The Cottage on the Moor is a place where I'll keep a fire going on cold winter nights and a breeze flowing through the windows on steamy summer days. There will be a "cup of warm" waiting for you to stimulate your mind. I'll try to keep it fresh by adding something every now and then. So come often. I hope you find it worth your while.
Monday, December 26, 2016
Authors Who Have Influenced Me - A Reprise
The essay below is a re-posting of one I first posted back
in the dark ages of this blog, actually in the second month of its existence –
March 2011. It is always tempting to change something written that long ago but
I will resist that urge and leave it exactly as it was then. My guess is that
many will not have read it before and that most who did read it have long since
forgotten most of what it said. Enjoy!
It has become common to have a collage of photos playing at a visitation or
funeral. I’ve often thought I’d like to assemble such a collage to be used at
whatever event is held when I die. (I personally prefer a banquet, though it
will be painful not to be able to enjoy it with the other revelers.) But
instead of pictures portraying my life’s passages I’d like to display a picture
of every person who had a positive influence on my life. It would keep the
audience there far too long and the pictures would be mostly meaningless to
them. But it would illustrate, better than anything else could, how many
persons have contributed to my life and why I became the person I did.
To the right of this blog posting is a list of authors who
have influenced me. It is by no means the complete list but those listed have
made a significant and lasting impression upon my faith, my conduct, and my
creative efforts. The influences exerted are not equal nor do they all work in
the same direction. But each was important.
The Apostle Paul and the “Unknown” Author of Genesis are not
the only Biblical writers I turn to but they serve, respectively, to reveal
ethical and practical understandings of the issues related to daily Christian
living, and portray the grand themes of creation, sin, and redemption.
Interestingly, in both we see wart-infested humans being patiently tutored by a
loving God who plans, against all odds, to bring them to perfection.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn inspires me with the courage he
displayed through years of deprivation in the Soviet Gulag, and the massive
mental feat he performed in preserving the memory of so many others who
suffered with him there. Coming to faith in the midst of his ordeal, he became
a prophetic voice that still speaks long after the Gulag has disappeared.
Madeline L’Engle and Dorothy Sayers provide examples of the
creative Christian mind in action, describing and displaying the processes and
sources from which their work derived. I often feel as though my mind and hand
are assisted by these women and others who have inspired me to believe I could
profitably put my thoughts in writing.
Mark Noll and Robert Alter give us examples of meticulous
craftsmanship. Noll, an Evangelical Christian Historian creates works that are
respected by his secular and religious colleagues alike. Alter, a
Jewish Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature, has given us several
model translations – with commentary – of Old Testament writings. His
provocative guidance on the reading and interpretation of ancient Biblical
literatures has opened up vistas I had never imagined were there.
Philip Yancey and Simone Weil, very different persons from
vastly different backgrounds, nonetheless come together in their understanding
of, and empathy for the afflicted in our world. Their writings make me grateful
for the grace that has been bestowed upon my life and indignant at the
stinginess our rich culture exhibits toward the afflicted in our midst.
Both C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien have been instrumental
in opening my mind to the power of myth, helping me to see that the best that
man can hope to do is produce “myth” which dimly conveys truths too large to be
contained in human vessels, too profound to be expressed with human tongues.
But they also make clear that through those “myths” God conveys His message of
redemption to fallen man.
I share with millions of other Christians a gratitude to
Lewis for the marvelous way in which he made sense of difficult
and/or disputed Christian doctrines. He, more than any other modern man, has
been used by God to convert skeptics, establish doubters, and equip workers to
perpetuate the faith.
Come to my final banquet. Enjoy the food and count the
photos. Who knows, my kids may be giving away old copies of my favorite