LETTER TO A MAN IN THE FIRE by Reynolds Price

LETTER TO A MAN IN THE FIRE

Does God Exist and Does He Care?

KIRKUS REVIEW

In line with such cultivated, if sometimes fusty Christian apologists as C.S. Lewis, NBCC Award—winning novelist Price (for Kate Vaiden, 1986, etc.) calls on reason and experience to substantiate belief in a providential God, even in the face of great suffering. A Whole New Life (1994)was Price’s account of his faith-inspiring recovery from spinal cancer. A young medical student, also suffering from cancer, read the book and wrote Price asking for spiritual insight into his own pointlessly worsening state. This short book expands a letter Price composed in response and read in the fall of 1997 before an audience at Auburn Seminary in New York. Price never sent the letter to its first intended reader, who withdrew from communicating and, soon after, died. But the common public, who have now become the addressee of these words, should not scruple not to read them for fear of intruding on a private intimacy of two. The address to the young man is more an occasion for Price to attempt reconciling two distinct voices within himself: on the one hand, a professorial deist in the mold of the 18th-century Enlightenment, who believes with “the vast majority of the human race” and with “most religions”—as a religiously inclined philosophe would indeed put it—that God exists principally as mind and that the soul is immortal; and, on the other, a devout pietist who envisions Jesus Christ washing away all wounds. In the end, Price doesn—t so much fashion a unified theodicy out of these two perspectives as situate them at opposing ends of theological spectrum on which readers are invited to find their place—a helpful, if unoriginal, service. Though devoted readers of the prolific Price will savor this reflection, especially as a follow-up to A Whole New Life, the author’s modest demurral at the start of the book, that “few of its ideas would seem new to a well-read adult” is doubtless true.

Pub Date: April 12th, 1999
ISBN: 0-684-85626-3
Page count: 112pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1999




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