P G Wodehouse

P G Wodehouse

Posted on 30th June 2020 under The Rectory Bulletin | Church History


Ok this one will take a little explaining, after all, it is hard to argue that Wodehouse was a great missionary of the faith or that the author of “The Great Sermon Handicap” a great theologian. Nonetheless Wodehouse represents an era when Biblical literacy was the norm. His writings betray an ease with scripture that demonstrate that in days gone by the Bible was not simply the preserve of those with dog collars. His ability to find connections between situations in his novels and the Bible’s narrative is testament to someone who often viewed the world with one eye on scripture.

Here is Wodehouse on the dilemma an ex-safe burglar who converted to Christianity faced when he was in reaching distance of safe: “many a man who has seen the light is apt to switch it off when the Old Adam starts to come to life in him”.

Or how about this, when Wooster is complaining of a bad night: “I had been dreaming that some bounder was driving spikes through my head–not just ordinary spikes, as used by Jael the wife of Heber, but red-hot ones.”

Or this: “Since leaving school he had not devoted much time to the study of the Scriptures, and the stories of the Old Testament had to a great extent passed from his mind. Had this not been so, he would now have been thinking how close was the parallel between his own predicament and that of Moses on the summit of Mount Pisgah. Moses had looked wistfully at a promised land which he was never to reach. He in his mind’s eye was gazing with equal wistfulness at a promised millionaire with whom there seemed no chance of ever talking business.”

I’m not suggesting that Wodehouse is a great Christian hero, or that he should have churches named in his favour, but his uncanny ability to find parallels between everyday situations and the Bible is instructive. To pause and look for this connection in our daily life is a good lesson to learn.

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29th June 2020

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