Book Review: Love Came Down
Compiled By: Christopher L. Webber
Publisher: Morehouse Publishing
This collection of readings for Advent and Christmas was not to my tastes. Its theme was much too dark for me. I don’t mind “heavy” or deep-thinking writings and reflections, but more than deep, this compilation was very dark and dreary. Two quick things to note before proceeding, Webber did not write these reflections, he compiled them from existing writings and to his credit, he mentioned in his introduction that he specifically selected these darker writings.
The Love Came Down devotional collection begins with Advent, runs through Christmas and Christmastide, and ends on the Day of Epiphany (Jan. 06). The writings span some six hundred years and are collected from some of the most highly respected Anglican writers of those times. I certainly do not recognize all the names, but a few I was familiar with are John Donne, Madelein L’Engle, William Law, Jeremy Taylor, and Harriet Beecher Stowe. There are many others included in this collection and Webber represents them well with a nice biographical section included at the end of the book.
I understand the gravity of our sin and the fallen state of humankind; I also understand there is a time and place for reflection on these subjects… most often; this is centered on the Lenten Season. I had a hard time making these grave thoughts part of my Advent meditations. I understand the primary themes of Advent (while not exclusively so) are Hope, Expectancy, Waiting, Joy, Peace, and Love. I had a difficult time merging these anticipatory and hopeful expressions with Death, a poem by John Donne, Judgement, by Thomas of Celano, Hell, by Thomas Ken, and some of the other somber writings in this series. It’s not that these thoughts don’t have a place in the Advent Season; I’m sure there is, but it was difficult for me (personally) to focus on the primary themes with these interjections.
I should point out the excerpted writings are not all dark. There are some hope-filled pieces included here as well. I do not want to portray the book in a completely negative review, but the reader needs to be aware of what they are in for. While the reflections themselves can draw the reader into some deep self-examination, they can also be disturbing. This might be what is needed for the reader, but it is only fair they enter with eyes open wide.