How George Herbert’s poetry converted an atheist

I throw out opinions on all kinds of topics, but my real area of expertise is 17th Century English literature.  To drill down to an even more specific field, as we English professors have to do, I have a specialty in George Herbert, the great Christian poet.  He was the subject of my dissertation and my first book, which has recently come back into print: Reformation Spirituality: The Religion of George Herbert

Now British journalist Miranda Threlfall-Holmes tells how the poetry of George Herbert played a factor in her conversion to Christianity from atheism.  (He had a similar impact on the French philosopher Simone Weil.)

What does this tell us about apologetics and evangelism? [Read more...]

Discovering the novel “The Hammer of God”

Tullian Tchividjian tells about discovering–along with some other evangelicals–the great Lutheran novel The Hammer of God. [Read more...]

Stay-at-Home entertainment vs. live theater

What with Netflix, on-demand TV, Hulu on the iPad, and videos on the smart phone, more and more people are staying at home for their entertainment, cocooning unto themselves.  Even going to the movies is too communal and too much trouble for a lot of us, who prefer to wait until we can watch a new film when it comes out on Netflix, rather than getting out of the house.  But this tendency is wreaking worse havoc on live theater.

Thanks to Bruce Gee for putting me onto this column from Terry Teachout, drama critic at the Wall Street Journal. [Read more...]

Reading a novel is good for your brain

The kind of research that we literature professors appreciate:

Being pulled into the world of a gripping novel can trigger actual, measurable changes in the brain that linger for at least five days after reading, scientists have said. [Read more...]

The best books of 2013?

What were the best books of 2013?  Or, to propose a second category, what were the best books you read during the last year (whether or not they were published in 2013)?  These can be in any genre or field.

“God was man in Palestine. . .”

I didn’t even realize that the late John Betjeman, England’s long-time poet laureate, was a Christian, but he was, as I’m learning.  His poem “Christmas” is stunning, a warm survey of all of the decoration and shopping and nostalgia surrounding the season, building up to this:

No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare -
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.

Read the whole poem and listen to it in a recording after the jump. [Read more...]


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