By Kevin Jackson, Major
Wesley Harris’s writings provide comfort food for the soul of the Salvationist. His words challenge the reader, while resembling sage-like, grandfatherly advice to a loved one. “Writing the Vision: Collected Writings,” by Harris (Salvo Publishing, 2011), an anthology of Harris’s work, includes selections from a variety of publications over 60 years.
Some writers possess the ability to say volumes in a small amount of space; so it is with Harris and this collection: short, thoughtful, insightful and challenging pieces that did not take the author 300 pages to make his point. In some ways Harris’s writings resemble a Salvationist version of Oswald Chambers.
“Writing the Vision” contains essays Harris composed for the Internet’s “Journal of Aggressive Christianity,” along with selections from books penned on his own or with a co-author, and finally his poetry.
In the chapter entitled “Dear Paul,” Harris’s novel idea of writing personal letters to the Apostle Paul reads splendidly. Harris deconstructs the Pauline writings and interjects both personal comments as well as theological questions from a 21st century perspective. I have probably read 50-60 scholarly books on Pauline theology, and Harris’s masterful, simple style makes this material accessible to all, and his writing worthy among the best of those works.
Harris ends this volume with several poems penned through the years. His poetry, as with his other writing, is highly readable. It appears that he desires to keep the readers (mostly Salvationists) honest in their attempt to serve humankind and the kingdom of God.
With a deceptively simple style, Harris’s “Writing the Vision” is a worthwhile read that presents a deep, enriching challenge to the individual and The Salvation Army as a whole.