An Anecdotal Memoir
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Postscript to the Online Charles Templeton Memoir
Charles Templeton wrote this memoir in 1983 at the age of 67. He died in June of 2001 from Alzheimer's disease. In the intervening years he continued in many of his several careers.
His radio show, Dialogue, ended the year he wrote the memoir after 18 years. He continued to comment on radio and on TV shows until the mid-90s when the disease began. He also wrote a number of newspaper columns, but largely led a private life away from the spotlight.
His main focus was writing. He published the novels The Queen's Secret in 1986, and World of One in 1988 (The Mr. Nobody referred to at the end of the memoir.) Most of his books did quite well, with editions outside Canada and translations into many languages. He had been told that Act of God was more than a #1 bestseller, it was the best selling Canadian novel of its era.
From there he moved to more nonfiction. In 1992 he released Succeeding, a self-help book outlining the secrets to success he had learned in his careers.
For much of his life he was plagued by back problems. With much work and medical consultation, he finally freed himself of them and wrote End Back Attacks along with Charles Godfrey, one of his back doctors.
His work of non-fiction to raise the most controversy was released in 1995. Called Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith it outlined the arguments around the central issue of his early life and why he left the church. That book remains in print, and is bought both by believers and non-believers. It even spawned a popular believer's rebuttal book called The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel.
While writing Farewell to God, he had one resolve in his mind. He felt that today there is a large body of people for whom faith is a burden rather than a blessing. They are people who were brought up in Christianity but have drifted. They say they are Christian but they are unsure. Perhaps they attend at Christmas and Easter. Their faith presents for them a set of moral rules they don't understand which they find at odds with their real lives.
He felt that these people were searching for something that might release them from the ingrained old memes they learned at their mothers' knees. That a rational demonstration of the problems with the church would free them from that burden. The truly faithful, he felt, would not have their faith shaken by this book or any other book advocating agnosticism (his preferred term) or atheism.
I know from letters he has received that this was indeed the case for several readers. He would be glad to know it. Alas, the disease was already striking him when he wrote the book and he was not healthy during its success.
He would no doubt have been fascinated by the later rise of popular atheism by such writers as Dawkins and Hitchens.
He also continued inventing, mostly in the toy area. One partial success was "TeddyWarm" a line of stuffed toys released by Mattel, unfortunately to lukewarm sales. These toys contained a sealed pouch of water that could be boiled and inserted into the toy, keeping the Teddy bear warm for hours as a child went to sleep. A similar toy more suited to the microwave is on the market today.
He loved to devise things and draw, even learned how to do a bit of CAD on his computer, designing games, toys, exercise equipment and even a system to improve the appearance of the elevated Gardner Expressway in Toronto. All this as a senior citizen.
Even after his death, the faithful have maintained a surprising interest in his preaching career and move to agnosticism. It inspired an alcove in the notorious "creation museum", the above mentioned Strobel rebuttal book and movie, and even a fictionalized role as the narrator of the movie and book "Billy: The Early Years." This film about Billy Graham's rise is told as a death-bed interview by a reporter trying to get dirt on Graham. Such an interview never took place, and while a few of his lines come from his writing, most are unauthorized fiction and uncharacteristic of him.
He spent his final years in a glorious penthouse apartment on the edge of the Don Valley in Toronto, with his wife Madeleine, who, third time being the charm, stuck with him to the end. He was inventing to the end, even selling a game design while he had severe Alzheimer's, and trying to devise ways to fight the disease. He was particularly attracted to puzzles that would exercise his mind, and this has been shown to be a worthwhile tactic. That kept him able to talk until the very end, which is rare with that affliction. He left behind Madeleine, we 4 children, and currently 7 grandsons and a granddaughter, along with his brother (d. 2008,) 2 sisters and a recently discovered half-sister, all missing him.
-Brad Templeton, 2002, updated 2010.