Tolkien, Lewis, and the Need for Literary Realism

By |2019-04-06T22:40:38-05:00April 6th, 2019|

J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis tempt us to escape to a self-evidently numinous world rather than to seek out the texture of wonder in this one. What we need is an unsparing literary realism—literature without recourse to fantasy, literature in which talking trees do not come to the rescue. It’s quiet at Wyoming Catholic [...]

Truth in Story: Lois Lowry and “Gathering Blue”

By |2019-01-24T22:13:56-05:00January 24th, 2019|

Tales and stories are an elementary wonder because they touch the nerve of the ancient instinct of astonishment. Wonder and astonishment can prepare our minds and hearts to receive truth just as soil receives seed; one such truth-bearer is Lois Lowry’s Gathering Blue… According to G.K. Chesterton, tales and stories are an elementary wonder because they [...]

The Fall and Degeneration of Man in “Gulliver’s Travels”

By |2019-01-24T12:02:31-05:00January 23rd, 2019|

Gulliver’s Travels is a work that defends beauty, passion, and the sacred; it is an indictment against the prevailing spirit of Enlightenment philosophy and utopianism, an esoteric defense of Christianity against its Enlightenment critics, and a prophetic vision into the future degeneration of humanity… On October 28, 1726, the book known today as Gulliver’s Travels was [...]

The Humanity of Huck Finn

By |2019-01-10T15:36:43-05:00January 9th, 2019|

Huckleberry Finn is no hero, though he does symbolize the American conscience at the time Mark Twain wrote, or at least the conscience Twain hoped for. Yes, Huckleberry Finn is a coming-of-age tale and a social criticism and satire, but it also asks crucial questions: Who actually changes? What type of American will change? Huckleberry [...]

The Best Books I Read This Past Year

By |2019-01-08T11:48:03-05:00January 8th, 2019|

Every year, reading becomes a new and fresh experience. Each new volume offers us the opportunity to grow in knowledge, enjoyment, and (hopefully) empathy. As we age, different sorts of books offer different remedies for what ails us: an escape from trouble, perhaps, or a respite from the daily grind. We might crave the [...]

The Eve of the Eve: A Christmas Story

By |2018-12-22T22:56:34-05:00December 23rd, 2018|

It was still dark outside when the boy awakened and his thoughts immediately turned to the gifts that would be awaiting him under the tree downstairs. This year, like every other year he could recall, the tree was a little too tall for the ceiling and leaned precariously toward the fireplace opening. In his [...]

An Annunciation on the Battlefield

By |2018-12-01T00:26:51-05:00December 1st, 2018|

It is the encounter with beauty, all-consuming beauty, the infinite, which directs the human soul back to God. The sky calls us up; the earth drags us down... On December 2, 1805, the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte achieved his most spectacular victory at the Battle of Austerlitz against an allied army of Russians and Austrians. [...]

Jane Austen Forever!

By |2018-11-28T21:34:42-05:00November 28th, 2018|

Pick up a Jane Austen novel, and you will discover that behind the long gowns and country dances, people in her era struggled with the same weaknesses we struggle with today. Well-written stories like Austen’s bring to life the human drama that is played out in every age, in every heart… I’ve been reading [...]

“The End of the Cold War”

By |2018-11-21T16:06:28-05:00November 20th, 2018|

“Why can’t we eat normal food?” Frank moved the fried tempeh, steamed broccoli, and brown rice around on his plate with his dinner fork, much like the eight-year-old boy he was forty years ago. His wife’s jaw stiffened, and she said, “This is normal food.” “Yeah, if we lived in Jakarta or Calcutta.” Alice refused [...]

The Return of Storytelling in a Digital Age

By |2018-11-14T05:56:51-05:00November 13th, 2018|

Podcast stories, like reading, have the advantage of engaging the audience’s imagination. And lest the technophobes among us decry the dominance of gadgets, rather than the gadgetry taking us into a brave new world, the technology is actually allowing us to participate in a much older form of literature: storytelling… Some time ago, on [...]

“The Unfortunate Fate of Septimus Wise”: A Ghost Story

By |2018-10-31T10:12:00-05:00October 30th, 2018|

The young man intended to purchase my death and, presumably and in some manner carry it away so that I never would meet with it. Immortality, wealth, my beloved Jessica all rotated in kaleidoscopic vision before my eyes… Editor’s Note: The following short story was left unpublished at the author’s death. Thomas Masty, the [...]

“The Wedding Knell”

By |2018-10-21T14:37:40-05:00October 21st, 2018|

The whole scene expressed the vain struggle of the gilded vanities of this world, when opposed to age, infirmity, sorrow, and death… There is a certain church in the city of New York which I have always regarded with peculiar interest, on account of a marriage there solemnized, under very singular circumstances, in my grandmother’s girlhood. That [...]

The Best of Contemporary Christian Fiction

By |2018-10-05T14:31:49-05:00October 5th, 2018|

In my last essay for The Imaginative Conservative, I offered a panoramic survey of the best of contemporary Christian literature, both poetry and prose. As a follow-up, I’d like to recommend twelve works of contemporary Christian fiction that everyone should read. Here’s the list, arranged alphabetically by author, together with a brief explanation for each title’s selection: 1. [...]

Should We Be Teaching 21st-Century Literature?

By |2018-10-01T05:41:49-05:00September 30th, 2018|

For many years I taught a course in Twentieth-Century Literature to college seniors. In truth it was actually a course in early to mid-twentieth-century literature because I didn’t teach any text published within the previous forty to fifty years. Authors on the syllabus included Chesterton, Joyce, Kafka, the War Poets (Brooke, Sassoon and Owen), T. [...]