Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sin in Novels

I am an eclectic novel reader. Over the years I have read Russian (Dostoevsky, Turgenyev), English/Scots (Dickens, Austen, Scott, Stevenson, Sayers, Perry, Wentworth, Christie, Wodehouse, Chesterton, Lewis, Tolkien, Stuart, McInnis, Thirkell, Douglas, Carrol, Grey, McDonald, Buchanon, Shakespeare, etc), American (Montgomery, Hawthorne, Twain, Heinlein, McManus, London, Cooper, Gray, Brand, Aldrich, Alcott, and L’Anour).

That is a sample. My reflection in the last few days on all of these novelists, whether it was romance, mystery, humor, fantasy, or adventure, the subject was always sin. You may have noticed I did not mention the writers who describe sin in great lucid detail. I have not read them. However, sin is the basis in each of the books. Without sin, there would be nothing to write about. Novels are about people and people are sinners. In most of these books, relative good comes out in the end. There are a very few authors who write with the Cross as a solution to the sin problem. You may see references to church as part of the culture but not as part of the solution. On the whole, religion and pastors get poor press in novels as Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice.

Two novelists who have written with the gospel as a solution are Amy Le Feuvre and Charles Dickens. We see two hints of the Gospel, one in the Tale of Two Cities where, Sidney Carton recites; "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25, 26 and the other in The Brothers Karamazov in the chapter on the Grand Inquisitor. I listened to an audio version of the book and that chapter was left out.

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