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308 CHRISTIANITY AND LITERATURE The final two chapters of Fictional Religion are devoted to the poetry of Philip Larkin and the science fiction of C. S. Lewis. After comparing Larkin's modern, twentieth-century perspective to those of Yeats in "The Second Coming" and Eliot in "Journey of the Magi;' Spencer givesbrief explications of several of Larkin's lyric poems, culminatingin the dark vision of"Faith Healing:' He concludes, "Larkin isan un-churched modern man for whom religious talk and ritual [are], while endlessly tempting, pointless and deceiving" (119). However, Spencer ends his book on a much more positive note with his final chapter on C. S. Lewis' series of children's fantasies The Chronicles of Narnia. Whereas the reader might expect him to focus on Lewis' nonfiction works that specifically address Christian issues, Spencer chooses instead to liken the magical world of Narnia to the Gospel narratives of Christ's miracles (121-22), and in particular the character Aslan becomes a Christfigure who is sent to redeem and rescue the boy adventurer Eustace (124, 133). To conclude, Spencer's book is often provocative, intentionally to be sure. It is clearly not meant to be a thoroughgoing or dense work of literary criticism. Literary critics are not his audience, as he often defines the most basic literary terms like image and conceit. Rather, it is categorized as a text on "Religion;' and if his goal is to introduce literature to those interested in "Religious Studies;' he certainly succeeds. But for literary critics, his readings are often thoughtful but rudimentary. The book suffers from a lack of careful editing, with some grammar and usage errors. And more than once, Spencer misquotes the end of the third line of Paradise Lostas "and all that woe" instead of "and all our woe:' But his book is ultimately valuable because of his fascinating premise that creative writers continue the inspired work of the first evangelists by,as his subtitle suggests, Keeping theNew Testament New. Claudia M. Champagne Our Ladyof HolyCross College Literature and Theology: New Interdisciplinary Spaces. Edited by Heather Walton. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2011. ISBN978-1-4094-0011-0. Pp. v-219. $78.31 In the book Literature and Theology: New Interdisciplinary Spaces, the authors set out to demonstrate the opportunity for a relationship between literature and theology. While this union is not a simple one, the essays seek to show the many varieties of waysthat such interdisciplinary work can be achieved. Instead of going through each article individually, this review shall briefly examine the main themes of this collection of essays and show the positive and negative aspects of this book. BOOK REVIEWS 309 One way that the new interdisciplinary spaces manifest themselves comes from making a clear distinction between theology and literature. Too many interdisciplinary studies involve the consumption of one discipline into the other. This is particularly true of theology where art and literature simplyserve as didactic tools. Therefore in his article "Touch and Trembling:' Mark Godin writes that theology "imperialistically absorbs the story of others into itself, reorganizing the world through appropriation" (156). Rather than allow one discipline to control the other, he claims that they must equip a sense of "vulnerability" (157) in order to listen and learn from their respective positions, since one discipline oftentimes desiresto dominate the other. David Jasperthen posits the term "intradisciplinarity" (9) in place of interdisciplinary. He defines this term as "exploring ways in which a work ofliterature-a poem or a novel-in its own right, not necessarily so much by what it saysas by how it saysit or how it plays its games, can illuminate the way in which we think" (9). Literature has its own way of expressing religious ideas from which theologians could learn. Moreover, such a perspective allows for new ideas to come forth and challenge and support preconceived notions. Of course, this relationship works both ways. Thus, Heather Walton declares that "a tension must remain between these worlds" (43). This "tension" prevents absorption and dominance and creates a relationship of difference between literature and theology. However, the essays avoid a quick joining of the disciplines and posit a "negotiation between comprehension and disruption" (Vincent 58...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2056-5666
Print ISSN
0148-3331
Pages
pp. 308-312
Launched on MUSE
2020-02-04
Open Access
No
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