Literary Theology by Women Writers of the Nineteenth Century by Rebecca Styler

By Rebecca Styler

Reading well known fiction, existence writing, poetry and political works, Rebecca Styler explores women's contributions to theology within the 19th century. girl writers, Styler argues, acted as beginner theologians via use of more than a few literary genres. via those, they wondered the Christian culture relative to modern issues approximately political ethics, gender id, and private that means. between Styler's matters are novels via Emma Worboise; writers of collective biography, together with Anna Jameson and Clara Balfour, who learn Bible ladies which will handle modern matters approximately "The lady Question"; poetry via Anne Bronte; and political writing by way of Harriet Martineau and Josephine Butler. As Styler considers the ways that each one author negotiates the gender constraints and possibilities which are on hand to her spiritual atmosphere and literary style, she exhibits the various levels of frustration which those writers show with the inadequacy of bought faith to satisfy their own and moral wishes. All locate assets inside that culture, and inside of their adventure, to reconfigure Christianity in artistic, and extra earth-oriented methods.

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Dale was pastor at Carrs Lane Chapel, Birmingham, and it is quite possible that Worboise knew him, since his congregation met about a mile from where she was born. His published sermon collection upheld as a central tenet ‘the relevance of Christianity to everyday life, and of the sacredness of commercial, municipal and political activities’, a fusion of the spiritual with the secular which Worboise also promotes. Worboise, too, was not concerned with doctrinal niceties. She underplays religion’s dogmatic content but seeks to maximise its social effectiveness, goals she shared with the Broad Church pioneer Thomas Arnold, whom she greatly admired.

107–8. E. Elliot-Binns claims that Worboise’s work helped significantly to make the fusion of religion and fiction acceptable for Evangelicals, some of whom were still hostile to this development; see Religion in the Victorian Era (London: Lutterworth Press, 1936), p. 334.  The Religion of the Heart, p. 244. Christianity, Gender and the Public Sphere 21 regularly reviewed in the Athenaeum and the Academy. 10 For Worboise did not only reflect the tastes of her readers, but sought to form their values.

Hughes defines the central theme of Christian character as ‘courage’, which he defines partly as ‘persistency, or the determination to have one’s own way, coupled with contempt for safety and ease, and readiness to risk pain or death in getting one’s own way’. But he adds to this the quality of ‘tenderness’ and ‘self-sacrifice for the welfare of another’. 44 This martyr-like commitment unites ‘masculine’ heroism with ‘feminine’ selfsacrifice. This is a model which Worboise very much anticipates in her portrayal of Arnold’s life, and in her fiction that follows, in which women become bold and men moralistic.

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