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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Writers Save: How Poets and Novelists Came to Comfort the Faithful and Strengthen the Doubters

Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Further Reading

Jacobs, Alan. 2008. The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis.
HarperOne. Jacobs provides insight into the events and people responsible for shaping the philosophy of one of the world’s most influential religious writers.


Jacobs, Alan. 2008. Original Sin: A Cultural History. HarperOne. Jacobs follows the concept of original sin from its Biblical origins to the modern day, prodding at a still much-contested question: are humans really “bad to the bone?”


Jacobs, Alan. “Come On, You Call This a Manifesto," WSJ. 9 May 2008. Jacobs criticizes a 2008 document intended to both define and promote the modern evangelical movement: The Evangelical Manifesto. Though it boasts the word manifesto in its title, this long and moderate statement spends far more time making an appeal not to confuse evangelism with fundamentalism than it does affirming the independent worth of the faith.


PBS, Frontline: The Jesus Factor.Interview with Alan Jacobs. In an interview with PBS, Jacobs defends evangelism as a complex faith requiring reflection and serious intellectual engagement.  He also engages the political dimension of the faith, commenting on the evangelical view of social issues and the role of the government.


Elie, Paul. 2003. The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Elie weaves together biographies of four “like-minded writers”—Dorothy Day, Flannery O’Connor, Thomas Merton, and Walker Percy—each of whom shared two things in common: a strong Catholic faith and resentment from their literary circles for holding that faith. His work functions as a commentary of faith in the modern world.


Knight, Mark. 2009. Introduction to Religion and Literature. Continuum. Knight offers an introduction to the relationship between literature and religion. By examining religious motifs such as original sin, creation, eschatology in an array of texts, Knight demonstrates what the “religious reading” of literature actually entails.  

Lewis, C.S. 2001. The Screwtape Letters. HarperOne. In this exchange of letters between Screwtape, demon in service of “Our Father Below,” and his protégé Wormwood, Lewis explores the idea of temptation. Likening hell to a bureaucracy, Lewis calls attention to role that demanding passions like envy and resentment play in our daily lives. 


Lewis, C.S. 2001. Mere Christianity. HarperOne. In response to the growing popularity of televangelism in America, Lewis makes a rational case for orthodox Christianity, arguing that a genuine expression of the religion requires more than blind faith and colorful demonstrations.  

O’Connor, Flannery. 1965. Everything that Rises Must Converge. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Within the context of the Civil Rights Movement in the South, O’Connor addresses the notion of moral ambiguity as manifested in the racist attitudes unknowingly harbored by a mother and her son.


O’Connor, Flannery. 1977. A Good Man Is Hard to Find. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. O’Connor paints a portrait of the dark side of human nature—in particular, how easily we can be caught up in a tangle of our own motivations—through a series of short stories set in the rural south.


Jacobs Event Review in the Boston College Heights