Peale's Legacy of 'Positive Thinking' Endures

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Sarah Batty of Media, Pa., asks: "Whatever happened to Norman Vincent Peale?"

THE son of a Methodist pastor in Bowersville, Ohio, the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale was a preacher, a celebrated speaker, broadcaster, and author of 41 books.

He wrote a ground-breaking self-help book, "The Power of Positive Thinking," that sold 15 million copies. The book topped The New York Times bestseller list for an all-time record of 98 weeks.

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"Power" still has its aficionados, although it is not as popular as it was during the 1950s and '60s.

Dr. Peale died on Christmas Eve, 1993, but his wife, Ruth, carries on his mission with talks to business executives, colleges, and children. Her topic is "positive thinking," which Peale once told the Monitor is merely "faith in the power of God."

Last year, Peale's Pawling, N.Y.-based Peale Center for Christian Living merged with the publishing empire Peale founded: Guideposts Inc. Guideposts magazine has a circulation of 4.1 million.

During his lifetime, Peale, who promoted a mixture of Christianity and psychiatry, had his share of followers and critics.

His critics allege that "he made a success story out of Christianity," and question his close political relationships with some leading politicians.

His followers claim he inspired spiritual qualities in postwar America and say he was a "quiet, reflective, literate man."

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