What Do I Have That I Did Not Receive? by Ralph C. Wood

What Do I Have That I Did Not Receive?

Reflections on the Unmerited Gifts I've Received from Others

Alasdair MacIntyre declares in After Virtue that "we are never more (and sometimes less) than the co--authors of our own narratives." Co-authorship can entail percentages both great and small. I believe that, as we grow older, our own side of the ledger shrinks. The proportion may fall even into single digits, so great does our sense of indebtedness increase. The Apostle Paul presses home this point to the Christians at Corinth in the sharpest terms: "Who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?" (1 Cor. 4:7).

Receiving the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Conference on Christianity and Literature gives me occasion to enumerate some of the things I have been given beyond all deserving. Permit me, therefore, to mark five major moments when I received markedly more than I merited.

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Ralph C. Wood is University Professor of Theology and Literature at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. His books include The Comedy of Redemption, The Gospel According to Tolkien, and Flannery O'Connor and the Christ-Haunted South.


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