21 Cortleigh Blvd.
Aug. 8, 1952

Dear John:

I should have replied at once to your recent letter but there were two reasons for the delay. One was that my wife and I were in the midst of packing for our trip to Alberta (the Banff School of Fine Arts) where I have to make an address in acknowledgement of a medal from the University of Alberta. As MacMillan (Music) and Haines (Painting) cannot be present, extra duties rest on me. We leave tomorrow night and the presentation takes place on August 14th, and we hope to return by Aug. 23. The other reason is that I want to go through both your article and review in a leisurely and concentrated manner on the trip, so as to reply to your queries as fully as possible.

You have done such a magnificent piece of work in the article that you have left very little for me to add. It is a profound and original analysis, and a wonderful tribute as I have said before.

I shall write you on my trip out so my letter may reach you early next week. I must do some rummaging in my memory to bring back the conflict just before the '20s, when, on one day in a classroom, we were soaked with German Positivism plus theories on the subconscious and on the next day in the same classroom another lecturer gave us huge doses of Thomas Hill Green's Idealism – the Plato-Kant-Hegel development. 'Creative Evolution' or God in nature and man was the 'antidote' to Darwin's naturalism, though the serum worked on some of us and not on others. Those were exciting years, stimulating, and soul-searching, for we didn't want our Theism to crack. (More of this later).

Further back still, the same cleavages existed between 'orthodox' Methodism with its literalism and the more liberal interpretations by way of allegory. Many of those explanations were shed later, not because we solved the problems; we simply forgot them. But one major problem remained – the assignment of evil (physical and moral) to its place in a Universe presumably governed by a God of compassion and love. This was expressed in thousands of 'testimonies' at Methodist revival meetings – 'God does not ordain evil; he simply permits it. He doesn't prevent disaster; he enables us to triumph over it.' Hence acceptance or submission became a high note – hard indeed to sing. You have graphically covered the idea in your treatment – the first time it has been done in any estimate of what I have written.

I'll amplify this on my journey to Banff.

Gratefully yours
E.J. P.


MacMillan (Music) and Haines (Painting)
Sir Ernest MacMillan and Frederick Haines (painter, art teacher, former Principal of the Ontario College of Art) had also been chosen to receive medals.

said before
See the letter to Sutherland, 25 February 1952.