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549 Book Reviews Beginning with the Word is a fine book, rich with insights and suggestions. But there is one aspect of it I found troubling and counterproductive. Both the Bible translation Lundin chooses (the NRSV) and his own prose style adhere rigidly to the rules of gender-neutral usage, rules that proscribe using “man” or “mankind” to designate the human race. Though this choice puts Lundin on par with most of modern academia, it flies in the face of his much-needed anti-gnostic, antinominalist call to treat words as names/icons, or at least pictures, of greater truths. According to the Bible, “When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them ‘man’” (Gen. 5:1-2; NIV 1984). In Hebrew, that last word is “adam.” From the beginning, God refers to the human race by the name of the first man, Adam. Although, separately, we are man and woman, collectively, we are man (adam). It is not humanity, but man (adam), who takes the journey from creation to fall to redemption to reconciliation, and it is the Second Man or Last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45-49) who makes that journey possible. How can the Christian academy hope to reclaim the naming powers of language if it cannot reclaim the name God gave us at the beginning? How can it tell again the story of man if it is only allowed to refer to an amorphous, androgynous, ultimately Darwinian humankind? Louis Markos Houston Baptist University God of Rescue: John Berryman and Christianity. By Tom Rogers. Oxford: Peter Lang, 2011. 978-3-03910-748-3. Pp. 423. $77.95. At the close of John Berryman’s life, he had a self-affirmed conversion experience which shaped the themes of his final two poetry collections—Delusions, etc. of John Berryman (1972) and Love & Fame (revised 1972). This experience, Berryman recalls in a 1972 Paris Review interview with Peter Stitt, brought him from the brink of a despair that had haunted him much of his life. As is well-known, this despair manifested in Berryman’s near life-long struggle with alcoholism and chemical dependency; appropriately then, his conversion experience took place while in treatment for this addiction. Encountering an overwhelmingly frustrating experience—not being able to deliver a lecture he had promised his students and felt compelled to deliver, Berryman identified the solution to this impossible situation as “almighty relief,” delivered by “God who had come to his aid” through the vehicle of a counselor at the hospital (Rogers 357). Christianity and Literature 550 While some critical work has explored Berryman’s post-conversion poetry for understanding its effect on his work, Tom Rogers’ God of Rescue picks up the challenge offered by Berryman himself in the Stitt interview to trace the poet’s religious interests and struggles through the entire body of his work, from The Dispossessed (1948) through Delusions, etc. In so revisiting Berryman’s work, Rogers finds a poetic voice wrestling with faith, doubt, grace, free will, the past, and personal failings. In the spirit of what Rogers discovered in this exhaustive, in-depth examination of Berryman’s poetry, he selected the title God of Rescue for the critical work produced, identifying Augustine and Blaise Pascal—authors who shaped much of Berryman’s religious quest—as the sources for the poet’s conception of God, which was solidified by his personal encounter with God in the hospital. The phrasing, however, is Berryman’s own, and, as he explains to Stitt, it highlights God as personal, “interested in the individual life in the ordinary way” (qtd. in Rogers 357). And while this conception—and Berryman’s embrace of it—comes into full focus in his final collections, Rogers’ re-investigation of the poet’s earlier work identifies traces throughout his work of this idea, combined with the speaker’s hope for its truth and his dismay over his inability either to access or to experience it. Through this investigation, Rogers identifies in Berryman’s work a poetic voice searching for harmony, wanting answers to his most penetrating, personal, and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2056-5666
Print ISSN
0148-3331
Pages
pp. 549-552
Launched on MUSE
2020-02-04
Open Access
No
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