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The Christian Imagination: The Practice of Faith in Literature and Writing (Writers' Palette Book) Paperback – February 19, 2002


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The Christian Imagination: The Practice of Faith in Literature and Writing (Writers' Palette Book) + Christian Literature: An Anthology + Reading Between the Lines (Redesign): A Christian Guide to Literature (Turning Point Christian Worldview Series)
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Product Details

  • Series: Writers' Palette Book
  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Shaw Books; Rev Exp edition (February 19, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0877881235
  • ISBN-13: 978-0877881230
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #286,495 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The Christian Imagination is an exceptional exploration of Christian belief, imagination, reading, and writing. Leland Ryken has collected essays and excerpts, long and short--nearly 500 pages' worth--all devoted (some more directly than others) to "thinking Christianly about literature." Contributors including J.R.R. Tolkien, Madeleine L'Engle, Flannery O'Connor, and T.S. Eliot discuss such topics as a Christian philosophy of literature, success and failure in current Christian fiction and poetry, realism, fantasy, and narrative. Perhaps the most common thread among these pieces is the understanding that Christian art "is by no means," as Ryken puts it, "always religious art." If you want to make a Christian work, advises Jacques Maritain, "then be Christian, and simply try to make a beautiful work." Also of particular interest is Clyde S. Kilby's "The Aesthetic Poverty of Evangelicalism." Despite the fact that the Bible is "a piece of art ... an imaginative book," says Kilby, the people who spend the most time with it "are in large numbers the foes of art and the sworn foes of imagination." --Jane Steinberg

From Publishers Weekly

This sweeping, magnificent anthology challenges Christians to think more deeply about the connections between faith and literature, creed and imagination. Ryken, who has previously explored the intersection between the literary and the spiritual in How to Read the Bible as Literature and The Discerning Reader, brings together Christian thinkers from a broad spectrum of time periods and literary disciplines. The collection opens with a section called "Christian Philosophy of Literature," which despite its dry title features memorable selections by luminaries such as Annie Dillard, C.S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer. Other sections address issues such as imagination, beauty, teaching, realism, myth and fantasy, poetry, and narrative; with a collection of this size, it is surprising that the essays are of such consistently high quality. One wishes that all fiction editors at Christian publishing houses would read Richard Terrell's essay "Christian Fiction: Piety Is Not Enough," in which he identifies the problems inherent in creating "safe" fiction that must always be devoid of profanity, violence and sex. Other gems include Frederick Buechner's masterpiece "The Gospel as Fairy Tale," J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Consolation of the Happy Ending" and Madeleine L'Engle's "Is It Good Enough for Children?" Walker Percy and Flannery O'Connor offer strong autobiographical essays on being Christian novelists. Poetry is not neglected here, with essays by Luci Shaw, Wendell Berry and others testifying to the importance of poetry in the Christian experience. This is a rich, judicious collection of reflections on Christianity and literature.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Steven James on August 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
Ryken's rich and at times overwhelming collection of essays, musings, and pithy apologetic pieces on beauty, imagination, Christian thought, narrative, and poetry is richly diverse and thought provoking.

In this 100,000 word+ tome we get glimpses of what led C. S. Lewis to write the Narnia chronicles, what Annie Dillard thinks of literature as an art object, and Tolkein's view of the important of a happy ending--as well as dozens of other forays into thought on literature, reading, and life.

I found the views varied and, for the most part, refreshingly insightful. I will admit though, that I skipped some of the chapters that were excruciatingly dense and didactic. They'd quite clearly been written not by narrative artists but by academics, and despite my best intentions, I just wasn't able to plow through them.

As long as you're willing to skip the parts that aren't of interest to you, this book is well-worth buying, reading, and savoring. Just don't expect every mouthful to be as tasty as the rest.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Ben Bartlett on December 16, 2007
Format: Paperback
Art is a hard subject for Christian evangelicals to deal with. It seems to be outside the boundaries of our primary mission, to proclaim the gospel in the world and display and expand the kingdom of God. However, this book helpfully shows the important contributions Christian art can make to that mission.

In a series of essays, various professors contribute thouhtfully to our understanding of the role of art's various forms from a Christian perspective. These thoughtful meditations are important, because they force us to reexamine our preconceptions about the role of art and beauty.

Yes, the format can be hard to follow, as it seems a bit disjointed. My recommendation to you is this; Read each major essay slowly, taking time to pause and digest its implications. Think carefully about how the essay touches your experiences. Do NOT read two major chapters in a single reading or even a single day. Instead, approach it more as a devotional- each thought/essay is its own autonomous unit.

By this approach, I believe you will be able to more deeply enter into the meditations of the authors, which are all extremely helpful and very gospel-centered.

Take the time to read this excellent book, and allow it to shape your thoughts about using beauty and art to display the gospel to a sick and dying world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mark W. McIntire on September 8, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Leland Ryken brings us a terrific collection of essays that brings us into contact with faith and literature at the crossroads.
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More About the Author

Leland Ryken (PhD, University of Oregon) is Professor of English at Wheaton College. He has authored or edited several books, including The Word of God in English, The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, and The Complete Literary Guide to the Bible. He is a frequent speaker at the Evangelical Theological Society and served as literary stylist for The Holy Bible, English Standard Version.

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The Christian Imagination: The Practice of Faith in Literature and Writing (Writers' Palette Book)
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