Food for the Soul

CP Blogs do not necessarily reflect the views of The Christian Post. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s).

Posted 7/3/09 at 2:14 PM | WinePress Publishing

When Art Imitates Life

Shaun Schutte and Brogan Kessler have a lot in common. Born and raised in South Africa, both men spent several years in the South African Army, have families to support, and currently make their living as hired guns-otherwise known as professional bodyguards--in the Middle East.

The differences between the two are more significant, however; Shaun Schutte lives in Afghanistan; Brogan Kessler, lives only in Schutte's imagination as a lead character in his new novel, Hired Guns in Iraq (Pleasant Word, 2008).

Originally from Kempton Park, South Africa, Schutte traces his love for literary adventures to his childhood. Particularly fond of novels, Schutte remembers preferring to spend time with books rather than his peers. FULL POST

Posted 7/1/09 at 3:10 PM | Audra Jennings

An Epic of Eternal Proportions

GodStories by Andrew Wilson
GodStories by Andrew Wilson

In his latest release, Andrew Wilson explores fifty-six of the glorious stories that make up the gospel of God and will change the way we live and worship

Today, multitudes see theology as a rabbit warren of concepts without narratives, a series of points, principles, and theories that take all the best bits (like characters, plot twists, and heroism) out of the Bible and leave behind a slightly inedible result-like eating cereal without milk or playing Scrabble without vowels. But in his new book, GodStories: Explorations in the Gospel of God (David C Cook, July 2009), author of the best-selling Incomparable brings Scripture to life with fresh and relevant insights on how its stories can profoundly affect our faith.

Just as we have one God in three persons, and one church made up of many people, so in Scripture we have one gospel made up of many stories. In fifty-six short narratives, Andrew Wilson examines these beautiful, triumphant, often heartbreaking, and always magnificent stories that make up the gospel of God-GodStories. Inside readers will rediscover the glorious mission of God, freedom from sin, and how the promises of God never fail.

"We have one gospel, for sure: a single, unifying, big story about God and creation, man and sin, Jesus and rescue," says Wilson. "But we also have many different ways of telling that big story because it is too large for us to grasp all at once. Seeing the many GodStories in the one gospel does not reduce that gospel in glory or splendour. Quite the opposite-it dramatically increases it."

Written in a devotional-style perfect for morning or evening reading, GodStories includes reflection sections that will give additional food for thought in the form of questions, scriptures and psalms, hymns, quotes from important church figures, prayers, etc. With winsome language and a solid biblical foundation, Wilson also introduces and walks through, in layman's terms, some heavier points of theology, such as atonement, justification by faith, penal substitution, open theism, and the new covenant.

"We need to know, and preach, and live the gospel," writes Wilson. "The good news that shines through every GodStory will bring us closer into worship, push us further into mission, and draw us closer into community-face down, flat out, all in. Prepare to be stunned and in total amazement at the many-faceted gospel story, the greatest story ever told."

Author Bio
Andrew Wilson holds degrees in theology from Cambridge University and London School of Theology. His passion is to communicate the extraordinary truths of God. Andrew teaches internationally and is an elder at Kings Church Eastbourne in the UK, where he leads training and development. He is also the author of Incomparable: Explorations in the Character of God and lives with his wife, Rachel, and their newborn baby, Ezekiel, in the UK.

GodStories: Explorations in the Gospel of God by Andrew Wilson
David C Cook/July 2009/ISBN 978-1-434765-39-0/302 pages/softcover/$14.99
http://www.davidccook.com/explore/godstories

Posted 6/27/09 at 1:42 PM | Richard Doster

Finding the Self's Authentic Interests

In literature, writers test their theories. They play out a whole range of ideas and circumstances, evaluating scenes, actions and reactions, conversation, emotions, character traits....

Like sculptors, I suppose, writers step away from the work and examine it-asking themselves: "Does this convey what I had in mind? Does it sound good? Is the tempo pleasant to read? Is the dialogue realistic? Does that action bring that character to life? Is that emotion, given the circumstances, the one she'd actually feel?

Writers write, rewrite, and revise until the questions are satisfactorily answered-until they're able look at the work and say to themselves, like God in the book in the Genesis, "Yes, that's good. That's just the way I want it."

The story then ushers readers into a life-like world where the words -- though they're the product of the writer's imagination -- have significance and consequences, just as ours do when they're spoken to spouses, friends, and complete strangers.

Therefore, when we read a novel, we don't escape the world, we immerse ourselves in it. As we get deeper into the plot, as we come to know the characters, as we vicariously feel the tension -- we're drenched in experiences that look and feel a lot like ours.

Harold Bloom, in his book How to Read and Why quotes Samuel Johnson, the famous author and literary critic of the eighteenth century. Johnson, when talking about why we should read, said, "...what comes near to ourself [is] what we can put to use." Bloom adds Francis Bacon's famous advice: "Read not to contradict and confute, not to believe and take for granted, not to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider." He cites Emerson, who said that the best books "impress us with the conviction that one nature wrote and the same reads." And then, stringing these thoughts together, Bloom advises us to find what comes near-to discover what we can put to use and weigh and consider-that addresses us as though we share the one nature, "free of time's tyranny." "We read," Bloom concludes, "to strengthen the self, and to learn its authentic interests."

Richard Doster is the editor of byFaith magazine. He is also the author of two novels, Safe at Home and Crossing the Lines, both published by David C. Cook Publishers. 

Posted 6/24/09 at 4:20 PM | Audra Jennings

Timeless Wisdom from Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe

Be Hopeful by Warren Wiersbe
Be Hopeful by Warren Wiersbe

David C Cook releases eight revised editions of Dr. Wiersbe's trusted Bible commentaries-the "BE" Series

For the past four decades, the widely popular "BE" series, a set of more than 50 Bible studies by Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe, has sold over four million copies and led untold numbers deeper in their walks with God. This summer, a new generation of readers will have the opportunity to discover the best-selling commentaries as David C Cook introduces an updated and revised edition of eight volumes of the "BE" series.

A man who has given his life to a deep examination of the Word of God, Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe is an internationally known Bible teacher, former pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago, and the author of more than 150 books. For ten years he was associated with the Back to the Bible radio broadcast, first as Bible teacher and then as general director. Dubbed by many as the "pastor's pastor," Dr. Wiersbe skillfully weaves Scripture with historical explanations and thought-provoking questions, communicating the Word in such a way that the masses grasp its relevance for today.

Easily accessible for both pastors and lay people alike, Wiersbe's profound study guides can be used in personal Bible study or with a group. David C Cook's third installment of eight revised "BE" series volumes each feature updated content for today's readers, a new introduction by Ken Baugh, and new study questions for each chapter. The 2009 expanded Bible commentaries will include the following studies:

Be Comforted (a study of Isaiah) reminds believers that their hope is in Christ, God's plan of salvation for the whole world. (ISBN: 978-1-434766-15-1/192 pages/softcover/$12.99)

Be Daring (a study of Acts 13-28) provides the motivation to follow the Great Commission wholeheartedly. (ISBN: 978-1-434767-42-4/176 pages/softcover/$12.99)

Be Determined (a study of Nehemiah) shows readers the secrets to resolute leadership and successful service. (ISBN: 978-1-434767-45-5/176 pages/softcover/$12.99)

Be Dynamic (a study of Acts 1-12) is a powerful account of the work of the Holy Spirit in and through the church. (ISBN: 978-1-434767-46-2/192 pages/softcover/$12.99)

Be Free (a study of Galatians) inspires a fresh perspective of the Good News and encourages readers to embrace freedom in Christ. (ISBN: 978-1-434767-47-9/176 pages/softcover/$12.99)

Be Hopeful (a study of First Peter) encourages believers to never give up and to have hope during trials and suffering. (ISBN: 978-1-434767-43-1/208 pages/softcover/$12.99)

Be Patient (a study of Job) unpacks the book of Job, explaining Job's suffering and why God allowed it, illustrating God's sovereign plan. (ISBN: 978-1-434767-41-7/192 pages/softcover/$12.99)

Be Real (a study of First John) shows readers how to have a truly satisfied life through authentic relationship with Jesus Christ. (ISBN: 978-1-434767-44-8/276 pages/$12.99)

Acclaimed worldwide as a pastoral resource for international leaders, the "BE" series will soon include companion study guides-the Wiersbe Bible Study Series-with each study guide correlating with the appropriate "BE" book. David C Cook plans to release additional editions of the series over the next few years.

The "BE" Series by Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe
David C Cook/June 2009
www.davidccook.com

Posted 6/24/09 at 2:48 PM | Audra Jennings

A tender, quirky story about grief-and second chances

Talking to the Dead by Bonnie Grove
Talking to the Dead by Bonnie Grove

Talking to the Dead

In her first novel, author Bonnie Grove offers readers a tender, quirky story about grief-and second chances

"Kevin was dead and the people in my house wouldn't go home. They mingled after the funeral, eating sandwiches, drinking tea, and speaking in muffled tones. I didn't feel grateful for their presence. I felt exactly nothing," writes Bonnie Grove in Talking to the Dead (David C Cook, June 2009). "Funerals exist so we can close doors we'd rather leave open. But where did we get the idea that the best approach to facing death is to eat Bundt cake?"

In her first novel, beloved author Bonnie Grove pens a poignantly realistic and uplifting story of hope, grace, and recovery from grief. Grove's main character, twenty-something Kate Davis, can't seem to get the grieving widow thing right. She's supposed to put on a brave face and get on with her life, right? Instead, she's camped out on her living room floor, unwashed, unkempt, and unable to sleep-because her husband Kevin keeps talking to her.

Is she losing her mind? Kate's attempts to find the source of the voice she hears are both humorous and humiliating, as she turns first to an "eclectically spiritual" counselor, then a shrink with a bad toupee, an exorcist, and finally group therapy. There she meets Jack, the warmhearted, unconventional pastor of a ramshackle church, and at last the voice subsides. But when she stumbles upon a secret Kevin was keeping, Kate's fragile hold on the present threatens to implode under the weight of the past...and Kevin begins to shout. Will the voice ever stop? FULL POST

Posted 6/24/09 at 2:25 PM | Audra Jennings

The King's Legacy: A Story of the Wisdom of the Ages

The King's Legacy by Jim Stovall
The King's Legacy by Jim Stovall

Best-selling author Jim Stovall's classic parable returns in an updated gift edition

From the best-selling author of the The Ultimate Gift, now a major motion picture, comes an ageless tale with a profound message: Sometimes wisdom is where you least expect it. This summer, Jim Stovall's classic parable, The King's Legacy: A Story of the Wisdom of the Ages (David C Cook, June 2009), will return in an updated, revised gift edition. Featuring an enhanced look and new illustrations, this simple, insightful story is perfect for readers of all ages.

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was an enchanted kingdom ruled by a benevolent and much-loved king who, through his uncommon wisdom and insight, led his people through many difficult times to a period of peace, prosperity, and happiness such as the kingdom had never known.

Now, nearing the end of his reign, the king longs to leave a lasting legacy for his people. What would be a fitting memorial to his time on the throne? A monument to rival the pyramids of Egypt? A gold coin bearing his likeness? A colossal statue carved in his image? No, such an enlightened ruler would choose a very different kind of memorial.

But then the king has a remarkable idea: To discover the most profound words of wisdom in the world. So the king invites citizens from all walks of life and all corners of the realm to share with him the best of their life lessons. Farmers and physicians, hunters and historians, jesters and judges-all come before the monarch. From the wisdom that they share, the king will select the one bit that surpasses all the others, wisdom that will be passed around the world, wisdom that will benefit all people from all lands, forever: the Wisdom of the Ages.

But as the king hears from more and more of his subjects, he becomes worried and restless. From so much profound and wonderful wisdom, how will he discern the Wisdom of the Ages? How will he know when he has found it? The answer comes in a form that no one, from the king to the lowliest peasant, could expect. For the greatest wisdom comes from the most unexpected of places....

Author Bio
Jim Stovall is former a national Olympic champion weightlifter, president of the Emmy Award-winning Narrative Television Network, and a highly sought after author and platform speaker. For his work in making television accessible to our nation's 13 million blind and visually impaired people, The President's Committee on Equal Opportunity selected Jim Stovall as the Entrepreneur of the Year. Jim was also honored as the International Humanitarian of the Year, joining previous recipients Mother Teresa and Nancy Reagan. He is the author of the best-selling book The Ultimate Gift, now a major motion picture.

The King's Legacy: A Story of the Wisdom of the Ages by Jim Stovall
David C Cook/June 2009/ISBN: 978-1-434765-93-2/144 pages/softcover/$12.99
www.davidccook.com ~ www.jimstovall.com

Posted 6/23/09 at 7:24 PM | Audra Jennings

Kids Serving Kids

Give your kids a hands-on mission project and a chance to serve needy children around the world

What do think about when you read headlines about economic hardships, natural disasters, and politically charged conflict? Circumstances like these set families and entire communities reeling, and few people are affected as profoundly as the children involved. How do the littlest victims cope with the changes and uncertainty around them? And what can the church do to reach out specifically to these little ones?

Group Publishing, the premier publishers of children's Bible curriculum including Sunday school and VBS, believes that some of the best ministers to children experiencing disaster and hardship are other children. That's why they have created a program called Operation Kid-to-Kid (OK2K), which partners with nondenominational Christian ministries like International Bible Society and World Vision to provide opportunities for children in North America to share God's love with other children in difficult or disastrous situations. Since its inception ten years ago, Operation Kid-to-Kid projects have impacted millions of kids all over the world.

"Operation Kid-to-Kid is a great way to teach kids compassion and service," says Joani Schultz, cofounder of Group and OK2K. "Children learn by doing. It's one thing to drop a nickel in the offering plate, but when kids make a gift with their own hands, when they can be creative and personal, this leaves a real impression on both the givers and the receivers."

Q: What is Operation Kid-to-KidTM?
A: Operation Kid-to-KidTM is a partnership of Group Publishing, Inc. and nondenominational Christian organizations dedicated to creating hands-on service projects for children in North America. Operation Kid-to-KidTM projects have ministered to kids all over the world. Over the years, Group's Operation Kid-to-KidTM has become one of the largest forces mobilizing children in serving other children around the world. Millions have been impacted with gifts of comfort critters, school supplies, Bibles, hygiene kits, Christmas gifts, Bible coloring books, and socks and shoes. Operation Kid-to-KidTM gives children a meaningful service project that will change their hearts as they help change the world.

Q: What is a Comfort Critter? Where do I get the Comfort Critters?
A: Comfort Critters are adorable, easy-to-assemble crafts designed especially for kids to make and receive. Custom-made Comfort Critters are available from Group and Group suppliers. This year's special critter is a cuddly little turtle that reads "God Cares" and features a pocket so each child can include a special message to another child in need.

Q: We all want to teach our kids about God's compassion. Why are the Operation Kid-to-KidTM Comfort Critters so effective for this purpose?
A: Children learn by doing. While activities like collecting spare change definitely serve a good purpose, it's hard for young children, who don't really understand the value of money yet, to understand how the money they collect will minister to other children. But all children know what it's like to be scared or lonely. They know how a teddy bear, stuffed animal, or blankie makes them feel better. As they use their own hands to make these little turtles, they are creating personal, tangible expressions of compassion. The handy sewn in pocket gives them the opportunity to send a message from their own hearts. And because they make two turtles-one to give away and one to keep-they will have a touchable reminder that other children are struggling and in need of compassion and comfort.

Q: How many Comfort Critters will I need?
A: You will need two for each child participating-one for them to keep, and one to give away.

Q: Can I use a different Comfort Critter for our church service project?
A: Not if you are distributing it through International Bible Society for disaster relief. They're counting on receiving these Comfort Critters with the special message of God's love. IBS has learned it's important that items distributed to children should be identical. No child should feel less special because his or her Comfort Critter doesn't look like the others.

Q: Do I have to send my Comfort Critters to the International Bible Society for distribution?
A: Feel free to tweak your Operation Kid-to-KidTM program. You can use your Comfort Critters as a local community service project-or send the items with your church mission team.

Q: Besides the Comfort Critters, what other Operation Kid-to-KidTM projects can my group participate in?
A: There are so many ways to involve children in ministry throughout the year. Through the Rome VBS program, you can send monthly Bible readers to children in the underground church around the world. Since it is dangerous for these children to own a Bible, these comic book-style readers offer much needed encouragement.

The Operation Kid-to-Kid Prayer Bear missions program warms hearts and minds and allows children to share the joy of God's love. Kids will learn what it means to help others as they create a Prayer Bear that says "Jesus" in English, Spanish, and French. Plus, everyone can personalize a message to put in their Bear's pocket to send to an orphan in Africa. Join us in one of the world's largest forces mobilizing kids in serving others around the world.

This easy, hands-on mission program can serve those in your local community, be sent to military personnel, or simply be sent to the International Bible Society for distribution to children around the world.

For more information about Operation Kid-to-Kid, visit www.ok2k.org.

Posted 6/23/09 at 4:59 PM | Audra Jennings

Caught in the Crossfire of Black and White

The exciting sequel to Richard Doster's Safe at Home offers a front row seat
at the explosive events of the Civil Rights Movement

Crossing the Lines by Richard Doster
Crossing the Lines by Richard Doster

Eager audiences need wait no longer for the much anticipated sequel to Richard Doster's well-received Safe at Home. In Doster's new historical fiction, Crossing the Lines (David C Cook, June 2009), giants of the dawning American Civil Rights Movement come alive as an idealistic white news reporter in the racially charged South of the late 1950s dedicates himself to the renewal of the region he loves.

Family man Jack Hall wants nothing more than to be a respectable newspaper reporter, see a good baseball game now and again, love his wife, and watch his son grow up in their middle-class, white community. A sportswriter for the Atlanta Constitution, Jack is a contented Southerner-until, across the pages of the nation's newspapers, the photos begin to appear of bombed out "Negro" churches, black schoolchildren swarmed by angry white mobs, and Thurmond, Talmadge, and Russell standing before gold-domed buildings, vowing that "our way of life" will never change.

With each image, Jack's discomfort grows until, in September 1957, the pain becomes unbearable. That's when one image, in one small newspaper-of a white girl screaming insults at her black classmate-ignites a new mission. Jack, so thoroughly grieved by the now famous photo of Elizabeth Eckford and Hazel Bryan, is determined to show the world the South he loves-with its beauty, its literature and music, and its achievements in sports and business.

He's thrilled when he's introduced to legendary editor Ralph McGill, an outspoken opponent of segregation who promptly sends Jack to Montgomery to investigate reports of a bus boycott. There Jack meets another man on the fault line of black and white: Martin Luther King, Jr. Profoundly moved by King's commitment to Christian philosophy, Jack's writing begins to reflect a need for racial equality and tolerance that isn't always well received-even by his own wife.

As the years pass, Jack covers stories about Southerners from Orval Faubus to Jim Johnson, John Lewis, and Diane Nash and from music pioneer Sam Phillips to literary giants Flannery O'Connor and Harper Lee-always using his writing as a conscience for the South he loves so much. But once again, historic events sweep Jack-and his idealistic son, Chris-into harm's way. Will this be the collision that destroys his family forever?

Author Bio
Richard Doster is the editor of byFaith magazine. Prior to his work with byFaith, Doster spent 25 years in the advertising business. He's been published by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and is a regular contributor to byFaith, winner of the 2006 and 2008 Evangelical Press Association's Award of Excellence. A native of Mississippi and a graduate of the University of Florida, Doster is now concentrating on Southern fiction, exploring the history, religion, family relationships, sense of community and place, and social tensions that characterize his home region. He resides in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife, Sally.

Crossing the Lines by Richard Doster
David C Cook June 2009/ISBN: 978-1-434799-84-5/304 pages/softcover/$14.99
www.davidccook.com ~ www.richarddoster.com

Posted 6/23/09 at 4:39 PM | Audra Jennings

Not Your Grandmother's Bible Study

Award-winning team of Heitzig and Rose has created a stylish, fast,
AND substantive Bible study series for women on the go

Voracious Bible study readers, women purchase Bible studies more than do men by a ratio of five-to-one-and Gallup reports that 14 percent of Americans belong to a Bible-study group. This summer, David C Cook will release two new books in the Fresh Life series, their easy-to-use series of Bible studies for women and about women.

With strong endorsements from well-known Christian leaders like Kay Arthur and Ruth Graham Bell, two up-and-coming female authors, Lenya Heitzig and Penny Pierce Rose, have created the Fresh Life Bible study series published by David C Cook. Perfect for every age, appropriate for groups or individual study, and intended for today's on-the-go woman, the Fresh Life series requires just 20 minutes a day for a meaningful contemplation of God's Word. The next two books in the series are Live Relationally and Live Deeply (David C Cook, June 2009). (The first two books, Live Intimately and Live Fearlessly, were released in the summer of 2008.)

Live Relationally by Lenya Heitzig and Penny Rose
Live Relationally by Lenya Heitzig and Penny Rose

Live Relationally

offers a fresh look at the important women of Genesis. Though women in the Bible are sometimes overlooked or downplayed, this fascinating Bible study curriculum reminds readers that women are central to God's story-and His plan. Genesis alone is peopled with women who experience death, marriage, divorce, rape, and family tragedy. And if that sounds like something out of Desperate Housewives, it just goes to show that the Bible has a message for women-today.

With probing questions, insightful sidebars, and meaningful life-application exercises, Live Relationally offers the vivid lessons and rich wisdom of Israel's founding mothers. From the complicated Tamar to the often oversimplified Eve, they are wives and mothers, slaves and owners, sinners and saints ... and each woman's story will touch hearts for God.

Live Deeply is for anyone who has ever read one of Jesus' parables and asked, "What is He

Live Deeply by Lenya Heitzig and Penny Rose
Live Deeply by Lenya Heitzig and Penny Rose

talking about?" Now women-alone or with a small group-can dig deeper into the meaning of these parables to uncover their important meaning for their walks with Christ. Designed with today's busy woman in mind, each lesson can be completed in as little as 20 minutes per day, but will leave her with a lifetime of valuable insights.

Based on the inductive Bible study method, each lesson conjures vivid imagery of the sights and sounds of Ancient Israel alongside poignant application questions for today. The Fresh Life Bible study series offers something for Christian women of all shapes and sizes; everyone will leave with a more profound understanding of the important women of Genesis and Christ's amazing parables.


Author Bios
Lenya Heitzig is an award-winning author and popular Bible teacher. After beginning her ministry as a single women's counselor with Youth with a Mission, Lenya married Skip and together they started Calvary of Albuquerque, one of the fast growing churches in the country. The author of Holy Moments and co-author of the Gold Medallion-winning Pathways to God's Treasures, Lenya currently serves as director of women at Calvary, overseeing weekly Bible studies and yearly retreats. Lenya and Skip live in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Penny Pierce Rose is the award-winning author/co-author of several books and Bible studies, including the ECPA Gold Medallion winner Pathways to God's Treasures. She has served on the board of directors for the Southwest Women's Festival and develops Bible study curriculum for the women's programs at Calvary of Albuquerque. Penny, her husband, Kerry, and their three children, Erin, Kristian, and Ryan, live in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

www.davidccook.com  

Posted 6/21/09 at 8:09 AM | Richard Doster

The Reason We Read

In his book, How to Read and Why, Harold Bloom, the respected literary critic, says that there is no single way to read well, but that there is a prime reason. "Information," Bloom says, is "endlessly available to us..." Then he rhetorically asks, "Where shall we find wisdom?"

Bloom unknowingly underscores the urgency of Proverbs 3: "Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding / for the gain from her is better than gain from silver / and the profit better than gold..."

Nearly every human, I think, intuitively understands the value of wisdom. As parents, teachers, and friends we strive to pass on more than mere knowledge. Our aim, ultimately, is to cultivate goodness. We look to philosophers and theologians. They provide guidelines; they articulate principles and thereby supply a grid through which we can weigh right and wrong. But, as poet Philip Sidney said (and this goes back to the 1580s) philosophy is abstract; it's theoretical, and sometimes -- in the midst of pain, joy, grief, or gladness -- it's hard to see its relevance.

Historians reconstruct the world's pivotal moments. They piece the puzzle together, revealing cause-and-effect, even suggesting, occasionally, the rationale for men's actions. But historians stick to the facts. They're confined by what they can verify. They're prohibited, as historians, from delving into what "ought to be."

Which means that neither philosopher nor historian reveals much of the mystery that we -- real people who get up and go to work every day -- must ponder.

I think it was Philip Sidney, the poet I just mentioned, who first pointed out that the poet provides that picture. It is literature, Sidney said 430 years ago, that takes the abstract and makes it real. With action, dialog, and reflection novelists not only tell us what happened, but what happens -- to us, every day, in the midst of hard-and-fast reality. They give us a story of flesh-and-blood humans who think and feel and struggle ... just like we do.

Novelists, with tools that aren't available to historians or philosophers, can impart wisdom and, one hopes, virtue.

Novelists, unlike historians, create characters. And as we read we come to love, hate, or admire them. Novelists, (and I'm paraphrasing Sidney here) unlike philosophers, can, by the power of their own imagination, create other worlds. They do this as humans created in the image of God -- most like Him when they speak (or write) a world into existence; when they speak (or write) people into being-characters who have names, faces, good qualities, as well as bad ones.

This is one of the means by which we subdue the earth. This is why we tell stories, and why we read them. This is why, according to writer and teacher Leland Ryken, "we not only learn from literature but enjoy it: it delights as it teaches. It conveys ... truth through the creation of concrete images which incarnate or embody ideas which would otherwise remain abstract and nebulous."

Richard Doster is the editor of byFaith magazine. He is also the author of two novels, Safe at Home and Crossing the Lines, both published by David C. Cook Publishers. You can find out more at www.richarddoster.com

Books that prompted these thoughts: 

Ryken, Leylan, ed. The Christian Imagination: The Practice of Faith and Literature in Writing. Colorado Springs: Waterbrook Press, 2002

Bloom, Harold. How to Read and Why. New York: Scribner, 2000

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