Acts

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9780060694043: Acts

Larry Woiwode has been called "a prodigiously gifted stylist" (The New Republic) who can "wring your heart" (The Boston Globe) with his talent for evoking in language "pure, cleanly wrought beauty until it is made to seem both universal and extraordinary" (The Atlantic Monthly). Here Woiwode turns to the book of Acts, the generational history of the early Christians, and finds it a suitable framework within which to share his thoughts on storywriting, Christianity, the deleterious impact of culture upon the contemporary church, and the church's inability to clearly define itself or respond effectively to cultural attacks.
Woiwode takes us through the narrative journey of the book of Acts, analyzing each event with a writer's sensibility. He establishes a clear-eyed view of the true basis and purpose of Christianity, and points out how today's Church seems to be drifting farther and farther from those origins. Fresh and compelling, filled with revelations of Woiwode's own spiritual journey, Acts will absorb and enlighten anyone who has savored this master writer's fictional work.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Courageous but flawed attempt by Woiwode (Indian Affairs, 1992, etc.) to examine Christian culture and his own faith in the light of Acts, ``the most overtly narrative book of the New Testament.'' Woiwode's grit lies in his willingness to discuss Christianity despite--as he hammers home--the bias against religion among America's cultural and academic elite. He ponders the task of the Christian writer and finds it, as did Dante, Tolstoy, and Eliot before him, to be a search for ``a way to live the life Christ calls us to live.'' The best compass here, says Woiwode, remains the Bible. Thus his interest in Acts, toward which he takes a Protestant approach (Woiwode is an rthodox Presbyterian), paring away doctrines that he sees as excrescences to get at the unvarnished revelation. His technique, a combination of common sense and writerly savvy that ignores biblical scholarship, gets him into trouble at times. For instance, while it's charming and even instructive to call Peter's account of Judas's suicide ``an elaboration, in a sophisticated accreting manner that would please a Robbe-Grillet,'' it's naive to believe that the numbers in Acts (e.g., 40 days as the span of Jesus' post-Resurrection appearances) must be literally true because, as Woiwode claims, Luke has a novelist's eye for factual detail: Such literalism ignores the different aims and methods of modern and ancient writers. Similar exegetic goofs pepper the text, but no matter; far more exciting is Woiwode's ability to connect the ancient dramas of Acts to modern life. In so doing, he plucks away at the nature of sin, baptism, miracle, and other issues, and tells of his own religious conversion and return to the land, always in the same shimmering prose that marks his fiction (``I pressed a footpedal that released a pyramid of fifteen finished bales, outlined white-gold in a sudden gate of sun''). Pretty shaky as scholarship--but a tough, moving personal testament. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

Teacher and fiction writer Woiwode ( Born Brothers , LJ 8/88) journeys between his own intense faith experiences and that of the earliest Christian communities in ten essays on the New Testament book attributed to Luke. He asserts the faith of historical Christianity over humanist values in a secular culture. At times, this work reads like a seminary lecture on scripture, at others like a modern sermon, and still others like the poetry of a spiritual conversation. The tone is personal, with images from the Bible expressed in modern terms. The author says, "I have tried to address the needs of the student I once was." He describes his journey from youthful Catholicism to hedonism, earnest searching of the scriptures for truth, and, finally, his current espousal of Calvinist-inspired faith. Readers will find this book most valuable for its contemporary reflections; for detailed interpretations of the Book of Acts, they should turn to the many scholarly commentaries available. Recommended for its literary value and for collections on Christianity in literature.
- Anna Donnelly, St. John's Univ. Lib., N.Y.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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