Monday, May 18, 2015

The Man with Six Typewriters

Steve Doughty, The Man with Six Typewriters and Others Who Knew God (Eugene Oregon: WIPF & Stock, 2015), 130 pages

                Years ago I came across Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, which featured the prose of James Agee and the depression era photographs of Walker Evans.  The title was intriguing as the stories and the photos are not of men and women whose appear on the front page of the newspaper or in magazines.  Instead, they are people often overlooked.  Agee and Evans attempted to shine some light on them and to honor their sacrifices.   There are many people who are important in our communities and our lives, but who often remain unknown and in the background.  Their obituaries are short, and their modest tombstones record but little of their lives. Drawing on his pastoral experiences, Doughty recalls some of his encounters with some of these individuals.  In reading this short book, we are reminded that we’ve all been created in God’s image and that, in and of itself, makes us all valuable.

                Steve Doughty is a retired Presbyterian minister.  During his ministry, he served a number of congregations: in upstate New York, the coal mining region of Pennsylvania, on the Western Plains and as a denomination executive in Western Michigan.  As a pastor (and Doughty remained a pastor even when he went into administration where he served as a pastor to pastors), he had the privilege of knowing many unique individuals such as the man with six typewriters, a recluse who constantly typed and retyped the scriptures.   In retirement, he serve a stint as a peacemaker in Columbia, a dangerous job but one who brought him into contact with a new set of people who “knew God” even though they were not well known by others.  Doughty tells about individuals working in the background such as the one who asked the right people the right questions to get a movement started to have a community center.  He tells about shy performers in a community choral setting, and a Native American friend whom he reconnects, years after they both lived on the prairie.  Most of these stories are about Christians but a few come from other faiths.  In retelling their stories, we learn about kindness, listening, honoring others, and in a round-about way, incarnation.


                I recommend this book in the hopes that those who read it might find their eyes opened and see others as valuable parts of the human race.   As a disclaimer and tribute, I was privileged to have Steve as a spiritual director for several years during a critical period of my life.  

20 comments:

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    1. It's a fast read, but there are some good stories in there.

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  2. Wow, that was incredible luck for you, very cool. You had me by the title right away, sounds very interesting.

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    1. It is interesting and the title is intriguing and goes with one of the stories in the book.

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  3. It sounds like an inspiring book, all the more meaningful for your personal connection with the author.

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    1. The personal connection with the author is nice, but I have been blessed to have connections with lots of authors, some of which I've written about in my blog. The personal connection moved the book to the top of my TBR pile, but the personal nature of the stories made this a book to cherish.

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  4. This book sounds very interesting. I would be interested in reading about how Mr. Doughty was your spiritual director during a critical period of your life.

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    1. You do want me to get personal... Although I don't often talk about work here, I did mention a few times back in 2008-2010 about being incredibly busy with a huge project which I wanted to see completed without losing my soul or killing myself.

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  5. You find some literary treasures, Sage. Yet I'm left wondering: why six typewriters?

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    1. Uh, could you believe he had 12 hands? :-) You'd have to read the first story, but the guy who had some emotional issues was into copying the Bible, word by word, in an era before word processors and computers.

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  6. Intriguing title. I at first thought it was related to a pulp writer who was said to keep six typewriters going all the time with different stories.

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    1. A different typewriter with a different story... that's classic!

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  7. The title of that book caught my attention. It sounds like a good book full of valuable lessons.

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    1. It is a good book as it helps us to see and appreciate the contributions of all people, which is a valuable lesson.

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  8. You always have the most fabulous books to review. Thanks.

    Greetings from London.

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    1. I am blessed with good friends, many of whom are authors.

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  9. This looks like a book that gives a lot to the reader. I also love the title.

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    1. It is a good title and a good story.

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  10. That's an interesting title for a book but I like it. Thanks for the great review.

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