Saturday, March 7, 2015

Defenders of the faith

Christian History Magazine gives us an issue about "Seven Literary Sages." The seven are George MacDonald, G.K. Chesterton, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Dorothy L. Sayers, Charles Williams, and Owen Barfield, four of whom were Inklings, two influenced the Inklings and one was a contemporary non-Inkling. The magazine is full of informative articles about them including one that would be a good introduction: "The seven sages," with brief biographies of each author. Another page of "Recommended Resources" includes "Begin with" and "You might also like" lists of works by the authors.

The entire magazine can be downloaded free as a pdf through a link here and each of the articles can be read online through links here.

I am unfamiliar with the work of Owen Barfield and have never succeeded in getting into Charles Williams's supernatural thrillers but enjoy all of the others. The contemporary of the Inklings — and the only woman, Dorothy L. Sayers, is a particular favorite of mine, especially for her detective novels and her Christian apologetics. From one of the articles about her:
.... Not only was she the only high-profile woman in a church completely dominated by men, but she was also eccentric, was married to a divorced man, and had borne a child out of wedlock. Yet she played a leading role in the renewal of Christian drama and applied her knowledge of the Bible and the creeds to the problems of her generation. In so doing she proclaimed a genuine Christian approach to art and voiced a powerful theology of work.
When Sayers was a child, the discovery that Cyrus the Persian and King Ahasuerus could be found both in her history books and in the Old Testament convinced her that “history was all of a piece and the Bible was part of it.” During the economic and political crises of the late 1930s, according to her biographer Barbara Reynolds, Sayers “experienced a return of the vision she had had as a child, of the relatedness and wholeness of things. .... Her mind focused on the central belief of Christianity—the Incarnation—and she saw how all else flowed from it.” In fact, three principal doctrines of Christianity—Creation, Incarnation, and the Trinity—came together in her mind to throw light on her world and the problems of her age. .... [more]
This will be enjoyed by those who already know these authors but is also a very good introduction for those unfamiliar. And no Christian should be unfamiliar with them. (I need to try Williams again.)