From the Wiseblood Books Weblog

It is Wiseblood Books’ fourth anniversary. This small Christian press published my book of short stories, A Flower in the Heart of the Painting. The editor, Joshua Hren, wrote a nice article on Wiseblood Books Weblog. Here is an interesting bit:

And yet Flannery O’Connor, in spite of her crutches, gave us legs to stand on. She gave us, in spite of her bad eyesight, a vision. She raised some crucial problems: in literary works written in a world that lives as though God is dead, do we need to shout so that the deaf can hear, draw large and startling figures so that the blind can see? Does not grace feel like violence, sometimes, and is not fiction particularly capable of dramatizing the awful conversions that can come of such disruption? Certain things have changed a great deal since O’Connor’s time. And yet things have largely stayed the same. When we try to say “God” in contemporary fiction, should we fake a sneeze at the same time? Lest it actually sound as though we were narrating some of the eternal questions of religion—of the nature of grace acting upon human life, of the problem of suffering, of the sacramental dimensions of nature, of conversion—even here in the Year of Our Lord 2017.

I really don’t like Flannery O’Connor’s writing much, but I don’t like to admit it because she is Christian and writer at the same time. Plus famous! And not sappy romantic. I like what Dr. Hren has to say about her work… do her figures have to be startling so the people in this world, with their eyes covered up to all mention of Christianity, are forced to see Christian truth? Maybe so. Sadly so. And I hope it’s not always so. I hope mainstream fiction can embrace thoughtful Christian truth in a more subtle way without being pushed aside as “too preachy” or “old-fashioned.” Until then, there’s Wiseblood Books. Perhaps it’s not mainstream, but it is an outlet for Christian literature.

This weblog article makes it sound as if Wiseblood Books publishes all Catholic literature. I just wanted to add that my book adopts my Protestant worldview, as does the book of short stories by Robert Vander Lugt, also published by Wiseblood.

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The Chronicles of Narnia

“I was wondering – I mean – could there be some mistake? Because nobody called me and Scrubb, you know. It was we who asked to come here. Scrubb said we were to call to – to Somebody – it was a name I wouldn’t know – and perhaps the Somebody would let us in. And we did, and then we found the door open.”

“You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you,” said the Lion.

“Then you are Somebody, sir?” said Jill.

“I am.”

— from The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis, 1953

We did it. We completed the seven books of The Chronicles of Narnia in eight weeks. The big book is due back to the library tomorrow. The last part of The Last Battle is probably my favorite part of the series. Not much beats Aslan’s country. However, the lines I quoted above from The Silver Chair are the lines where I started cheering. Way to go, C. S. Lewis! Maybe I have a fascination with the doctrine of election. Maybe I’ve been tired of the overused metaphor of floating down a river and God puts out a stick for you to grab on to just before you go over the waterfall. There’s something wrong with that metaphor, right? In the metaphor, I have the power to grab or not to grab. Salvation is still up to me.

C. S. Lewis got it right. It might seem like I’m here on this world, calling out to God, but it is He who put it in my heart to call in the first place.

So did my kids understand all the theology in Narnia? Probably not. They seemed pretty thoughtful when I nudged them in the right direction. But hey! They’ve got it in them now. It can grow in their memories. They can reread later in their lives. Hopefully my five (almost six) year old will not think bitter thoughts about Narnia all her life. As far as she was concerned, it was too long and caused her brother and sister to stop playing with her. Nonetheless, she still loved Reepicheep.