Can you suggest any good Christian writers? Ok, that’s too broad. As apologists go, I really enjoy C.S. Lewis, and I can’t do more than muddle through Augustine and Aquinas. De Chardin and Shelby Spong also go in the “I enjoyed it” column. I don’t like to just read the stuff I agree with, but of course it’s hard to slog through something you tend to start out disagreeing with unless it is really well-written and cogent.
Here’s a rough list, in no good order, based on the CS Lewis reference:
Aquinas and Augustine belong to an older age of the world. How about Cardinal Newman? I’ve not read any of his stuff in detail, but he was a 19th century convert, and his thought is more modern and readable.
Dorothy Sayers, The Mind of the Maker. A popular, published author of fiction explains the Trinity using creative writing as her analogy.
I prefer her translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy; it’s clear and readable. The Notes to the ‘Inferno’ and ‘Purgatory’ books are worth reading in their own right.
JRR Tolkein, ‘On Fairy Stories’. An essay that at the end claims the Gospel story is a fairy-story, which he sees as a type of myth that is at last made true. ‘Leaf by Niggle’. A short story based on the ideas of ‘On Fairy-stories’ on one’s life on earth and afterward. Both can be found in a couple of different anthologies: The Tolkein Reader is the most common.
GK Chesterton will be an interesting ride for you! Tey Orthodoxy or The Everlasting Man. He was a journalist, so he talks a little like Dawkins etc. - he doesn’t mind using a little ridicule, and that might just rile you. (But if you read Orwell you ought to read his first novel, The Napoleon of Notting Hill, which takes place ‘80 years’ from the book’s writing in 1904; the intro notes claim that Orwell disliked its vision of the future so much that 1984 is a deliberate reply to it. It’s not deliberately Christian, however.)
For something a little more mystical, try Charles Williams, a friend of Lewis (though not much liked by Tolkein, a very pious and old-fashioned Catholic, for his occultist leanings). I found his Descent of the Dove to be inspiring in college - I’m not sure how good its shelf-life is however! His novel Descent Into Hell is a really good psychological novel, and you watch a man literally, slowly put himself into a hell - it’s horrifically riveting. His other six novels are rather sketchy things, IMHO, just as novels.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is available online at the Vatican website. That’s a good place to go for specific questions about Catholic beliefs, but it’s written for Catholics - it’s not an apologetic work.
Erasmus some time ago sort of pushed me to buy a recent book of Benedict’s writing and speeches over the years: The Essential Pope Benedict XVI. Harper One, in paperback, $15.95. That might be good if you’re prone to Benedict-bashing, but it’s got a lot of ‘internal’ church issues in it. It might be good if you think of churches as gothic black-boxes, with no clear idea of what people do in an organized religion.
Are you looking for ‘apologetic’ works, ‘inspirational’ works, books about issues ‘internal’ to Christianity, basic ‘what we believe’ books?
This list is pretty scrappy. My recent reading has been all technical, secular philosophy works - and it made my after-school reading plummet like a stone - so give me a little time to riffle through my library and ask a couple of fellow Christian cafe-flies.
Thanks, both for any suggestions and for the bravery of the thread. I am hopeful the community will treat the idea seriously and respectfully even as I am sure you will got lots of strong challenges to what you say.
Thanks for the encouragement. I joined this forum for not very clear reasons - mostly because some few years ago I’d been burned heavily and unjustly by a grad-school professor, and wanted to wash the bad taste of mean-spirited atheist out of my mouth. Then I decided to just keep sitting in the secular pew and say a little here and there until I knew more. It seemed good to make myself available, as some return for my membership.