Wilson's Bookmarks

Brief reviews of 'The Pietist Impulse in Christianity,' 'John in the Company of Poets,' and 'What I Hate.'

"Pietist," "pietistic": when we encounter these terms at all, they typically come dripping with condescension and scorn. This collection serves as a corrective. In addition to a cluster of pieces on "Continental German Pietism" (rightly the longest of the book's eight parts), there's a section on "Wesley the Pietist." And I was particularly glad, as a longtime member of the Evangelical Covenant Church, to see the essays on "Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Trans-Atlantic Scandinavian Pietism." The volume concludes with a lovely bit of Catholic bridge-building by Emilie Griffin.

John in the Company of Poets: The Gospel in Literary Imagination
Thomas Gardner (Baylor University Press)


The conception of Thomas Gardner's book is brilliant. He works his way attentively through the Gospel of John, with recourse to poems that engage directly with John's text or with its salient themes. Gardner's company of poets includes canonical figures and contemporaries as well. The result is a reading of John that will draw you "deeper and deeper into the claim that Jesus is life itself--that through his death his Father offers life to the world."

What I Hate: From A to Z
Roz Chast (Bloomsbury USA)


The title of Roz Chast's new book of cartoons may be slightly misleading. She gives us a list of "concerns," things that make her anxious. ("I am an anxious person," she tells us, from "a long line of anxious people.") So what we have here is a delightful miscellany of "phobias, fears, loathings." Some are expected (Elevators, Heights, Quicksand); others will perhaps come as a surprise (Balloons, Jell-O-1-2-3, Spontaneous Human Combustion). In all cases, A to Z, anxiety is transmuted into absurdity. No prescription required.

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