THE BLESSED: A Sinner Reflects on Living the Christian Life

Sharon McMahon Moffitt, Author, Sharon McMahon Moffitt, Author . Zondervan $12.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-310-24638-1

Poet and English teacher Moffitt is a learned woman. Though she claims she's not a theologian (more a "theophile," or one who loves God), she is deeply versed in Scripture, widely read in the Christian classics and conversant in Greek etymology. Here she brings her learning to bear on the Sermon on the Mount, marrying meditations on the Beatitudes with vignettes from her own life. In places, Moffitt's memoir-cum-devotional strategy works. Her moving description of her pubescent struggles with weight, for example, nicely sets the stage for her reflections on physical and spiritual hunger. On the whole, however, she gets the balance wrong—there is too much Moffitt and too little Bible. Digressions on Americans' attitude toward alcoholism and Moffitt's desire to "boogie" in heaven do not help an already desultory book. Far more problematic than the content are Moffitt's stylistic tics. Her habit of beginning chapters with a melodramatic lack of antecedent—designed, one supposes, to hook the reader—quickly grows old. Failed similes and metaphors abound; Moffitt's heart "is a burgeoning magnolia blossom, full and rich and ready to break open," while contemporary Christian praise music is "too sweet... and gooey, like caramel." In the penultimate chapter, Moffitt interrupts herself to say that "perhaps... for the sake of halfway decent writing" she should "rein in this wild horse tangent" and return to her beatitudinal theme of persecution. Would that she had followed her own advice, not just at the end of the book, but from the beginning. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 08/26/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
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