The problem with writing a rhetoric text like In The World: Reading And Writing As A Christian, is that its core truths never change, but its examples and references can become dated and stale. Fortunately, the 1987 version of this book by John H. Timmerman and Donald R. Hettinga has been revised and re-released in 2004. Now, every contemporary topic from Harry Potter to abortion is covered with vibrancy and in-depth analysis.
This is not easy reading. The sample writings are penned by such essayists as St. Augustine, John Donne, Thomas Paine, Henry David Thoreau, Charles Darwin, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Annie Dillard, and Philip Yancey. The subjects include grace, marriage, ecology, ethics, literature, art, history, and even advanced biology.
The chief purpose of this book is to offer 87 pages of intensive training in creativity, research, writing, and editing, followed by a collection of quality essays that showcase the very elements taught in the first half of the book. A lesson evolves from this: writers who feel they must stoop to using off-color language, lewd sex scenes, and graphic violence in order to attract modern readers will discover how a wide range of authors (found in this collection) have proven otherwise. Cream rises to the surface, and so does intelligent, insightful, finely crafted writing.
If the book has a flaw, it may be the depth of some of the writing. For example, the science essays are heavy with unfamiliar medical and technological vocabulary. Also, sometimes the tone of the writing can be critical or even caustic, like a lecture or reprimand. However, my favorite essay, "You're Still Failing" by I. M. Cross (actual name) has a justified bite to it. Cross presents a tirade against college students who lack discipline and are willing to do second rate work. He pulls no punches it telling them they are losers, and I found myself (regrettably so) saying, "Amen! Preach it, brother!"
This book provides examples of writers who practice what immerman and Hettinga advocate. Though not light reading, it leaves an intellectual impact. -- Dennis E. Hensley, Ph.D., Christian Book Previews.com