Category Archives: Biography

Jesus: the Man Who Lives. — Malcolm Muggeridge


Mika found a copy of this text, a very nice addition to our library collection. Malcolm Muggeridge (1902-1990) published (Harper and Row) this book in 1976 in hardcover, 191 pages. Malcolm Muggeridge lived most of his life without religion finding success as a journalist, satirist (he was editor of Punch magazine from 1953-1957) and media personality. He embraced Christianity, declaring in 1971 that he was practicing the faith. In 1982 he became a Roman Catholic.

Posted by Geoffrey

Outlaw marriages: the hidden histories of fifteen extraordinary same-sex couples. — Rodger Streitmatter


Here is the latest addition to our library collection, a collection of biographies of fifteen men and women in American society prominent in art, music, journalism, literature, film and social reform who lived and loved in long term same-sex relationships long before same-sex marriage was recognized in law in the United States. It was published in 2012 by Beacon Press. The author, Rodger Streitmatter, serves on the faculty of the School of Communication at American University. He resides in Washington, D.C. with his husband, Tom Grooms. Mika found this recently on one of his book hunting expeditions.

The book offers the reader a view into the lives of the fifteen same-sex couples, gay and lesbian people who embraced the conventions of marriage and marital privacy at a time when it was neither accepted nor tolerated by the wider society. It comes as no surprise that married life for the same-sex couples documented in this book were not always happy and successful. Just as married life between heterosexual couples can be the best of times and the worst of times, so it is for same-sex couples. As Streitmatter observes in the prologue:

That the couples were willing to bend the marital rules doesn’t mean they all succeeded in creating relationships that were made in heaven–far from it. A regrettable scenario that plays out in several chapters begins with the lesser-known partner being absolutely essential to the better-known partner’s rise to success, but then … the high-achieving partner getting what might be called the “twenty-year itch.”

The publication of this book was timely in that it shows that gay and lesbian people were embracing the conventions of marriage and marital privacy long before same-sex marriage became the heated and divisive issue it is in American society in the present. In addition, it shows that same-sex marriages are subject to the very same joys and sorrows that confront heterosexual married couples. On that basis, it is an interesting read for those who enjoy biographies and are interested in the history of the movement for same-sex marriage rights in American society.

Posted by Geoffrey

Christian Wives: women behind the Evangelists reveal their faith in modern marriage. — James Schaffer and Colleen Todd


Modern marriage is a hot button topic in the United States as the Supreme Court of the United States is expected to hand down its latest ruling concerning the legality of same-sex marriage any day now. The redefinition of modern marriage in American society to allow for same-sex couples is a contentious issue, notably for conservative Christians who are steadfast in their belief that marriage is a union of one man and one woman who go on to have a family. Browsing through our library collection I came across this gem, published in 1987 by Doubleday & Company.  The 1980s was the heyday for the Evangelists, Jim Bakker, Jerry Falwell, Billy Graham, Rex Humbard, Oral Roberts, Robert Schuller and Jimmy Swaggart, each of whom had thriving television ministries. The wives of these Evangelists, Tammy Fae Bakker, Macel Falwell, Ruth Graham, Maude Aimee Humbard, Evelyn Roberts, Arvella Schuller and Frances Swaggart, discuss their childhoods, how they met their respective husbands and their role in supporting their husbands in their careers as Evangelists. Their testimonies are offered as an example for Christian women to follow. Ruth Graham commented on the place of women in modern marriage for the Christian women observing:

I am a strong believer in women’s lib, to this extent: I think women should be liberated from civic responsibility, from having to work for a living, and unless it’s absolutely necessary, from all extracurricular affairs. They need to be liberated from them so they can devote themselves to their homes. (Christian Wives, p. 63)

The tone of each chapter is like that you find in any celebrity gossip magazine. You get a sugar coated view of the married life of these Christian wives who were celebrities in their own right at the time. This comes as no surprise as the authors, James Schaffer and Colleen Todd, came from the same religious background. James Schaffer is a graduate of Oral Roberts University and Colleen Todd worked as a copy editor and writer on prime time television specials for Oral Roberts. Unfortunately for the authors, however, the same time their book was published, the marriage of Jim and Tammy Fae Bakker was rocked by scandal when it was revealed in 1987 that $279,000 was paid to Jessica Hahn, a church secretary with whom Jim Bakker had an affair. This led to the dismissal of Jim Bakker as a minister from the Assemblies of God and the dissolution of their marriage. Similarly, scandal struck in the marriage of Jimmy and Frances Swaggart when in 1988 and in 1991, Jimmy was caught in the company of prostitutes. Jimmy Swaggart was dismissed from the Assemblies of God, but he and Frances remain husband and wife.

I like this book as it offers a view into the cult of celebrity in American culture as it was in the 1980s from a different and interesting point of view.

Posted by Geoffrey

A Pope Laughs: Stories of John XXIII — Kurt Klinger


Mika has a good eye for interesting titles to add to our library collection. This book is one of his nicer finds: A pope laughs: stories of John XXIII / collected by Kurt Klinger. Published by Holt,  Rinehart and Winston in 1963. Pope John XXIII was on of the most influential figures in the history of the 20th century. Vatican II is his legacy, the Reformation of the Roman Catholic Church that reconciled the Church with modernity. For those interested in the study of religion and the history of the Roman Catholic Church, this book provides a biographical account of Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, the man who became Pope John XXIII, from a down to earth perspective. The book is a collection of anecdotes that gives the reader a view of the personality of Pope John XXIII. He was a humble man with a subtle sense of humour as the following selection from the book demonstrates:

The tiresome process of being fitted into the ill-cut papal robes was over. John XXIII climbed for the first time into the Sedia Gestatoria to show himself to the faithful in his dignity as new Supreme Pontiff. “Who knows,” he whispered to his secretary, who had accompanied him to the balcony of St. Peter’s, as they looked at the surging crowd, “if all those people like me? After all, they didn’t elect me.”

Posted by Geoffrey