I was looking for just the right summary to describe the overarching of Hannah More after reading Fierce Convictions by Karen Swallow Prior. Then, Benji Magness handed me the perfect wording during his sermon this morning. Yes, yes, I was paying attention. But, preaching on grace, he stated that it leads you to leave your little kingdom of self to serve the greater kingdom. Hannah More led a life largely based on that.
Dr. Prior has done an excellent job of bringing More to life, fleshed out with faults, growth, failures, and victories while living out the gospel. She didn't just see problems and evils, feel bad, then turn to forget. While those such as William Wilberforce were tirelessly pursuing legislative avenues to abolish the slave trade, she was using her pen to prick at hearts and change how it was viewed. The conveyance of the horrors of the slave trade to the public were vital as most were hidden from every day English life.
"More had a rare ability to keep strong, unwavering convictions in tension with broad minded tolerance."
Her philanthropy extended far beyond the giving of money. She expended incredible physical and mental energy over her lifetime to open Sunday Schools, where the poor were taught to read and learn, which was met with much opposition. Never patronizing, she invested in relationships with a broad swath of society, learning from and sharing ideas that transformed her country.
Dr. Prior's biography does not paint her as a caricature of a saint. Her depressive struggles, self-doubt, and missteps well as her humor are included to give the reader a view into a woman every bit as human as we are, but who lived her life based on the convictions of her faith.
"Hers was an age of ideas, an age grappling with redefinitions of a radically shifting world."
This book is also a greatly appreciated history lesson, with shifting tides of religious and political power in England and the French Revolution serving as backdrop at different points. We can see a world that may not be that different from the one we live in now. We may not have overt class distinctions, but the attitudes and separation are still there. What horrors have we come to see as normal, even necessary, parts of life? I am off to give it a second read, because there is so much richness of information.
My review here does not do this book justice, so just go buy it already. Check it out here. If you don't already, follow Karen Swallow Prior on twitter. She is a well-read, witty, intelligent woman who just happens to have a resume a mile long with class to match.
Because I love spreading the goodness of great writing(and because you can't have mine), I have two copies to give away. One for Facebook peeps and another for twitter. Super easy. Comment on FB or tweet at me which book I should read and review next. This devourer of books is looking for my next good read. On Tuesday, I will draw the names for the give-away. And get reading.
a rare quiet afternoon reading a thought-provoking book
As a fierce skeptic of modern day miracles, you'd think this would not be a book for me. The Holy Spirit has been opening my eyes as of late to the world which we do not always see. Having read Bonhoeffer and Amazing Grace and seen Socrates in the City broadcasts and events such as the Presidents' prayer breakfast, I have formed a respect for the author, Eric Metaxas. Yes, even after catching him on "Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld" a time or two. I was curious to read what he may write on the subject. It was not what I was expecting, though I'm not sure what that was. The apologetics aspect was a welcome surprise, though I know there will be some debate about the age of the Earth, etc. But the evidence of our Creator is humbling. Metaxas also does a good job with defining miracles and what the purpose for them is, namely, pointing to their source. The most impactful section of the book for me was "The Biblical Miracles". It shone a light on Jesus in a powerful way for me.The "why" behind his doing them. His humanity, love, compassion, and graciousness. Something shifted in my heart. I love that God is always revealing himself anew, even after 38 years of my life here. I'll admit that I struggled with "A Watch Stops". I still do. It's a reaction to anything to do with Benny Hinn. I was so troubled that I put the book down for several days after having devoured it up to that point. But wrestling is not bad. We have to be measured and discerning, but take in the bigger picture. Do I really believe that God works even around people whom I believe to be hucksters? Hmm. I'm still wrestling. Keeps me seeking to know God more deeply. There is so much more to mull over, pray on, research, and dicuss in this book. I believe that's the point.
From @EricMetaxas on Twitter, My @MiraclesTheBook isn't about winning an argument about God. It's about beginning a conversation about God -- one we're not having enough.
Now, being one who connected with Mr. Metaxas's statement in the chapter, "USS Washington, June 1940", that "the idea that some things are so sacred they cannot bear unveiling" I am wont to share many truly personal things. But reading this book, as a cynic, brought remembrance of experiences that I have personally had and not shared. One of those follows. "..he is such a big God that he can afford to deal with us on an intimate level,to encourage us and to wink at us and to hold our hand when we need him to do that." Miracles chapter 13, page 257 As a seventeen year old, I had reached what I thought to be the absolute bottom of despair. Some pretty devastating things had transpired that I won't go into here. I was alone at night in my room sitting on my bed, absolutely gutted. Tears were flowing down the cheeks of a girl who cried maybe once up to that point(very british dna, you know). I really had no desire to ever walk out of that room again. I quite literally felt a set of warm arms wrap around me and hold me. God, in his love and mercy, knew what I needed and reached in to comfort me. Miracles covers a lot of ground and touches on measuring miracles, questioning them, conversions, faith, the character of God, our relationship with and view of Him. I need to read it a second time. I appreciate that it has caused me to turn to scripture with renewed vigor and start a dialogue about the enormous power of my Creator. I am now expecting to see Him at work, rather than be surprised by it. Get a copy at Amazon or Barnes and Noble and we'll start a discussion. Disclosure. As part of the Miracles launch team, I received a free copy with no strings attached except a promise to honestly review it.