Telford Work’s style in Ain’t Too Proud to Beg is to begin somewhere, not always one might think, and meander his way to the principle idea in one of the petitions in the Lord’s Prayer. This week he begins here:
With three woes against our culture. A woe of the lie, where he deals with Theodore Dalrymple’s Life at the Bottom who focuses on the ideology of dependence instead of responsibility that emerges from liberalism; a woe of evil, where he focuses on M. Scott Peck; and a woe of sloth, where he focuses on depression and the sense of a need to be treated instead of saved.
Is there a solution? Humans, Work argues, are wretched (Rom 7:24).
And here Work’s chp really heats up and opens up new insight into the Lord’s Prayer. He asks if the last petition — “do not lead us into temptation, rather deliver us from the Evil One” — is the way to end a prayer? I like this question because we all know that the doxological ending was added later and that changes the ending — from a rather negative plea for deliverance to a glorious exaltation of God. The ending as it now is prepares for the treacherous road to Jerusalem. “That we have not wanted to conclude here is a further sign that perhaps we should” (189).
The prayer becomes apocalyptic: Jesus urges us to pray to be delivered from the End. “This is the Lord’s disaster plan” (194). The word “lead,” he suggests, means do not carry us along with Christ who will endure that time; Christ endures it for us.
The solution to the woes: truth overcomes lies, good overcomes evil, and joy overcomes sloth.
Next week we finish this book and the week after that we begin with Edith Humphrey, Ecstasy and Intimacy.