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676 CHRISTIANITY AND LITERATURE by defining both terms too imprecisely. It does not question the usefulness of "postmodernisrn" as a term or the differences among the terms postmodernism, perspectivalism, and cultural relativism. If there are no substantial differences among them, why do we need the term "postmodernisrn"? Why is the current "age"postmodern when it seems characterized by a massive conservative reaction against liberalism? Ritchie'sbook is an object lesson in the importance of caritas to the Christian scholar: where he extends caritas toward his subject, his scholarship is the strongest. Where he lacks it, his scholarship suffers both conceptually and factually. However, The Fullness ofKnowing is still a useful book that undertakes an engaging, creative project and asks compelling questions, even if Ritchie's attempts to answer these questions are uneven at times. James Rovira Tiffin University Jane Austen's Anglicanism. ByLaura Mooneyham White. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2011. ISBN 978-1409418634. Pp. xi + 215. $89.95. Of late, it seems, Jane Austen has become everyone's favorite hobbyhorse. Where before the principal battle lines were drawn over whether or not she was a protofeminist it la Mary Wollstonecraft or a dutiful and subservient daughter of the patriarchy, whether her underlying convictions were conservative or subversive, or even whether she wrote as a member of the eighteenth-century Neoclassical Enlightenment or as a fellow traveler of Romanticism's Wordsworth and Coleridge, now she seems to have climbed in bed with zombies and sea monsters. Where on earth amid all the commotion, to say nothing of all the TV and movie versions, then, is Jane Austen the author to be found? For University of Nebraska Professor Laura Mooneyham White, the resolution to the controversies is simple: Austen is a Christian. Specifically, she argues, "Austen's religious values are imprinted everywhere in the novels. The ordinary behavior of her characters shows their moral and spiritual status, and their ability as free creatures to change and grow into greater Christian maturity, an ability especially vouchsafed her heroines and heroes. The world of her novels is a Christian one in which worldliness competes against traditional orthodoxy and moral precepts. Living in the real world, Austen shows, isthe best test of one'sChristian values, and the novels rest on this foundation of Christian purpose" (66). The book exquisitely and definitively establishes this position. Jane Austen's Anglicanism begins with a deep and careful scrutiny of the Georgian Anglican church, its people, its tenets, its practices, and its range and influence, focusing on the eighteenth century and the bases that that period laid for BOOK REVIEWS 677 the turn of the eighteenth into the early nineteenth century in which Austen lived. Mooneyham White considers the circumstances of clergy families and locates Austen in one of the two most securely Anglican counties, Hampshire, in all of England at that time (46). Austen, Mooneyham White shows, would most assuredly have attended church weekly, and, as her letters make evident, she would not just have heard sermons but frequently read them, too, and she even had a favorite sermonizer (as the book tells us rather more often, probably, than necessary), Thomas Sherlock, who preached a reasonable, practical, forbearing, charitable faith based on order and reason (12, 30, 48, 66, 116). In accordance with that standard, Mooneyham White shows that Austen would have unquestioningly inherited a belief in the Great Chain of Being in which order and hierarchy demarcate human place and role, upwards, downwards, and sideways. Allied with this concept philosophically and practically is Aquinas' natural law, in which "reason itself, made by God, is the central mode by which we can understand the purpose of the universe" (79), and thus would Christians in Austen's day have understood their abilities and responsibilities in a secure and stable world. Jane Austen's Anglicanism spends considerable time helpfully elucidating Providence, a central dimension of Christian natural law: "Providence denotes God's creation of the world with its ultimate redemption in view, his sovereignty over history and events, and his continual agency in ordinary people's lives..,. Anglican conceptions of Providence, derived both from Augustine and Aquinas on the one hand and from Calvin on the other, focus on God's...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2056-5666
Print ISSN
0148-3331
Pages
pp. 676-680
Launched on MUSE
2020-02-04
Open Access
No
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