For some reason, my mother-in-law likes to give me books of a religious nature. Perhaps it's because I'll talk to her about church now and again. Well, we need to talk about something. Why not something important to her? Whatever, this turned out to be an interesting selection. The book talks quite a bit about the power or prayer, especially healing prayer. Interestingly, she gave me the book only a couple of weeks before my best friend was diagnosed as having a cancerous tumor. If only in real life we could learn proper techniques for praying such tumors away.
Anyway, the book concerns an Episcopalian priest in a small town in New Jersey. He takes up with a local artist who is considered to be a loose woman, because strange people visit her house in the evenings to seek help. She is a bit of a healer, not a bit of a tart. She apparently cures the priest's nephew after the nephew has a rather bad accident, an accident causing injuries most people considered to be fatal. But the nephew is cured. So the priest gets to know the artist, seeking to learn why her type of prayer worked and his did not. Naturally, they fall in love. They fight a lot over points of theology, but eventually come up with approaches to try as a "scientific experiment", and some of those approaches appear to work wonders. There are lots of further plot twists that I'll not bore you with, and some romanticism, which seems to be important to have in books even if it's not something any of us experience much in our lives. We hope for romance, of course, but romantic attachments never happen the way they do in books.
So, anyway, there are lots of musings on theological matters and prayer, some discussion of Christian mysticism and so forth. You also get some sense for the ebb and flow of life in an active church in 1950s. I'm not sure a lot of this material would make much sense to younger readers, who only know the effete Christianity of the shrunken, mainline denominations or the non-traditional Christianist hucksterism one finds in the majority of American Evangelical congregations.
This is another of those books where I wish I could give plusses and minuses. As a three-* book, it deserves to have a plus appended. Since the book will make little sense to a majority of today's readers, however, it doesn't merit four *s.