The Quality of Mercy

Book Notice

The Quality of Mercy by Eugene England (Bookcraft, 1992)

If there exists one quality at once capable of both bringing about world peace and enhancing individual spirituality, that quality is surely mercy, which England equates to charity. England’s book is a collection of twelve personal essays on mercy tied together by the author’s commentary every three chapters. The essays explore many facets of mercy, including the dichotomy between mercy and justice and Christ as our model of mercy.

In one essay, England challenges us to end world hunger by the year 2000, calling that goal our “primary human task” (120). He makes “two simple, if rather dramatic, proposals” for fulfilling this goal: divert a percentage of existing arms budgets “to meet the third world’s basic needs” (131) with the hope that the money thus spent on food would be an investment in peace and would preclude the necessity to sustain large arsenals; and have those of us who live in earth’s wealthier nations make fast-offering-like contributions to people in impoverished nations, with the understanding that any effort is infinitely superior to no effort.

The book is weakened somewhat by too much emphasis on anecdotal information; the many resultant diversions from the topic of mercy might be distracting to some readers. Nevertheless, the book contains many nuggets of wisdom and is ultimately strengthened both by its organization and by a reasonable balance between descriptions of mercy and explanations of how to live a merciful life.

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