Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Review: Anthony Trollope's Barchester Towers

If you're looking for insight into church politics, try Anthony Trollope's Barchester Towers. Written in 1857, it rewrites the Trojan War as a comedy, with High Church parsons battling Evangelicals for control of an English diocese.

Trollope captures perfectly the mixture of piety, spite, and ambition that fuels so many church fights -- and he makes it clear that pastors' wives may feel these emotions too!

Unfortunately, Trollope himself doesn't always fight fair. While his High Church Anglicans are flawed but interesting, his Evangelicals are merely flawed. Mr. Slope, for instance, is little more than a caricature of the-Puritan-as-hypocrite. Mrs. Proudie is a shrew. And only the power of the Press can explain why her nebbish of a husband was ever made bishop.

Still, if you're trying to understand why church politics play out the way they do, take a look at this book. It may have been written in 1857 -- but you'll find the pastors it describes are alive and well and working in a Conference near you!

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