Bonhoeffer uses a similar phrase 'worldly Christianity'. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.

Summer Reading 2 Fiction

Among the fiction this summer has been the novella The Kreutzer Sonata by Tolstoy and Stoner by John Williams. Both are high classics, a little demanding but worth the little effort needed. The Tolstoy was hard to get into - too many characters. (It would be easier in a film). Once you were into it though it became gripping. Tolstoy clearly knew human nature well. Apparently, it is a manifesto for celibacy and works on that level but is surely a rallying call to biblical views of marriage and a warning against many dangers. The reason for the title only comes out towards the end, which is well done. It might have been good to have the Beethoven piece playing as I read. I might have cried.
Stoner is a 1965 novel by an American John Williams that has been rediscovered and touted by Waterstones and others. I heard about it on Radio 4 and then read the first page in store and was hooked. It really is a brilliant novel with several purple passages of great beauty. It tells the very ordinary 20th century life story of an English lecturer (the writer's own occupation). Morris Dickstein (nor me) wrote that Stoner is "a perfect novel, so well told and beautifully written, so deeply moving that it takes your breath away." I enjoyed it but only in cathartic way. Utterly bleak, almost the only moments of joy allowed to the protagonist come illicitly. You could easily get depressed on this stuff and I'm glad it was not a set text when I was in school. One has to feel sorry for humanists some time. They have very little going for them. Where would I be without the love of God in Christ and the hope of a glorious and joyful heaven?

No comments: