Remember that our October Staff Picks are books by or about Our Favourite Reformers.
Ed’s Pick: John Wesley: A Preaching Life by Michael Pasquarello
Cindy’s Pick: Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Spiritual Life by Nancy Koester
In an age when women could not vote, go to university or speak in public to a mixed crowd (i.e. men and women), Harriet Beecher Stowe had a reforming influence on both the political and religious landscape of her time using her pen.
Harriet Beecher Stowe is best known for Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), a book that brought the issue of slavery in America with all its cruelty and injustices to the center of public discussion. No one could read this book and not be affected by it. In addition to her many novels, Harriet also wrote religious essays, devotionals, magazine articles and other works that commented on and interpreted scripture.
In her book, Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Spiritual Life, author Nancy Koester provides a biography not only of Harriet’s “exterior life”, i.e. growing up, where she lived, who she married, etc. but also provides us with a biography of Harriet’s “interior life”. We see her spiritual journey, watch as her theology develops and grows beyond her Calvinist upbringing. We see her burning desire to know God and live the life God had called her to live, to use the gifts that God gave her for the glory of God and for His purposes.
Through Harriet’s correspondence with family and friends (and some foes) and her published works, we are given a spiritual insight into the woman who forced people of her time to make a choice. The Bible was being used by both sides in the issue of slavery with most churches and clergy failing to oppose slavery. Harriet took the fight to the average man and woman. As Harriet wrote in one of her articles, “The problem is not that the Bible contradicts itself. The problem is that slavery corrupts Christians and poisons the way they read the Bible.” (pg. 134).
Reading this book has given me great insights into the woman as well as the history of the time in which she lived. It also showed me that in many ways we still face the same type of struggles as she did even though we live in a so-called “modern” era. In the quote above, simply replace the word “slavery” with “technology”, “science”, or “power” (social, economic or political)and her statement is as true and relevant today as it was then.
Dr. Heather’s Pick: Heretic Queen by Susan Ronald
Queen Elizabeth I was a key figure in the English Reformation. She was the daughter of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII, able to inherit the throne because her father broke with Rome over his marriage to her mother. She skated along a middle line, establishing the Church of England’s position between Rome and more radical protestants.