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.