About Ethan Bartlett

Books Besides the Bible: Writers in the Church

Every Monday in Books Besides the Bible, Ethan Bartlett considers the value and pleasure of reading for Christians.A couple weeks ago the New York Times Book Review published an essay by Roger Rosenblatt entitled "The Writer in the Family." I loved it, in all its self-effacing candor. Rosenblatt begins: So there I stood at the front of my granddaughter Jessica’s fourth-grade classroom, still as a glazed dog, while Jessie introduced me to her classmates, to whom I was about to speak. “This is my … [Read more...]

Books Besides the Bible: Christ and the Gothic

Every Monday in Books Besides the Bible, Ethan Bartlett considers the value and pleasure of reading for Christians.Like all good criticism, Elizabeth Lowry's recent review of Victoria Nelson's Gothica is worth reading on its own merits. The book, in brief, looks at the revival of Gothic horror tropes (e.g., vampires, werewolves, zombies) and theorizes that they signal a new religion on the horizon. The argument is that the new wave of Gothic revivalism involves union with things that were once … [Read more...]

Books Besides the Bible: Is Science Fiction un-Christian?

Every Monday in Books Besides the Bible, Ethan Bartlett considers the value and pleasure of reading for Christians.While I don't know how widespread this perception is, I've had several people -- all of them pastors or lay Bible teachers -- immediately ask me something like, “Isn't the worldview of science fiction inherently anti- or at least un-Christian, since it views science as the ultimate savior of mankind?” after discovering that I'm a fan of the genre. The first few times this happ … [Read more...]

Books Besides the Bible: Grace, Love and Literary Masterpieces

Every Monday in Books Besides the Bible, Ethan Bartlett considers the value and pleasure of reading for Christians.Lately I've been doing a lot of re-reading. This started sort of by accident, when I decided to re-read all ten volumes of the Sandman sequence of graphic novels. I did that purposely enough, but what I hadn't counted on was that Sandman is, for me, the sort of story that, upon finishing, basically renders all other stories lacking. I don't want to read any other fiction … [Read more...]

Books Besides the Bible: The Case for Franny and Zooey

Every Monday in Books Besides the Bible, Ethan Bartlett considers the value and pleasure of reading for Christians.When J.D. Salinger died a couple years ago, it made the news for approximately an hour. These days, when I poll a roomful of high-school-educated people, often no one recognizes his name; however, when I mention the title The Catcher in the Rye, there is usually everything from groans to grins of recognition.This is probably because Catcher is one of those books, the ones … [Read more...]

Books Besides the Bible: NOT Finding God in Literature

Every Monday in Books Besides the Bible, Ethan Bartlett considers the value and pleasure of reading for Christians.This may seem somewhat hypocritical considering my Hunger Games column of a few weeks ago, but today I’m going to talk partly about how not to find God in works of literature.It seems as though every time a novel is made into a popular movie, thereby popularizing or re-popularizing the novel, we inevitably see a book with a title like Finding God in [Fill-in-the-blank]. This is n … [Read more...]

Books Besides the Bible: Mornings in Jenin and the Trouble with Meta-Narratives

Every Monday in Books Besides the Bible, Ethan Bartlett considers the value and pleasure of reading for Christians. In a bid to scare almost everyone off of my column forever, this week I’m going to talk about meta-narratives.A meta-narrative is a somewhat discredited, but still sometimes useful, concept in literature. It refers to a sort of over-story, a framework story into which a lot of smaller narratives fit. The term “manifest destiny” (the 19th-century idea that the United States was d … [Read more...]

Books Besides the Bible: Was Battle Royale the Original Hunger Games?

Recently I have been in a few different bookstores with display signs proclaiming, “If you loved The Hunger Games, try this!” Beneath which are stacks of Koushun Takami's novel Battle Royale.A Japanese novel first translated into English about ten years ago, then retranslated in 2009, Battle Royale is something of a cult novel. I don't know if it will use The Hunger Games to piggyback into the mainstream, but it's already well-known enough that there are plenty of blog and forum posts claiming … [Read more...]

Books Besides the Bible: The Image of Christ in The Hunger Games

Every Monday in Books Besides the Bible, Ethan Bartlett considers the value and pleasure of reading for Christians. Warning: Spoilers of all three books ahead.To state the obvious, Katniss is not Christ, and The Hunger Games are not a Christian allegory in the manner of a series like Narnia. However, as I read The Hunger Games trilogy, I found it increasingly hard to ignore the number of Christ-symbols that appear throughout. I could do several thousand words on this, but for the sake of b … [Read more...]

Books Besides the Bible: The Fault in Our Stars

In Books Besides the Bible, Ethan Bartlett considers the value and pleasure of reading for Christians. “Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.” So begins Printz award-winning author John Green’s latest novel, The Fault in Our Stars.The novel is narrated … [Read more...]


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