I have not enjoyed a book as much as Debby Applegate’s The Most Famous Man in America (Doubleday, 2006) for which she won a Pulitzer Prize. It is the biography of Henry Ward Beecher for whom the Beecher Lectures in preaching at Yale are named. He was the son of the New England Calvinist Henry Lyman Beecher and brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe of Uncle Tom’s Cabin renown. He was known as a great orator who after serving churches in the West (Ohio and Indiana) returned to be the fist and most famous pastor of the Plymouth Church He preached a ‘gospel of love’ over against the rigid Calvinism of his father in Brooklyn Heights and joined battle (eventually) on the side of the angels in the issues of the abolition of slavery, support of a woman’s right to vote and a mostly favorable ‘take’ on the importance of ‘Darwinism’.
This week saw a visit of N. T. Wright to
All of this rich writing and thinking about faith left me slightly dissatisfied with an affecting memoir of a South Korean woman who was adopted by a family in