Religion: Tinkling Cymbalism

In some U.S. churches, Jesus Christ is constantly being made over in the image of Dale Carnegie. Sinclair Lewis took a caustic look at this kind of anthropomorphism in Elmer Gantry, his 1927 satirical novel about the ministry. Lewis enraged the righteous but he made few people apprehensive about the state of the clergy: his pen was too vicious, his view too obviously jaundiced.

Wesley Shrader looks at the ministry from a different perspective: he is pastor of the First Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va. His slim book, Dear Charles (Macmillan; $2.50), is a light...

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