This passage from Clyde Kilby’s essay on “The Aesthetic Poverty of Evangelicalism” is as damning an indictment of modern Christian “art” as you’re likely to read. I love it.
There is a simplicity which diminishes and a simplicity which enlarges, and evangelicals have too often chosen the wrong one. The first is that of the cliche – simplicity with mind and heart removed. The other is that of art. The first falsifies by its exclusions; the second encompasses. The first silently denies the multiplicity and grandeur of creation, salvation, and indeed all things. The second symbolizes and celebrates them. The first tries to take the danger out of Christianity and with the danger often removes the actuality. The second suggests the creative and sovereign God of the universe with whom there are no impossibilities. The contrast suggests that not to imagine is what is sinful. The symbol, the figure, the image, the parable – in short, the artistic method – so pungent in the Lord’s teaching and acting, are often noteworthy for their absence in ours. Is this not a case of humanism far more reprehensible than the sort of humanism we often decry?
Our excuse for our esthetic failure has often been that we must be about the Lord’s business, the assumption being that the Lord’s business is never esthetic.
“Some writers have discovered, and I think more will discover, that Christianity offers them the best pair of eyes. This is not the main reason for being a Christian – one should not worship Christ merely in order to write Hamlet – but the discovery remains valid. To change the metaphor, the Christian lives in the roomiest house available. Writers who become Christians discover that they have only their negations to lose.”
– Chad Walsh, “The Advantages of the Christian Faith for a Writer”
The Christian Imagination edited by Leland Ryken
Featuring reflections by a host of great writers, including Tolkien, Lewis, Dillard, and Schaeffer. Pardon my slang, but I am totally stoked to be reading this. I’ve had it on my TBR list ever since Mrs. Pliego brought it to my attention during my visit to Mexico last year. I have a feeling my commonplace blog is about to get swamped.
The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination by Loraine Boettner
I’m forty-five pages in, and here’s what you should know: Boettner rocks. And yes, I’m taking notes like crazy. Here’s a favorite excerpt (just one of many): “God is no mere spectator of the universe He has made, but is everywhere present and active, the all-sustaining ground, and all-governing power of all that is.”
The Universe Next Door by James Sire
“A basic worldview catalog.” About halfway through, and thoroughly enjoying myself. Sire is a terrific writer and thinker; his chapter on nihilism – and specifically how it is the logical offspring of naturalism – contains some of the best writing I’ve ever read on the subject. Brilliantly done.
John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology edited by Burk Parsons
“Calvin’s name evokes powerful images, most of them negative. In the minds of many, he is perceived as an ivory-tower theologian who was harsh and unreasonable, the driving force behind a dangerous theological system. In this volume, Burk Parsons and eighteen other leading Reformed pastors and scholars authoritatively reveal the truth about Calvin and his teaching that he was humble, caring, pious, Scripture-saturated, and, above all, passionate about upholding the glory of God.” Heartily recommended.
Manalive by G.K. Chesterton
I’m on something of a Chesterton kick right now, having just discovered that many of his works are available for free on the Kindle. I just finished The Napoleon of Notting Hill (mind-numbingly brilliant), and once I finish Manalive, I’ll move on to What’s Wrong With the World? and Eugenics & Other Evils. Nothing like a little GKC to liven up your bookshelf.
What’s on your bookshelf right now?