Friday 5 September 2014

Holiday Reading...

Great chance to catch up with my reading this summer, especially last year's bestseller and most critically acclaimed novel, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt - all 864 pages of it!

It's about a drug abusing, alcoholic conman - and it ends up full of profoundly Christian themes. It's fairly amazing that a novel with some sort of Christian outlook gets any kind of support from the critics at all these days! Yet it shouldn't surprise us. Redemption, whether it comes to fruit or is refused, is the main spring of drama in most human story-telling - without it there is no story, just moods that go nowhere. Character is vital for the novel, where it is a huge driver, as it is for Christianity, where it reflects humanity in the image of God. Meaning is fundamental to words, as it is for Christianity. Values are the background which makes it matter what characters do - their actions are not just the random processes of animals.

No wonder then that the greatest novelists of the twentieth century - Evelyn Waugh and Graham Greene - were Christians, just as were the greatest poets - T S Eliot and W H Auden. Atheism and don't know-ism just don't cut it in these areas. Of course it doesn't mean that being a Christian makes you a great writer, nor that not being a Christian makes you a terrible one. But it does mean that the right framework for story and character, words and the clash of values is already important to you.

So is Donna Tartt up there with these greats? Well I was so impressed that I've written a book review - see my Book Review blog If you read it I hope it will inspire you to take up Donna Tartt's blockbuster too - just book yourself plenty of time off first...

Our bishop (John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford) is retiring soon. You may know that he is also the Church of England's spokesman on education. His wish as he prepares to retire is that every Christian should read at least three Christian books a year. So I'm plugging my book review blog as it offers some ideas where you might want to start.