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James Stanley Barlow

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James Stanley Barlow, B.D. Ph.D. “looks back on careers as WWII celestial navigator in the Air Force (in service, 1943-6), Presbyterian minister (1950-), and educator. Now, an emeritus professor of philosophy (College of Staten Island) City University of New York (retired in 1995), he was a professor of religion at Columbia University, 1966-72, and also served as a dean of summer session at the University of Minnesota, 1964-66, and Columbia, 1966-71, as Associate Dean of Faculty, at Staten Island Community College, a predecessor to the College of Staten Island, 1972-76. Earlier, he served as a campus minister, in Eugene Oregon (1954-60) and in Pittsburgh, Pa. (1960-62), and still earlier, as parish minister in New York, Tennessee, and Alabama. In 1950-51, he taught English literature at East Tennessee State University, in his hometown.”   James Stanley Barlow is the author of Pastor: A Fictional Reminiscence With Conversations on Religion and Society, Appalachia and Beyond: Yarns and Yearnings in Prose and Poetry and Swimming Laps in August: and Other Poems.

  According to the book description of Pastor: A Fictional Reminiscence With Conversations on Religion and Society, “This lively narrative presents some provocative thinking about the role of religion in society. Looking back from nowadays, the minister, Robert Staten, tells the story of his own struggle with the question while he was working in a southern parish in the nineteen-fifties. His stance is that of a progressive, who nevertheless grew up in fundamentalist pietism. Pastor, like the Church-of-England based novels of Susan Howatch, is both sympathetic and realistic. The first-person narratives by the minister and others important to the story draw you right into their skin. Hence, the book is somewhat like Marilynne Robinson's Gilead. The impacts of Billy Graham, Martin Luther King, Jr. and other religious leaders are not neglected in chapters like "Vocation" and "Religion on the Midway"

 

The narrative gets to the heart of social and religious issues that are very much with us today. The young minister is a WWII air force veteran, and his wife is a former social studies teacher from upstate New York. They work together to help make the church succeed. All the while, the protagonist is being urged by his 'big brother' friend, Charles, to kick the traces and change his vocation. The antagonist friend represents about every negative criticism of organized religion one can imagine. The book vividly describes various aspects of parish life as the conscientious pastor goes about his duties, which include counseling and consoling, marrying and burying. All the while he is wrestling with his own misgivings about his role and his faith. Then, suddenly, catastrophe hits in the form of a mysterious church fire. This and other revealing episodes broaden his understanding of religion in our pluralistic world.”

 

James Stanley Barlow said of Swimming Laps in August: and Other Poems, “My poems are my life on paper, in snapshots of course. I try to recapture the emotions of remembered scenes and to render them with a moderately subdued passion. And from my earliest days I muse--sometimes philosophically. Actually, I have long withheld some of these poems, fearing they are a little too personal, but with age comes loss of inhibition, perhaps a discreet loss. I hold hands with the child in me, youth, . . . all the me's, none of which vanishes from whatever I am. Not that I am proud of all of them, but I may be more accepting of them now than I sometimes was.”

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