Dear Mr. Brown: Letters to a Person Perplexed about Religion by Harry Emerson Fosdick
Harry Emerson Fosdick was one of the most eminent and often controversial of the preachers of the first half of the twentieth century. Published by Harper & Brothers, Publishers, New York, 1961, copyright by Harry Emerson Fosdick. This material pepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.
Ted Brown, to whom the letters in this book are addressed, is, of course, a fictional character. As the familiar disclaimer puts it, any resemblance between him and any living person is coincidental. In a deeper sense, however, he is far from being fictional; I have corresponded with men and women like him for many years, and have spent countless hours in personal conference with them.
Like anyone with a radio ministry over an international network I received hundreds of thousands of letters from all over the world and, whenever they presented important questions about religious faith and practice, I answered them. When, therefore, Ted Brown began to take shape in my imagination and I started writing letters, designed to help him in his religious perplexities, I found myself very much at home, and this book is the consequence.
The book will be misunderstood if it is pictured as an endeavor to answer the religious questions of every sort of young person. On the contrary, Ted Brown is a distinct personality. He comes from the background of a religious home; he is seriously trying to work out an intelligent philosophy of life; he is sensitive to spiritual values; and he seeks a vocation where he can make the most of his best for the sake of others. Many young people are obviously of another type; some of Tedís beatnik contemporaries, for example, would doubtless call him a "square"; but it is to this particular and worthwhile kind of person that these letters are addressed. There are more like him than some people suspect, and they are asking questions which, far from being youthfully immature, are being asked also by some octogenarians whom I know.
I owe my family a large debt of gratitude for their encouragement, reassuring me that the questions I perceived troubling Ted Brown are present-day problems. My two grandchildren, now in college, have been especially helpful in that regard. And once again I must express my cordial thanks to my very able secretary, Mrs. Dorothy Noyes, for her patient and efficient co-operation.
H. E. F.
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