Category Archives: July 2013

A Letter To Sarah Ryan

As I have for the past few days I will be writing a letter to the person that I read John Wesley wrote letters to. Today’s letter is addressed to Sarah Ryan. What you might find interesting is how John Wesley addresses the letter. This is not something that I chose to do, but how John actually addresses all his letters to Sarah Ryan. I have chosen to write more about the aftermath of the altercation between Sarah and John’s wife. I hope you enjoy this letter.

My Dear Sister,

It has been yet a few days since the incident at dinner with my wife. I cannot help but feel that I am partially to blame because as I have written earlier, it was my letter to you that led her to interrupt our dinner that night. I pray that you did not at any moment that night felt the sting of danger. I pray that your days have gotten better since this incident with my wife and that it does not deter you from continuing sending letters to me. Your letters often find me when I need them most, and for that I thank you. I pray that my wife has not scared you away from doing your Christian duty and serving God as you have been these past weeks. Stay strong in faith and in this movement in which we are a part of. Do not forget that the Lord loves and is the only judge when our earthly bodies breathe their last breathes, let no human, and whether that be male or female deter you from doing God’s work. I am eager to receive your next letter with excitement as always.

I am
Your affectionate brother

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The Return of Sarah Ryan

So it has finally appeared. In a previous blog post I wrote on the confrontation between John Wesley’s wife and a woman by the name of Sarah Ryan. Sarah Ryan was believed to be a woman that John was enamored with, at least that is what his wife grew to believe. In this altercation John’s wife bursts into the room in which Sarah Ryan is serving dinner to John and his guests. John’s wife then proceeds to ridicule and judge Sarah Ryan, her lifestyle, and her history of men. The problem with that past post was that there was no actual account or backlash to this point. What I was writing on at this point was based on biographies and not on the actual written work of John Wesley. Well readers, this is no longer so, because in today’s reading I read several letters written by John Wesley to the woman Sarah Ryan. More importantly there is a letter that is written shortly after the incident between John’s wife and Sarah Ryan.

John’s letter that followed the incident reads as such: “Last Friday, after many severe words, my —— left me, vowing she would see me no more. As I had wrote to you the same morning, I began to reason with myself, till I almost doubted whether I had done well in writing, or whether I ought to write to you at all. After prayer that doubt was taken away. Yet I was almost sorry that I had written that morning. In the evening, while I was preaching at the chapel, she came into the chamber where I had left my clothes, searched my pockets, and found the letter there, which I had finished, but had not sealed. While she read it, God broke her heart; and afterwards found her in such a temper as I have not seen her in for several years. She has continued in the same ever since. So I think God has given a sufficient answer, with regard to our writing to each other.” John will later conclude the letter with questions that deal with how Sarah’s life is going, not as one that is too much of a spiritual nature but more of a general interest.

I find that this letter adds so much more to the story of Sarah Ryan and John Wesley. All of this will make an appearance in the show because Sarah Ryan was deeply important to the person of John Wesley. She is one of a handful of women that John wrote to on a regular basis and he often wrote about how she had renewed his strength in God. I would like to show more about Sarah Ryan than just her altercation with John’s wife. I desire to write about more of how Sarah renewed John’s strength, but I also realize the power that lies in the scene with the altercation. I am extremely grateful for John Wesley writing more about this event. It should be interesting to see what happens as I take this letter, other similar letters, and research I have gotten from the biographies to write the scene, or scenes, for the show. Stay tuned to see what happens in the future with John Wesley and Sarah Ryan when their characters are portrayed on stage.

John To Charles

After writing the last blog post about John’s communication with Charles I find it only fitting that the letter I will write be addressed to his brother Charles. In this letter, I hope to accomplish the love John has for his brother, but also the focus on the movement and improving that through Charles. I hope you enjoy the letter as much as I have writing it.

Dearest Brother,

I apologize for writing you later and less frequent than our usual pattern of conversing. I have been traveling visiting the band groups here in the north preaching to all who come forward to listen. You must be busy with the same based on your previous letter the bands in the south seem to grow. I cannot help but praise God for the great works you have been accomplishing in these past few weeks. Remember brother that we have been given a gift and this should be spread to the world. Let us not forget that we are the head and the heart of this movement and we must be with Christ at all moments in our lives. I have told you many times that if we fall short the movement follows. I pray that you and your family are well.

Your Loving Brother

John

Brotherly Love

In my last blog posts I commented on how John Wesley would write letters to his family and in these letters it would seem he was talking more to an academic rather than a family member. With today’s reading John seemed to have a different demeanor with the family member that he wrote to. For today’s reading I read the letters that John Wesley wrote to his younger brother Charles. What is interesting about these letters is John Wesley is writing about many things to his young brother. These topics range from women, the Methodist movement, to simple sibling conversation about their lives. Today’s blog will focus on the brother John writing to his younger brother Charles.

John wrote to Charles as much as he could but almost all of the letters have a focus of God with them. One of my favorite pieces of John’s correspondence with his brother is his letter on February 28, 1766. John writes “We must, we must, you and I at least, be all devoted to God! Then wives, and sons, and daughters, and everything else, will be real, invaluable blessings. Eia age, rumpe moras! Let us this day use all the power we have! If we have enough, well; if not, let us this day expect a fresh supply. How long shall we drag on thus heavily, though God has called us to be the chief conductors of such a work? Alas! What conductors! If I am (in some sense) the head, and you the heart, of the work; may it not be said, ‘The whole head is sick, and the whole heart is faint?’ Come, in the name of God, let us arise, and shake ourselves from the dust! Let us strengthen each other’s hands in God, and that without delay. Have sense sexagenarii (who would have thought we should live to be such!) time to lose? Let you and I, and our house, serve the Lord in good earnest. May his peace rest on you and yours!” This focus on each other was unique in John’s family letters because they saw each other as important in their movement. They were working with each other instead of arguing with each other. There are letters in which they do argue but for most of the letters that I have read, they have been rather cordial with one another.

Now there were definitely times in which John would complain about the movement as well as people in the movement. He would share with Charles about certain people in the movement that needed to be dealt with. One such case was the case involving a man named William Pine. John writes to his brother “I must not delay in answering your important questions,-‘What can be done with William Pine?’ If he still, after my earnest warning, ‘every week publishes barefaced treason,’ I beg you would once more warn him in my name and in your own; and if he slights or forgets this warning, then give him his choice, either to leave us quietly, or to be publicly disowned. At such a time as this, when our foreign enemies are hovering over us, and our own nation is all in a ferment, it is particularly improper to say one word which tends to inflame the minds of the people.” John would pass messages like this that dealt with the Methodist movement through his brother. His brother was almost used as an extension of himself.

I plan on using these letters, like the other letters to his family, in order to create dialogue between the brothers. These letters offer some very important information on how John communicates with his brother. He has many valuable conversations with his brother Charles and should be shared on the stage. I am excited to share these with all who see the show.

To Mother

For today’s letter I felt that I should write a letter from John Wesley addressed to his mother while he is at school. This is from a time in his life that I feel that John would be down in the dumps as you could say. There were moments of weakness in his school years, so here is my attempt at a letter during that time in his life.

Dearest Mother,

I apologize for my letter being later than I have promised in my previous letters, one of my friends has fallen ill with fever with which I have also have acquired myself. Pray for not only my health but the health of my fellow students. My studies go well but I am tormented by the different theologies and discussions I have with some of my superiors and professors. My faith has become shaken to the point I do not know if I can carry on. Samuel says that this is not unusual but I look to my classmates and their faith seems to grow every day. Pray for my soul as it is tempted by the society I live in at the school. I pray every day for the family back at home. Please to continue to write me about “Old Jeffrey” because I am interested in him highly.

Your grateful son,

John

Family or Academics

I have finally reached the homestretch of my research portion of the independent study. As the final two weeks of my summer intensive come to a close, I would like to share with you the information that this blog will continue. It will change, however, in content and may not have a blog post every weekday. The content will always be about John Wesley, but it may be more focused on the show in general and the process that it will be undertaking in the fall. Anyway, you followers are expecting to read something new, well here is what I learned today.

For today’s blog I have been reading many different letters written by John Wesley. More importantly, in today’s reading the focus was on John Wesley’s family. John wrote to his father, mother, and eldest brother Samuel. In these letters he is rather professional as if he is talking to a colleague instead of a family member. John gets into very educated discussions that often get heated in the way that one would with a rival scholar. It is as if John Wesley used his family to hone his argumentative skills that he uses later in life. He gets into arguments about different theologies depending on which parent he is talking to. The conversations with his older brother are interesting because they both went to the same university, but what I find interesting is how he feels about his education.

In one of his conversations with his mother he comments on his education and his ability to use it in the future. John Wesley writes “One advantage, at least, my degree has given me: I am now at liberty, and shall be in a great measure for some time, to choose my own employment. And as I believe I know my own deficiencies best, and which of them are most necessary to be supplied, I hope my time will turn to somewhat better account than when it was not so much in my own disposal.” John saw his education as a gateway to a better life, but as he got older he saw that his education was to be the piece of his life that gave him a bit of power in changing the thoughts of society. He was not always liked, as my previous blog posts suggested, but understood that his education allowed him to be in powerful positions.

I am not sure if the letters will be good for the show, mostly because I don’t think people want to watch someone write a letter to someone. I do feel that they will help in the writing process of the show. By reading his letter conversations between John and his family, I will be able to write a more true dialogue between family members. I now know that as John got older, he began to see family as colleagues and not family members. I am interested to see how the dynamic is portrayed on stage, but I guess that will all depend on the lines I write for the show. Stay tuned to see what happens with the show.

John Writes On Clothing Today

As I stated in the other blog today, John had a high standard for the Methodists and that even came to the clothing that they wore. So for today’s John Wesley voice blog, I have decided to write a piece that is intended for the modern Christian. This is what I feel John Wesley would voice as his opinion on the dress of today.

To My Christian Friends,

It has come to my attention that you may have not been given the opportunity to read my statement on appropriate dress for Christians. I have stated many times that the dress of both ladies and gentleman should be simple, clean, and appropriate to their station in life. As I have observed your churches and societies, I am astounded to find that this is far from the case. Articles of clothing are being used to grab the attention of the opposite sex when the attention should be focused on the words of God. You spend valuable time shopping for clothes that only make you more uncomfortable, when you should be focusing your spare time and energy on your inner souls other than your outward appearance. I will pray for God to guide you next time you purchase goods in which you will wear not only in public but in the church. Remember to put the focus not on goods of this world but on the Lord who is good not only in this world but in the next.

Your Humble Servant,

John Wesley.

I hope you have enjoyed this letter; it was a fun one to write. I cannot wait to begin writing the show, which is slowly beginning with storyboarding. Stay tuned followers; the journey is beginning to get more interesting.

What You Should Wear

In previous blog posts I have made comments on the setting, the characters, bits and pieces of plot, and overall life in the 18th century. For this post today, I would like to write about the costumes. Not necessarily the costumes of the entire cast, but rather what John Wesley would put everyone in the cast in. John Wesley writes a document entitled “Advice to the People Called Methodists, with regard to dress.” In this document John lays out how he feels people should dress in the Methodist society and in the great Christian society. For the purposes of this blog I will focus on only a few quotes from the document that I found rather interesting.

The first is where John Wesley gets his idea of how Methodists should dress. He writes “Many years ago I observed several parts of Christian practice among the people called Quakers. Two things I particularly remarked among them, – plainness of speech, and plainness of dress. I willingly adopted both, with some restrictions, and particularly plainness of dress; the same I recommended to you, when God first called you out of the world; and after the addition of more than twenty years’ experience, I recommend it to you still.” John may have not agreed with the theology of the Quakers but admired their plainness in dress. He even goes on to write that the Methodists should imitate them in two ways; “First, in the neatness of their apparel…be as clean as your station in life will allow…Secondly, in the plainness of their apparel. In this are implied two things: (1.) That your apparel be cheap, not expensive… (2.) That it be grave, not gay, airy, or showy; not in the point of the fashion.” This is all well and good, but what I found most interesting was the detail John Wesley went into to describe what each gender should wear.

When it comes to the clothing of each gender, John Wesley writes “Wear no gold, no pearls, or precious stones; use no curling of hair, or costly apparel, how grave soever. I advise those who are able to receive this saying, Buy no velvets, no silks, no fine linen, no superfluities, no mere ornaments, though ever so much in fashion. Wear nothing, though you have it already, which is of glaring colour, or which is in any kind gay, glistering, or showy; nothing made in the very height of the fashion, nothing apt to attract the eyes of the by-standers. I do not advise women to wear rings, ear-rings, necklaces, lace, or ruffles, which, by little and little, may easily shoot out from one to twelve inches deep. Neither do I advise men to wear coloured waistcoats, shining stockings, glittering or costly buckles or buttons, either on their coats, or in their sleeves, any more than gay, fashionable, or expensive perukes.” Now fashion of the time was elaborate for the upper class, and would be rather exciting to construct for the costumes of the show, but instead John would rather prefer the simple dress and muted colors. John asked all of his Methodist followers to live life as he did, which would require them to dress simply and be who they were. As I have stated in another blog and conversations with others, John Wesley refused to wear a wig, and because of that he grew his hair out. John was an odd person when it came to the common pieces of society; he always went against the grain as you can say.

I think this is interesting to take into the modern society. I can only imagine what John Wesley would say the Christians and Methodists in today’s modern society. There are short shorts, skirts that are very revealing, people with underwear showing, and so much more. I am not saying that there should be a major change. I am one of those that do not like wearing a suit to church, but John Wesley would have a field day with the congregations of Methodists today. Maybe a bit of John Wesley with this show will rub off on the audience and change their thoughts on modern fashion. Who is to say what will happen? Only time will tell.

Some Small Statements

For today’s John Wesley writing, I have chosen to go on a similar statements that I mentioned in my previous post. As you will see there are two different statements to two different types of people. I did this because I was unable to write a second post yesterday so I am making up for it today. I hope you enjoy these statements, and might get a laugh out of the people that John Wesley is writing to.

A WORD TO A SEMINARIAN

Dost thou believe there is a God? Hast thou no knowledge of God in this world or the next? Does not God fill heaven and earth? These questions should be no problem for one of knowledge in our Heavenly Father or his grace fulfilled in our savior Jesus Christ. Must you understand, however, that power lies not in your word but in the word of our Lord. One may become overzealous and believe that their knowledge gives them power to judge others. This is not the case; the only judge is our Lord in heaven. Use your blessing of knowledge to not judge but to educate those who have not known the love of God and Christ. Teach faith and love, not works and judgment.

A WORD TO A RICH MAN

Are you no different than your brothers and sisters whom beg in the streets? Have you not begged to a mother or father? Remember as you walk past those around you, that their father in heaven has blessed them with life just as your father is theirs and has blessed you with life as well. You have been blessed with more than enough funds that you should share these with your brothers and sisters lest fortunate than you. Do not judge them for their shortcomings but let the Lord Judge. Be loving to them as they are to you, and share your wealth with them in any way that you can. Be gracious in your blessings, but also be gracious in your giving to your fellow man.

A Word To…

Today has been full of excitement and some interesting reading that I will like to include in some way. I understand that I say that more often than not, and this will cause problems when it comes to deciding which pieces to finally use. This reading, however, had John Wesley making very strong statements to different types of people. These people range from those who are on death row to the unhappy women in the society. For the purpose of the blog I want to focus on John’s interaction with the person who is sentenced to die.

The statement starts out, as John starts all of his statements, with many sentences full of exclamation points and question marks. John writes “What a condition are you in! The sentence is passed; you are condemned to die; and this sentence is to be executed shortly! You have no way to escape; these fetters, these walls, these gates and bars, these keepers, cut off all hope: Therefore, die you must. But must you die like a beast, without thinking what it is to die? You need not; you will not; you will think a little first; you will consider, ‘What is death?’ It is leaving this world, these houses, lands, and all things under the sun; leaving all these things, never to return; your place will know you no more. It is leaving these pleasures; for there is no eating, drinking, gaming, no merriment in the grave. It is leaving your acquaintance, companions, friends; your father, mother, wife, children. You cannot stay with them, nor can they go with you; you must part; perhaps for ever. It is leaving a part of yourself; leaving this body which has accompanied you so long. Your soul must now drop its old companion, to rot and moulder into dust. It must enter upon a new, strange, unbodied state. It must stand naked before God!” This is just the opening paragraph of his statement to a condemned man. He continues the statement to inform the man about the judgment that he is facing after he dies. He also offers hope to the man, or men, in a faith in Jesus.

This statement starts out rather harsh, as do most of John Wesley’s statements do, but John Wesley does truly care about this man, and all those whom he visited in prison. I really like this for the show because there were many cases in his personal journal where he comments on his travels to different prisons. He does not go into detail in his journal, but this statement gives some information on his thought process when dealing with people with this background and history. With this piece of information, I can take some artistic liberty and design an interaction between John and a man in prison similar to this statement. It would show John stepping outside the other preachers by going into prisons. But it also shows that John saw them still as criminals, however, he believed everyone should be loved and thus he showed this in his work with not only criminals but everyone around him.