If all men are offended because of Christ, let them be offended But where is the sense of their being offended at something that is not Christ and is nothing like Him? We do Him singularly little honour by watering down His personality till it could not offend a fly. Surely it is not the business of the Church to adapt Christ to men, but to adapt men to Christ.
Dorothy L. Sayers,
Books and Movies I Recommend
The books on this list are not necessarily apologetic books or lists of theological references, rather they are meant both as theological help, devotional comfort and simple delight. And the list will always be, even if I finish, incomplete.
"One of the awful things about writing when you are a Christian is that for you the ultimate reality is the incarnation, the present reality is the incarnation, and nobody believes in the incarnation; that is, nobody in your audience." Flannery O'Connor, Letters
Theology Old and New Plus a Few Extras
The author is an ancient Church father writing in the fourth century. C.S. Lewis writes the introduction for the translation by Sister Penelope Lawson. C.S. Lewis in the Introduction writes: " He stood for the Trinitarian doctrine, 'whole and undefiled,' when it looked as if all the civilised world was slipping back from Christianity into the religion of Arius--into one of those 'sensible' synthetic religions which are so strongly recommended to--day and which, then as now, included among their devotees many highly cultivated clergymen. It is to his glory that he did not move with the times; it is his reward that he now remains when those times, as all times do, have moved on." xvii, xviii.
St. Augustine, The Confessions of St. Augustine
Flavel is a Puritan writer and pastor. Almost all Puritan writers are full of good doctrine, wisdom and comfort. They are good soul keepers.
Richard Baxter, The Saints Everlasting Rest
also a Puritan author
Karl Barth, The Faith of The Church
This is wonderful reading; "a commentary on The Apostle's creed according to Calvin's Catechism. "
Karl Barth, The Knowledge of God and The Service of God According to The Teaching of The Reformation
If you can find it, this is Barth using The Scot's Confession
for the Gifford Lectures delivered at the University of Aberdeen in 1937 and 1938. Since the lectures were meant to be about "natural theology" Barth attempted to show what natural theology was not!
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Meat
This is a small booklet written as an introduction to Sayer's play The Greatest Drama Ever Staged.
The book emphasizes the importance of Faithful Christian doctrine. See also, The Man Born To Be King and The Mind of The Maker. Sayers, the author of the "The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries" and a friend of C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams, also wrote a little pamphlet entitled Are Women Human?. This is excellent, neither feminism nor chauvinistic.
G. K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man
The writings of Chesterton are special whether about life, theology, or a detective story.
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Lewis is my all time favorite writer. All his books are worth gold. He is an apologist, storyteller, and a wonderful letter writer. Check out his Letters To Children. His children's seriesChronicles Of Narnia are for Adults too!
Speaking The Christian God: The Holy Trinity and the Challenge of Feminism,
ed. Alvin F. Kimel, Jr.
This is filled with strong insightful essays about God, while they were meant as information against heresy, I find them devotional. The authors include Elizabeth Achtemeier, Robert W. Jenson and Thomas F. Torrance.
Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Not The Way Its Suppose To Be : A Breviary of Sin
Plantinga is professor of systematic theology at Calvin Theological Seminary. I still go back and read the chapter on how it should be when I am feeling far away.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
and Letters and Papers from Prison
Eugene Peterson, Under The Unpredictable Plant
I like all of Peterson's books. This book
was meant for pastors but I find it is also good for writers. See also Take & Read: Spiritual reading: An Annotated List.
Dorothy Day, On Pilgrimage
and The long Loneliness
The Catholic Lay worker who founded the Catholic Worker movement. The first book is in the form of a diary and is a book many Christian women, particularly mothers would enjoy. The latter is the story of Day's faith journey.
"Once having taken up the word, it is never again possible to turn away. The writer is no sideline judge of his compatriots and contemporaries.He is guilty along with them of all the evil committed in his native land or by his people. And if the tanks of his fatherland have shed blood on the asphalt of a foreign capital, the brown stains have for all eternity spattered the writer's face. And if on a fateful night a sleeping, trusting friend has been choked to death, there are black and blue marks from the rope on the writers palms. And if the young fellow citizens of his country impudently proclaim the superiority of debauchery to modest labor, or go in for narcotics, or seize hostages--then all of this evil stink mingles in the breath of the writer. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Nobel Lecture On Literature"
Georges Bernanos, The Diary of A Country Priest
Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy (Inferno)
Look for the translation by Dorothy Sayers, with all her notes and introduction the Inferno becomes a spiritual journey. Some have made this a middle age crisis, it is not! Sayers writes "He [Dante] is a universal poet, speaking prophetically of God and the soul and the Society of men in their universal relations."
Shusaku Endo, the Samurai
Endo writes about Christianity in Japan in the Seventeenth Century; a time of terrible persecution.
C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia
Lewis' Trilogy, Out Of The silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength
The Pilgrim's Regress
Till We Have Faces
The Screwtape Letters
The Great Divorce
Flannery O'Connor, All her short stories especially The River
and Parker's Back
Her short story, The Artificial Nigger, is not racist rather O'Connor uses the most downtrodden people in her world to picture the Godhead, The Incarnation and Redemption. The broken plaster figure of a Afro-American man is the focus of Mr. Head and his grandson after being lost in a strange city. They have experienced fighting and alienation, a sense of life without salvation. Standing in the presence of the statue the two find redemption. "They stood gazing at the artificial Negro as if they were faced with some great mystery, some monument to another's victory that brought them together in their common defeat."
Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Cancer Ward
The First Circle
One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
and The Fellowship of The Ring
These books show goodness as it really is and they also picture evil in all of its terror and final impotence. Tolkien was a member of the Inklings and a friend of C.S. Lewis, and, in fact, he was one of two men who helped Lewis come to Christ. (See his Essay On Fairy-Stories.)
Sigrid Undset, Kristin Lavransdatter: (
A trilogy) I. The Wreath, II. The Wife, III. The Cross
These stories are set in Medieval Norway. They begin with Kristin as a small girl and end with her death during the time of the plague. They are filled with history, saga, the reality of human existence and a Christian view of sin and redemption
Evelyn Waugh, A Handful of Dust, Brideshead Revisited
Waugh was a Catholic who hated modernity and wrote about secularism and its subject's barren and futile existence. No writer makes greater use of irony.
Charles Williams, Shadows of Ecstasy
War In Heaven
The Place of the Lion
The Greater Trumps
All Hallows' Eve
Descent Into Hell
Williams was a friend of C.S. Lewis. He was one of the Inklings. His stories are surrealistic; if you dig deeply they are filled with wonderful pictures or metaphors of Christianity.
All of these movies in one way or another speak about or to the Christian life. Some are straight forward others are great metaphors.
"Sophie Scholl: The Final Days," Julia Jentsch, Alexsander Held, Fabian Hinrichs & others, Director Marc Rothemund, written by Fred Breinersdorfer.
Newly discovered documents and historical interviews provided the information for this movie which features members of "The White Rose," a group of students and academics who published papers against Hitler and the Nazis in Germany during that era. The main character Sophie Scholl is a Christian who intellectually and morally defeats her interrogator Robert Mohr with both her humanitarianism and her faith.
The director Marc Rothemund in an interview writes, "I admire her courage. She turned down the 'golden bridge' offered to her by the interrogation officer Robert Mohr--thus practically signing her own death sentence. I find this approach to death quite startling: how does such a life-affirming, positive minded young woman like Sophie Scholl come to terms with the fact that her life is being taken away from her? How does she find meaning in her death? And, of course, as an atheist I ask myself; Is it easier to face death as a believer?
"Luther," Joseph Fiennes, Alferd Molina, Jonathan Firth & others. Very close to a true historical account.
"Hanged On A Twisted Cross: The Life, Convictions and Martyrdom of Dietrich Bonnhoeffer." This is a film by T.N. Mohan, narrated by Ed Asner. The script was written by Eberhard Bethge, Renata Bethge and Christian Gremmels. This is a documentary using the writings of Bonhoeffer. The history is will done and the music beautiful. From the movie jacket:
"How does a man of peace come to assist violence in combating evil? What do you do when deep-seated patriotism for your nation compels you to oppose your fatherland and its demonic leader? What course do you take when your love for the Gospel conflicts with your tragically compromised church? What is the responsibility of a follower of God when others are being persecuted and sent to prison camps and gas chambers?
As shown in this two-hour program, Bonhoeffer confronted these and other issues with a searching Biblical faith and personal courage in a way that speaks to every generation."
"To End All Wars," Robert Carlye, Kiefer Sutherland, Ciaran McMenamin & others. This movie begins with a picture of hell; (in the Burmese jungle during world war II) it ends with redemption, but like the cross of Christ it is a truly bloody redemption. This is not a movie for children.
"Chariots Of fire," Ben Cross, Ian Charleson & others ( produced by David Putnam)
"The Mission," Robert De Niro and Jeremy Iron & others (produced by David Putnum)
"Places In The Heart," Sally Field, Danny Glover, John Malkovich & others, directed by Robert Benton
"The Spitfire Grill," Alison Elliott & other. Even the trees are redeemed in this movie.
"Tender Mercies," Robert Duvall & others, Screen play by Horton Foote
"To Sleep with Anger, " Danny Glover, Paul Butler, Mary Alice, Carl Lumbly & others
"Trip to Bountiful," Geraldine Page, John Heard, Carlin Glynn & others, "richly textured filmization of Horton Foote's 1953 television play."