Shouts and Whispers

Twenty-One Writers Speak About Their Writing and Their Faith. The sub-title is intriguing enough, but when you find out who these writers are, it becomes, well, something to shout about. We don’t usually presume quite so much, but our staff was on the phone within minutes of unpacking this awaited treasure, since we knew a few literary lovers would be irked to not know of it. This is the best collection of its kind in our memory.
Who could bring together essays about writing, about literature, about fiction and poetry, preaching and spirituality, all around questions of words, words and books? The Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing, the premier gathering of its sort. Over the years, this conference has developed a fierce following, and they’ve attracted world-class writers—Updike, L’Engle, Weisel, Dillard; this year, even Salmond Rushdie. Not all of the the speakers at Calvin College, of course, are Calvinists (some, obviously, are not Christians.) All, though, are people whose faith has informed their work, and have something to say around this topic.
Do you recall my last few few posts, and the article and book list done over at the website for March? One concern about The Da Vinci Code matter has been our concern that Christians ought to consider more than the “inert objects” of the “facts” or “errors” of Mr. Brown, but ought to be attentive to the broader question of the arts, novels, aesthetics and the role of story.
I quoted Calvin Seerveld in my blog post the other day and named him as a favorite writer about the arts. Next, I couldn’t wait to mention this collection. Da V or no Da V, this is one important volume, that will be around long after the discussions about the Ron Howard film. This gives some long-overdue and top-notch attention to the interface of religion and literature.
The preface begins:

What does it mean to be a writer working in the context of faith within the world of contemporary letters? What features characterize such a writer’s work? Are these features different from those written from a secular perpsective? Do they need to be? How should a religious perspective be expressed in literature—explicityly or implicityly? And what is faith, anyway—what “counts” as belief?

Well, dip in to these essays, interviews, addresses or sermons, and enter the conversation. There is much more diversity here than you might expect, and moments of brillance abound. What else would you expect from Doris Betts, Frederick Buechner, David James Duncan, Joy Kogawa, Anne Lamott, Thomas Lynch, Katherine Paterson, Walter Wangerin? My-o-my filmaker Paul Schrader is here, preacher Barbara Brown Taylor, and poet Luci Shaw. Some are bestsellers–Jan Karon, Ron Hansen, or Bret Lott– and others may be lesser known (but offer excellent insights.) We have been eager to tell about this grand collection. The price is good for a book of over 250 pages, and we have a blog special listed below. Email or call us today.

Shouts and Whispers: Twenty-One Writers Speak About Their Writing and Their Faith edited by Jennifer L. Holberg (Eerdmans) $15.00

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