Reading with Deeper Eyes: The Love of Literature and the Life of Faith

By Fodor, Sarah J. | Anglican Theological Review, Winter 2002 | Go to article overview

Reading with Deeper Eyes: The Love of Literature and the Life of Faith


Fodor, Sarah J., Anglican Theological Review


Reading with Deeper Eyes: The Love of Literature and the Life of Faith. By William H. Willimon. Nashville: Upper Room, 1998. 125 pp. $12.00 (paper).

In Reading with Deeper Eyes, William Willimon offers brief discussions from a Christian perspective of ten works of fiction, from The Odyssey, Job, and Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment to seven recent American tales including Anne Tyler's Saint Maybe and John Updike's In the Beauty of the Lilies. Willimon's conversational essays record his own journey as a reader of these stories, even as he uses his discussion of each work to focus on an aspect of the Christian walk, from isolation to relationship, from guilt through atonement to forgiveness. Willimon lets readers know early on that he is a pastor and counselor. Toward the end of his book, in the context of a discussion of habits of faith, he mentions that he is a Methodist. On the whole his perspective is ecumenical.

Willimon's experience as Dean of the Chapel and Professor of Christian Ministry at Duke University clearly informs these essays. He juxtaposes each work with an analogous or contrasting story from the Bible and often relates these to modern experience, especially those of college students. In discussing The Odyssey, for example, Willimon contrasts the value the ancient Greeks placed on leaving home with God's invitation to "come home and party," expressed by the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son. He links the typical college experience of growing up by leaving one's family with the American need for workers who will be easily transferable, rootless. Each essay closes with an observation about some aspect of the life of faith and with several questions "for further reflection" on the reader's own faith. …

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