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.