America’s Most Alarming Writer: Essays on the Life and Work of Charles Bowden
The University of Texas Press has released a festschrift in honor of author Charles Bowden.
(“festschrift”: a volume of articles, essays, etc., contributed by many authors in honor of a colleague, usually published on the occasion of retirement, an important anniversary, or the like.)
This volume was published on the occasion of him being dead now and because his books sell more now than they did while he was living.
I included the obligatory link to the book on Amazon, not because I think anyone reading here would buy it, but as a protest over the fact that most would prefer a nice volume from Eric Mataxas that I would consider useful only for indelicate hygiene.
The interesting thing about this collection is that all of the contributors are honest about Bowden.
They extoll his skill as a writer, his courage as researcher, and his place as something of a secular prophet for our times.
They also directly address his excessive smoking, drinking, womanizing, and self destructive behaviors that were also destructive to others…self destructive behaviors always are.
These are not hagiographies trying to turn a confirmed sinner into a holy saint, these are honest reflections on a giant of a man with real shortcomings.
I think no less of Bowden now because of this and it’s not possible for me to hold him in higher regard.
This brings me of course, to the faith.
What if we could honestly assess our leaders, our peers, and ourselves with the same harsh honesty and real grace that these contributors did when they spoke of Bowden?
“Simul Iustus et Peccator”… simultaneously saints and sinners.
We prefer binary judgments…you’re either one or the other, but both are lies taken alone.
I’m always reminded of “righteous Lot” whose last appearance in Old Testament scriptures finds him in a cave getting drunk and having sex with his daughters.
Even Bowden didn’t drop to that level…
We are not allowed a binary choice in Scripture concerning Lot…both things are true.
They’re true about me too.
You will have to answer for yourself…
Make your own application…