James J. Thompson, Jr.: Christian Classics Revisited; Ignatius; San Franciso.
Among the ends to which writers may put their words is that of leading the reader toward the divine Word of Christian belief. In the secularized world of modernity, such efforts, even when practiced with subtlety, insight, and creative intelligence receive remarkably little attention, however. As a devout Roman Catholic writer with a keen mind and a lucid style, James J. Thompson, Jr., former associate editor of Chronicles of Culture, makes a laudable effort in Christian Classics Revisited to provide greater visibility to authors and works in which the search for God and the exercise of human talent fruitfully combine. Though the emphasis on Catholic and Anglo-Catholic writers such as Ignatius Loyola, Cardinal Newman, T. S. Eliot, G. K. Chesterton, and Evelyn Waugh does reflect a discernible bias, Dr. Thompson proves himself catholic as well as Catholic in his perspicacious examination not only of Protestant writers such as John Woolman, Will Campbell, and Emil Brunner but also of the extremely marginal Christian James Agee. Primarily because of their brevity, his essays are only suggestive rather than definitive in their evaluations. But then anyone who agrees with Gerard Manley Hopkins that “Jesus Christ is the only true literary critic” does not expect definitive Judgment of books or men until another Day. (BC)