Friday, August 12, 2011
The August doldrums are upon us. Here in Washington, Congress has, after many misadventures, recessed for the month, and with their departure, traffic has thinned, the pace has slowed, workdays have shortened, and vacations are taken. The city (and perhaps the nation as well) seems to have breathed a sigh of relief.
With the dog days of summer come the all-too-unusual availability of time to rest and read. (Indeed, it is uncanny how often the two go together, and a good book leads to a long nap.) Reading and resting both involve stepping away for a time from immediate responsibilities and claims upon attention, and enable one to let her mind wander to new regions, ponder new stories, consider new ideas, and refresh itself. To assist in that delightful endeavor, we at the Trinity Forum would like to offer a few particularly fascinating biographies as suggested summer reading.
One of the unique pleasures of biography is the inherent hopefulness of the genre, as a good biography will engage both one’s empathy and imagination. If “the actual proves the possible,” as Kant asserted, the real-life adventures, hardships, triumphs, and growth of a biographer’s subject illuminates a view, perhaps never before glimpsed, as to what is possible in our own life and times. A good biography acquaints us with history’s more fascinating characters — and enables us to know, empathize with, and learn from the constraints they faced, environments they lived in, and choices they made.
Each of the Readings listed below offers an introduction to such extraordinary individuals as Simone Weil, Abraham Lincoln, Langdon Gilkey, William Wilberforce, and Malcom Muggeridge. Some are well-known; all are well worth knowing. We believe you’ll find their stories both edifying and enjoyable.
In addition, we offer a summer collection of Trinity Forum Readings which includes a comedy, a mystery, a ghost story, and a gothic tale. Each of the Readings in this collection is among our favorites — and all are as lively and delightful as summer itself.
We hope that each of you, during these waning summer days, will experience the pleasure of rest and the joy of reading.
- Who Stands Fast? By Dietrich Bonhoeffer, foreword by Bonhoeffer biographer Eric Metaxas. This compelling Reading gives insight not only into Bonhoeffer’s background and biography, but his spiritual struggle in discerning and doing God’s will in the midst of chaos and confusion.
- William Wilberforce: A Man Who Changed His Times by John Pollack, foreword by J. Douglas Holladay. Wilberforce biographer Pollack brilliantly explores what enabled Bonhoeffer to realize the two great objects of his life: the abolition of the slave trade and the cultural reformation of late 18th century England.
- Abraham Lincoln: The Spiritual Growth of a Public Man by Elton Trueblood, foreword by Alonzo McDonald, explores the fascinating development of one of America’s greatest presidents at a time of great crisis.
- Shantung Compound by Langdon Gilkey, foreword by Os Guinness imparts Gilkey’s account of his years in a Japanese interment camp in China during World War II — what he saw, what he suffered, and what he learned.
- The Sunflower by Simon Wiesenthal, foreword by Os Guinness is the gripping tale of an extraordinary real-life dilemma faced by the famed Nazi bounty hunter — whether forgiveness for the unforgivable is possible.
- A Spiritual Pilgrimage by Malcolm Muggeridge, foreword by Alonzo McDonald relates a celebrated journalist’s journey from clever cynicism to Catholicism.