Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Boreham on Easter

Easter in all of Life
Deserving special note are the Easter editorials of F W Boreham and the ordinariness with which he addressed this annual event. His editorial approach to this Christian festival was characteristic of the public theology tradition that has sought to avoid theology or religious events such as Easter falling captive to the church. In contrast to those described by Nicholas Lash, who “bind the mystery of God into the It-world, [who] set up a ‘God-district’ alongside the other districts in their life and, by so doing ... obscure the signs of God’s address and presence both in that district and elsewhere”,[1] Boreham wrote about Easter in its interrelatedness to all of life.

Easter in Nature
Approaching Easter in a down-to-earth manner, Dr. Boreham often commenced with the Easter principle in nature, in which the “crocus peeping bravely and promisingly through the snow” (in the northern hemisphere) and “the flaming splendor of the chrysanthemum” (in the southern hemisphere) both expressed the Easter message of “life’s unconquerability ... [and] forward-looking hopefulness”.[2] While recognizing that Easter was one of many “episodes and emotions too sublime and too sacred to be analyzed”,[3] Boreham adopted images from nature (“the living kernel enclosed within the dead husk”) and history (the resurrection of Old St Paul’s) to illustrate the infusion of hope into human life and to show that “humanity has a latent genius for resurrection”.[4]

Experiencing Easter
Boreham’s purpose in his editorials was not to analyse or prove the miracle of the first Easter but to encourage readers in their present ordinariness to experience Easter for themselves or, as Gerard Manley Hopkins expressed ‘easter’ as a verb, to “let him easter in us”.[5]

Supreme Festival
Boreham saw Easter as “the supreme festival of life”, explaining the thrill with which people greet Easter each year as “but another phase of the arresting phenomenon. It is life answering to life”.[6] Promoting the way Easter must be allowed to permeate the ordinariness of life every day of the year, Boreham said at Easter 1954: “Easter may represent the essence of religion; it is also the irradiation of reality. It touches actual life in every aspect and at every point. It assures us that, however prosaic our lot may be, we may, nevertheless, make life, death and the vast forever one grand, sweet song”.[7]

Geoff Pound

Image: “the living kernel enclosed within the dead husk.”

[1] Nicholas Lash, Easter in ordinary: Reflections on human experience and the knowledge of God, 286-287.
[2] F W Boreham, Mercury, 5 April 1958; Age, 20 April 1946.
[3] Boreham, Mercury, 27 March 1948.
[4] Boreham, Mercury, 11 April 1941.
[5] Gerard Manley Hopkins, ‘The wreck of the Deutschland’ Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins ed. W H Gardner (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1948), 67.
[6] Boreham, Mercury, 5 April 1947.
[7] Boreham, Mercury, 17 April 1954.