When Dan tires of a conversation, he will sometimes keep looking at you but start writing invisible chord charts over your head. If you are still talking, he’ll begin rearranging the chords to make his musical progression more interesting. Most people never know this. Since I recognize this particular face, however, and fear that I might see it on you if I go too deeply into my description of my summer reading, I will sum up instead.
We’ll start with a cute shot of Macy sitting on the Giant’s table while he sleeps – to get us in the story-talk mood:
I’ve been reading about Christian poetics – a way of studying and analyzing literature through a Christian viewpoint. Of course I’ve studied a lot of literary theory while in college, but combining that with a Christian perspective is new to me. I always struggled with figuring out which literary theory best framed my questions about literature. Although I have feminist concerns, I don’t find that theory addressing enough for me. I’m also drawn to New Historicism and New Criticism in many ways, but not fully convinced of a perfect fit. And I’m bored by deconstructionism and Marxism, among others. But this idea of a Christian literary theory excites me. There are troves of material on the subject (I have piles of yellow sticky notes with suggestions of titles and authors scribbled on them), and I feel like I’m discovering a new world.
One afternoon several emails came into my inbox from a listserv for college instructors interested in Christianity and literature. What a wonderful way to pass an afternoon! I tried to explain it to Dan, but he just smiled at me, and I could see his fingers instinctively tapping out rhythms on the steering wheel. “Put it this way,” I smiled back, “I found my people today.”
Read this excerpt from The Christian Imagination: The Practice of Faith in Literature and Writing (edited by Leland Ryken) and I think you’ll understand:
Modern literary theory has campioned the idea of interpretive communities – readers and authors who share an agenda of interests, beliefs, and values. Christian readers and writers are one of these interpretive communities. Everyone sees the world and literature through the lens of his or her beliefs and experiences. Christians are no exception….
So, there I am. Hey, are you listening? : )