The Best Christian Writing

John Wilson, Preface by, Philip Yancey, Introduction by
John Wilson, Preface by, Philip Yancey, Introduction by HarperOne $15 (340p) ISBN 978-0-06-069382-4
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-06-069707-5
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Any collection that purports to contain the ""best"" writing of a given year should immediately raise skeptical eyebrows, yet Wilson has successfully culled together 26 marvelous essays (and one acerbically funny cartoon) that speak to the heart of Christian experience. Bestselling author Philip Yancey opens with a meaty autobiographical essay on the power of writing, and the ensuing essays generally meet the aesthetic standards Yancey sets forth. Wilson (editor of the periodical Books and Culture) has arranged the essays noncommittally, not attempting to group them according to theme, but only alphabetically by the author's last name. Several essays reveal their authors grappling with ambiguity: Lauren Winner discusses her painful, yet joyful, conversion from Orthodox Judaism to Anglican Christianity, Susan Wise Bauer tackles the loneliness of being a committed evangelical at a Harvard feminist conference, and Randall Balmer discusses the ""wrestling with God"" that has characterized his journey away from his fundamentalist upbringing. Other writers muse eloquently on family life; Virginia Stem Owens addresses ""how best to be a burden"" in her old age, Ben Patterson recounts learning about God's mysterious ways through his son's struggles with Tourette's syndrome, andDin the collection's most startlingly poignant contributionDa young pastor grapples with his own imminent death from cancer in a sermon called ""Surprised by Death."" There are of course a couple of clunkers, including a na ve piece by a college sophomore who extols stay-at-home mothers, but the essays are generally first-rate and drawn from the entire spectrum of Christian life. (Sept.)
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