The following are reflections
on how a Christian worldview might be applied to the subject of literature. They
argue for such an understanding on at least three broad levels:
- readings like
"Testimony," "Wickedness," "Tragedy" and
"Distinctions" ask how might one appraise the content of literature;
- readings like "Creation,"
"Mystery" and "Craft" suggest that literature, any literature,
has intrinsic value in and of itself;
- readings like "Clarity,"
"Hermeneutics," and "Reading" suggest that Christian faith has
something to teach us about the authentic practice of reading.
The first category proposes that
Christians have distinctive evaluations to make of texts' truth, beauty, and goodness. The
second category argues that some of the qualities of literature are either representative
or analogous to some of the qualities of Christian life and faith in general. The third
reflects on a particular character and disposition for reading.
Thus, while an idea like
"Wickedness" examines, for example, the plot of Homer's Odyssey, an idea
like "Mystery" is not so interested in finding mystery in an epic poem, as it is
realizing that accepting the ambiguity of mystery is equally a part of reading literature
and of following God. And an idea like "Reading" focuses on how certain
kinds of attentive, focused reading are necessary when engaging the truths that Homer
might offer us. Admittedly, there is some overlap within these approaches, but
together they offer a wider vantage point than simply concentrating on content, form, or
Each selection also contains a
central insight and brief suggestions for application. These are intended for
students who will apply this material as part of one of my courses.