Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Now I am more into deep Faith rather than Vedanta/Sufism/Mysticism; Pastor Norman Vincent Peale was a strong influence on Mr. Donald Trump

Just sharing some short & quick thoughts/views of mine.

Nowadays as I have chosen to focus more on masses impact related matters, I am more into the power of Faith/deep Faith, and less into Vedanta/Sufism/Mysticism (though I do delve into it, at times). From that perspective, I am awed by what the Christian faith and the Islamic faith have achieved over the centuries. Most people do not get all the philosophy & doctrine of the church or the mosques. But they understand the key facets of faith in God very well as they are more at the intuitive and emotional level rather than the intellectual level, and that faith transforms them into individuals of confidence and capability!

A few days ago, I saw a video of Mr. Donald Trump speaking to a Christian group in the USA. In this Christian group meeting, on being questioned about his faith, he talked about being inspired by his preacher in his Presbyterian church, in New York City, who was the famous positive thinking best-seller writer, Norman Vincent Peale. Mr. Trump also talked about how he raised his kids, drumming into them - no drugs, no alcohol, no cigarettes - as he had seen many kids of good and accomplished parents (perhaps in New York City) getting wasted by drugs & alcohol.

Later I read up on the religious background and preaching of Norman Vincent Peale from his wiki page, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Vincent_Peale. [And yes, in my young adult days, I have read his Power of Positive Thinking book like I have read Dale Carnegie's books; I felt Dr. Peale's book had some good points but felt that the whole book did not have a consistent and complete ring of truth to it. However, I don't think I would have articulated that view publicly as I was just a young guy trying to make a living in Bombay then, and this book was a famous one by an author from the top-of-the-material-world USA.]

I find this extract from the wiki page about theological critique of Dr. Peale's positive thinking views to be quite thought-provoking:

Theologian Reinhold Neibuhr, Professor of Applied Christianity, Union Theological Seminary, reported similar concerns about positive thinking. "This new cult is dangerous. Anything which corrupts the gospel hurts Christianity. And it hurts people too. It helps them to feel good while they are evading the real issues of life." ("The Case against Easy Religion," William Peters. Redbook Magazine, September 1955, pp. 22–23, 92-94).

Liston Pope, Dean of Yale Divinity School, agreed with Neibuhr. "There is nothing humble or pious in the view this cult takes of God. God becomes sort of a master psychiatrist who will help you get out of your difficulties. The formulas and the (constant) reiteration of such themes as "You and God can do anything" are very nearly blasphemous." (Ibid).

G. Bromley Oxnam, Bishop, Methodist Church, Washington D.C., also weighed in. "When you are told that if you follow seven easy rules you will become president of your company, you are being kidded. There just aren't that many openings. This kind of preaching is making Christianity a cult of success." (Ibid).
--- end wiki extract ---

Ravi: I was also quite shocked to know that in 1960, Dr. Peale had opposed John F. Kennedy's bid for USA presidency because JFK was a Catholic! That led to what seems to be a famous quote of the witty Mr. Adlai Stevenson against Dr. Peale, 'In 1960 Stevenson was asked by a reporter for a comment regarding Peale attacking JFK as unfit for the presidency because he was Catholic, to which Stevenson responded: "Yes, you can say that I find Paul appealing and Peale appalling."', https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Vincent_Peale#Peale_and_Adlai_Stevenson.
[Paul is Apsotle Paul, with Mr. Stevenson's earlier quote in 1956 when he was running for President, being, "Speaking as a Christian, I find the Apostle Paul appealing and the Apostle Peale appalling."]

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