impel all individuals to try to live according to the teachings of our Saviour and thus to lessen the injustices of the world.

A. A. PAGE

President Emeritus

Pikeville College

Pikeville, Ky.

It is readily apparent to the younger generation, of which I am a part, that if Christianity is to survive and maintain its service to God, many changes must be made within the thought-patterns and lives of its leaders.… To live the “abundant life,” one must … make decisions from the viewpoint of love (Phil. 1:9–11).… This means that as a disciple of Jesus, one must use biblical principles (and for sure they exist) in decision-making.

PHILIP D. HOLLEY

Oneonta, Ala.

Really, I’m surprised. I suspect Dr. Reidel is, too. Ecology is a topic in biological science, not physical science. The distinction is not social science/physical science but social science/science.

JOHN A. CRAMER

Instructor in Physics

Wheaton College

Wheaton, Ill.

I regret that the one with whom I must take issue is the son of your illustrious Editor-at-Large when he says, “The under-thirty generation rejects the sectarian tendencies and the overly personalistic ethics of establishment evangelicalism”—whatever that means. To answer him I quote from your lead article by Dr. John A. Mackay in his excellent reminiscence, “In quest of the most effective way to make Christ and the Gospel real and relevant I learned the incarnational approach to the human situation,” and his following comments. Mr. Henry closes with a conservative statement, for which we are glad. Also in answer to his first statement I would quote from another of the younger writers, Ensign Peter M. Smith, “It seems to me the best vehicle for spreading the Gospel of Christianity is on the personal level.”

JAMES A. ADAMS

Salisbury, Mo.

Breathless Discoveries

Any testimony and observation offered by Dr. John A. Mackay, (“Life’s Chief Discoveries,” Jan. 2), is always appreciated.

FRANKLIN M. SEGLER

Professor of Pastoral Ministry

Southwestern Baptist Seminary

Fort Worth, Tex.

Please! I am holding my breath waiting for the rest of John A. Mackay’s third discovery. Please have him write it and then you publish it before he dies or I do.

DOUGLAS H. STIMERS

Mona Shores Baptist Church

Muskegon, Mich.

Chill From China

“It Can Happen Here” (A Layman and His Faith, Jan. 2) is compelling to the thoughtful American—it is also chilling.

WALTER A. OLSON

Longmont, Colo.

It is a pleasure and inspiration to read i “It Can Happen Here.” I fully agree with its emphasis as I was in China during the takeover and left to have freedom after three years through a divine deliverance.… My father was the Presbyterian minister in Nanhsuchow for twenty-two years until he was killed during the Japanese occupation in 1943.

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LUKE H. C. SHENG, M. D.

Brighton, Mich.

Desperate Dreams

In my estimation Dr. Espy’s proposal for the creation of a “General Ecumenical Council” (News, Dec. 19, Jan. 2) is another well-baited trap for evangelicals. It is another effort on the part of desperate NCC leaders whose inclusive ecclesiastical dreams have not succeeded in bringing all together into one organization. How could evangelicals sit in fraternal relationship with those who deny the authority of the Bible and salvation by faith alone in the shed blood of Jesus Christ any more in this new proposed organization than they could in the old?

These are days to be alert and remember that the enemy will use every means possible to weaken the voice of truth and to deceive the very elect.… When are we going to stop trying to impress the world by agreeing with it? We only make fools out of ourselves and show ourselves to be spiritually weak and anemic, lacking in conviction, depending upon power of influence with men rather than on the power of God available in our lives through the fulness of the Holy Spirit.

BILL COWELL

Emmanuel Baptist Church

Marion, Kan.

Enjoyable Parts

I want to compliment you on your fine magazine. The articles, editorials, and the news from a Christian point of view are the parts I enjoy the most.… As I will be eventually entering the ministry, I feel that your magazine will benefit me greatly in the next few years at college. I also have plans to attend law school. I am sure a Christian magazine will help there, too.

PAUL STEBELTON

Milligan College, Tenn.

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