Here is the fourth of my Christianity Today history website series “Grateful to the Dead: The Diary of Christian History Professor” For the rest of the series, click through the link in the first paragraph, below, to the previous installment. You’ll find links to the first two articles in the series are embedded early in that article:
#4: “I laughed, I cried, I changed”
In the last installment, I promised to tell you about a tradition in Western philosophy and literature that highly valued our shared nature as emotional beings and affirmed that reading about other people’s experiences and emotions can be a powerful transformational tool.
My “Exhibit A” is the 1764 book An Authentic Narrative of some Interesting and Remarkable Particulars in the Life of John Newton. As I prepared a discussion for our Patron Saints class at Bethel on this spiritual autobiography of the author of “Amazing Grace,” recently reissued by Regent College Publishing, I realized something: Newton‘s book is a clear example of a popular 18th- and 19th-century literary genre: the sentimental narrative.
What was a “sentimental narrative?” Continue reading