Resource: Alister McGrath – Apologetics through Literature

In recent discussion with a friend (thanks, Rachel!) regarding non-tradtional ways of helping people (e.g., music therapy), I was reminded of the following resources – “Apologetics through Literature” – by Alister McGrath, who is a remarkable lecturer and defender of Christianity. He illustrates how to strengthen the faith of others (or just help them find it) through literature, including two of my favorite authors, Tolkien and C. S. Lewis.

Professor McGrath earned a DPhil (in molecular biophysics) and a DD, so he’s equipped to teach both science and religious philosophy – and he does so in a skillful, entertaining, winsome manner. I hope you get the chance to listen to these lectures! (right click>save to save the files to your hard drive)

(Note: “Apologetics” is not saying you’re sorry about your religion; it’s actively commending and defending your beliefs to others)

1. What is apologetics? And using stories apologetically

2. More on using stories apologetically

3. Using poetry and detective novels apologetically

4. More on using poetry and detective novels apologetically

5. C. S. Lewis and Tolkien

6. More on C. S. Lewis and Tolkien

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The Best Books They Read in 2007…

If you’re looking for good books to read, here are a few suggestions from some folks whose taste I consider trustworthy (authors, editors, & staff of Ignatius Press):

The Best Books I Read in 2007…

Highlights from the article:

From Peter Kreeft‘s reviews:

Regarding Michael O’Brien’s new novel, Island of the World : “Michael’s book was predictably good, perhaps his best one yet, an intergenerational, long, yet exciting read about the Catholic heroes of Croatia. Michael is spinach.”

Anne Rice’s novel Jesus of Nazareth: Out of Egyptis a book supposedly written (or thought) by Jesus Himself as a kid! Yet it works, remarkably well. There is not an inauthentic note in it. I’d rank it third on the all-time list of Jesus fiction, only the third time anyone has successfully written a piece of fiction about Jesus (the first being Dostoyevski’s “The Grand Inquisitor” and the second being Lewis’s Narnia chronicles (they should be called the Aslan Chronicles).

(Note: the book’s title is actually Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt.)

From Dale Ahlquist, president and co-founder of the American Chesterton Society:

Jesus of Nazareth, by Pope Benedict XVI. A lifetime of learning comes together in the most important subject of all. I savored each page.

Religion and the Rise of Western Culture, by Christopher Dawson. A glorious study of Medieval civilization. A book that should be read by everyone even remotely connected to education.

The Offbeat Radicals: The British Tradition of Alternative Dissent, by Geoffrey Ashe. Shows how Chesterton influenced Gandhi.

Mark Brumley is President of the Board of Directors of Guadalupe Associates and Chief Executive Officer for Ignatius Press.

Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen. I had never read it before. Loved it. Would read it again at the drop of a hat.

The Jesus Legend, by Paul Rhodes Eddy and Gregory A. Boyd. Good rebuttal to the Jesus Seminar, and the other revisionists.

From journalist, author, and architect Moyra Doorly:

Story of a Soul, by St Therese of Lisieux. This was the first account of the spiritual life that had me laughing out loud with delight.

From Dr. Thomas Howard, a highly acclaimed writer and literary scholar noted for his studies of Inklings C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams:

The Lyttleton–Hart-David Letters. A 3-vol. collection of letters written between 1955 and 1962, between the publisher Rupert Hart-Davis, and his former Eton “beak” (master) George Lyttleton, of the gold-plated Lyttleton family. Gloriously literate, clever, urbane, flashing letters. The best sort of bedtime reading.

From Sandra Miesel, a Catholic journalist, medieval historian, and co-author of The Pied Piper of Atheism and the best-selling The Da Vinci Hoax:

An Experiment In Criticism, by C.S. Lewis. An admirable model for critics.

Preface to Paradise Lost, by C.S. Lewis. An excellent antidote to Philip Pullman.

Planet Narnia, by Michael Ward. An exciting and persuasive new interpretation of the Chronicles in terms of planetary symbolism.

Michael O’Brien, Canadian self-taught painter and writer, wrote:

The Bridge on the Drina, by Ivo Andric, a novel that chronicles the “life” of a bridge and a town in Bosnia, including its Serb, Croat, Muslim, Turkish, Jewish, and Austrian residents. First published in 1946, this book has become a classic, beloved by (amazingly) all peoples of former Yugoslavia–and throughout the world.

I wanted to include something from each of the article’s contributors, but this post is already quite long enough. So I opted for a few excerpts that I hope motivate you to read the article in its entirety – it doesn’t take as long as you might suspect, and you may find yourself planning to read nearly all of the books listed (as I did). My favorite comment is the reference to spinach (though I’m not sure what it means…).

Note: most of the descriptions above are taken directly from the article at Ignatius Insight.