Jonathan's Reviews > The Christian Imagination: The Practice of Faith in Literature and Writing

The Christian Imagination by Leland Ryken
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Aug 12, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: theology, wry-ting
Read from August 26 to September 09, 2010


Helped fight my natural inclination to write off (booh...) the beauty of writing, of telling a story, of art.

I am inclined to propositional thinking, but sometimes my propositional attitude forgets that propositions are supernatural. Our propositions contain more of heaven and hell than we know. I.e. though propositions are thought to be understood only by the intellect, yet it is our souls, and the reality in which our souls live and breathe and move, in which the propositions in our mind are really alive.

Propositions, the true ones, speak of a true reality. And art, writing, or story telling, are all attempts to proclaim the same true propositions, but instead of focusing on the intellect, they focus on the feeling.

[They still hit the intellect, but not in the same way as: Jesus is Lord. Art can communicate the same truth, but it hits us differently. And we need that, we need both (beauty in truth and truth in beauty), because they both affect our souls].


Proposition: Jesus is Lord. Jesus is the living beauty in the true proposition.

Art: Van Gogh's "Starry Night." The truth is in the artistry, the beauty it reveals is the beauty of God. The heavens are proclaiming of the beauty of our LORD.

[I think I need to think this through more. My writing is convoluted].

The one quibble I have with the book, or with some of the essays, is the inclination of artists to exaggerate the reality of their work. It is not enough that art can glorify God, but many still want to go one step further and make their art, in effect, divine. Or maybe it is that they seem to say that all art is God-breathed, which is true in a sense, but then they forget the rest of the story.

Eve and Adam eat the apple.

Evil enters the world. Hence, all our art must inevitably be tainted. And only Christ can redeem us, and it. Art has no redemptive qualities apart from Christ. I have no redemptive qualities apart from Christ. Feeding the starving children has no redemptive quality apart from Christ.

I.e. the redemption that there is in feeding starving children is brought about, and only able to happen, because of what Christ did at the cross and in the grave. The fact that we are allowed to help others is because of Christ. The fact that atheists are allowed to help the poor is based on what Christ did. Christ made it, and makes it, possible for good to be in the world. Because Christ IS the good.

We exist by the grace which rests on and in and because of Christ.

Common grace in a world of evil. And for the joyful few: Amazing grace.

So let us rejoice in the grace God has shown us, but let us remember that we still live in a world rampant with evil, even still in our own hearts. The good news, or true story, is that God has and is setting us free from this same evil to draw us near to Him.

2 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Christian Imagination.
Sign In »

No comments have been added yet.