Cultural Revolutions

It Came to Pass

Guideposts magazine devoted the opening pages of its April issue to reminiscences about its founder, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, who died last December, on Christmas Eve, at the age of 95. Dr. Peale had been world-famous for his relentless optimism, his "strong belief in the power of prayer" and "strong belief in God," and, most of all, for his belief in "the power of positive thinking"—the phrase that served as the title of his most popular book, which broke all records by staying glued onto the New York Times nonfiction best-seller list for 186 weeks.

A former editor of Guideposts, Leonard LeSourd, opens with an inspiring account of the way Dr. Peale dealt with a great catastrophe. The year was 1947, Guideposts was still a tender young thing, and one day its offices burned to the ground, destroying what is a publication's lifeblood, the entire subscription file. Dr. Peale called a meeting with publisher Raymond Thornburg, managing director Fred Decker, and LeSourd to discuss whether they should try to go on with the venture. As LeSourd tells it, Dr. Peale in his breezy way said, "You know, this could be the best thing that ever happened to Guideposts. Perhaps our neighbor Lowell Thomas [the famous author, traveler, and broadcaster, who had lent them the building that had just burned down] will tell his radio listeners about the fire and ask for...

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