Required Reading

I’ve spent my life around books.  With a BA in Literature, MFA in Creative Writing and MSLS in Library and Information Science, stories have embedded themselves in my personal and academic life.  Inspired by a conversation today, here are a few authors you should grab as soon as you can….

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Photo by Janko Ferlic on

1/ Graham Greene-a former military intelligence officer for England, Greene has a keen eye for character, struggle, faith, suffering, and life. Start with The End of the Affair and go to The Power and the Glory and The Heart of the Matter (which contains one of the most powerful paragraphs I’ve ever read).

2/ Flannery O’Connor-Taken from this world way too young, O’Conner is a master of the short story.  Check out the collection Everything that Rises Must Converge and particularly “The Lame Shall Enter First.”  It is a story that floored me to the point where I had to walk away from the book for a while to absorb it.

3/ Dante-I’m a fan of darker literature and Inferno, besides being almost required college reading, is something worth spending time in.  Look past the political allegory and get lost in his imagery. Dante’s contrapasso is creative, the environments deep and horrifying.  The final part of the trip, finding the devil encased in ice, is a masterstroke from a writer so deep in the tumultuous waters of his time.

4/ Marsha Pessl– In the dark lit vein, check out Pessl’s Night Film. She plays with form and style enough for a unique result, better than Danielewski’s House of Leaves. The novel split critics but could be, and probably will be, part of a movement that may change print output as we go.

5/ David Mitchell– check out Ghostwritten, a novel of scope spanning centuries and locations over multiple narrators. The chapters, despite their different locations, are connected.  Mitchell is one of the authors who consistently make me sit back in amazement at what he can do. This book put him on the map and rightfully so.

Check any of these out and you won’t be disappointed.

Fire Words Week: Sin

We love to talk about it.  C.S. Lewis wrote The Screwtape Letters as an examination of it. Milton and Dante both took it through epic poems. Speaking of Milton, watch Al Pacino’s role in The Devil’s Advocate and you’ll see one of the best monologues on it in any movie.

Sin is an interesting topic and it is oh so easy to point fingers.

Sin is right in our wheelhouse, right over the plate.  It is the fastball we can hit with a quick turn of phrase or scripture.  We think we have it planned and played out.

We could never be more wrong.

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When society gets hold of the concept of sin, they visualize the fanatics at the Westboro Baptist Church protesting funerals with their hate speech. They believe that the church is closed to those struggling because of issues and lifestyle choices. They become the lepers of Biblical times, content to stand outside the walls and live their lives.

We are called to rip down the walls.

I believe we are all works in progress.  Our salvation is complete when we are called home. Until then, we are here taking things a day at a time.  We are not perfect and the first direction our accusations should fly is at ourselves.

Sin is pervasive. It is in the church just as it is in society. I’ve written before that it can be a window and a mirror.

Our answer stands in Jesus, in perfect and radical love.  It is in the arms of those willing to embrace the ones who need it.  It is providing comfort and warmth to everyone.

Sin is a window, mirror, and a door. It opens us to community, faith, love, humility, and acceptance. We all can handle it better as a family than we can on our own.

Family is the bottom line. It is the revolution that can change things and help us cool off the fire surrounding the concept of the church and sin.


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