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Lloyd C. Douglas’s “Magnificent Obsession”





January 3, 2018

Pocket Book – 19th Printing

As we begin our new series of blogs, looking back, I notice that though “Wednesdays with Dr. Joe” began on August 31 of 2009, “Dr. Joe’s Book of the Month Club” did not begin until October 26 of 2011. Consequently, the book club series has now survived for six years. Believe me, it has not been easy to keep both series alive concurrently. The feedback we’ve received from all of you book-lovers has been so positive that it has energized us to keep the series going.

Pocket Book – 8th Printing

Because our passion is to help parents to institute and preserve the institution of daily story hours with their children, the books I have chosen have generally been skewed in the direction of those books generations of families have cherished. And the values are generally Judeo-Christian (but also relatable to other faiths and cultures–for any civilization that loses the observance of values worth living by is doomed to extinction).

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Now, as to our 73rd book selection. When I begin a new year, I give a lot of thought to the book selection that anchors the 11 books that follow it. So I’ve been wrestling for several months, discarding one book after another that didn’t quite measure up to what I was looking for.

But finally I thought of how much Lloyd C. Douglas’s books have meant to me over the years, though I hope to revisit him again in years yet to come, I was convicted that Magnificent Obsession would be the logical successor to his Home for Christmas (November 28, 2012).

The theme of the book has to do with one of the key reasons I dedicated four years to researching and writing two biographies of St. Nicholas and have so loved Henry Van Dyke’s The Mansion. I’m saving that book for another Christmas.

Grosset & Dunlap

The book has to do with Christ’s repeated injunctions that when we give, we should not grandstand, we should not seek public recognition for what we give–in short, we should give anonymously, and thereby receive a blessing from God rather than the general public. Now I don’t know about you, but I have found such anonymous giving to be so hard to do that even now–after all these years of good intentions—, I’m nowhere near winning the battle against self, against the deeply entrenched desire to make sure my giving gets noticed on earth.

Since I know full well that others share this temptation’s siren call, I’m choosing Magnificent Obsession as this year’s anchor book. Easily one of the most beloved books of the last century.

As I re-read it once again, I was moved almost as much as I was the first time I read it during my growing-up years. Seminal books–the ones you re-read again and again–are mighty few. Most books are merely “quick reads,’ read once, and never thought of again. Not so seminal books, for imbedded in their texts are such disturbing, such insidious, thoughts and concepts that they so plague your subconscious that again and again through the years, you reach for such books and prepare to once again do battle with your soul.

This is such a book.

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Lloyd C. Douglas [Cassel] Douglas (1877-1951), was born in Columbia City, Indiana. He was educated at Wittenberg College in Springfield, Ohio and Hamma Divinity School. Although ordained as a Lutheran minister, his later pastorates were in Congregational churches.

Pocket Book Giant Cardinal Edition

Douglas’s first books were entirely of a religious or inspirational nature. He was in the midst of a series of lectures on “personality expansion” when, at over 50, he suddenly wrote his first novel, Magnificent Obsession (1924). No one was more surprised than he at its immense success. It was followed by Forgive Us Our Trespasses (1932), Precious Jeopardy (1933), Green Light (1935), White Banners (1936), Home for Christmas (1937), Disputed Passage (1939), Dr. Hudson’s Secret Journal (1939), Invitation to Live (1942), The Robe (1942), The Big Fisherman (1948), A Time to Remember (1951), and The Living Faith (1955).

As for his own philosophy of writing, he wrote, “If my novels are entertaining, I’m glad, but they are not written so much for the purpose of entertainment as of inspiration. There are many people who realize their great need of ethical and spiritual counsel but are unwilling to look for it in a serious homily or didactic essay. It has been my belief that many such persons can be successfully approached by a novel, offering in a form palatable to them the inspiration they seek.”

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I’ll be surprised if quite a number of you won’t go on to purchase others of his novels for your personal library.

2 thoughts on “Lloyd C. Douglas’s “Magnificent Obsession”

  1. I will read this — will request the library book.

  2. Very interesting. It is best to quietly give without drawing a lot of attention to one’s self, as did the Pharisees of old. I put a lot of money into Christian education, and when I meet with principals to ascertain needs. I request that my name not be mentioned. I see pictures in publications of people who have made big donations, but does it have to be advertised? What about the person that can only give ten dollars? Remember the widow’s mite, and what Jesus said about her?

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