What is Christian Fiction? And What Should it Be?

Appreciate the discussion going on here. Christian fiction has many roles just as there are many gifts in the church.

Discerning Lilies

My last post (CF Books: Heading toward extinction? Or adapting to a new market?) received a fair amount of attention, and a good number of thoughtful comments both on this blog and on various Facebook pages.  So I want to extend the conversation a little further.  There are a few ideas that ran as common themes in the comment section, and today I want to pick one of them to tease out a little further.

The Goal of Christian Fiction

A few years ago, Library Journal posted an article by Melanie C. Duncan that spotlighted Christian fiction.  Duncan counters traditional opinion that CF readers are solely white, middle-aged, and women.  She also counters the stereotype that CF novels are safe, gentle, and simplistic.

These are the same arguments many have brought up in their comments in the last couple of days.  And I find it interesting that the…

View original post 888 more words

Advertisements

A Rare C.S. Lewis Book

Mere Inkling

readers

Just because you read a book doesn’t mean you need to purchase it for your library. Yet some of us do feel compelled to add almost every volume we enjoy to our personal collections. The dilemma arises when the cost of a particular book may exceed its “long-term” value to us.

Faced with this question a few weeks ago, I pursued a course open to many readers of Mere Inkling. I simply borrowed the book from my local library, which in turn borrowed it via interlibrary loan from a university in a neighboring state. Most libraries offer this service without charge. I regularly use it when researching obscure subjects I don’t anticipate I will continue to follow.

The subject of the particular text I am currently reading, of course, C.S. Lewis. While I believe I own a copy of every work ever written by Lewis that has been published, I doubt any human being could gather together…

View original post 798 more words

INSPY Shortlist 2016

The INSPY Shortlist for 2016 has been announced, and though some of these books are already on my TBR list, I can see I will need to add several more.

The INSPY awards were created by bloggers for the best literature “that grapples with expressions of the Christian faith”. The categories include: historical romance, debut fiction, speculative fiction, and literature for young adults.

20160505_105741I already have two books in the historical romance category that I am looking forward to reading. One by Jody Hedlund is Luther and Katharina, a story of a monk and a nun who fall in love in the 16th century. You’ve probably heard of the monk, Martin Luther. I’ve read a couple of Jody Hedlund’s books in her Beacons of Hope series and know that she is a skilled and entertaining writer.

The other I’m looking forward to reading is Lori Benton’s The Wood’s Edge.  I read her book, Burning Sky, last year and can highly recommend it. Several people in a group I belong to in Goodreads have already read The Wood’s Edge and can only rave about it.

20160505_105808

One more author I’ll recommend writes speculative fiction, (what I would call fantasy) Patrick Carr. I read A Cast of Stones and am ready to read the second in that series. His book that has been nominated for an INSPY is Shock of Night, the start of a new series.

To see the full list of nominations, go to: http://inspys.com/?page_id=2645 and have fun reading!

Celebrating Shakespeare

It was four years ago on a rainy Sunday afternoon that my husband and I were able to visit Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-Upon-Avon. Being able to visit England at all was a dream come true. Going into the church where Shakespeare was baptized as a baby and was also buried in was an amazing experience for me.P1000119

I should have had my husband stand next to this sign so you could see how low the door here actually is. I suppose this sign pointing to Shakespeare’s grave is taken down while they are having services, but it seemed rather makeshift for a grave that has been here for almost 400 years.

P1000107

Just entering these old churches gave me a sense of awe, thinking of the history of the places. Building a place to worship God so many years ago–did any of those builders and craftsmen think this place would be here so many years later? How many sermons have been preached here and how many songs of worship have been sung?

P1000112

I suppose the people that live here and worship at this church are accustomed to having Will’s grave right there, front and center. I can’t help but wonder, however, what Shakespeare himself would think about it. I’m sure he would have something clever to say. Something like: “And so from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe, and then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot; and thereby hangs a tale.” Oh, right, he wrote that in that fairly well-known play, As You Like It.

P1000114

Why do we continue to celebrate the life of someone who died 400 years ago? Because his works are still alive. There are few writers whose works continue to impress with their skill at telling a story and their ability to use words as a master craftsman.

A tour of one of Shakespeare’s first folio is making its way across the United States. Read more about that here: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/shakespeares-first-folio-goes-tour-us-180957736/?no-ist

Read all of his works and looking for more? Check out these young adult titles which feature a story line taken from Shakespeare:

Still Star-Crossed Melinda Taub (Romeo & Juliet)

They Were Liars E. Lockhart (King Lear)

Loving Will Shakespeare Carolyn Meyer (fictionalized account of Shakespeare meeting future wife, Anne Hathaway)

The Fool’s Girl Celia Rees (Twelfth Night)

Enter Three Witches Caroline B. Cooney (Macbeth)

Read about these and more at: http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/2016/03/25/booklist-shakespeare-inspired-ya-fiction/

I’m listening to the audio version of They Were Liars right now. What about you? Going to read any Shakespeare this weekend to celebrate the past 400 years of literary genius?

April is National Poetry Month

spring poetry wordle

April is National Poetry Month, so it’s a good time to, not only read some poetry, but to discover some new poets and explore different types of poetry. I have to admit, that my reading has not included reading poetry as much as it should, though when I think about it, I have enjoyed poetry through the years. My earliest memories include the love of Green Eggs and Ham and Fox in Socks. What better introduction to poetry than Dr. Seuss?  Though it was required reading for me in college (usually a death knell to the enjoyment of reading), I greatly enjoyed reading Paradise Lost as well as The Odyssey.  As a writer, reading poetry helps me to see words in a different way; a more musical way. Ray Bradbury read poems before beginning a day’s work. In Zen in the Art of Writing, he said, “Poetry is good because it flexes muscles you don’t use often enough. Poetry expands the senses and keeps them in prime condition.”

I am now reading through a collection of poems edited by my favorite poet, Luci Shaw. The collection,  A Widening Light: Poems of the Incarnation, includes poems from several poets, including Luci Shaw herself. Using poetry to help us worship God is nothing new. We all know the Psalms as works of poetry, as well as the books of Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Lamentations.

poetry

Perhaps no one explains better why we should read poetry than the teacher, John Keating, played by Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society.

In anticipation of hearing Shelby Stephenson, Poet Laureate of North Carolina, speak next week, I am going to pick up his book, Fiddledeedee, from the library.

Any favorite poets or poems you’ll be reading this month?

 

 

Feasting on Poetry: Lessons Learned on Reading, from C.S. Lewis’s The Last Battle

Christ & University

71299-_1Today, readers, we are very pleased to bring you a special guest post by Megan Von Bergen. Professor Von Bergen brings up some very interesting issues about teaching students how to read poetically. Take and read!

*

I teach writing and literature at a small Bible college in the Midwest. Because my students all profess a faith in Christ, I usually select course readings based on what I feel will encourage and challenge them in that faith.

Every spring, I ask my students in Introduction to Literature to read C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce. Every spring, my students ask me whether they should take Lewis’s depiction of Heaven and Hell at face value. I want them to know what Lewis says about how we approach God in this life. All they want to know are the specifics of his eschatology.

View original post 1,234 more words

Surprised by Oxford

2013-10-02 16.21.26“So faced with a thousand-year old institution, I learned to pick my battles. Rather than resist, for instance, the archaic book-ordering system in the Bodleian Library with technological mortification, I discovered the treasure in embracing its seeming quirkiness. Often, when the wrong book came up from the annals after my order, I found it to be right in some way after Oxford often works such.

After one particulary serendipitous day of research, I asked Robert, the usual morning porter on duty at the Bodleian Library, about the lack of any kind of sophisticated security system, especially in one of the world’s most famous libraries. The Bodleian was not a loaning library, though you were allowed to work freely amid priceless artifacts. Individual college libraries entrusted you to simply sign a book out and then return it when you were done.

‘It’s funny; Americans ask me about that all the time,’ Roberty said as he stirred his tea. ‘But then again, they’re not used to having in honour,’ he said with a shrug.”

Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber

Oxford 016

Top 10 Historical Fiction for Youth, by Ilene Cooper | Booklist Online

Top 10 Historical Fiction for Youth, by Ilene Cooper | Booklist Online.

Historical fiction is a favorite genre at our house. Here are some new ones for young adults; and for those of you are young at heart.

jump into the skyThe link above will give you a short synopsis of each book. There are books from many different time periods, including: Victorian England, WWII, N.C. shortly after WWII, New York City in the 1920’s, and British occupied NY City in 1776.

I haven’t read any of these yet, but will be looking for them. Let me know if you find a new favorite!
keeping the castleDodgersophia's war

The Sweetest Thing by Elizabeth Musser

thesweetestthingThe Sweetest Thing is the story of two girls who attend an exclusive all girls school in Atlanta during the Great Depression. Perri has led a charmed life until her father loses his fortune & takes his life. Perri feels the responsibility of helping her family; not only to overcome their grief, but also to help them keep their social status.

Dobbs moves down from Chicago to live with her aunt and to attend the school her parents could never afford on their own. Her family is one of faith, and she is eager to share with the girls in her new school about the miracles of God and how He can be trusted to help them through everything.

Despite the skepticism from their other classmates who really don’t feel that Dobbs can fit in with their social group, and even their own differences, the two girls feel an immediate bond and become friends. But, friendship, as much as any other part of life, is not easy. Secrets, jealousy, and betrayal have to be overcome if their friendship is to endure.

Elizabeth Musser is a missionary in France who has written several novels, one of which I reviewed back in July. From her website: “When we moved my dear grandmother, Allene Massey Goldsmith, Washington Seminary, ’32, from her apartment to a full-care floor at Canterbury Court, my parents found Grandmom’s diaries from 1928-1932. I was, of course, eager to take a look. The diaries sealed the fate of my next novel: I’d write about 1930’s Atlanta and specifically the life of two girls attending Washington Seminary.” www.elizabethmusser.com

I enjoyed reading The Sweetest Thing. Reading about  the lives of Perri and Dobbs and their friendship and what life was like in Atlanta during the 1930’s was enjoyable on its own, but knowing Musser was also writing of her grandmother made the book all the more special and, yes, sweeter.