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Archive for December 3rd, 2014

Literature Faithful Learning Clifford Foreman

 Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

This booklet articulates a Christian view of literature and argues that the academic study of literature is important and beneficial for the Christian.  It is a part of a series of booklets published by Presbyterian and Reformed called “The Faithful Learning Series” which covers various academic studies from a Christian worldview.  Clifford Foreman, the author of this booklet, is quite capable in addressing the topic of literature, having taught English literature at the college level for many years and is himself a Reformed Christian.  He begins in the booklet with an account of the time when he was a new Christian in a fundamentalist church there was another new Christian who told him that he has decided not to read anything but the Bible.  The author was at that time going to college and majoring in English and it didn’t sit comfortable with him then.  Many years later, the author is able to articulate more clearly and profoundly why reading literature outside the Bible is not necessarily wrong—rather if it is done right, it can be of great benefit for the Christian.  Fortunately for us, the author summarizes these reasons in this booklet.  I appreciated the author’s discussion about the importance of language and how language as a medium can give us “second order of beauty, meaning and creativity” beyond the more direct and immediate means of communicating about reality such as realistic painting, photography or a video clip.  It is amazing to think that God revealed Himself through language and not just compilation of brute un-interpreted data and as Foreman points out words such as in the context of poetic statement can touch not only a person’s mind but will and emotions.  As I read that I thought about how many times have the Psalms lifted me up or a promise in God’s  Word have gave me assurance and faith.  Language is a wonderful thing!  The reasons Foreman offered for the importance of literature can be divided into two, with the first being benefits for a Christian’s reading of the Bible and secondly the benefits for the Christian outside of the area of reading the Bible.  Concerning the first type of benefit Foreman tells us that the study of the mechanics of storytelling can make us more conscious of the mechanics used in the stories of Scripture which helps us understand God’s Word better.  Foreman warns the reader that as Christians we must hold to the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible must we must not let this make us “blind” (good word choice) to the human literary characteristic of the Bible.  The best part of this booklet was his discussion of the reasons to read literature outside of the benefits for our Scripture reading because he covers reasons beyond the obvious.  For instance, Foreman argues that a Christian who has learned to analyze literary works would be more capable of being freed from manipulation from powerful writers.  While acknowledging that there are literatures to avoid Foreman also argue that this does not mean we avoid all literature in the same way one’s fear of gluttony should not justify anorexia (what a word picture!).  I don’t want to give away all the reasons that Foreman puts forth but its worth purchasing the booklet.  I especially enjoyed how he gives us “samples” of literary analysis, especially his analysis of a poem by Frost since I would have never seen the many wonderful things in the poem that Foreman was able to draw out.  I can say this as someone who typically do not read works of fiction that this book has wetted my appetite.  I highly recommend this book.

NOTE: This book was provided to me free by P&R Publishing and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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