Christ In Winter: Reflections on Faith and Life for the Years of Winter…
I have been thinking about the “hinge” books in my life, those books that open a door in a unique way. There are hinge occasions that are not books, of course—people, events, places, movies. Books have a special niche of hinge importance, though--especially to people of my generation, who did not have access to more modern forms of input when we were in our hinge years--because they take time. If a book has hinge importance, you don’t just glimpse it, you ingest it. And you may go back to it time and again…
The whole list of my hinge books is at the bottom. That is too long a list to explore at one time, so I’m going to do only one book per column. Today’s hinge book is… MAN’S NEED AND GOD’S ACTION by Reuel Howe
I was very surprised about five years ago, when I re-read this book, to learn that it was the source of all my relational theology/psychology, all of which I thought I had come to on my own. But all the stuff I said and preached about all these years was almost word for word out of Reuel Howe. I was disappointed that I was not nearly as clever as I thought, but mostly grateful to Reuel.
Except for the outdated use of “man” by Howe, of course. I have been using inclusive pronouns, as best I can, for a long time. That’s not the only language in this book that is outmoded and too formal. After all, it’s a 1953 book, so what can you expect? But Howe’s insights about our relationships to God and to one another are so full that we should definitely not quibble about language.
I got the privilege of being part of a week’s continuing education event with Howe at Garrett Theological Seminary about 35 years ago. There were a dozen of us in the group, including some Roman Catholic nuns. Almost all of us had been helped so much by reading his book that we had come just to touch him, regardless of what the workshop was supposed to cover.
During our time together, he told this story. I think it explains and summarizes that hinge book from 1953.
When he was a young teen, his father decided to homestead in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. Father, mother, Reuel, and younger siblings walked into the forest, carrying their tents and supplies. Before they could even get settled, a fire wiped out everything they had. Reuel and his father had to walk back out to get more equipment and supplies.
When they returned, they found that Reuel’s mother had discovered an old tin can, picked some wild flowers to put in it, placed it on a stump, and was playing “ring around” with the little children.
Reuel said, “She had taken a very bad situation and recycled it, to make it good.”
That pretty well sums up Man’s Need and God’s Action.
TRAMP, THE SHEEP DOG by Don Lang, pictures by Kurt Wiese. 9-10-18
THE PREACHER AND HIS AUDIENCE, By Webb Garrison 9-11-18
JESUS OF NAZARETH by Gunther Bornkamm. 9-12-18
MAN’S NEED AND GOD’S ACTION by Reuel Howe 9-14-18
IDENTITY & THE LIFE CYCLE by Erik H. Erikson
THE IMMENSE JOURNEY by Loren Eiseley
GUILT, ANGER, AND GOD by C. Fitzsimmons Allison
PROFESSION: MINISTER by James Glasse
LOVE, MEDICINE, AND MIRACLES by Bernie Siegel
JESUS, A NEW VISION by Marcus Borg
BIOGRAPHY AS THEOLOGY by Wm. McCutcheon
My novel, VETS, about four handicapped and homeless Iraqistan veterans, who are accused of murdering a VA doctor, will never be on anybody’s hinge list, but, for a limited time, it’s only 99 cents, so what have you got to lose? It’s published by Black Opal Books and is available from the publisher as well as the usual suspects--Barnes and Noble, Amazon, BOKU, Powell’s, Books on First, etc.