The woman who anointed the feet of Jesus

Thanks to Frank Sonnek for introducing me to this sonnet about the sinful woman in Luke 7:36-50.  It’s by the son of the great Romantic poet Samuel T. Coleridge!  (Just as the great hymnwriter Christopher Wordsworth was the nephew of the Romantic poet William Wordsworth.  Both Romantic poets, who together penned the revolutionary Lyrical Ballads, would become conservative Christians.)   The title of this poem is Latin for “she loved much,” since, as Jesus said, “he is forgiven little, loves little,” and vice versa.  This makes a fine meditation for Holy Week.  (If you know of others, give a link in the comments.)

“Multum Dilexit”
Hartley Coleridge (1796–1849)
SHE sat and wept beside His feet; the weight
Of sin oppress’d her heart; for all the blame,
And the poor malice of the worldly shame,
To her was past, extinct, and out of date:
Only the sin remain’d,—the leprous state; 5
She would be melted by the heat of love,
By fires far fiercer than are blown to prove
And purge the silver are adulterate.
She sat and wept, and with her untress’d hair
Still wip’d the feet she was so bless’d to touch; 10
And He wip’d off the soiling of despair
From her sweet soul, because she lov’d so much.
I am a sinner, full of doubts and fears:
Make me a humble thing of love and tears.

Lars Walker on Christian Fantasy

Friends, you simply must read the essay that friend-of-this-blog Lars Walker has written on Christian fantasy for The Intercollegiate Review (edited by another friend-of-this-blog Anthony Sacramone).  It’s beyond excellent in its account of what fantasy is, what it does, and what’s involved in writing a good one.  It defies summary, so I’ll just give you the beginning after the jump and encourage you to click over to the Intercollegiate Review site to read the rest of it.  (I would just add to his list of good Christian fantasy authors the name of Lars Walker.) [Read more…]

Alister McGrath’s new biography of C. S. Lewis

The British theologian and apologist Alister McGrath has written a new biography of C. S. Lewis entitled C. S. Lewis – A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant ProphetThe Washington Post has given it a rave review written by Michael Dirda, a critic I’ve appreciated for a long time.  I’m surprised but glad to see he is a C. S. Lewis fan.

Dirda praises Lewis’s scholarly writings on literary history–generally neglected by his fans but still highly respected in the academic world–and then summarizes McGrath’s take on Lewis. [Read more…]

Father Brown mysteries on BBC

G. K. Chesterton’s Father Brown mysteries, about a mild-mannered priest who solves crimes because he understands man’s sinful nature, is being televised on BBC.  It’s been so popular that it has been renewed for a second season.  Unfortunately, the series isn’t being shown here, not even on BBC America, and it isn’t available on Netflix.  Someday, we can hope, since BBC typically does a terrific job with material like that.  (Have you seen the BBC adaption of the Kurt Wallander mysteries by Henning Mankell, starring Kenneth Branagh?)  If anyone has seen the Father Brown stories, let us know how they are.  I know we have readers from across the pond.  (Details about the series after the jump.) [Read more…]

Writing contest for “Testimonies”

David Aikman, former journalist with Time Magazine and a friend and colleague of mine, has organized a writing contest designed to revitalize the genre of the “Testimony.”  That’s not just a conversion narrative, though it can be, but it can also refer to any true story of faith in a person’s life.  (For example, think of the tradition that ranges from St. Augustine’s Confessions and Bunyan’s Grace Abounding to the more recent The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson, God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew, and The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom.)  The contest is for writers 35 and under, and it features a grand prize of $20,000!  And the contest doesn’t require an entire manuscript, just a proposal of 1,000-1,500 words!

We Lutherans tend to be leery of focusing on our lives, since we need to be focusing instead outside ourselves, on the Cross of Jesus Christ.  But there is a Lutheran way to write in this genre.  Notice too that you don’t need to write about yourself.  You can also write about someone else whom you’ve interviewed, researched, and whose story you are telling.  (For example, refugees from Ethiopia who have fled Muslim persecution; a survivor of the Soviet Gulag; an ordinary member of your congregation who has undergone great hardship with great faith).  Here is the website.  [More details after the jump.]

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My book on literature gets re-released

My book  Reading Between the Lines:  A Christian Guide to Literature has been re-issued in an updated format.  The publishers, Crossway Books, asked me to write about the book for their blog, which I did. [Read more…]