Category Archives: book

‘the problem of Lewis the storyteller’ in Text Patterns at The New Atlantis

“I don’t think Lewis was by any means a natural storyteller, and all of his fiction suffers to one degree or another from his shortcomings in this regard,” sayeth literary critic and distinguished humanities professor Alan Jacobs. “Every time he sat down to write a story he was moving outside the sphere of his strongest writerly gifts.” To get Jacobs’ full view on the matter, as well as a few words about storytelling differences between C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, read the entire post here: “the problem of Lewis the storyteller – Text Patterns – The New Atlantis”.

Are college students changing their minds about casual sex?

Author Donna Freitas recently wrote this shocking article in the Wall Street Journal; here’s an excerpt:

After conducting a national college survey of over 2,500 students, I found that among those who reported “hooking up” — a range of sexually intimate acts, from kissing to intercourse, that occur outside a committed relationship — at Catholic and nonreligious private and public colleges and universities, 41% are profoundly upset about their behavior. The 22% of respondents who chose to describe a hook-up experience (the question was optional) used words like “dirty,” “used,” “regretful,” “empty,” “miserable,” “disgusted,” “ashamed,” “duped” and “abused” in their answers. An additional 23% expressed ambivalence about hooking up, and the remaining 36% were more or less “fine” with it. And 45% of students at Catholic and 36% at nonreligious private and public schools say that their peers are too casual about sex. Not a single person at these schools said that their peers valued saving sex for marriage, and only 7% said that they felt that their friends wanted to reserve sex for committed, loving relationships.

When last semester I taught Wendy Shalit’s “A Return to Modesty,” in a class at Boston University called “Spirituality & Sexuality in American Youth Culture,” I assumed that my mostly left-leaning students would reject her arguments about the terrible effects that the hook-up culture has on young women and the positive effects of traditional religion and morality on young women’s well-being. Instead, my students ate up her critique and were fascinated by her descriptions of modesty as a virtue, especially within the context of faith. One student said that she felt empowered to stop tolerating vulgar remarks about sex made by peers in her presence.

The class was equally attracted to some evangelical dating manuals, like “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” by Joshua Harris and “Real Sex” by Lauren Winner, that I asked them to read. They seemed shocked that somewhere in America there are entire communities of people their age who really do “save themselves” until marriage, who engage in old-fashioned dating with flowers and dinner and maybe a kiss goodnight. They reacted as if these authors describe a wonderful fantasy land. “It would be easier just to have sex with someone than ask them out on a real date,” one student said, half-seriously.

Interestingly, most of the study respondents do identify with religious traditions that have rules about sexuality. But, with the exception of evangelicals, American college students see almost no connection between their religious beliefs and their sexual behavior. This radical separation of religion and sex tells us important things not only about the power of the college hookup culture but also about the weakness of religious traditions in the face of it.

Donna Freitas is the author of Sex and the Soul: Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance, and Religion on America’s College Campuses, new this month from Oxford University Press.

Related issues were briefly addressed in the LiturgicalCredo.com interview with Peter Augustine Lawler.

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BustedHalo.com interviews Anne Rice about her Catholic faith; video of interview with Anne Rice

Bill McGarvey of BustedHalo.com conducted this interview with Anne Rice.

See more clips from the interview here.

‘The Language of God’ still selling

This coming Sunday, Dr. Francis S. Collins’ The Language of God (Free Press) will appear at No. 21 on the New York Times Paperback Nonfiction Bestseller list. It was released in 2006. Safe to say people are still reading it.

Thanks be to God.

This is a needed book in our time.  Collins, head of the Human Genome Project, explains his Christian faith as well as the reasonableness of evolutionary science. The Language of God is one of those books that can stand in the gap of our culture war.

The New York Times, however, has failed to give it more than a brief, if encouraging, review (viewing the review online requires a paid membership; if you’re signed up, click here).

Review of ‘Praying with Beads’

We’ve published a review of Praying with Beads: Daily Prayers for the Christian Calendar (Eerdmans) by Nan Lewis Doerr and Virginia Stem Owens.

Read the review at http://www.liturgicalcredo.com/BookReviewPrayingWithBeads.html . If you’re interested in purchasing the book, please use the link that appears beside the review.

Don’t forget to check out the three new poems by Phil Bauman at http://www.liturgicalcredo.com/PhilBaumanPoems.html .

‘The Myth of a Christian Nation’

After yesterday’s post, “Warriors invert Gospel on CNN,” I came across a book released in May, entitled The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church (Zondervan) by Gregory Boyd.

At ChristianBook.com, the book’s description reads:

“Should church and state really be separated? Does the church belong in the political arena? Arguing from Scripture and history, The Myth of a Christian Nation makes a compelling case that whenever the church gets too close to any political or national ideology, it is disastrous for the church and harmful to society. Contending that the American Evangelical Church has allowed itself to be co-opted by the political right (and some by the political left), Dr. Boyd exposes how this harms the church’s unique calling to build the kingdom of God. In the course of his argument, he challenges some deeply held convictions of evangelical Christians in America, such as America being ‘a Christian nation’ and that Christians ought to be trying to ‘take America back for God.’ Includes a discussion guide for small group use.”

If you’d like to consider purchasing the book, here’s the link:

http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/product?p=1010185&item_no=67314

-Colin Burch

Hitchens’ culturally illiterate readership?

Christopher Hitchens, author of God is Not Great, “must be banking on a readership that has not read Shakespeare, Tolstoy, and Dostoyevsky. These Christian authors dramatized the themes and stories of the holy book that Hitchens disparages.”

So writes Mary Grabar at TCSDaily.com.

She quotes Hitchens making this paradoxical assessment:

We are not immune to the lure of wonder and mystery and awe: we have music and art and literature, and find that the serious ethical dilemmas are better handled by Shakespeare and Tolstoy and Schiller and Dostoyevsky and George Eliot than in the mythical morality tales of the holy books.

Grabar makes her full case here:

http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=061507A