Noah in Perspective

In the previous installment in this series on the Great Flood in the literary tradition, we saw that the Biblical flood story, unlike its analogs in pagan literature, emphasizes the God who saves, rather than on the man who is saved. The survival of Moses and his family is part of a pattern that marks the relations of God and Man. We’ll come back to that later, but today I want to take a closer …

The Great Flood in Literature: Joe Blow reads Genesis

When I started this reading exercise that I call “adventures in comparative mythology,” nearly two years ago, I said that one of the things I hoped to achieve was to get readers to be able to read the story of the Flood in the Bible “with fresh eyes.” So let’s imagine someone doing just that — picking up the Bible for the first time and reading this story, much as we have read the flood accounts …

The Great Flood in Literature: Wrestling with Proteus

This is the latest in a blog series. Find the whole series here. There is a figure in Greek mythology called Proteus, a minor sea god with two remarkable powers: shape-shifting and oracular utterance. To get the truth out of him, however, one must first catch him. When anyone attempts to grasp him, he rapidly changes from one form into another in an attempt to evade his captor’s clutches. But if a person is tenacious …

Put on the Armor of Light, on St. Patrick’s Day and every day

As this article from Slate acknowledges, very few concrete facts about Ireland’s patron saint have survived. Much that we think we know is merely legend. Keeping that in mind, did you ever wonder why Saint Patrick is credited with expelling snakes (not wolves, not badgers, not even demons) from the Emerald Isle? I’m not going to dispute whether holy Padraic literally chased serpentine creatures from Ireland, but you have to admit that on a symbolic …

Ovid’s Metamorphoses:
Change is the only constant

Third installment on Ovid’s Metamorphoses I left the discussion of Ovid’s Metamorphoses by saying (as I often do) that, in literature, context is everything. We can’t really grasp the significance of Ovid’s version of the Great Flood unless we consider it in the context of the poem as a whole. So what is this poem really about? How does the early episode that recounts the Great Flood contribute to the overall meaning, and how does …

Rerum Novarum, §1-11: A natural law defense of private ownership

As I start looking at Rerum Novarum, Pope Leo XIII’s famous 1891 encyclical, I’ll first summarize/paraphrase what the encyclical says, paragraph by paragraph, then analyze the way Pope Leo presents his argument, and finally offer my own commentary on it. The first two focus on what is being said, and the last is my own personal response to it. This is a method I recommend to anyone who wants to give an important work a …

Homer’s Tardis: Literature is the best kind of time machine

One of my favorite kinds of speculative fiction is the time travel tale, not the H. G. Wells sort of thing that takes you into a distant, purely speculative future, but the kind that takes a modern person and sends him (or her) into the past. The earliest piece of time travel literature that I can recall reading was a Classics Illustrated version of Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, which I …

Dear Self-Published Novelists: Please tell the whole story (Wherein I rant a bit)

Barbara Nicolosi, founder of Act One, a Christian screenwriting school, often complains that her students just don’t seem to understand what makes a story. My adventures in reading self-published novels on the Kindle has shown me that even writers of novels seem to have trouble grasping this concept. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that many self-published novelists seem to think they can get by without editors, who would be able to point out …