Monday, October 1, 2012

what I'm reading: Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas

I'm reading Amazing Grace, Eric Metaxas' biography of William Wilberforce, leader of the campaign to abolish the slave trade.

Four chapters in, and this book has a different feel to Metaxas' biography of Bonhoeffer. Less cool and measured, it comes across as a little effusive and breathless, but makes up for this in warmth and readability. It's an enjoyable and interesting read.

I was amused to find the quote I want to share with you today pilloried by a fellow blogger! Can't say I blame him: this is one of those purple passages I wouldn't dare write but can happily lose myself in. It describes a conversation with Isaac Milner that led to Wilberforce's conversion to Christianity:
The snowfall was heavy as they crossed the French Alps...The extraordinary felicity of this scene, of these incandescent minds meeting on this subject of eternal things, sailing in their horse-drawn coach through the mountains, seems like something out of a fairy tale, one in which a gnome and a giant on a journey in a sphere of glass and silver discover the Well at the World's End, and drinking a draught therefrom learn the secret meaning at the heart of the universe.
Yes, I know, I know. But there's something about this description that gets to me. Echoes of Tolkien and CS Lewis and a thousand fairy tales.

More down-to-earth, and more wonderful, is Wilberforce's own description of his conversion. At the end of a chapter where we get to watch God's work slowly unfolding in his heart, soon after becoming a Christian, he writes in his diary,
I was out before six, and made the fields my oratory, the sun shining as bright and as warm as at Midsummer. I think my own devotions become more fervent when offered in this way amidst the general chorus, with which all nature seems on such a morning to be swelling the song of praise and thanksgiving. Surely this sabbath, of all others, calls forth these feelings in a supreme degree; a frame of united love and triumph well becomes it, and holy confidence and unrestrained affection.
I can picture him walking across the fields in the early morning, his heart shining with the joy of God's newly-discovered grace.

Quote is from Eric Mataxas Amazing Grace 47-61.

No comments: