Essay / Literature

Bayard: How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read

Pierre Bayard’s 2007 book How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read is a real page turner. The best I can tell, it’s an elaborate joke in which the authorial voice is a kind of fictional character. This character –I’ll call him Bayard while remaining

Essay / Literature

O Tell Us, Poet, What You Do

A favorite Rilke poem: O tell us, poet, what you do. –I praise. Yes, but the deadly and the monstrous phase, how do you take it, how resist? –I praise. But the anonymous, the nameless maze, how summon it, how call it, poet? –I praise.

Essay / Literature

Unhelpful Advice from Samuel Johnson

Samuel Johnson is one of the acknowledged masters of English prose, a fixed star of style. As you might expect from the author of a dictionary, Johnson was master of a vast vocabulary, concatenating his words into characteristically long sentences. Those sentences! They are complex periodic

Essay / Education

A Noble Risk: The Making of a Wheatstone Conference Theme

Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.  1 Peter 4:19 No sensible man would insist that these things are as I have described them, but

Essay / Literature

When Did Aslan Banish Winter?

I’ve pondered before how odd it is that there is no Narnian nativity, no incarnation of Aslan in the fantasy world of C.S. Lewis. Lewis has his Christ-figure die and rise again, create heaven and earth, and return in judgement, but he carefully avoids depicting

Essay / Art

Thanks, Franky. Addicted to Mediocrity, Thirty Years Later

Does it make sense to thank someone for something they may have disowned? A lot has happened since Frank Schaeffer published Addicted to Mediocrity thirty years ago. He was going by the more diminutive “Franky” then, signifying, maybe, how staunchly he stood in his dad’s

Essay / Culture

Excerpts & Essays: The Great Books Reader

Here’s a 656-page grand tour of some of the greatest moments in Western civilization: The Great Books Reader, edited by John Mark Reynolds. I highly recommend it. Then again, since I contributed to it, work with or for many of the contributors, and already like


Essay / Literature

The Battle of Roncesvalles: History and Legend

Today, August 15, marks the 1,233rd anniversary of the Battle of Roncesvalles, a pitch battle fought by a contingent of Charlemagne’s army led by Roland, the  prefect of the Breton March, against a Basque attack on the Roncesvalles pass while Roland’s men were on the

Essay / Literature

Paul: "The Veiled Energy of Metaphor and Allusion"

Richard Hays (from his 2001 intro to the 2nd ed. of Faith of Jesus Christ) gives some great advice on how to read Paul: “Paul, the missionary preacher, is at least as much a poet as he is a theologian.” And Hays doesn’t just mean

Essay / Literature

Don Quixote’s Last Laugh

One of the most frustrating things about being a professor in a Great Books program is that there are so many books that can, and indeed should, be in any possible curriculum, but given the constraints related to time and space that we have to

Essay / Education

Read for Craft, Stay Happy, Try to Help: Tips on Writing

Andrew Faris over at Someone Tell Me The Story recently posted a short interview he did with me on the subject of writing. Along the way I ranted about the current state of theological writing, recommended a few resources, and said ridiculous things like “ignore