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George MacDonald in the Age of Miracles:
People often talk about “history” as if it were one thing, whether discussing a first-rate example or a dud. It is in fact as various as fiction. Go to your shelves and pick out a half-dozen works of history, then read the first several pages of each. You’ll notice different flavors (sometimes subtle, as at a wine-tasting, though sometimes very sharp), different styles of thought, different (implicit) roles for author and reader.
Notes - Book - Timothy - Larsen - Insouciance
If I were writing tasting notes for a book by the historian Timothy Larsen, I would be sure to include “blithe insouciance.” To describe this as an “outlook” (perilously close to “worldview”) would be to court absurdity, but to call it an “attitude” isn’t quite right either: It runs deeper than that. What makes this disposition particularly interesting is Larsen’s identity as a card-carrying Evangelical, Mark Noll’s successor as McManis Professor of Christian Thought at Wheaton College.
“Blithe insouciance” and “Evangelical” are rarely found in the same sentence, but they are evident on every page of Larsen’s latest book, George MacDonald in the Age of Miracles: Incarnation, Doubt, and Reenchantment, a volume in the Hansen Lectureship Series from InterVarsity Press. You could read this short book in one long evening, but it’s probably best taken in three installments. Each of the three chapters, based on lectures given at Wheaton’s Wade Center, is followed by a response from one of Larsen’s colleagues.
Larsen - Strengths - Historian - Ability - Detective
One of Larsen’s strengths as a historian is his ability to read prodigiously, with a detective’s eye for details others have missed. For example, see his biography of John Stuart Mill, published earlier this year by Oxford University Press, in which Larsen observes that the “unexpected presence and prominence of spirituality is not only there in Mill’s late, startling essay, ‘Theism,’ in which he...
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