Conflicted Faith offers helpful paraphrases of Donne’s 17th century verses, which can be archaic in language and at times challenging for the contemporary reader to parse. The commentary is almost line-by-line, taking sections of each poem and reading them in light of the personal conflict that the poem expresses, and Seel closes each study with a modern poem, reflection, or hymn that parallels that sonnet’s theme. Some readers may wish for more background on the literary scholarship about Donne, at least as a guide for further exploration of the poetry.
Seel’s commentary originated from his own experience mentoring others through their faith journeys, and readers will feel almost as though they are reading along with him, listening to stories and engaging in introspection under a wise advisor. Conflicted Faith also delves deep into scripture as Seel explores wide ranging doubts and conflicts in faith–both scriptural encouragements as well as examples of paragons of faith who also faced struggles with God. This grounds the poems, as well as provides avenues for profound reflection, especially for believers. Donne is a sage teacher, and Seel is a discerning guide to these enduring—and still gripping—sonnets.
Takeaway: Christians seeking to grow in their faith or looking to explore John Donne’s Holy Sonnets more deeply will find this commentary invaluable.
Great for fans of: Philip Yancey’s A Companion in Crisis, Lina AbuJamra’s Fractured in Faith.
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