New literary biography of George Herbert

There is a new literary biography of the 17th century Christian poet George Herbert.  It’s entitled Music at Midnight: The Life and Poetry of George Herbert, by John Drury.  The book pays close attention to Herbert’s Christian faith and to close readings of his poetry.  That Herbert’s stock is going up is evident in the enthusiastic reviews the book is getting.  After the jump, a link to one in the Washington Post and excerpts from others.  (I wrote my dissertation and published my first book on Herbert.) [Read more…]

“Les Misérables” as a good book

I have finally finished Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables.  I saw the movie and had earlier seen the play, but I realized that I had never read the novel, so I took on that project.  I downloaded the free Kindle edition  and started reading.  It took me months and months.  The paperback edition is some 1500 pages long. But it was one of my great reading experiences.  Not only is Les Misérables a good book.  It is a book that is good, and the goodness that it made me imagine was  good for me. [Read more…]

George Herbert on Easter

Easter  by George Herbert

RISE heart ;  thy Lord is risen.  Sing his praise
Without delayes,
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
With him mayst rise :
That, as his death calcined thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and much more just.

Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
With all thy art.
The crosse taught all wood to resound his name
Who bore the same.
His stretched sinews taught all strings, what key
Is best to celebrate this most high day. [Read more…]

Flannery O’Connor’s prayer journal

Speaking of Flannery O’Connor, her prayer journal has just been published, dating from her grad school days studying creative writing at the University of Iowa.  Her reflections on writing, her thoughts on her vocation as a writer, and her love of God are stunning.  After the jump, an excellent review by James Parker in the Atlantic, with quotations from the book. [Read more…]

An audio of Flannery O’Connor reading a story

Thanks to Colin Cutler for alerting me to this recording of Flannery O’Connor reading one of her signature stories.  WARNING:  O’Connor is one of the pre-eminent Christian fiction writers of the past century, but she is not for the faint of heart.  After the jump, some excerpts from an essay of hers that tells what she’s up to, and then the link to the audio of her reading “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” [Read more…]

All literature can be Christian literature

Tom Hering, in saying kind things about my post on the Lutheran Theology of Culture, commended this piece by Joel J. Miller, What is Christian literature? God’s truth, wherever you find it. :

In a 1997 interview with Books and Culture, William F. Buckley Jr. was asked what thinkers influenced him theologically. “I’m a theological novice,” he answered, “but I simply assume that the Christian prism tends to inform Christians, whatever they are reading.”

All literature, in other words, has the potential to be Christian literature. A believer should be able to find something good, true, and beautiful thumbing through most any book — or at least be reminded of those things by their particular absence. Indeed there is a long tradition in the Christian world of reading books by non-Christians and finding in then both use and enjoyment. . . . [Read more…]