Category Archives: literature

James K.A. Smith: ‘We were created for stories’


Two of the most-clicked posts on this blog have been Paul Holmer: How literature functions and Umberto Eco on theory and narrative. The common theme between the two might be that storytelling is not only necessary, but also of greater value than systematized and abstracted knowledge. Granted, the structure of Eco’s quotation seems to give priority to theorizing, but Holmer argues that humans learn more broadly and deeply from stories than from abstract or systematic knowledge.

So a quotation from James K.A. Smith’s book Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism? Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church,  found in this recent review, was a welcome addition to the theme:

“We were created for stories, not propositions; for drama, not bullet points.”

In this context, it’s probably worth remembering that beloved storyteller C.S. Lewis warned against systematizing the Bible.

Salt Water


-La cura para todo es el agua salada:las lágrimas,el sudor y el mar-

via Karen Blixen — La Brújula

“The cure for anything is salt water—tears, sweat, or the sea.” — Isak Dinesen, a.k.a. Karen Blixen

Image-Making, Image-Using


“We are far more image-making and image-using creatures than we usually think ourselves to be.” — Richard Niebuhr

Found here.

‘We are symbols and inhabit symbols’


“We are symbols and inhabit symbols; workmen, work, and tools, words and things, birth and death, all are emblems; but we sympathize with the symbols, and being infatuated with the economical use of things, we do not know that they are thoughts.” — Emerson, in “The Poet”

To clarify a little bit, a symbol is fully itself, and it stands for something else.

‘East Coker’


Two excerpts for Good Friday from “East Coker” in The Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot:

 The wounded surgeon plies the steel
That questions the distempered part;
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer's art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.
...
The dripping blood our only drink,
The bloody flesh our only food:
In spite of which we like to think
That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood—
Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.
 

‘For God’s sake, be a storyteller’


Acclaimed author Walter Isaacson on the late, great writer Walker Percy:

“I had a friend of the family, an uncle of a friend, Walker Percy…

“He was a kindly gentleman. From his face you could tell he had known despair, but his eyes still smiled. And he had a lightly worn grace to him….

“He would say that two types of people came out of Louisiana, preachers and storytellers. He said, ‘For God’s sake, be a storyteller. The world’s got too many preachers.’

“He thought that too many journalists, and writers in general, feel they have to preach. He said it was best to do it the way the best parts of the Bible do, by telling a wonderful tale, and people will get the message on their own.”

I realize I’ve been guilty of preaching, too.

On C.S. Lewis’s birthday, an amusing anecdote


A previous post, repeated here on the occasion of C.S. Lewis’s 116th birthday:

During a recorded conversation between authors C.S. Lewis, Kingsley Amis, and Brian Aldiss, Lewis is talking about science fiction when he abruptly changes the subject:

Lewis:  … Are you looking for an ashtray? Use the carpet.

Amis:  I was looking for the Scotch, actually.

Lewis:  Oh, yes, do, I beg your pardon.

From Of Other Worlds: Essays & Stories, a collection of Lewis’s writings edited by Walter Hooper

more about c.s. lewis:

Professor Don W. King on Ruth Pitter, poet and friend of C.S. Lewis

Revitalizing liturgical worship: C.S. Lewis on ritual

C.S. Lewis an Anglo-Catholic? Taylor Marshall considers the question

The spirit of man and spiritual men — C.S. Lewis clarifies

What ‘joy’ meant to C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis on silencing the voice of conscience

John Wain versus C.S. Lewis on the role of the writer

Finding C.S. Lewis in a peculiar place

Annihilation or Restoration? With C.S. Lewis’s reflection on depravity