Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Eat This Book

I've been reading Eugene Peterson's Eat This Book (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2006) which is required for incoming Duke divinity school students. It reminds me of a kettle on a stove: it takes awhile to reach a whistling boil, but once it does, it has your attention. I'm finally at the whistling boil part (at least for me): Chapter 4, "Scripture as Form"--which is essentially about scripture as story, "an immense, sprawling, capacious narrative" (page 40).

There are some real gems in this section, including his assertion that "the way the Bible is written is every bit as important as what is wrriten" (p. 48), which is to elaborate on the nature of literature in general: "we cannot change or discard the form without changing and distorting the content" (p 47). This is a huge theme for me in The God-Hungry Imagination, so I'm happy to find myself in good company. He also quotes theologians like Hans Urs von Balthasar and Northrop Fyre, whom I haven't read (but on my list), and Walter Brueggemann, whom I have. Great stuff so far. We'll see where the rest of the book leads.

Meanwhile, Peterson was interviewed in the May/June issue of RELEVANT magazine. Some great God-hungry quotes:

"A good artist doesn't tell you what's there. He shows you all the stuff you've missed all your life." (RELEVANT, page 77)

"Writers are some of our primary witnesses to mystery. They talk about writing the way we talk about prayer--that there's an attentiveness about it. A mystery. Writers never know what they're writing." (77)

"Wallace Stegner says that we live by forms and patterns, and if the patterns are wrong, we live badly. Good stories--good fiction, in particular--provide us with good patterns." (77)


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Watchful Dragons

Top five books that influenced The God-Hungry Imagination:

The Godbearing Life: The Art of Soul Tending for Youth Ministry, by Kenda Creasy Dean and Ron Foster (Upper Room Books, 1998)

On Stories: And Other Essays on Literature, by C. S. Lewis

The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age, by George Lindbeck (Westminster John Knox Press, 1984)

Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers, by Christian Smith with Melinda Lundquist Denton (Oxford University Press, 2005)

Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose, a collection of essays by American short story writer Flannery O'Connor

(To see how all these books could possibly be connected, read my book, or check future postings here!)

Quote of the Post:

"Why did one find it so hard to feel as one was told one ought to feel about God or about the sufferings of Christ?...But supposing that by casting all these things into an imaginary world, stripping them of their stained-glass and Sunday school associations, one could make them for the first time appear in their real potency? Could one not thus steal past those watchful dragons?"

-- From C. S. Lewis's essay "Sometimes Fairy Stories May Say Best What's to Be Said" (From On Stories: And Other Essays on Literature. San Diego: New York: London: A Harvest Book, Harcourt, Inc., 1982, 1966. Page 47)