Top critical review
4 people found this helpful
The Power Within
on 20 February 2016
The book is loaded with biblical quotes, christian science and traditional religious innuendos.
There are several ways to approach and read this book and take a look at the life and work of the author Norman Vincent Peale.
1. In Retrospect:
’Confessions of a Minister ‘- This is the self-glorified testimony of how a Methodist Minister Managed his flock of sheepish parishioners.
2. In Ratio Aspect:
The Power Of Positive Thinking By Norman Vincent Peale follows the NIV scripture layout of 1 Corinthians 1:23…but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, …
Peale: But ‘I’ preach ’christ crucified’ as ‘Positive Thinking’, a stumbling block to those with knowledge and foolishness to the uneducated.
3. As Suspect:
In later life Peale changed his religious affiliations from Methodist to Reformist - Why?
Methodists are big on faith and works working simultaneously, while Reformists are big on the individual conscience reaching a common understanding with the collective of its members.
Most people do change their religious affiliations when they have become disillusioned with one religion and are still on the path of ’soul searching’ for a sense of ‘belonging’ - the kind that only a church or religious group can provide, but Norman Vincent Peale was raised as a Methodist and ordained as a Methodist Minister, so why the change to The Reformed Church?
It’s only in recent years that history has exposed the abolitionists, the abusers, the philanderers, the war heroes and war criminals within the Church and State.
4. With Respect?
Information from various websites in favour of Peale state:
Peale developed a fascination with psychiatry.
Dr. Peale told how, in his youth, he had “the worst inferiority complex of all,” which led him to develop his positive thinking/positive confession philosophy and theology. In 1937, Peale established a mental health clinic with Freudian psychiatrist Dr. Smiley Blanton in the basement of the Marble Collegiate Church. The “Religio-Psychiatric Clinic” has been described by Carol George as having “a theoretical base that was Jungian, with a strong evidence of neo- and post-Freudianism. Peale applied Christianity to everyday problems as an answer, or partial answer, to his congregant’s problems, and is credited with bringing psychology into the professing Church, blending its principles into a message of “positive thinking.” In Peale’s words, “through prayer you ... make use of the great factor within yourself, the deep subconscious mind ... the kingdom of God within you ... Positive thinking is just another term for faith.” Dr. Peale also cited Blanton to provide a psychological basis for the power of positive thinking. Dr. Smiley Blanton would say, "God presides in the subconscious.’ Therefore, an affirmation, being a positive form of prayer to God, stimulates power in the inward state that is manifested in the outward state to produce well-being.” The Clinic grew to an operation with dozens of psychiatrists and pastoral counselors, and in 1951 became known as the American Foundation for Religion and Psychiatry. In 1972, it merged with the Academy of Religion and Mental Health to form the Institutes of Religion and Health (IRH). In the 1970s, the organization was renamed in honor of its co-founders as the 'Blanton-Peale' Institute and Counselling Centre. Until his death, Peale remained affiliated with the 'Blanton-Peale Institute & Counselling Centre, as president of the board and chief fund raiser.
Peale authored 46 books, and the most successful by far was The Power of Positive Thinking. Published in 1952, it stayed on the New York Times list of bestsellers for 186 consecutive weeks and sold 5 million copies, making it one of the bestselling religious books of all-time. It began with these words: This book is written to suggest techniques and to give examples which demonstrate that you do not need to be defeated by anything, that you can have peace of mind, improved health, and a never-ceasing flow of energy. In short, that your life can be fully of joy and satisfaction. The book had chapters with titles such as “I Don’t Believe in Defeat,” “How to Have Faith in Healing,” and “Power to Solve Personal Problems.” Each chapter contained sections titled “energy-producing thoughts,” “spirit-lifters,” or “faith attitudes.” Much of his teaching was distilled to lists of eight practical formulas or seven simple steps. This book rocketed Peale to new levels of fame and acclaim, and elevated his message with him. He became one of the most influential Christian leaders in the world, gaining a voice into business and politics, even officiating at the wedding of David Eisenhower and Julie Nixon. On March 26, 1984 President Ronald Reagan awarded him the highest civilian honour in the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, for his contributions to theology.
Peale retired as senior pastor in 1984 and died of a stroke on December 24, 1993 in Pawling, New York. He was ninety-five years old. President Bill Clinton honoured him with these words: “While the Clinton family and all Americans mourn his loss, there is some poetry in his passing on a day when the world celebrates the birth of Christ, an idea that was central to Dr. Peale’s message and Dr. Peale’s work. He will be missed.”
5. With Prospects?
A Summary Of Peale's Alliances.
Although Dr Norman Vincent Peale - a Minister/Pastor/Reverend - remained dedicated to the work he started together with Dr Smiley Blanton - a psychoanalyst and psychiatrist - Peale's strong alliance with Blanton didn't last.
Peale's Positive Thinking methods came under attack from Mental Health groups. So when ‘push comes to shove’, Blanton distanced himself from Peale and wouldn’t endorse many of the books they co-wrote together. Peale had 'no defence' and no credentials or professional training to speak of, in either psychiatry or with real Mental Health issues. Peale had the title of Dr, but spent much of his time being a minister.
As we know there are doctors with doctorates and there are Dr's who practice or do research.
The Power of Positive Thinking has stood the test of time as we have now ingratiated this 1950s approach to life into our societies through self-help books of 'new age spirituality'. Just like we look at Freud and Jung as mentors of psychology, Peale, perhaps, a mentor who dons the vocational skills of being a professional businessman in psychiatric and religious disciplines - maybe a new approach is needed from another mentor that has the ability to show those with mental health issues how they can reach their optimum potential to be healed of their afflictions.