A challenging, non-linear read with occasional moments of beauty and tenderness. I found that Dillard describes people and relationships in much the sA challenging, non-linear read with occasional moments of beauty and tenderness. I found that Dillard describes people and relationships in much the same way she describes the natural world, and I'm not sure this is a compliment. Something about the characters here seem removed, as if behind a wall. I never came to care about the characters, and I'm not sure Dillard did either, although she was certainly interested in the philosophical questions about love that they wrestled with. In the end, though, please stick to nonfiction, Annie....more
Would God take your beloved's life if it were the only way you would turn to him? Honestly the idea repels me, but it's a central theme of VanAuken'sWould God take your beloved's life if it were the only way you would turn to him? Honestly the idea repels me, but it's a central theme of VanAuken's memoir of his blissful marriage to his wife Davy, who dies of a mysterious illness several years into their marriage, after the two have become Christians. The first 60 pages tell of their intense love and the 'shining barrier' they build to protect it. Christ destroys it, as both turn to him after falling in with a 'we love Jesus but we are very intellectual too!' crowd in Oxford. The second half of the book comprises Sheldon's many letters to and from C. S. Lewis, who was a mentor to the couple until Lewis's death in 1963. Lewis is the one who proposes that Davy's death was a 'severe mercy' to Sheldon, and Sheldon is mostly convinced by that explanation.
If you can stomach VanAuken's sometimes melodramatic descriptions of his and Davy's marriage and their blissful existence in Oxford, I'd recommend the book, a 20th-century classic memoir about romance, grief, and theodicy. ...more
Claimed by many as "Mere Christianiy" for the 21st century, Simply Christian presents a lucid though limited overview of Christian thought and practicClaimed by many as "Mere Christianiy" for the 21st century, Simply Christian presents a lucid though limited overview of Christian thought and practice. Bishop of Durham N.T. Wright starts his apologetic not from moral philosophy, as did his predecessor Lewis, but from what he calls "echoes"--fundamental human longings that point us to a reality deeper than our material, "just things as they are" reality. Those echoes are beauty, relationships, spirituality, and justice. We crave all four, yet our attempts to find each fall paintstakingly short. Wright argues they fall short because our longing can't ultimately be found in personal and corporate strivings, but in the Triune God revealing himself through Christ and inviting us to participate in his story of cosmic redemption. Wright touches on key elements of the Christian vocabulary like covenant, community, prayer, worship, biblical interpretation, and the like. In true Anglican form, Wright's apologetic is refreshingly global in scope and deeply rooted in history. And his apologetic is built on the right beginnings for a postmodern audience more likely to accept personal experience over moral law as means of truth. Where I found his apologetic lacking, speaking as the dyed-in-the-wool evangelical that I can't help but be, is Wright's glaring ommission of the Atonement. Why did Christ have to die? Why is Easter the central event of the liturgical calendar? Wright is clear that the Lord is a redeeming one, but the how of this redemption is never spelled out. ...more