What do I think of James Sire’s autobiography? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
James Sire has been a name in apologetics for quite a while and was one of the premier apologists in our modern age of apologetics. We all owe a debt to him. This can be especially so due to his work with IVP where he was responsible for providing us with many excellent books to have over the years. As one who reviews books regularly for IVP, I am grateful.
Rim of the Sandhills is about his life growing up where he lived in an area of Nebraska known as the Sandhills. Seeing as I have my mother-in-law being from Nebraska, I did ask her about it and she was familiar with the Sandhills. Sire describes his life there as he grew up on a farm (Not too uncommon I take it in Nebraska) and his education, particularly his love of books.
Of the books that I’ve read by Sire recently, I have to say this was the most enjoyable one. It was easy to picture many of the scenes going on. One in particular describes Sire working at the projection booth of a movie theater and reading at the same time and when something went wrong with the picture they would shout out his name and he’d jump up from his book and have to fix the problem. Anyone who is a reader understands that scene.
Sire also describes how he went through his educational process which was a quite revealing one and probably like many readers of an autobiography, I was noticing places I could connect with. Sire talks about how he changed his dissertation for instance because he didn’t want to have to learn Latin due to his difficulty with learning languages.
There’s a chapter in there about his romantic relationships as well and this is a chapter I would have liked to have seen expounded on some. What was it like for Sire when he was dating? How is it different from today? As one who proposed to my own wife after just a few months (We were married within a year of our meeting), I am always surprised to meet someone who proposed sooner than I did.
The military section describes what is likely the most difficult time period of Sire’s life where he had to work at a job that he hated and where he was ultimately expendable. This is not to say anything negative about the military. I’m sure Sire would agree they supply an invaluable service and we should be thankful for them, but the military is not for everyone.
From there, the book focuses on his career with IVP and how he wanted to keep a toe in academia. A most revealing chapter is when he talks about his experiences in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union where Communism reigned for so long and one authority over there told him that the east was afraid to engage with Christian philosophy because they knew that they could not handle its challenges.
Also important is how Sire presents many of his own failures and challenges in life even on day to day issues that we can all relate to, such as bad grades he got in school or lapses in moral judgment that seem small at the time but are really much greater. Another one was his own struggle with his salvation, something that many a Christian can relate to.
Sire’s autobiography is a look in his own words from one who we owe a debt to in the apologetics community and in fact, something I’ve thought more apologists should be doing. It is a quick read that one will find readily enjoyable.