I have a keen interest in Ralph Waldo Emerson and those in his orbit, so it was natural to pick this book up. I read it on a recent trip. It is better than I imagined. Wonderfully written and peppered throughout with fascinating details about Concord, Massachusetts during the 1840s.
If you have any interest in Emerson, Thoreau, Alcott, et al. this is a terrific read.
This is the third book I’ve read by Tim Larsen. I interviewed him on the other two books.
There is so very much to like about this book. I will simply list out four of my favorite things about the book:
Some shorter books like Larsen’s pack in plenty of content. If a lecture series becomes a book (as is the case with this book), there is a better than average chance that the smaller size book will have great content. You can see this with books (from another lecture series) like Andrew Delbanco’s fascinating, The Real American Dream. Larsen’s book does not disappoint as it offers the reader plenty of material.
Even though there is much content, the writing is lucid and engaging.
Larsen is an eminent historian of nineteenth-century Britain. You can always count on him to do careful archival work and know the primary sources. This book showcases those strengths.
Larsen is sensitive, as was George MacDonald, to Christians who struggle with doubt. As one who knows firsthand these struggles, I greatly appreciate Larsen’s treatment in this book.
Perhaps it is too late for a Christmas present, but how about a present for yourself for the new year?!
Seven things I appreciated about Disruptive Witness by Alan Noble:
The writing is lucid and compelling
Terrific illustrations are peppered throughout
Teases out some practical implications from the writings of Charles Taylor
Focuses on major issues all Christians should agree upon
Good unpacking of how lethal distraction and the never-ending choices are in the modern era
Noble has a gracious, but candid style…not an easy combo!
Noble does not just complain, but offers some practical suggestions for us to adopt
Quote to consider: “The challenge for Christians in our time is to speak of the gospel in a way that unsettles listeners, that conveys the transcendence of God, that provokes contemplation and reflection, and that reveals the stark givenness of reality.”
As our cultural elites lose even the most elementary biblical literacy, this is going to happen more and more often: reading the Bible-saturated literature of the past and missing, not secondary and trivial illusions, but the entire point of stories and novels and plays and poems, and for that matter paintings and sculptures and musical compositions. The artistic past of the West will become incomprehensible, but — and this is the scary thing — no one will know that they’re misreading. Gross errors will be passed down from teacher to student, from scholar to reader, and it is difficult to imagine circumstances arising in which they can be corrected.