Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

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

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Boreham and the Magic of Words

F W Boreham regarded his work as a “revelry” and viewed his different roles as a “sacrament.”[1] One sacramental dimension of his role as an essayist and editorialist was related to his high view of words. Boreham was enchanted with the mystery and magic of words on paper and he expressed his amazement that a literary classic differs from an inferior book only in its juxtaposition of the same twenty-six letters of the alphabet that are available to all writers.[2]

Boreham’s belief in the power of words was confidently expressed in his view, “Through the agency of words … darkness is being continually dispelled and new worlds called into being. By means of some sublime word—startling, piercing, convincing, alluring—a new man is made and the new man ushers in a new age. Were it not for those words—words of pity and grace and life everlasting—the world would still be without form and void and darkness would be upon the face of the deep.”[3]

As an agent of words, Boreham undertook his role with humility and reverence, writing as if to one reader but with the consciousness that he was shaping an age.[4]

Another important aspect of the sacramental element in Boreham’s editorial writing was hinted at by T H Crago, his biographer, who said, “He had never written an article for the sake of writing an article. Unless a topic could convey a message, it never tempted his pen.”[5] While Boreham variously confessed to his egotistical urges in his “insatiable penchant for scribbling” and his “literary aspirations”,[6] the editorial writing was an outworking of a divine calling to Christian ministry that necessitated the proclamation of a message, although conveyed in different ways from his work as a preacher and essayist.

Geoff Pound

Image: “the same twenty-six letters of the alphabet that are available to all writers.”

[1] F W Boreham, The golden milestone, i.
[2] F W Boreham, Mountains in the mist (London: The Epworth Press, 1914), 186.
[3] F W Boreham, A faggot of torches, 7.
[4] F W Boreham, The crystal pointers, 112. This reference has more information on Boreham’s view of tailoring oral and written communication to ‘a congregation of one’.
[5] T H Crago, The story of F. W. Boreham (London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1961).Crago, 248.
[6] F W Boreham, My pilgrimage, 150, 151.