All In The Family
Raising Your Child, Not by Force, But by Love, by Sidney D. Craig (Westminster, 1973, 190 pp., $5.95), Why Can’t I Understand My Kids?, by Herbert Wagemaker (Zondervan, 1973, 110 pp., $3.95, $1.95 pb), The Christian Home in a Changing World, by Gene Getz (Moody, 1972, 107 pp., $1.95 pb), and Christian Living in the Home, by Jay E. Adams (Presbyterian and Reformed, 1972, 143 pp., $3.95, $2.50 pb), are reviewed by Stephen L. Phillips, minister, Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Stratford, New Jersey.

One might wonder whether all this reading about the family has been of any value to me or to my children, since it is now one hour since lunch began and I am patiently waiting for my five-year-old son to finish so he may be excused from the table.

Sidney Craig would say that I am among those “most likely to produce delinquency in their children” since I group myself with the “most conscientious parents.” That’s from his book Raising Your Child, Not by Force, But by Love (my uncle claims the title is wrong—you rear children and raise hogs!). Craig contends at length that children react irrationally and that therefore parents should strive to produce loving feelings and avoid producing anger because “loving feelings produce loving behavior” and “angry feelings produce angry behavior.” The power to eradicate delinquency lies in the production of these love feelings, made most possible by the love principles of “certain of the Old Testament prophets, the scholarly rabbis, and Jesus,” boiled down to the Golden Rule. (There is no mention of a certain king who wrote excellent proverbs!)

Craig’s cases (he’s a clinical psychologist) appear to be largely from overly strict homes, and never from permissive homes. From this background he draws some helpful suggestions, such as: give due consideration to “biologically determined immaturity”; be careful not to show your child only disapproval; be ready to forgive; and be cautious in your choice of words when saying “no.”

The parents who want to exercise the means and methods of the whole of Scripture will find a lot to disagree with in this book. The norm is the will of the parent: “do what your own human feelings indicate should be done.” The child is basically good (sin is being irrational). There is no real distinction between punishment and discipline. Craig urges parents to practice moderation in the use of discipline and punishment—let the child blow off steam, and tolerate his temper tantrums (but don’t give him what he’s after). If a child or person is very, very angry, then someone else made him very, very angry; the poor lad couldn’t help it.

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Interact and react I did, while taking my time reading through Craig’s book. The next one I tackled, Why Can’t I Understand My Kids?, by Dr. Wagemaker (a psychiatrist), was a fast, easy reader in chit-chatty style, but the discussion questions at the end of each chapter could really slow one down. Although some of them cried for answers, the answers were seldom given, the questions rarely discussed. I was disappointed. I was also disappointed, having seen this book prominently displayed at the local Christian bookstore, because there was scant use or mention of Scripture and because, except for up-to-date illustrations, the book did not seem fresh. The author tells us of the importance of listening and the benefit it has for both listener and talker; of sharing, failures as well as successes; of having a good, communicative relationship between parents; and of avoiding favoritism.

Contrary to Craig, Wagemaker is convinced (by his experience in psychiatric wards) of the importance of not acting on feelings but rather setting limits, which gives the child the chance to develop inner control and also shows him that someone cares.

A chapter on God-created individuality brings out this provocative question: Since one of the family roles is to take the children from dependence to independence, should we not allow them freedom to fail?

The book by Getz, associate professor of Christian education at Dallas Seminary, has virtually nothing personal. It is more what the subtitle says (“Biblical principles arranged as a guide for personal study and group interaction”) than what the title (The Christian Home in a Changing World) suggests, i.e., confrontation with practical and theoretical changes in the family of the seventies. Crowding thirteen chapters into 100 pages leaves little room for anything beyond an introduction and a short explanation of Scripture for each topic, and the book seems sketchy. The illustrative material was taken largely from Scripture. Generalities abound, without specific illustration, and the book tends to read like some dry sermons I’ve heard. “Children—their place in God’s plan” is a chapter not usually found in contemporary books on this subject.

Yet I would buy this book anyway. It is a good reference book on what Scripture says about the family. Group discussion, interaction, and projects suggested at the end of each chapter can “make” this book. In fact, it should prove useful to a Sunday school or couples class; it should be in the church library; and, as Getz says, it can be used by pastors, teachers, and prospective homemakers.

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Meanwhile, my wife, who majored in Christian education, had been reading the books. “You’re going to like Adams best,” says she.

Here goes! Another seminary professor (Adams is professor of practical theology at Westminster), and chapters with the same old topics—the Christian wife, the Christian husband, single Christians, the Christian family, living with an unbelieving partner. But Christian Living in the Home is no ordinary book. A clue to that is its opening:

A truly Christian home is a place where active sinners live; but it is also a place where the members of that home admit the fact and understand the problem, know what to do about it, and as a result grow by grace.

The sinner is confronted at every turn of the page. I wasn’t wrapped in abstract ideas; I was faced with God’s demands on me! Adams deals with sin and its prevention “to avoid the trials and problems that the family next door must face simply because they have no [biblical] standard.” He deals with sin by laying a foundation of hope and help. Call sinful patterns of living “sin,” and not “sickness” and there is hope, because you have a Saviour, his Word, and his Spirit. Recognize that problems at Sinai and Corinth are the same basic ones as found in twentieth-century America (1 Cor. 10:13) and there is hope.

“Attack problems, not persons.” “Ventilation is plainly un-Christian” (agreeing with Wagemaker). “You ought never to begin [reconciliation] by taking the lid off the other fellow’s trash can until you have cleaned out your own garbage can first.” The style is never stuffy. Discussion of Scripture bristles with challenge. Every chapter is pithy, written with gusto, loaded with illustrations from next door, across the street, in your own home.

The chapter on single persons explodes the “myth of compatibility.” To be compatible, Christians must, by God’s grace, work hard at the task of becoming so.

In contrast to Craig, Adams shows love being not first a feeling but a giving of yourself. Feelings develop out of giving.

Christ commands, “Love your enemies.” You can’t sit around whomping up a good feeling for your enemies. It doesn’t come that way. But if you give an enemy something to eat or give him something to drink, soon something begins to happen to your feelings. When you invest yourself in another, you begin to feel differently toward him.

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There is real help in discipline, too. A written code of conduct in the home means that parents are held to their side. Start with one rule and enforce it. After results set in, introduce a second rule. And keep the rules to a minimum (God gave us only ten commandments).

Ultimate responsibility for both family leadership and spiritual development is placed in dad’s lap. There is an unusual presentation of the manliness of Christianity and Christ in that chapter.

Major chapters have do-it-yourself worksheets that correlate with the practical suggestions and solutions offered, a big help for those who don’t know where to begin. Individuals and the family meeting together will benefit from the everyday scriptural and spiritual help found in this book.

Wagemaker I would borrow, Getz I would buy. But Adams I am recommending to my whole congregation.

My son? He finally decided to eat his lunch. And later on he hiked with, wrestled, and several times spontaneously hugged and kissed his dear ol’ disciplinarian dad.

An Exercise In Futility

The Human Face of God, by John A. T. Robinson (Westminster, 269 pp., $7.95), is reviewed by Harold O. J. Brown, associate editor, CHRISTIANITY TODAY.

The latest offering by the famous author of Honest to God is written with ingratiating skillfulness. The introduction is so kindly and pious that it could as well be prefixed to a sweetly orthodox book of devotions. Robinson, we are frequently assured, wants to offend no one, and certainly shrinks from imposing his views on others. Whether this tender style makes the book any more valuable or easier to digest in the light of its content, is another matter.

At the conclusion, Robinson tells us that Jesus, in order to be acceptable to us as “God for us,” may not be allowed to be anything other than a mere man, “psilos anthrôpos, to be served and loved for his sheer humanity.” But why does he believe this? Because he begins with his own presuppositions about what Jesus Christ may be allowed to be, in order to be acceptable to modern bishops and their friends. On the basis of what modern man’s real or imaginary intellectual triumphs (the “cracking of the genetic code,” and the wisdom of Darwin, Marx, and Freud), he cleverly marshalls rationalistic arguments against the Virgin Birth, and suggests—ever so tactfully, of course—that Jesus was begotten by an unknown father and later accepted by Joseph as his own. Arguing against Docetism (classically, the view that Jesus Christ was only seemingly human, but in Robinson, any view that maintains that he shared God’s divine nature), on the basis of his conviction that in order to be acceptable to us, Jesus must have been exactly like us, Robinson also disposes of the personality of the Logos, the Son in the Holy Trinity, and is thus implicitly Unitarian. He defines the Logos not as a Person but as “the self-expressive activity of God.” He is uncomfortable with the Atonement but knows that the Resurrection, even for Paul, “did not depend in any way on anything exceptional having happened to the flesh-body of Jesus.” “We must be free to say that the bones of Jesus may still be lying around somewhere in Palestine.”

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There is a certain amount of useful exegetical material in Chapter 5, “God’s Man,” in which Robinson reminds us that, despite his smug reinterpretations, he is still capable of understanding, if not accepting, what the New Testament actually says. Curiously, Robinson seems to feel it necessary to review the development of orthodox Christology in order to show that his teaching corresponds not to what was rejected as heretical but rather to what was accepted as orthodox, though of course this correspondence exists only when the intent of the orthodox formulations is understood in the subtlest and most profound (i.e., Robinsonian) way.


How to Choose a Christian College, by Robert Webber (Creation House, 209 pp., $4.95). A theology professor at Wheaton offers a very practical guide to Christian liberal arts and Bible colleges; charts give data on more than 200 of them. Size, cost, sponsorship, majors offered, and sports played are among the specific items treated.

Beginnings in the New Testament, by Howard Vos (Moody, 108 pp., $1.50 pb). A brief, nontechnical guide to New Testament origins, organization, and the specific books. A helpful resource for brand new Bible students.

The 13th American, by Pastor Paul (David C. Cook, 190 pp., $1.50 pb). A minister tells of his alcoholism and subsequent recovery through a specialized clinic and Alcoholics Anonymous. A full and useful discussion of the problem by one who has been there.

This New You, by Harold Myra (Zondervan, 120 pp., $.95 pb). An excellent book developed by Youth for Christ. Offers guidance by answering typical questions of new, teen-age Christians. Very readable; has pictures and cartoons. Avoids the terse, systematic approach of traditional “follow-up” materials.

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Agape: An Ethical Analysis, by Gene Outka (Yale, 321 pp., $11). A scholarly analysis of the literature by recent religious thinkers on love as an ethical principle. Includes sketches of Kierkegaard, Niebuhr, Nygren, and Ramsey, among others, on specific aspects of love, concluding with a more detailed evaluation of Karl Barth’s views and the author’s summation. A well-written digest.

A Biblical Perspective on the Race Problem, by Thomas Figart (Baker, 185 pp., $3.95 pb). A discussion of racial origins is followed by a survey of Old and New Testament instances of racial problems. Noting that those on both sides of racial issues often base their positions on the Bible, the author offers a thorough, persuasive argument from Scripture against racial discrimination.

The Heritage of John Calvin, edited by John H. Bratt (Eerdmans, 222 pp., $5.95). Twelve lectures given at Calvin College and Seminary by prominent theologians and historians, including J. T. McNeill (Calvin as Doctor of the church), Quirinus Breen (Calvin and Thomas Aquinas), Philip Hughes (Calvin as Director of Missions), Franklin H. Littell (Calvin at Strassburg), Paul Woolley (Calvin and Toleration), and Carl Bangs (Arminius as a Reformed Theologian).

The Jews in the Roman World, by Michael Grant (Scribner’s, 347 pp., $10.00). A historian’s fast-moving survey of the Jews in Palestine and throughout the Empire. Lengthy discussion of Christianity’s inception and impact, with considerable (and unwarranted) disagreement with the apostolic accounts.

Romans: The Gospel of God’s Grace, by Alva J. McClain (Moody, 256 pp., $4.95). An orderly, well-written commentary on Romans by the late president of Grace Seminary. Includes both an overview and a more detailed exposition.

Communication in Pulpit and Parish, by Merril R. Abbey (Westminster, 231 pp., $7.50). A “philosophy of communication” introduction for the local pastor. Abbey concentrates on preaching as the primary form of communication but delves also into multimedia communication in the community. Has tips and suggestions for improving the preacher-congregation communication channel.

Within the Circle, by Rosalind Rinker (Zondervan, 120 pp., $3.95, $1.95 pb). Delightful spiritual autobiography of the well-known writer’s struggle in moving away from belief in entire sanctification and toward belief in eternal security. Refreshingly honest. Very well written.

The Idea of Fraternity in America, by Wilson C. McWilliams (University of California, 695 pp., $14.95). In an impressive and scholarly assessment of American social history McWilliams discusses fraternity—the bond of interpersonal affection through shared values or goals—as an essential quality of man that, though rooted in America’s religious traditions, has continually been challenged and eroded by the institutions and values of the liberal Enlightenment.

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Beauduin, by Sonya Quitslund (Newman, 366 pp., $10.00). A Belgian monk and friend of the future Pope John XXIII, Lambert Beauduin (1873–1960) was an instigator of liturgical reform and ecumenism. His struggle culminated in Vatican II. Provides insights into Catholic tensions and changes. Scholarly and well written.

The New Testament: A Guide to Its Writings, by Günther Bornkamm (Fortress, 166 pp., $3.25 pb). A prominent German scholar proclaims the Resurrection as the primary theme of the New Testament in this well-written introduction for laymen. However, many of his views are unacceptable, and the helpful insights that are present should be gleaned only by advanced students.

Armstrongism’s 300 Errors Exposed, by S. E. Anderson (Church Growth Publications [Box 90361, Nashville, Tenn. 37209], 215 pp., $2.45 pb). A very extensive look into the theology and practice of Herbert W. Armstrong and his “Worldwide Church of God.” Points out how thoroughly unbiblical Armstrongism is. Clearly written; a good reference book for those who deal with members of the group.

The Evidence That Convicted Aida Skripnikova, edited by Michael Bourdeaux and Xenia Howard-Johnston (David C. Cook, 154 pp., $1.25). Contemporary Soviet persecution of religion is conveyed through an account of the trial and conviction of a young Leningrad evangelical.

Conscience, edited by C. Ellis Nelson (Newman, 353 pp., $5.95 pb). Recent, scholarly essays on conscience, thirteen from a theological perspective followed by nine from a psychological standpoint. The theological articles, while generally of a Christian framework, have no common ideology. The others follow a preference for Freudian-type psychology.

The Hebrew Humanism of Martin Buber, by Grete Schaeder (Wayne State University, 503 pp., $17.50). A thorough analysis of Buber’s philosophical development provided in a biographical context. Evaluates major influences that include Zionism, Hasidism, and the Old Testament.

The Worship of the Early Church, by Ferdinand Hahn (Fortress, 118 pp., $3.25 pb). A scholarly survey of early church worship, including Jewish backgrounds, Christ’s attitudes, and the Church itself on into the second century. Well documented and comprehensive.

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Mysticism and Dissent, by Steven Ozment (Yale, 270 pp., $10). A scholarly, well-documented investigation of the appropriation of concepts from late medieval mysticism by six major sixteenth-century religious dissenters; Müntzer, Hut, Denck, Franck, Castellio, and Weigel. Well organized.

The Johannine Epistles, by Rudolf Bultmann (Fortress, 143 pp., $11). Latest addition to the scholarly and aesthetically appealing commentary series known as “Hermeneia.”

Weekday Ministry With Young Children, by Martha Locke Hemphill (Judson, 96 pp., $2.50 pb). Practical approach to planning and preparing for a weekday nursery school in the church. Questions to answer before beginning, lesson ideas, and sources of information make this a very useful guide.

Citing his German counterpart, Heinz Zahrndt, Robinson affirms that Jesus is God in the sense that “he alone allows God to be really his Father.” Here we see one of the curious paradoxes of Robinson’s variety of apostate thinking: having devoted half his book to showing that Jesus must not, under any circumstances, be thought of as essentially or metaphysically different from us, and not even as morally different in principle (in other words, he is not free from sin), Robinson nevertheless asserts that Jesus somehow managed to achieve such a moral triumph in his life that God is fully visible in him. An odd line of argument in view of the fact that—as Robinson himself knows—the life of Jesus is far less fully reported than his atoning death and bodily resurrection, which he finds so baffling and disagreeable. Under the heading “Man for All,” he develops his view of universal salvation (whatever salvation, in his view, may mean).

It goes without saying that Robinson, despite his erudition, gives no time to any writer on Christology (e.g. Brunner, Pannenberg) who does not share his loftily reductionist views.

All in all, it is a pity that so brilliant a mind must continue to devote itself to rationalizing its own now well-entrenched apostasy and commitment to error. The Human Face of God is the document of a spiritual tragedy.

Lundensian Theology

Meaning and Method: Prolegomena to a Scientific Philosophy of Religion and a Scientific Theology, by Anders Nygren (Fortress, 1972, 412 pp., $12.95), is reviewed by Marvin E. Repinski, campus minister, St. Cloud State College, St. Cloud, Minnesota.

To have been introduced to Anders Nygren via his biblical studies, as I was a dozen years ago, and then later to have come upon his more philosophical works gives one an impressing sense of the many-sidedness of this author. His fine biblical studies and theological reflections are a call to a stout faith and reveal a vigorous and devoted heart. Theological thinking, according to the author, is “nothing other than probing into the secrets of the divine Word.” In this volume he probes with his own scientific instruments, hoping to offer the reader means by which to embrace both the community of science and the company of the faithful.

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Bishop Nygren is among those Scandinavian churchmen who have given voice to what has become known as Lundensian theology. It is really the generous and ecumenical spirit of Nygren that has been most responsible for giving an international status to what was once a rather parochial method. Now for a good fifty years a number of scholars have been involved in a study that has brought a thematic approach to bear upon scriptural study and philosophical analysis.

Nygren’s commentary on Romans is a fine statement of a bishop with a pastoral heart who wishes to counsel us in the critical, yet devotional, use of the Scriptures. A scholar’s brilliance is welded to a cultural historian’s perspective in his book Agape and Eros, which, though it describes the kinds of human love in overly rigid categories, launched a spirited and useful dialogue in the area of “motif research,” as have other of his works.

Nygren has made a noble effort to free himself, and European theological reflection in general, from Thomistic and other philosophical presuppositions and establish the biblical Word, the event of Christ, as normative within the setting of our age of scientific inquiry. He has fared well and on some fronts established a new level from which theology can proceed—for instance, his development of various forms of what he terms “scientific argumentation.” Scientific inquiry has a kind of built-in testing, an evaluative process that confirms or denies the data being examined. This, Nygren reminds us from several different angles, is very different from the widespread and mistaken notion that science is a deposit of “truths.” This very methodology of science, when properly understood, provides a touchstone for another discipline, namely theology.

Part of the Lundensian approach in theological matters has been to tackle the large terms, to find categories that would carry the freight of weighty discussion and deliver the content in tidy parcels. So Nygren is at home in this work with the big concepts: Good, True, Beautiful, Eternal. But after pursuing godly knowledge via the path of the large and heavy terms, we do well, I suggest, to pause and set another consideration beside Nygren’s manifold pages. Do we do justice to the content of theology by crowding it into “master concepts”? I would depart from Nygren’s methodology to argue that content in theological discourse is not necessarily clarified by being fit into large, universal-type concepts. Rather, words gain their meaning in a context. For the Christian, the context is a life stirred to seek and know the gift of faith. Finding themes, positing all-embracing concepts, can become a temptation to locate faith and its consequent virtues in an artificial context. The plea I make is that the human heart is the proper context for it.

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I am convinced, as is Nygren, that one of the objectives of theologizing should be to free the discipline of metaphysical structures. The hard question is: Has he fulfilled his own intentions? One cannot escape the suspicion that there yet remains an ominous metaphysics in this author’s attempt at a scientific theology. Has a kind of “metaphysics of the mind” taken the place of other traditional uses of this approach in doing philosophy and theology?

Anyone who would dare to lead on the fronts of theology must undergo rigorous training in books like this. Those who hope to provide a dynamic in a counter-culture must be familiar with the culture. Likewise, a theology without knowledge of its underlying philosophy will evolve into a thin brew no matter how hearty the original ingredients. Nygren has proved that he can convey nourishment for both the heart and mind.

Fills A Significant Gap

A Manual For Evangelism/Church Growth, by Vergil Gerber (William Carey Library [533 Hermosa, S. Pasadena, Calif. 91030] 1973, 91 pp„ $1.50 pb), is reviewed by Leroy Birney, missionary, Medellín, Colombia.

Congregations and denominations that are serious about the Great Commission will certainly wish to evaluate the results of their evangelistic efforts during Key 73. They will want to discover their strengths and weaknesses and make plans that capitalize on the former and compensate for the latter. Here is a book that can be of great help to them.

The Manual is divided into four sections. The first lays the theological foundation for the use of the skills to be taught. Three concise chapters present the biblical goal, dynamic, and strategy for evangelism in a way easily adapted to presentation in a workshop.

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Section II should have been placed at the end, perhaps as an appendix, because it obscures the connection between sections I and III. It summarizes the program of an actual church-growth workshop, presumably as a stimulus and model. The Manual is, in fact, a guide for such workshops on all levels—denominational, regional, city-wide, and congregational.

The key word in section III is diagnosis. It is a step-by-step guide for diagnosing the evangelistic program of a local church or group of churches. It presents not a “new” program or technique of evangelism but rather a method of evaluation.

The Manual introduces concepts such as the growth rate by decades, yearly growth rates, patterns of growth, and three distinct kinds of growth and loss. It shows how to compute each one, make it visual with line and bar graphs, and interpret its relevance for the church.

The diagnosis leads directly into goal setting for conversion growth during the following five years, with an annual evaluation of progress and goals. This process should be part of every church’s annual meeting.

Section IV is designed to promote the learning of the skills taught in section III by providing worksheets and instructions for immediate practice.

Vergil Gerber’s Manual fills a significant gap as a book with which to teach churches to do the diagnostic research necessary for effective evangelism, as recommended in “The Minister’s Workshop” by Peter Wagner (CHRISTIANITY TODAY, January 19, 1973). Each chapter of the book concludes with recommended further reading.

Double Focus

Our Visited Planet, by William M. Justice (Vantage, 1973, 168 pp., $5.95), is reviewed by Rachel King, adjunct professor of biblical studies, Barrington College, Barrington, Rhode Island.

The opening chapter of Our Visited Planet is a brilliant apology for the divinity of Christ based on the uniqueness of his personality and the claims he made for himself. I do not know of any book in the past quarter of a century that conveys so well the impression of numinous “otherness” that Christ made upon his immediate followers.

The book is characterized by a balanced rationality of approach, and it is written in a rhythmic, sonorous prose.

Although it is basically orthodox in its summarizing of the arguments for Christ’s pre-existence, incarnation, atoning death, resurrection, present glory and power, and future judgment of the world, it is not a rehash of old doctrines. Instead it has the double focus that is part of the intensity of Ibsen’s plays. Ibsen’s plays unfold in the present and in the process tell the story of the preceding decade. Just the opposite, Our Visited Planet unfolds the first-century story of Christ and in the process draws the picture of our contemporary thought and situation to which Christ’s career is relevant. The strength of the book lies in its Christ-centeredness and in the even sanity with which it combines the orthodox view of the historical resurrection with its modern social implications. Here is religious backing for a heroic stand for racial justice and against the insanity of war!

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Although the title of the book makes it plain that Mr. Justice believes that the earthly career of Christ was an invasion of the world by the genuinely supernatural Deity, he of course is not thinking of the world beyond as a spatial “out there.” Discussing the ascension of Jesus, he stresses that in the “hard-core teaching of the early apostles as they spoke of Jesus’ exaltation to the right hand of God” what the primitive church was saying in effect was, “ ‘Don’t overlook the Crucified! The scepter of the universe is in these pierced hands’ ” (p. 145).

The book is a breath of fresh air. One feels that the author personally has—as C. S. Lewis said—“got ‘out’ in some sense which [makes] the Solar System itself seem an indoor affair.”

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