Norman Vincent Peale was ordained in the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1922 and held several pastorates until changing his affiliation to the Dutch Reformed Church so that he could become the pastor in 1932 of Marble Collegiate Church, a Dutch Reformed Church founded in 1628. He remained as that church’s pastor of Marble Collegiate for fifty-two years. He and his wife, Ruth, founded Guideposts magazine in 1945; by the 1950’s, it had the largest circulation of any religious magazine in America. Peale’s life was the subject of a 1964 movie entitled One Man’s Way.
The theme of The Power of Positive Thinking is that one’s faith in oneself will allow good things to happen. The book is a guide to enhancing self-esteem and thereby achieving success. Thus, despite the fact that its author is a religious man, the volume is not strictly a religious book. Peale took his inspiration from his own life. He acknowledged having had an inferiority complex as a younger man and believed that his feeling of inferiority held him back. As a result, he had long preached a message that merged theology and psychology: that maintaining a positive attitude will lead to success and happiness. He was subsequently called the father of the self-esteem gospel, a mixture of modern psychology and the Bible. Peale was not one to use the Bible like a baseball bat, to swat the unknowing reader heavy-handedly. Rather, he was tolerant of his readers’, and parishioners’, weaknesses. His book recognizes that prayer is the greatest energy in the universe and a link between people’s thoughts, feelings, and actions. One reviewer stated that the book should be called “The Power of Prayer.”
Peale preaches that perseverance is the key to success in any activity...
(The entire section is 729 words.)