Tag Archives: Christianity

Religion in Class? Teach It, Don’t Preach It

Is academe biased against religion? Maybe to a degree, but religious background is essential for understanding most of the literature we teach.

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Emily Dickinson’s “Smart Misery” of Doubt

Emily Dickinson struggled with religious doubt all of her life. Because she desperately wanted to belief, some of her poems show her faith being tested.

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A Debate about Sex, Pullman vs. Milton

This is the 20th anniversary of Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” series, which gives me an excuse for once again tilting with the fantasy author and figuring out my own thoughts on our vexed relationship with sexuality and our bodies. Once again I conclude that Milton goes far deeper into these issues than Pullman does.

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Sir Gawain and Celtic Spirituality

“Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” may represent the clash between two strains of Christianity which today we describe as Dominionism and Green Christianity. The 14th century poem definitely comes down on the green side.

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The Cross Recounts the Crucifixion

“Dream of the Rood” tells the story of the crucifixion from the cross’ point of view.

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Enthralled by Anglicanism’s Theatricality

Spiritual Sunday Last month I posted on a wonderful Alice Munro short story, “The Age of Faith,” about a girl wrestling with issues of faith. In today’s post I look specifically at the protagonist’s experience with the town’s Anglican church since I myself am Anglican (or, as we call it in America, Episcopalian). Most of […]

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Something Different Crosses the Threshold

Mary Oliver gives a powerful reading of Jesus calming the storm.

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A Bright Torch Shines to Show the Way

John Donne’s “Ascension” captures the paradoxes of the resurrection and ascension.

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A Hermit of the Rocks, Wind & Mist

R. S. Thomas’s powerful poem “Sea-Watching” compares waiting for the Holy Spirit with bird watching.

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Frodo’s Battle with Sin

Students discover that “Lord of the Rings” is a story about their Christian journeys.

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Black Students Examine Uncle Tom

Two African American male students find continued worth in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

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the dance of Jesus music holds the air

These Lucille Clifton poems usher us from Lent into Easter.

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Here Is No Water but Only Rock

Dry rocks have functioned as images of spiritual desolation throughout the history of Good Friday poetry.

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The Opening of Eyes Long Closed

A Salman Rushdie short story and a David Whyte poem lead to insights into the story of Jesus and the blind man.

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“Jane Eyre” as Lenten Meditation

In Jane’s battle with St. John Rivers, we have material that helps us understand the true meaning of Lent.

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Pullman Is of the Devil’s Party

Philip Pullman based “Dark Materials” on “Paradise Lost” but came up with a theological muddle.

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Real Religion Is Like Literature

If the “Chronicles of Narnia” are read narrowly as Christian propaganda, then they suffer and so does Christianity.

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This House Is Filling with Light

Tim Winton’s novel “That Eye, the Sky” finds spiritual resonance in difficult circumstances.

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Christianity in the Slave Owning South

“Uncle Tom’s Cabin” shows how the Bible can be misused and how we should interpret it to promote social justice.

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Christianity vs. Capitalism

Conservatives criticizing Pope Francis would benefit from this Robert Nemerov poem.

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In the Beginning Was the Word

The opening of the Book of John is poetry of the first order.

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Weeping, We Hold Him Fast Tonight

Christina Rossetti invokes Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins awaiting the bridegroom in this Advent poem.

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Dear God, Drive These Cruel Doubts Away

Anne Bronte’s moving poem shows her wrestling with deep spiritual doubts.

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Farewell to the Boy with the Golden Crown

Yesterday at my father’s memorial service I read ones of his poems about the recurrent cycle of life.

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Mary Is Called, the Parting Hour Is Come

Richard Crashaw celebrates the Feast of the Assumption with a feminized Christianity.

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i put him all into my arms

e. e. cummings’ “man who had fallen among thieves” brings the Good Samaritan parable uncomfortably close to home.

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Love Life, Say No to Christian Masochism

Tom Jones gives us a healthier vision of Christianity than that which puts all the emphasis on worldly suffering.

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The Something Inside the Nothing

Closely examining St. Paul’s “road to Damascus” conversion experience also reveals insight into the poetic process.

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Uncontrollable Mystery on the Bestial Floor

A Yeats poem about the Magi helps us transition out of Christmas and back into our work lives.

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More Frightening than Arrest, Freedom

Levertov’s poem about Peter escaping prison confronts existential issues of freedom

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Epiphany Sunday and the Arabian Nights

The Christian Feast of the Epiphany and the Arabian Nights come together in a fanciful Scott Bates poem about the three wise men passing through Baghdad on their way to see Jesus.

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  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

    Please feel free to e-mail me [rrbates (at) smcm (dot) edu]. I would be honored to hear your thoughts and questions about literature.

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