Archives For Essay

 

July 11 marks the 90th Birthday
of one of my favorite writers,
Frederick Buechner!

 

[ ENTER to win a copy of this book ]

 

In honor of the occasion,
here’s an Excerpt from
Buechner’s essay
“Faith and Fiction.”

 
 
This essay can be found in the new book:
Buechner 101:
Essays and Sermons by Frederick Buechner
Intro by Anne Lamott.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

 

If someone were to come up and ask me to talk about my faith, it is exactly that journey that I would eventually have to talk about—the ups and downs of the years, the dreams, the odd moments, the intuitions. I would have to talk about the occasional sense I have that life is not just a series of events causing other events as haphazardly as a break shot in pool causes the billiard balls to careen off in all directions but that life has a plot the way a novel has a plot, that events are somehow or other leading somewhere. Whatever your faith may be or my faith may be, it seems to me inseparable from the story of what has happened to us, and that is why I believe that no literary form is better adapted to the subject than the form of fiction.

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Kierkegaard

Yesterday marked the birthday of Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (b. 1813).

 
In honor of the occasion, here is one of his renowned essays:
 

The Crowd is Untruth

Søren Kierkegaard

Translated by Charles K. Bellinger

 
 
My dear, accept this dedication; it is given over, as it were, blindfolded, but therefore undisturbed by any consideration, in sincerity. Who you are, I know not; where you are, I know not; what your name is, I know not. Yet you are my hope, my joy, my pride, and my unknown honor.

It comforts me, that the right occasion is now there for you; which I have honestly intended during my labor and in my labor. For if it were possible that reading what I write became worldly custom, or even to give oneself out as having read it, in the hope of thereby winning something in the world, that then would not be the right occasion, since, on the contrary, misunderstanding would have triumphed, and it would have also deceived me, if I had not striven to prevent such a thing from happening.

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This week marked the launch of a book that we are very excited about…

… Marilynne Robinson’s latest book of essays!

 
Have you bought a copy yet?
 

The Givenness of Things: Essays
Marilynne Robinson

Hardback: FSG Books, 2015
Buy now: [ Amazon ]   [ Kindle ]

 

Since Saturday October 31 is Reformation Day, we thought it would be appropriate to share Robinson’s essay “Reformation” from this new book…
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This brief essay by ERB Editor C. Christopher Smith,
originally appeared in the very first print issue of our magazine (Advent 2010)…

We reprint it here today in honor of Allen Ginsberg’s birthday.

Didn’t know that we have a print magazine?
Get more info and subscribe now

 

AllenGinsberg-AldrichHow Not To Be A Counter-Culture:
A few thoughts occasioned by a reading of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg’s correspondence


Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg:
The Letters

Bill Morgan & David Stanford, editors

Hardback: Viking, 2010
Buy now:  [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

by C. Christopher Smith

 

I have long been intrigued by the works and lives of the Beat writers, the spontaneity and attentiveness of their works combined with their critiques of the stifling culture of post-World-War-II middle-class American Christianity have been particularly appealing to me. Although the term “Beat Generation” is commonly used to refer to wide array of American counter-culturalists from the mid-1940s to the early-1960s, Jack Kerouac’s assessment in the essay “The Philosophy of the Beat Generation” (Esquire 1958) that the “Beat Generation” was a short-lived phenomenon in the late 1940s among a tight-knit group of friends based in New York City is widely accepted today. In order to understand this movement, if we accept Kerouac’s definition, we would do well to examine the relationships between those in this seminal group of New York friends. Key among those friends are Kerouac himself and Allen Ginsberg, and there is no better way to trace the arc of their friendship than by examining their correspondence. Thankfully, for ones like myself who have an interest in this sort of study, the bulk of the correspondence between these two writers has recently been published by Viking Books. This volume, entitled Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg: The Letters, paints a vibrant picture of the counter-cultural movement spawned among Kerouac, Ginsberg and their New York friends and its infusion across the American landscape in the 1950s and early 1960s.

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Dylan Thomas

Today marks the centennial of the birth of the renowned Welsh poet Dylan Thomas

In commemoration, we offer this wonderful essay by the poet on why he writes poetry.  This essay can be found in:

The Poems of Dylan Thomas

Hardback: New Directions, 2003
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]
 

Notes on the Art of Poetry
Dylan Thomas

“The joy and function of poetry is, and was, the celebration of man, which is also the celebration of God.”
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Nectar to an Aching Soul

An essay on the classic novel

Franny and Zooey
J.D. Salinger

Paperback: Back Bay Books
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

By Craig D. Katzenmiller

 

“I’m so horribly conditioned to accept everybody else’s values, and just because I like applause and people to rave about me. I’m ashamed of it. I’m sick of it. I’m sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody. I’m sick of myself and everybody else that wants to make some kind of splash.”

 
These are the words that Salinger puts on the lips of Franny Glass, a young university student who is rebelling against university life and one of the main characters in Franny and Zooey.
 
I was introduced to this book by a friend, who sent the above five sentence quote to me in an email. A D.Phil student in a German university at the time, I was growing frustrated with the whole academia scene, and these words were nectar to my aching soul. I sat with them as my wife and I made the decision to return to America in order to find fulfilling work. Upon my return to the States, Franny and Zooey was the first book I picked up.

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Facing Death Without God.

A Christian’s Response to

Mortality

Christopher Hitchens

Hardback: Twelve, 2012.
Buy now:   [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

An Essay by Alex Dye

 

“Once more into the fray, into the last good fight I’ll ever know, live and die on this day, live and die on this day.”
-John Ottway from The Grey

 

“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,”  -Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 (NIV)

 

Editor’s Note: Page references are to Mortality unless otherwise noted.

 

Christopher Hitchens never met a cow so sacred that he would not gleefully serve it medium-rare with a glass of red wine (or more-likely scotch), if the mood struck just right.  As a journalist, he endeavored to explore, unravel, and critique the largely unchallenged parts of society.  In doing so, has taken on Christianity and religion as a whole, the Pope, Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, and even dear Mother Theresa in his short work Missionary Position:  Mother Theresa in Theory and in Practice.  For some, he has been on the radar for quite some time as an author, speaker, and avid spokesman for atheists.  For others, his name has only recently cropped up with the much hailed release of his series of essays entitled Arguably and his posthumously released memoir on the process of dying from cancer, Mortality.  It is the latter that I would like analyze and respond to in this article.

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2012 marks the 350th Anniversary of The Book of Common Prayer.

 

Penguin has released a new edition of this classic prayer book that features a new introduction by James Woods.

 

The Book of Common Prayer

350th Anniversary Edition.

Paperback: Penguin, 2012.
Buy now: 
[ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

 

 

 

Woods published an alternate draft of the introduction in The New Yorker this fall:

 

Suppose you find yourself, in the late afternoon, in one of the English cathedral towns—Durham, say, or York, or Salisbury, or Wells, or Norwich—or in one of the great university cities, like Oxford or Cambridge. The shadows are thickening, and you are mysteriously drawn to the enormous, ancient stone structure at the center of the city. Continue Reading…

 

Why Evangelicals Should Read

Brian McLaren’s New Book

An Essay by John W. Morehead.


Why Evangelicals should read Brian McLaren's new BookWhy Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?:
Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World

Brian D. McLaren
Hardback: Jericho Books, 2012.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Brian McLaren is a prolific author. His most recent volume addresses one of the most important topics of our day as it relates to Christian identity in the midst of a pluralistic and post-9/11 environment. Although McLaren is frequently labeled as liberal, even heretical, by many conservative Evangelicals, it would be a mistake to dismiss his ideas in every instance, and particularly in this volume. In the following I provide a review, conversational interaction, and critique, which includes a recognition of the significant contribution McLaren makes to Evangelical theologies of faith identity and religious interaction, the beginning of a process of conversation with McLaren over some of the issues he raises and suggestions he sets forth, and also an offering of critical feedback for further exploration with McLaren and the broader Evangelical community.

Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? purposefully draws upon the fact that the title sounds like the introduction to familiar jokes. But McLaren uses this a rhetorical strategy in order to provide a thought provoking discussion related to his agenda for the church’s reformulation of various areas of theology and praxis. The subject matter should not be understood as a treatise on interreligious dialogue, but instead as addressing pre-dialogue considerations. The central thesis McLaren advances relates to what he labels “Conflicted Religious Identity Syndrome,” which he defines as a part of the Christian’s faith identity that involves the extension of hostility or opposition to the other as enemy in regards to those in other religions (19). He expands on this idea with these words:

Our root problem is neither religious difference nor religious identity nor even strong religious identity. Our root problem is the hostility that we often employ to make and keep our identities strong – whether those identities are political, economic, philosophical, scientific, or religious. (emphasis in original) (63)

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This World IS My Home:
A Theology of Place

Dr. Mark Eckel,
Professor of Old Testament
Crossroads Bible College, Indianapolis, IN

“We live in virtual relationships,” Kaycee lamented.  Russ added, “We serve Facebook, rather than allowing Facebook to serve us.”  “We only have so much time,” Katie rightly ascertained, “Only so much emotion to give.  Can we continue far-flung relationships with those whom we no longer live near?”  The Christian thinker Sertillanges spoke in 1920 about the issues these students raised in the 21st century:

Avoid, even with these, the excessive familiarity which drags one down and away from one’s purpose; do not run after news that occupies the mind to no purpose; do not busy yourself with the sayings and doings of the world, that is with such as have no moral or intellectual bearing; avoid useless comings and goings which waste hours and fill the mind with wandering thoughts.[1]

I was struck by the students’ acknowledgement, the unstated need, for relationship in proximity.  How much do we have need for longevity in a place to build physical, visible relations with others?  How necessary is the day-in-day-out connection with folks who know us best, in all our moods, situations, and interactions?

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