Tenants, Traps, Teaching, and the Meaning of Melville’s “Moby Dick”

In Herman Melville’s novel, Moby Dick, a massive white whale named Moby Dick has bitten off Captain Ahab’s leg. In response to this, Ahab commits himself to killing the whale Moby Dick. Captain Ahab bears the name of an idolatrous king of Israel. Captain Ahab refuses to accept what has been done to him by […]

Whittaker Chambers on James Joyce

In the conclusion of his review of Finnegan’s Wake, Whittaker Chambers wrote this telling description of James Joyce, “Nono. In appearance Joyce is slight, frail but impressive. He stands five feet ten or eleven, but looks as if a strong wind might blow him down. His face is thin and fine, its profile especially delicate. […]

The Monster in the Hollows, by Andrew Peterson

It was a lovely May morning under the arbor on our bricked back porch. We love family time. We love being out in the morning before the sun has climbed high and grown hot. And we love a good story. We had been waiting for this story for months. To our great delight it finally […]

Dante Says Love Built Hell

Consider the warning on hell’s gate in Inferno: “Through me you pass into the city of woe: Through me you pass into eternal pain: Through me among the people lost for aye. Justice the founder of my fabric moved: To rear me was the task of Power divine, Supremest Wisdom, and primeval Love. Before me […]

Ishmael Describes the Pulpit

As Ishmael, the narrator of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, describes the Whaleman’s Chapel, he says this about the pulpit: Nor was the pulpit itself without a trace of the same sea-taste that had achieved the ladder and the picture. Its panelled front was in the likeness of a ship’s bluff bows, and the Holy Bible […]

Hear Flannery O’Connor Read “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”

I saw this on Andrew Peterson’s twitter page, and even though I think I re-tweeted it I felt it warranted a post. At this link you can hear Flannery O’Connor read aloud her short story, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” This is a tale worth pondering. I recommend you do the save as […]

The Chiastic Structure of Revelation: Limited Time Offer

And here is the fifth and final Table from God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment: A Biblical Theology that will be posted here. This one lays out the chiastic structure of Revelation. I think this structure is key to understanding the book. My sermons on Revelation are here, my Preaching the Word commentary on the […]

The Chiastic Structure of Psalm 38

In Psalm 38 the righteous sufferer calls on and hopes in the Lord to deliver him. Note that this Psalmist is righteous not because he is sinless but because he confesses his sin and repents of it. The one in whom the Psalm finds typological fulfillment bears the sins of his people but has none […]

The Hero Story (The Messiah in the Old Testament)

This essay appears in the spring 2011 issue of Southern Seminary magazine, The Tie. I am grateful to post it here by permission. Click through for a free subscription to The Tie. Have you heard the ballad of the hoped for hero? Ancient prophecies foretell his coming. Not altogether clear, shrouded in mystery, but enough […]

The Chiastic Structure of Psalm 37

Psalm 37:1–11, Outcomes Psalm 37:12–15, Violence Psalm 37:16–20, Provision Psalm 37:21–24, Giving Psalm 37:25–31, Provision Psalm 37:32–33, Violence Psalm 37:34–40, Outcomes —- David expresses faith that the wicked will be cut off and the righteous will be blessed and inherit the land.

The Writer’s Sanity and Taste

John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers, 201: “Sanity in a writer is merely this: However stupid he may be in his private life, he never cheats in writing. He never forgets that his audience is, at least ideally, as noble, generous, and tolerant as he is himself (or more […]

This Is How Biblical Intertextuality Works, Too

John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers, 192–93: “It is this quality of the novel, its built-in need to return and repeat, that forms the physical basis of the novel’s chief glory, its resonant close. . . . What rings and resounds at the end of a novel is not […]

Errors and Defects in Authors of Fiction

John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers, discussing “Common Errors” authors make: “Diction problems are usually symptomatic of defects in the character or education of the writer” (101). “Let us now turn to three faults far graver than mere clumsiness–not faults of technique but faults of soul: sentimentality, frigidity, and […]

Is Fiction Christian? The English Language, Too?

John Gardner, The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers: “English, like most languages, is covertly male chauvinist. It is also, as the novelist Harold Brodkey points out, covertly Christian. Nearly all our most resonant words and images carry a trace of Neoplatonic Christianity. Even so innocent a word as ‘friend’ has overtones. […]

Volume 2 in the Chiveis Trilogy by Bryan Litfin, The Gift

Last fall at ETS I picked up Bryan Litfin’s first novel, The Sword. I loved it, and interviewed Bryan on it here. At that point he was just finishing the second novel, The Gift, and he asked me about endorsing it. I enthusiastically received the PDF, and here’s what I said in my endorsement: I […]

We Pre-Ordered ‘The Monster In the Hollows’, Did You?

If you haven’t already done so, high thee to the Rabbit Room to reserve for thyself a signed copy of what promises to be a beautiful and funny, inspiring and exciting, surprising and hope-building narrative of no little silly seriousness. Here’s the description: The Monster in the Hollows Sneakery. Betrayal. And the Deadly Secret of […]

Authors of Fiction Exercise Meticulous Sovereign Control

“As in the universe every atom has an effect, however minuscule, on every other other atom, so that to pinch the fabric of Time and Space at any point is to shake the whole length and breadth of it, so in fiction every element has an effect on every other, so that to change a […]