Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Books of Worth

--> Jesse Halsey
“The Reason for Living” answers many questions that the contemporary mind is asking religious and other values. Its author is Dean Wicks of the Princeton Chapel. He was long time a pastor in a mill town, knows the life practical as well as scholastic, and represents a warm Evangelical faith in the heart of a real man, and in his mind, as it wrestles with doubt and difficulty, for serious students, in college or out.

“You Can Master Life,” by Jas. G. Gilkey, is ‘rational pep medicine to a college athlete. To a parish minister it appeals as common sense applied to everyday life problems with a modicum of religious verbiage, but with sound religious experience, though the expressions are more often Stoic than traditionally Christian.

In this, and in his numerous other books, Dr. Gilkey has been (unconsciously?) writing something that I should ineptly call, “A Psycho-theology of the Modernist Christian Left.” It is a fearless dealing of real problems as they lie in many minds and to the cautious, judicial, and reasoning mind, of which there are many, he speaks acceptably. To those who want another kind of Authority, there will be something lacking.

When you read, “What Men are Asking?” by Dr. Coffin, unless you are an arch-fundamentalist, you find soul satisfying stuff with an Evangelical fervor and flavor that warms your heart. Likely these are the positions of the majority of the Presbyterian Evangelicals (Liberals or Modernists, call them what you will). Dean Wicks’ “The Reason for Living” takes on a little more scholastic vocabulary and loses a little warmth, but has the same general, ‘though individual, approach. James Gilkey swings over to the Left, stoic common sense rather than (traditional) Christian religious expression. And Dr. Fosdick has at time some of all, trying always to put reasonable argument of emotional fervor. He maintains a good balance, but for five years has been (to the help of many) swinging to the Right.

A transcript from experience, we gather, is Dean Wicks’ book. The questions we asked our teachers (and ourselves) and many others added by a generation more inquisitive, and likely wiser than ours. From the first to the last (Why live? to “ . . . can we preserve the freedom of the human spirit?”) there is reason and counsel, affirmation and constructive suggestiveness.

To those of us who in our day and generation learned a catechism and who since have unlearned and relearned or discarded its answers it is interesting to find young people still asking the same basic questions and we rejoice that they have such wise instructors as Dean Wicks proves himself to be in this book. He never answers his question by simply  asking another question, unless that is a leading question that proceeds immediately to constructive affirmation.

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