Anyone who has read P.G. Wodehouse, or watched any of the copious film and television adaptions of his works, knows that the British wit is not just hilarious—he’s delightfully frivolous.
Though his stories and novels do represent some of the best humor writing of a certain era, it’s a stretch to say that they aspire to literary aims such as critiquing society or forwarding any sort of political agenda. For the most part, Wodehouse wrote with one overarching goal in mind—to give his readers a good laugh.
You can imagine how much it dismayed me, then, to learn that for a time Wodehouse’s reputation was tainted by a very serious allegation. This master of upper-class English mirth was actually accused of turning traitor by collaborating with the Nazis during World War II.
It may have been the dust jacket design that threw me off. The title is set in ornate lettering and illuminated with a medieval-style vine-and-serpent motif, which led me to think this was a book about the ancient origins of the Bible and how it emerged in its present form.
Instead, The Book That Made Your World examines a much more familiar theme—how the Bible influenced and accommodated the rise of Western civilization. But what makes it different, and unusually potent, is that its thesis is propounded by an Easterner who sees this historical influence as a good thing.
When I picked up A Coffin for Dimitrios, I was expecting a light alternative to the nonfiction I had been plodding through.
Having seen the 1940s movie version, and being a fan of between-the-wars detective thrillers, I was all set for author Eric Ambler to sate my palate with an easily consumed tale of trench-coated protagonists tracking down international rogues and bringing them to justice.
Of all the things one could claim about America’s Founding Fathers, among the least controversial is to assert that their bold experiment in democracy also brought about expanded civil liberties—most notably for religious freedom.
But what inspired this achievement? More to the point, just what sort of personal faith did these men adhere to, and how did it affect them?
In the campaign to ratify the U.S. Constitution, one argument advanced by proponents of the document is that it would create a stronger federal government better equipped to defend the nascent republic from foreign belligerents.
The prescience of this thesis is borne out in Ian W. Toll’s book, Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Foundation of the U.S. Navy.
Note:This was originally posted December 24, 2012.
By Dave Dentel
When a good friend agreed to introduce me to classic science fiction I had long ignored, I didn’t realize how quickly his generosity would deliver a brilliant pay-off.
Robert A. Heinlein’s 1941 tale delves into the nature of both religious and materialistic inquiry.Also worth reading: “How Star Wars Ruined Sci Fi”
Already I’ve encountered a Heinlein story with surprising insight into one of my favorite nonfiction topics—the intersection of science and faith.
While it’s no fable of intelligent design, Robert A. Heinlein’s 1941 tale “Universe” certainly delves into the nature of both religious and materialistic inquiry. In fact, the adventure aspect of the story serves as a backdrop for exploring how human beings comprehend reality and their purpose in it.
Indeed, the point of “Universe”—which employs a now-familiar narrative about multiple generations of space colonists inhabiting a massive and drifting ship—is that these travelers are lost not only in physical space but also in how they perceive their cosmos.