Reviewed by Philip Tavlian*
A leading pastor of the Great Lakes State has just published his 35th volume, a highly readable compendium of inspirational essays in the English and Armenian languages.
Reverend Doctor Vahan H. Tootikian – Emeritus Pastor of the Armenian Congregational Church of Greater Detroit – has prepared a bilingual work emphasizing “a balance between one’s personal salvation and the social implications of one’s religious experience.” As the author states in his preface, “[W]ithout faith a person’s good works are futile and without good
The English language portion of the volume comprises 31 articles divided into three sections – “Holidays and Observances,” “Views on Issues,” and “Armenian Issues.” The initial section includes thoughtful pieces relating to the Advent and Lenten Seasons as well as Independence Day in the American Republic.
“Views on Issues” surveys the underpinnings of the Christian faith, from the imperative of outreach to the friendship and nonconformity exemplified in the life of Jesus of Nazareth to the distinctions between Divine Knowledge and human wisdom. Essays dealing with the pilgrimage of life – storms, weaknesses, good and evil, love, rejection, prayer, and religious education – are of special benefit to 21st Century readers.
The section addressing Armenian issues eloquently examines theological diversity among Armenian Evangelicals, the 98th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, problems and solutions in the modern Republic of Armenia, the 2009 Armenia/Turkey Protocols, and the interdependence of Armenia and the Diaspora.
The Armenian-language portion of the volume is entitled, “Nertashnagootyun” (meaning “harmony”) and consists of ten articles dealing with religious and patriotic subjects. The author acknowledges that not “all Christians and all Armenians think alike, feel alike, worship alike or act alike.” He nevertheless urges that “in spite of their differences, they must united and create harmony, much like a choral group, with different voices blended together, creating beautiful music.”
“Balance” is the rich literary harvest of a gifted scholar whose five and one-half decades of Christian ministry have taken him from Beirut, Lebanon and Damascus, Syria to pulpits in Massachusetts and Michigan as well as to the classrooms of Harvard University, Andover Newtown Theological Seminary, and the University of Michigan.
Given recent tragic developments in the Near East and other points around the globe, the informed reader is well-advised to acquire this estimable volume and keep it within arm’s reach in the trying times ahead.
Inscribed copies may be ordered from the Armenian Heritage Committee, 3922 Yorba Linda Boulevard, Royal Oak, Michigan 48073-6455.
Keeping the Balance.
By Rev. Dr. Vahan H. Tootikian.
Royal Oak, Michigan: Armenian Heritage Committee, 2013. Pp. 160 ISBN 1-891583-15-8. $25 plus $3.25 shipping and handling.
* Philip Tavlian is a Member of the State Bar of California and a Past President of the Armenian Theological Students’ Aid, Inc., graduate financial aid organization of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in North America.