Book review of Wesley for Armchair Theologians (2005),by William J. Abraham
The author, a distinguished Professor of Wesley Studies at Perkins School of Theology (SMU) says in the preface, “Wesley clearly has a distinctive theology.” It is Abraham’s thesis that this theology is an “intellectual oasis lodged within the traditional faith of the church enshrined in the creeds.” I must admit that I was hooked right there because Ienjoy rational inquiry into things not necessarily rational, remembering Wesley’s famous dictum, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, charity,” as guide.
Philosophy professor Alexander Pruss has some interesting thoughts on the sin of detraction. His introductory paragraph:
Both the Catholic and the Jewish traditions talk of the sin of detraction. Jewish tradition calls thislashon hara`—the evil tongue. Both traditions distinguish detraction from slander. In detraction, one discloses, without sufficient moral reason, the faults of another and one speaks the truth (or what one thinks is the truth). In slander, one makes negative remarks about another that are false (or that one doesn’t think are true).
“Sixties rock deity Jim ‘The Lizard King’ Morrison’s bloated corpse was found in a Parisian bathtub in 1971, but apparently his soul had been writhing in restless torment until last Thursday, when lame-duck Florida Governor Charlie Crist finally pardoned him for allegedly flashing his dingus at a Miami audience in 1969.”
He then goes on to give the reader a history of apologies for sins committed decades or centuries earlier as though they actually meant something. They, of course, do: They make the apologizer feel good. To me, they also seem to be maudlin attempts to be viewed as a “sensitive person” for some personal aggrandizement.
East of Eden, by John Steinbeck (1902-1968), published 1952
I have read a good deal of Steinbeck’s work but years ago. Grapes of Wrath (1939) was his most famous and it won a Pulitzer prize. Others—Tortilla Flat, Cannery Row, Of Mice and Men, Travels with Charley, The Winter of Our Discontent—were all enjoyable but certainly Grapes of Wrath, more than any other,displayed his writing skills and his thinking. In it he portrayed poverty, pain and gloominess yet with a powerful optimism toward life.
The Problem of Pain, by C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) published 1940
Lewis wanted to write this book anonymously because he felt he was too much an amateur and a layman to cover such a theologically difficult subject. He was convinced otherwise, which was a good thing. We can thus put it into context with his other works as well as the man himself, certainly no “amateur.” I read this once, noticing its rich complexity, so I immediately read it again and wrote what I thought were the highlights, chapter by chapter. Unfortunately, it’s lengthy.