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Alice McDermott’s Dying Breed

We often blame the unfavorable treatment of traditional religion in contemporary art on animus or ignorance. Sometimes that’s an accurate assessment. But we underestimate how devilishly difficult it is to depict devout, God-centered characters convincingly, without making them plastic saints or . . . . Continue Reading »

The Art of Spiritual Warfare

This Present Darkness by frank e. peretti crossway, 375 pages, $14.99 As a teenager, I was convinced that a spirit of false prophecy had attached itself to my neck. This spirit’s name—according to one of our youth group leaders—was Python, after the ­Pythia, or Oracle of Delphi. I did . . . . Continue Reading »

Briefly Noted

On Reading Well:  Finding the Good Life through Great Books by karen swallow prior brazos, 272 pages, $19.99 In On Reading Well, Liberty University English professor Karen Swallow Prior sets forth a thoughtful, nuanced vision of the relationship between morality and literature. This vision . . . . Continue Reading »

The Bookish Life

The village idiot of the shtetl of Frampol was offered the job of waiting at the village gates to greet the arrival of the Messiah. “The pay isn’t great,” he was told, “but the work is steady.” The same might be said about the conditions of the bookish life: low pay but steady . . . . Continue Reading »

How Much Dreiser Does a Man Need?

Theodore Dreiser is ranked among our great authors; he was a syllabus mainstay for as polished a master as Saul Bellow. Yet he is neither among the great English-language prose stylists nor a writer of nuanced or profound moral vision. His idea of human life was crudely mechanical and deterministic. . . . . Continue Reading »

Reading is Believing

I’ve been tracking youth reading habits and test scores for a long time, but I’ve never asked this question: What becomes of a faith that places a book at the center of worship if the rising generation doesn’t read? I don’t mean illiteracy. The problem is what reading researchers . . . . Continue Reading »

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