Book Review 19: The Christian Imagination edited by Leland Ryken

I wrote a review for Imagine by Steve Turner and said that book along with the Bible and a couple of others that every Christian who loves the arts and literature should have in their library.

Well, I’m adding The Christian Imagination edited by Leland Ryken to that list.

This book presents and argues effectively the importance of literature in a Christian’s life. It has essays from Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Annie Dillard, Francis Schaeffer, Flannery  O’Connor, Walker Percy, and T.S. Eliot that covers everything from fiction to poetry to the defense for the pleasure of reading and how the imagination can strengthens one’s faith.

Here are a few quotes from some of my favorite essays:

“Christians should neither undervalue nor overvalue literature. Literature is not exempt from artistic, moral, and intellectual criticism. Yet its gifts to the human race are immeasurable: artistic enrichment, pleasurable pastime, self-understanding, clarification of human experience, and, in its highest reaches, the expression of truth and beauty that can become worship of God.” (A Christian Philosophy of Literature by Leland Ryken)


“The modern age has generally regarded the arts as dispensable because they are nonutilitarian. But if we look honestly and deeply within the human spirit as created by God, we will find a hunger for human creativity, for artistry, for beauty.”  (Words of Delight: A Hedonistic Defense of Literature by Leland Ryken)

“The desire to avoid offending sensibilities in regard to dialogue and human situations often results in plastic, smoothed-over characters, and a holding back from the kind of writing that may evoke true inspiration or authentic villany.” (Christian Fiction:Piety Is Not Enough by Richard Terrell)

As you can read from those quotes that nothing is off-limits concerning the role of literature in our daily walk as a Christian.

I can not recommend The Christian Imagination highly enough to everyone who loves who literature and I believe these book of essays should not be read in one setting but over time in order to digest the truths these great writers have given us.

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