Tag Archives: Essays

Review: The Passing of John Broadbanks

Rating: ★★★★★

Who: F. W. Boreham, British pastor and author of more than 50 books. He spent most of his life pastoring in New Zealand and Australia. (See the article “Who Is F. W. Boreham?”)

Genre: On Boreham’s spiritual essays: F. W. Boreham is difficult to place into a genre. A reviewer wrote in Preacher’s Magazine, “There is only one Boreham.” His writing is a mix of essay writing and what I call “literary preaching”—preaching that is intensely informed by both Christian and classic literature. In the main body of his work (“classic Boreham”), some chapters were originally sermons; others were culled from his 3000 biographical essays. In any case, most of his 49 books are a goldmine of suitable (if light) devotional reading. (See my list of his published works.)

Overview: Very few of F. W. Boreham’s devotional books have clear themes; this is an exception. Many of the sermons run on the themes of the passage of time, the metaphor of life as a journey, and the approach of eternity. His overall method is to treat whatever metaphors, stories, and life parables present themselves to him.

Meat: “Our Second Wind” is among the best chapters in any of his books. “The Wayside Inn” and all of Part II is moving and memorable. Passing of John Broadbanks is one of the later books of his career, so his writing style is very clear and polished here.

Quotes: “Life’s choicest prizes are for the plodders.” (“Our Second Wind”, loc. 1694)

“The rending of the veil was not the desecration of the temple; it was the consecration of the world.” (“Beau Geste”, loc. 2475)

“The Kingdom of God demands of each man the dedication of his own individuality.” (“The Ordinand”, loc. 2604)

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The Silver Trumpets

F. W. Boreham, Dreams at Sunset, Part I, ch. 7

The postman has this morning brought me a letter that affords me peculiar satisfaction. It invites me to return for one notable Sunday to a pulpit in which, long ago, I spent twelve very happy years. ‘We are celebrating our Jubilee,’ the minister writes, ‘and we all want you to be among us!’ Continue reading

The Fish-Pens

F. W. Boreham, Rubble and Roseleaves, Part III, ch. II

I was holiday-making at Lake King. As a matter of fact, Lake King is no lake at all. It used to be; and, like the Church at Sardis, and like so many of us, it bears the name that it once earned but no longer deserves. In former days, a picturesque rampart of sand hummocks, richly draped in native verdure, intervened between the fresh waters of the land-locked lake and the heaving tides of the Southern Ocean. Then the engineers arrived; and when the engineers take off their coats no man can tell what is likely to happen next. At Panama they split a continent in two. At Lake King they wedded the lake to the ocean. Through the range of sand-dunes they cut a broad, deep channel by which the big ships could pass in and out, and, as an inevitable consequence, Lake King is a lake no longer. But it was not the big ships that interested me. It was the trawlers. I liked to see the fishing-boats come in from the ocean and liberate their shining spoil at the pens. On the shores of the lake the fishermen have fenced off a sheet of water, a quarter of an acre or so in area; and into this sheltered reserve they discharge their daily catch. I never tired of visiting the fish-pens. As I looked down into their clear waters they seemed to be one moving mass of beautiful fish. Never in my life had I seen so congested an aquarium. There were thousands upon thousands, tons upon tons, of them. Continue reading

How Christmas Came to Roaring Camp

F. W. Boreham, My Christmas Book, Part I, ch. IV

It may or may not have happened in December; Bret Harte does not say, and it certainly does not matter; for whether it happened in April or September or December, it was Christmas-time in Roaring Camp. It is always Christmas-time when a little child is born; the angels sing their song in somebody’s sky, and heaven fills the atmosphere of somebody’s home with its Gloria in Excelsis—its message of peace on earth and goodwill among men. Continue reading