Ain't Too Proud to Beg by Telford Work (Book Review) ~ BitterSweetLife

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Ain't Too Proud to Beg by Telford Work (Book Review)

If you have a name as cool as Telford Work, and you're a published author as opposed to a Dickens character, your prose had better be at least marginally discerning and crafty. In a best case scenario, you would combine a dagger-sharp mind with a cunning sense of humor and you'd communicate ancient truth in jaw-dropping, creative bursts. Fortunately for Telford, the latter is the reality.

I first saw Telford's name last week, and after saying it aloud several times to fully appreciate the resonance, I opened a review copy of his brand new book, Ain't Too Proud to Beg, with no idea what to expect. Within a couple paragraphs, I realized that the book would be a marker-up-er--and I started scribbling notes in the margins, recognizing that I had just discovered a strong, penetrating new voice.

Ain't Too Proud to Beg is an exploration of the Lord's Prayer, but unlike much of anything else you'll have read on the topic. Here are some quotes to give you flavor.

Telford introduces himself:

From childhood I thought of prayer as wimpy, and I have never quite shaken that impression. Even after my conversion to living faith the astonishing words of the Lord's Prayer would slip past me as I recited them. That changed too little as I entered my present career. How can a professor of Christian theology not have mastered five verses from the Gospel of Matthew (three in Luke!)? Believe me, it is possible.

He briefly characterizes the subject of his book:
We live through the Lord's Prayer as, say, America lived through the wrenching changes of the Civil War and World War II. Jesus' prayer is a process through which our lives travel and are transformed.

And adds brilliant color:
God often breaks into our worlds like a Fellini character who walks suddenly into the foreground of a long shot. So it is also with prayer. One moment we are scurrying through the things that fill our day. Then we utter "Our Father"--and suddenly we are in the Spirit, like John the Prophet on the isle of Patmos looking on as Jesus removes the veil from the whole world.

After I read about 20 pages, I jotted in the margin: Cornelius Plantinga meets Douglas Wilson with flashes of C.S. Lewis. Work is not only impressive, he's effective. He's a good-natured surgeon. His words carve inward with restorative effect. Work writes with perspicacity and skill, and his sketches mirror my own motives in ways that resonate and push me toward escapades of prayer. It's been some time since I've been blindsided by a writer this good--and on top of his published work, the man blogs. Hard not to like him.

You probably saw this coming, but Ain't Too Proud to Beg comes breath-takingly close to earning the highest literary honor this blog is capable of bestowing. A.

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Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife