When I was young, I thought biographies were the lowest of book life forms. I was also convinced that anyone saying otherwise, could only be pretending.
Knowing what I know now, however, I think that it was only the kind of biographies I encountered as a child. They were facts, birth and death, with only a hat tip to the legacy of each individual.
Martin Luther is different. It brings new perspective and historical context to the worn out facts of the Reformer’s life. Metaxas explains the importance of certain decisions Luther made, the why’s behind each battle chosen, and even offers greater understanding into subjects we might scratch our head about – “why did Luther care so much about this?”
This biography also does an excellent job of humanizing Luther. Far from a dry historical figure, we can glimpse into his lively private life and family affairs. In fact, one of my favourite quotes comes from Luther’s reflections on the death of his daughter. He writes:
“The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. I love her very much…in the last thousand years God has given to no bishop such great gifts as God has given me (for one should boast of God’s gifts). I am angry with myself that I am unable to rejoice from my heart and be thankful to God, though I do at times sing a little song and give thanks. Whether we live or die, we belong to God.”
My only gripe is that Metaxas seemed too reluctant to criticize Martin Luther. This was especially surprising in chapters on the later years, when Luther could well be critiqued for certain statements, regardless of the time and place. If Luther is real enough to empathize with, than he is real enough to have flaws!
All this aside, Martin Luther is the type of biography that is turning me into a lover of the genre these days.
My Mom and Dad would be proud of me.
We have our marching orders for Monday. The whatmusts and wherefores.
We know what we ought to do, but when our feet hit the bedroom floor and our hearts are already muddled up, what can we say into the morning? How do we preach Sunday to the devilish doubts before lunch?
This. This song that we sing in the face of our sinful hearts.
“When Satan tempts me to despair
and tells me of the guilt within”
upward I look and see Him there
who made an end to all my sin
because the sinless Savior died
my sinful soul is counted free
for God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me”
And praise God that this anthem is ours.
Well this isn’t hard. A theme roaring in my ears every minute of every day.
It’s the mirror lie, gawking back at pooching bellies or dimpled knee.
It’s the drive to pick up socks, shirts, jeans and blow the dust off table tops.
One step and then two, it’s the face we look into when our own shabby bones give up the ghost and sink on our knees.
Beauty is the thing we can dig deeper into, learning new ripples in the rock. Each developing ring the marker of another year, another lesson under our belts.
It is a very gift to remind us what lies ahead. The rainbow clouds spelling hope in rainy sky. It’s not what we deserve, but what we need.
Beauty in the promise of things made whole.
Confession first. I read this book because it conveniently fit with my class curriculum this year. Students and I will be discussing it in a few weeks and I always like to re-read the material in preparation.
Otherwise I wouldn’t have looked at The Prince, twice. In so many ways, it is the stereotype for everyone’s negative feelings about the classics. Obscure, difficult to slog through, out of touch and complicated. Its positive attribute is the short length.
My brother-in-law was visiting while I courageously journeyed through this book to the library deadline. He loves The Prince so I picked his brain, and I do think from reading it I learned one important lesson.
Historical context will save any classic from becoming mind mush. Having just finished Metaxas’ biography on Martin Luther I had a much better understanding of the tumultuous time Nicholas Machiavelli lived. There was papal struggle, humanism, reformation and politics, politics, politics.
In fact, when you take a step back and see all the turmo
il that churn around the pages – it’s not so very boring after all.
I have to read The Scarlet Letter in a month or two. I could wait and review it in this same category if I was worried about word count on here. But I suspect my take away from it would be much the same.
Read the old books, because in understanding the big picture, they’re worth it.
We all live here between the now and not yet. Shadowy lands.
Not one of us is free from the pain and sin of this earth and sky.
And the other side of this, as true or truer, is that our Dear Dying Lamb rose again.
Redeeming love, our theme. Heart rejoicing, hope for the silent grave, saved to sin no more.
So I preach it to myself for another day -that His power to save is enough.
That this is not a life in cotton candy clouds – but Praise Lord Jesus – it is a life shaped, nailed and truly bound up in Good News.
An Irish Country Doctor is a James Herriot re-mix. Set in Ireland rather than England, the main character comes to us at the beginning of his doctoring career. And instead of animals he takes a job with the small town, eccentric GP.
Friendless, quiet and proper, Barry Laverty must find his way among the odd people of Ballybucklebo. Along the way he meets a romantic interest (of course), the heard-hearted hypocrite (inevitably) and a lovable, hapless drunk (naturally).
When I realized that the author actually was from Ireland, I must say the story gained some credibility. This novel is also the first installment in a series and the ending did leave me curious to read #2, so I’ll also whole heartedly give it that.
Otherwise, I still couldn’t quite shake the visual of James Herriot as I read. I kept expecting Barry Laverty to encounter a horse with bloat, or be expected to vaccinate a cow.