Author World View (cont.)

August 13th, 2015

Tennessee Williams, a controversial 20th century playwright, creates a timeless microcosm of world view mayhem.  Christian theism, romanticism, naturalism, & realism they all clash in  urban Depression era America. Readers, especially Christian readers, are inspired, discouraged, angered, and bemused by characters, especially Tom, who claim to no most everything but, it turns out, know very little about anything! They fumble, tumble, and fantasize through life and ultimately harm both themselves and those around them.  At the end, readers all wonder,  “What if Jesus was Lord of this home?” What a different story it would be!

Author World View (cont.)

August 11th, 2015
Lillian Hellman in her smash Broadway hit exposes, as Edward Albee in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? the facileness and ineptitude of marriage that is not centered on Christ and the Word of God. Again, Hellman borrows biblical characters–the main female character is a Jezebel double–to explore biblical themes–filial betrayal. However, Hellman, like so many of her literary peers, let’s the horse out of the barn but she can’t ride it because one cannot really ameliorate a sacred institution like marriage without the Bible.

Author World View (cont.)

August 6th, 2015

Eugene Gladsone O’Neill, perhaps best 20th century playwright, perhaps without his knowledge, writes a Christian moral expose of the effect of unforgiveness.  Brutus Jones is both the perpetrator and the victim of his woes, which, after all, is a metaphor of modern man. Modern Americans wandered into the cultural mayhem at the end of the 20th century, but, they also caused it. Readers will continually wish to stop the action and to join the play with encouraging words to this lost soul.

Author World View (cont.)

August 4th, 2015

Steinbeck is a naturalist who wrote with an acidic pen.  All his novels had a political agenda, and, many times, his lost protagonists alternately resemble the doomed existentialists  in French novelist Albert Camus’ novels and the  bizarre Christian theists in Flannery O’Connor’s novellas. Steinbeck, a conflicted, desperately unhappy man, with great talent, offers dramatic irony with painful effect. Still, because Steinbeck’s characters are so real, and contemporary, readers will gain glimpses into the soul of modern America and will no doubt harvest important prayer points.

Author World View (cont.)

July 30th, 2015

William Faulkner, like the South, the region in which he wrote and loved so ferevently, is a mixed bag.  Bayard, his protagonist, is clearly a theist, as are all the most admired characters in this novel (e.g., Granny). Goodness, mercy, grace–all Judeo-Christian values–are damaged in translation because, regardless of Faulkner’s able stewardship, these precious gifts cannot be fully transmitted through tradition and good intentions.  Judeo-Christian morality, without biblical underpinnings, are shallow, maudlin traveling companions.  Faulkner and other contemporaries–e.g., Sherwood Anderson, F. Scott Fitzgerald–all learn that one cannot have one’s cake and eat it too: one cannot live and believe like a godless Philistine and worship the God at Shiloh.

Author World View (cont.)

July 28th, 2015

Zora Neale Hurston is a welcome interlude–but only that–in a long, depressing naturalistic drama that is 20th century American literature. Hurston’s protagonist, like Hurston herself, do have eyes that see God, but one only wishes that one will embrace that God! Using a frame story, more popular in 19th century that it is in 20th century prose, Hurston tells a multi-layer of love and hope in a time when both were desperately needed in America.  This tale is made even more poignant by the fact that African-American Hurston, working for the WPA, was relying on the largesse of a country that disenfranchised her.  Nonetheless, Hurston does not give into hatred and scorn, like Langston Hughes and James Baldwin, and readers are the better for it.

Author World View (cont.)

July 23rd, 2015

The author once asked his daughter to write a Christian ending to A Farewell to Arms and she did: nothing changed. The wages of sin is death. Yet, in the fiery cauldron of this torrid, sinful love affair, readers glimpse some hope.  These are decent people who are captured by the throes of existentialism (self-love).  Existentialism, as the modern world knows all too well, does not mix well with the stark realities or an unsaved, naturalistic world. The Good News is that God so loved the world that He sent His only Begotten Son to die for it. One hopes that on the horizon there will be an American author who gets it.

Author World View (cont.)

July 21st, 2015

Twentieth Century American poetry is a beautifully written testimony to the state of American modernistic culture. Strongly naturalistic, it is like a ferris wheel.  Awesome to behold, this mechanical marvel entertains the mind but teases the soul, and, ultimately, goes no where. One is on a ride, really, in a circle, only to return to where one began.   

Author World View (cont.)

July 16th, 2015

Edith Wharton, herself captured in an unhappy marriage, explores the same in her masterpiece Ethan Frome. This realistic novel is naturalistic in its tone and world view. Nonetheless, this modern novel, that rivals the stream of consciousness of a Dostoevsky, arrests our attention.  Readers find themselves hoping that Maddie and Ethan will miss the true.  One hopes that Frome, and Mrs. Wharton, discover that only Christ can make us victorious over difficult, even hopeless situation, but, in our heart, we know that this just did not occur, not yet, not in this novel.   

Author World View (cont.)

July 14th, 2015

Chopin, Harte, et al., are new songs of the same genre. Now, in hopeless abandon, American readers are inundated with poor lost souls who have lost their way in a nihilistic universe.  Why is it, in a nation that was founded on biblical principles, that we could have evolved to this level? While the despotic regimes of Russia are feasting on robust, rich Christian characters–Sonya for instance in Crime and Punishment–Americans are presented with the paltry offerings of the naturalists.