30 Nov

Bringing the Blush to Old Slewfoot's Face

Category: What We're Reading
By: Amy L. Graeser
Published: 11/30/04

William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company has collected a number of professor Alan Jacobs's works in Shaming the Devil. The subtitle of the book, Essays in Truthtelling, aptly and succinctly expresses the task of the collection, which Jacobs (a guest on several volumes of the MARS HILL AUDIO Journal) describes as conducting experiments in truthtelling and the pursuit of truth. The work is divided into three parts: part one, titled "Exemplars," attends to great writers who have told the truth—and to the truths they have told—in their poems, novels, and books; part two, "Explorations," studies additional writers, along with how they have succeeded and fallen short in pursuing truth; and part three, "Experiment," discusses computer technology and whether it helps or hinders, in Jacques Ellul's phrase, "the search for justice before God." The collection of exemplars and those whose work is explored include W. H. Auden, Rebecca West, Albert Camus, and Iris Murdoch. Jacobs concludes the introduction to Shaming the Devil thus: "If what I write . . . in this book moves us an inch or so closer to general truthfulness, and thereby towards the justice of the Lord, my work will have been amply rewarded. And if it brings a discomfited blush, even for an instant, to the face of Old Slewfoot, that would be nice too." [Posted December 2004, ALG]