Notes on Reading. Nonfiction. Stephen Tomkins, John Wesley: A Biography. Eerdmans, 2003.
This biography is narrated in chronological order, each chapter named for its gist and each chapter using a quotation from a work by John or Samuel Wesley to illustrate the ideas of the chapter. The book centers on the character and personality of Wesley, showing his striving to mold his own character and his success at establishing Methodism.
The author does not hesitate to show Wesley’s excesses and other faults. The portrait is thus a presentation of a human being, working with what he has and fulfilling his vision of himself by struggling with his actions. The author shows in a compelling way those struggles, including changes in his ideas, inability to relate maturely to women who were attracted to him (including his wife), conflicts with his brother and fellow reformers, and often violent protests by his opposition.
The final chapter is a convincing summarizing through a discussion of contradiction that characterize Wesley’s life and work.
I particularly enjoyed learning about how Methodism was influenced by the Moravians and how the later evangelical and Pentecostal movements in the United Sates were influenced by Methodism.
These days are favorites. Now we have morning of light frost with temperatures during the day to high 60’s and low 70’s. By mid-afternoon it is time to open windows for fresh air and sunshine. There is no sign of rain–clear, bright blue skies.
Summer sounds have stopped and now we have quiet birdsong and small, quiet insects making sounds.
Trees are not consistent in changes this year. Dogwood trees have almost all turned dark brown-red. In my front yard, Sanders, the red maple, is half red or red-orange now. Erik, the willow oak, has not changed color. Song, the gingko, is just beginning to have some gold tinged leaves. In neighborhoods some maples have completely turned red or yellow and red.
Some dogwood, crepe myrtle, and maple leaves have fallen.
Days are perfect for rocking on my front porch and reading. Or walking quietly to town to see what little is going on.
Some houses are decorated for Halloween. One porch has extensive spider web decorations with a black and awful spider in the middle. A tombstone in the yard readers, “Ran Out of Time.” By the door is a sign, “Surrender Your Treats.” Carved pumpkins, probably lit at night, sit on each step up to the porch. The house doesn’t scare m-m-me!
The large window in one store downtown is already decorated for Christmas. A Santa is displayed on the sidewalk at the door front. I will not shop there in protest of too early Christmas. One shop owner and keeper said that she would not decorate her store for Christmas or display Christmas items until some time in November. I will shop there.
It’s good to leave downtown and to walk quietly through neighborhoods to my house. A school bus arrives on my street about 4:00 and releases elementary school children, leaving the bus quietly and hurriedly going home. I hope they feel the mellowness of the day. It will be a good day for them to play touch football late in the afternoon as the sun goes down. I’ll take another short walk then.
Soon the autumn days will turn brisk, and that, too, will be grand. But now, for a short or perhaps longer period of time, these days will retain mellowness and peace.
Thank you for reading. I hope your days are good.