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Author Topic: Novels that have made a difference in your spiritual life?  (Read 5992 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: November 02, 2002, 05:08:59 PM »

Literature is one of the treasures of civilization.  Many works of fiction have made a profound impact on my spirituality and/or ways of thinking.  I thought we might want to discuss the books that have impacted each of us.

Fyodar Dostoevsky - The Brother's Karamazov: I guess this is the first word in Orthodox fiction.  The three Karamazov brothers represent freedom of will and how human choice can accept or deny the life in Christ.  The character of Father Zossima is one of the most influential in all of literature.  I believe Dostoevsky said that he was based on St. Tikhon of Zadonsk.  

Shusako Endo - Silence: This is probably the most gut-wrenching fictional account I've ever read.  It concerns the aftermath of two Portuguese missionary priests who enter Japan to find their mentor, who rumors say has apostasised.  Asks the question, "what is martyrdom."  Took me over a week of praying and seeking advice to come to terms with the end of this book.  

J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey: I am a fan of this little book, mostly for Salinger's perfect prose.  The story is about Franny Glass, a child prodigy studying to be an actress in the 1930s-1940s who has latched onto the Jesus Prayer and through improper use is driving herself insane.  The first part is from her perspective and the latter from her older brother Zooey.  Zooey, also an actor, has many remarkable insights.  

These last two have their faults, but they were a positive experience for me.  What novels/plays/poems/etc have influnced you?
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« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2002, 07:11:34 PM »

I'm still thinking about it...

I just finished Endo's "Silence" last week.  I'm not sure if I'll ever come to a conclusion about the conclusion of that book.  Endo certainly makes one think.  "The Samurai" is my next read and I've heard that "Deep River" is a very good novel as well.

The "Way of the Pilgrim" is excellent, but I don't know if it's more of a parable than a novel.
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« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2002, 02:11:45 AM »

I was unsure whether or not to include The Way of the Pilgrim, because of the author's anonymity no one is sure if it is fictional or not.  Regardless, it has had a tremendous impact of my prayer life and the lives of thousands of others.  Not one of the books I would reccomend to seekers, though, as it is one of the more dangerous books in Orthodoxy, that need to be discussed with a spiritual father or mother.  I think Orthodox Psychotherapy is another book not to be taken lightly.

Now that I think about it, even though Endo's Silence is most definately a work of fiction, I would almost include it that list.  I can see how it could lead someone just beginning the spiritual life or someone going through a crisis to despair.  I've also read Graham Greene's The Power and the Glory, which is a similar story, but totally eclipsed by the power of Silence.  As I have a rather full reading list, I probably won't get to Endo's other novels for at least a year, so I would appreciate it if you'd post your review when the time comes.  

Another book to add to the list:

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse: Even though I've only read two Hesse novels(the other is Narcissus and Goldmund) Hesse is becoming one of my favorite writers.  He grew up as the spiritually repressed son of a German Lutheran priest who sought mysticism and ended up a student of Eastern Religions and has a zeal of a true seeker of truth.  Siddhartha is the story of a young man not entirely unlike the Buddha who goes from the son of a Hindu cleric to a monk to a businessman to a ferry boatman.  His journey is that of spiritual prodigy to hedonist to student.   The character is not Orthodox, but those who feel drawn to asceticism would find this short novel like a breath of fresh air.
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« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2002, 08:39:14 AM »

To honor the Anglican part of my formation (no surprise to regulars here), I recommend C.S. Lewis: a sober, objective, orthodox Anglican and, while not at all identifying himself as Anglo-Catholic, much 'higher' than most of his evangelical Protestant fans know or would admit. He believed in prayer for the dead, the intermediate state of the dead a.k.a. purgatory and for about the last 34 years of his life he went to Confession. (Quite a leap culturally for a Protestant originally from Northern Ireland!) He belonged to one of Oxford's several Anglo-Catholic churches not by choice but out of obedience: it was his geographical parish.

Anyway, from his fiction I've only read the Chronicles of Narnia books (when I was 10) and The Screwtape Letters (which I read as a young man) and recommend them both.

Interestingly, I never have got into J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings books! Tolkien, an orthodox Catholic and friend of Lewis (I've been to the Oxford pub where they'd 'hang out'), didn't like the Narnia books, thinking their religious allegory was heavy-handed!

The Way of Pilgrim gave me a big push Orthodoxwards when I read the Shambhala abridged version 10 years ago but interestingly did not start me on the Jesus Prayer (which still isn't in my prayer life - liturgical worship in the form of the hours is). What I got out of it was the realization that the Church and culture the Pilgrim describes really still exist - and are open to all ('Orthodoxy - It's Not Just for Ethnics Anymore'). I didn't see an ethnic cult but a universal Church! Irony - the catholic principles (such as the Trinity, divinity of Christ, Real Presence, Mariology and the all-male threefold apostolic ministry as a safeguard of orthodoxy) old-fashioned Anglicans showed me years ago don't exist in Anglicanism (did they ever really?) but do in the Orthodox communion, yesterday and today.

BTW, you can buy Pilgrim in unabridged form from Amazon through a link on my Orthodoxy page.

While not exactly an edifying book, an entertaining expose of bad Victorian religion and what we'd now call dysfunctional families is Samuel Butler's novel The Way of All Flesh. Makes a good double feature with Anthony Trollope's Barchester Towers.

Not exactly spiritual but formative books for me and my worldview were the modern dystopian classics 1984 (which I read that year!) by George Orwell and Animal Farm by Aldous Huxley.
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« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2002, 01:16:10 PM »

Serge,

I can't believe I've forgotten C.S. Lewis! Lewis was one my primary motivators to seek "authentic" Christianity that eventually led me to Orthodoxy.  Narnia is good as is the Space Trilogy(the second book, Perelandra, deals with a world where men never fell from communion with God), but my favorite has to be Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold.  While the subject matter involves western scholasticism vs. primitive religion there are many themes that we can take to heart.  The Screwtape Letters is one of the classics of 20th century Christian Literature...I would place it next to Paradise Lost.  The Great Divorce, Lewis' fictional look at the afterlife is not only well written, but also hints at theosis.

The Lord of the Rings is one of my favorites...there is so much meat to the text.  Narnia is good, but it was written for children.  The Lord of the Rings is a complicated tale of good persevering against unimaginable evil that contains many ideas that we as Orthodox would agree with.  My favorite example is when Sam tells Frodo he wonders if the orcs eat normal food or if they can eat poision.  Frodo replies that the power that brought the orcs into being does not have the power to create, only to pervert that which is good.  The orcs in fact were elves that the Enemy captured, tortured, and breeded them until they became this ruined species.  

My preferred Way of the Pilgrim is the new Shambhala translation by Olga Savin with an introduction by Fr. Thomas Hopko.

I think you may be thinking of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, as Animal Farm is also by George Orwell.

Thanks for the great input! Smiley
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« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2002, 01:53:07 PM »

At the risk of "following the herd"  Tongue I have to concur, Dostoyevsky's Brothers has been profoundly influential to me, largely in the redemptive potential of suffering in and through Christ.

Similarly, Tolkien's Lord of the Rings anchored me in the notion that Christianity is a life, not just a set of dogmas.  And a wildly beautiful life at that!

Annie Dillard's The Living is another work on the integrative aspect of suffering and evil, as well as how redemption is possible via the accumulation of the smallest of human acts.

Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood was disturbing.  Hazel Motes is a most amazing character.

I have many more non-fiction and poetical works that have impacted my life.
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« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2002, 04:25:12 AM »

I would say Crime and Punishment was my eye opener to the Church.  Sonia reading the story of the raising of Lazarus blew me away.  I fell in love with Dostoevsky and began reading all of his work.  To me it was Dostoevsky that brought me to the Church.
Also the great English writer Graham Greene and his novel a A Burnt Out Case a book I really loved.
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« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2002, 05:47:26 PM »

I would suggest New Grub Street by George Gissing...

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« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2002, 04:11:20 AM »

Definitely LOTR, and Brothers K. Till We Have Faces also ranks right up there for a novel that has influenced me spiritually, as does (don't laugh) Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

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« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2002, 12:57:42 PM »

Also the great English writer Graham Greene and his novel a A Burnt Out Case a book I really loved.
Nilus

Nilus,

Besides A Burnt Out Case, what other books by Greene would you recommend?   I just happened to finish The Quiet American by Greene last week.

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« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2002, 07:11:42 PM »

Definitely LOTR, and Brothers K. Till We Have Faces also ranks right up there for a novel that has influenced me spiritually, as does (don't laugh) Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Reader Alexis

I'm not laughing...I've read ZatAoMM a couple of times and found it a wonderful book.  It had little information on Motorcycle Maintenance, even less on Zen, but that's okay as the major theme of the book(IMHO) is the division of the western and eastern mindset along with the authors reasons for rejecting part of the western mindset.  It was truly sad to hear about his son's death.

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Nilus,

Besides A Burnt Out Case, what other books by Greene would you recommend?  I just happened to finish The Quiet American by Greene last week.

I'm not Nilus but until he returns I will advise in his stead and reccomend The Power and the Glory.  This novel is about a Catholic priest who is in hiding during the Mexican exulsion of Catholicism long ago and tries to bring together his cowardice, alcoholism, and knowledge that he has to do the work of God.  Very good, even though I think Silence by Shusako Endo is better.
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« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2003, 12:53:36 AM »

I am a big Dostoyevsky fan. I was trembling when I finished Crime and Punishment, my favorite novel, period.

I also found The Brothers Karamazov tremendously moving and influential.

And of course I was flattered when I discovered that Dostoyevsky had named a novel after me - The Idiot.

I also enjoy C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien (I read The Hobbit and LOTR every autumn for years).

One short novel and two short stories likewise deserve honorable mention as having influenced me. They are all by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn:

A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch, We Never Make Mistakes, and Matriona's House. The last one is full of a quiet, homely godliness and kindliness that will make you weep.

Ordinarily, however, I am not a big reader of fiction.
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« Reply #12 on: March 09, 2003, 11:55:42 PM »

I loved A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich -- really made the horrors in the Gulag Archipelago books (I've read volumes 1 and 2 so far...) come alive -- it gave flesh to the whole thing.

I shall have to look at the other 2 you mention. I don't agree with everything Solz. says in his more outspoken moments, but he is a great writer, there is no doubt about that. I am also heartened by the fact that he was seemingly so fond of Fr. Alexander Schmeman of blessed memory.

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« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2003, 01:24:01 AM »

I've found that nearly everything by Shusaku Endo is great.  I just finished Wonderful Fool which is a great read and a great read for Lent.
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« Reply #14 on: April 07, 2003, 10:10:58 AM »

Hands Down, 'The Brothers Karamazov' by Dostoevsky.  I can still remember feeling haunted by the passage at the end ... "Memory Eternal, Memory Eternal...", and I think about it each time I attend an Orthodox memorial service.  Dostoevsky knew that the Russian Orthodox Church of his day wasn't perfect (as is the church of any day), but that its warts were human and didn't impact its own inherent truth beneath the human dust and grime.  Also, the "Grand Inquisitor" section of the book is a thoughtful critique of the pre-Vatican II Roman Catholicism (and, indirectly, some of the same ideas that underlie Catholicism even today).
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« Reply #15 on: December 23, 2006, 06:03:03 PM »

I know that this is a very old thread, but I think it could be revived and produce some good, helpful, maybe even thought-provoking discussion.
 
Quote
Literature is one of the treasures of civilization.  Many works of fiction have made a profound impact on my spirituality and/or ways of thinking.  I thought we might want to discuss the books that have impacted each of us.

Since you mentioned "ways of thinking," I feel able to post here. I usually read non-fiction, but I suppose that a few books have effected my way of thinking to some extent. I've always been interested in abnormal psychology (for personal reasons Wink ), but I found Notes From Underground by Dostoevsky to be especially insightful. I don't think another book has caused quite as much emotion in me; there were times that I was actually angry at the main character. Odd Girl Out also had an effect on me, in that (even though it was fictional) it gave me a healthy dose of perspective on early-to-mid 20th century American society, and how it treated not only homosexuals, but people (especially young people) in general.

I should also mention The Hobbit and The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, since they are the first books that I can remember reading and actually enjoying, and they started me on the road to being a bookworm (though they probably wouldn't have had a significant and lasting impact had I not then gone on to read the more interesting LOTR, and the rest of the Chronicles of Narnia).
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« Reply #16 on: December 23, 2006, 08:27:12 PM »

Three words - The Brothers Karamazov
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« Reply #17 on: December 26, 2006, 06:59:55 PM »

Could someone let me in on what exactly makes The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky so highly rated? I loved his Notes From Underground and Crime and Punishment, and thought The Idiot was ok, but I just got bored when I tried to read Brothers.
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« Reply #18 on: May 15, 2007, 12:37:24 PM »

My favorite novel, which I read for the first time when I was 13 and re-read several times since then, is Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace." As far as I am concerned, Tolstoy is a very mediocre, dull, non-original philosopher and religious thinker, but he is an absolute genius in fiction. The characters of Prince Andrey, Natasha Rostova and Pierre Bezoukhov are, I believe, very Christian, very Orthodox. --George
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« Reply #19 on: May 18, 2007, 02:11:16 AM »

I notice a lot of people here have listed my favorite collection, The Lord of the Rings, as highly influential.  I have to say the same of this trilogy for many of the same reasons already stated.  A few little tidbits of trivia I hope you may have noticed.  The Fellowship leaves Rivendell with the Ring on December 25 (the Feast of Christ's Nativity), and Frodo and Sam finally see the Ring destroyed and Sauron utterly defeated on March 25 (the Feast of the Annunciation).  Even though LOTR is not an Orthodox book, I've added it to my annual Lenten reading.

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« Reply #20 on: May 18, 2007, 02:15:58 AM »

Not exactly spiritual but formative books for me and my worldview were the modern dystopian classics 1984 (which I read that year!) by George Orwell and Animal Farm by Aldous Huxley.

Animal Farm by Aldous Huxley?  I could be wrong, but didn't Orwell write that book, too?
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« Reply #21 on: May 18, 2007, 03:14:34 AM »

Animal Farm by Aldous Huxley?  I could be wrong, but didn't Orwell write that book, too?

Yes. Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World (amongst other things). Someone else picked the error up earlier in the thread, though.

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« Reply #22 on: July 09, 2007, 12:41:43 AM »

CS Lewis - Mere Christianity - not really a novel, but it is a very thought provoking book

William Barclay - commentaries on - Letter to the Romans, and also commentaries on the Gospel of Luke.

A few of you guys mentioned Silence, buy Shushaku Endo, and I read it a long time ago, but didn't feel moved by it somehow. I think I'll try to give it another read again. Maybe I didn't read it right.
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« Reply #23 on: July 09, 2007, 01:11:16 AM »

I notice a lot of people here have listed my favorite collection, The Lord of the Rings, as highly influential.  I have to say the same of this trilogy for many of the same reasons already stated.  A few little tidbits of trivia I hope you may have noticed.  The Fellowship leaves Rivendell with the Ring on December 25 (the Feast of Christ's Nativity), and Frodo and Sam finally see the Ring destroyed and Sauron utterly defeated on March 25 (the Feast of the Annunciation)

And the Fourth Age is accounted to begin on that very day in the reckoning of Gondor. It is also the beginning of the new year, as decreed by King Elessar. Of course, the new year in Europe used to begin on that day.

The Lord of the Rings is number-one for me. I cannot think of a book with a greater influence on my spiritual development. Number-one in influencing my overall development are the novels of John Bellairs. But he himself was directly inspired by The Lord of the Rings to write his first novel, so I guess it all goes back to Tolkien for me!
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« Reply #24 on: July 09, 2007, 01:25:27 AM »

And the Fourth Age is accounted to begin on that very day in the reckoning of Gondor. It is also the beginning of the new year, as decreed by King Elessar. Of course, the new year in Europe used to begin on that day.
I'd also read somewhere that March 25 is thought by some historians to be the Roman Calendar date on which Christ suffered and died.  I certainly don't know if this has been confirmed, though.
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« Reply #25 on: July 09, 2007, 10:03:11 AM »

At the risk of sounding like a parrot, LOTR and Narnia both influenced me as a child. Later, I got to add to this collection The Name of the Rose by Umberto Ecco and The Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

The Name of the Rose is a book about a 13th-century monastery in northern Italy which is subjected to a series of horrific events, including murder. Around the story, though, are terrific debates between monks of various orders as to the nature of God, the acceptability of mirth, and other complicated issues. It's a great mystery story, too, as the protagonist tries to put together these seemingly connected, seemingly disparate events.

The Life of Pi is a true (maybe) story about an Indian boy, Pi Patel, whose family ownes a zoo. They begin to lose money and decide to move to Canada. On the way, the Japanese barge they hired sinks, and only Pi and a tiger they planned to sell in Canada survived. There, for months on end, Pi is stranded with the tiger on a small lifeboat, and has to avoid getting eaten among various perils of the South Pacific. In the end, he recounts the story to the Japanese bureaucrats who are sent to him to discover what happened, who are baffled by his strange tale. Pi tells them another, more believable story, but that one actually sounds even more unlikely. Pi asks them, since they cannot tell which is the true story, if either, which one they liked better. They responded, "The one with the tiger." Martel, in his prologue, says that he met Pi in Toronto a few years ago, and he wrote the story exactly as Pi had told it. These bureaucrats seem to echo Martel's and the reader's questions about the veracity of this tale. Nevertheless, it is exciting, philosophical, and very well-written.
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« Reply #26 on: July 09, 2007, 10:15:15 AM »

The Mermaid Madonna - Stratis Mirivilis

Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë

 Smiley
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« Reply #27 on: July 09, 2007, 10:29:14 AM »

The LOTR, yeah yeah. The Silmarillion - even more so. It read like the Old Testament (actually, got me to start reading Scripture again.) I even at one point in High School carried a copy around that was annotated and 'highlighted' - much like some folk do with Bibles. Wink

I'm surprised no one has mentioned A Canticle For Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr. For understanding the 'big picture', the importance of Providence, and Hope for the future - this was the book. So good I passed it around in college.

Charles Williams' seven novels also (though one wouldn't think so) - but, I'm unsure how much a discussion of the particulars there would be helpful.
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« Reply #28 on: July 09, 2007, 06:56:43 PM »

The Name of the Rose is a book about a 13th-century monastery in northern Italy which is subjected to a series of horrific events, including murder. Around the story, though, are terrific debates between monks of various orders as to the nature of God, the acceptability of mirth, and other complicated issues. It's a great mystery story, too, as the protagonist tries to put together these seemingly connected, seemingly disparate events.

Great book. Movie's pretty good, too. Can't think of William of Baskerville without Sean Connery coming to mind now.
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« Reply #29 on: July 09, 2007, 07:46:39 PM »

I haven't seen the movie. I can't imagine it would be nearly as good as the book; after all, the best parts were the philosophical discussions--and those wouldn't translate well to film.
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« Reply #30 on: July 09, 2007, 10:38:53 PM »

Books that have influenced my spiritual life:

~Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis

No surprise there. Mere Christianity got me thinking more practically, and taught me to stop living the faith in the abstract. The Screwtape Letters reminded me to be watchful on what (or who) can influence my motivations. I understand that it was fictional and not really written by demons, obviously Tongue

~Confidential Confessions, manga series

They're about the things teens fall into these days (some even I didn't think we did...) and how to get out of them.

~East of Eden, by John Steinbeck
~Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts

There are countless little things in these books that have made me think about humanity and faith.

~Learning To Pray
~Mary, Worthy Of All-Praise: Reflections on the Virgin Mary
~Father Arseny: Priest, Prisoner, Spiritual Father

I learned so much from these books. I learned about The Blessed Mother, prayer, Russian history, and just how Christianity is lived. They were some of the most inspiring books I've ever read, especially Father Arseny.

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« Reply #31 on: July 09, 2007, 10:51:13 PM »

 I guess the most inspirational book I've read so far was Contacting Your Spirit Guide by Sylvia Browne. Great read. If you really want to know the truth about... ok, ok, I'm only kidding. Admit it though- I fooled a few of y'all  Grin.

 Actually, it's probably no secret that the book (though not a novel) that has made the biggest difference in my spiritual life (besides the Bible  Tongue) is The Mountain of Silence by Kyriacos Markides. Cant say enough about this book. Another book (again, not a novel) is Father Arseny: Priest, Prisoner, Spiritual Father.
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« Reply #32 on: July 10, 2007, 05:49:36 AM »

Literature is one of the treasures of civilization.  Many works of fiction have made a profound impact on my spirituality and/or ways of thinking.  I thought we might want to discuss the books that have impacted each of us.
[ . . . ] What novels/plays/poems/etc have influenced you?


An excellent topic !

Here is my reply.

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller Jr.  Science fiction.  It is about a monastery that has preserved secular knowledge (as well as Divine knowledge) after a nuclear holocaust, and how it co-exists with the world through a new dark age, a new renaissance, and a new modern age.  It showed the role and the limitation of the Church in the world, and it showed the consistency of the world world without Christ too:  ultimately, self-destruction.

1984 by George Orwell.  Science fiction.  It is about the world when dominated by totalitarian government in the form of a socialist party.  Put another way, it is about the world when the world seeks only power.  It is another example of what human civilization ultimately must become when it is divorced from God. 

Both books convinced me to my core that the world needs the Church to remind it of God and the need of living in union with God.  Otherwise, the world will fly to its own ruin --usually by seeking to avoid pain and by seeking to acquire pleasure, prosperity and power.  Those things aren't bad in themselves; but when they are the only things that man lives for, they ultimately produce their opposites.  And that is because for peace (interior and exterior), there must also be conscious union with God. 

One book I need to read is Brave New World by Alduous Huxley.  It too is a science fiction story of distopia, but it is a distopia based on pleasure.  Someone once said to me (20 years ago) that the future would be 1/3 1984 and 2/3 Brave New World.  It seems to be shaping up that way . . .

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« Reply #33 on: July 10, 2007, 09:48:11 AM »

Yay! Another vote for the Canticle...
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« Reply #34 on: July 10, 2007, 10:05:32 AM »

I'm disappointed that no one has mentioned Chariots of the Gods by Erich Von Daniken.  I was a true believer when I read this in 1974 at the age of 12.

It's almost heresy to say, but I actually get pretty bored reading Dostoyevsky.  Too wordy.  I find Chekhov much more spiritually rewarding, but each to his own.

Everyone has listed a lot of sci-fi, one of my favorite genres, but not because any one book has had a big spiritual message for me.  A lot of sci fi is so humanistic or anti-religious that the very lack of spiritual faith and emptiness in its characters reaffirms my belief that life is meaningless without God.  For example, read the Red, Blue & Green Mars series to see how religion is portrayed.  Good end-of-the-world stuff, Earth Abides, Lucifer's Hammer or Mote in God's Eye.  Each pretty God unfriendly.  

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« Reply #35 on: July 10, 2007, 10:31:03 AM »

Tina, I won't throw a stone for your evaluation of Dostoevsky. He might, indeed, strike you as very wordy and cold. Especially in translation, probably, this side of him might get too much on your nerves. In original Russian, for readers like myself it might be better, because his very "epileptic," stylistically faulty Russian is, sort of, "part and parcel" of his writer's charm, of his mesmerizing effect on the reader.

I believe a Westerner might try to penetrate into Dostoevsky's world through cinematography. Akira Kurosawa's "The Idiot," and especially Luchino Visconti's "White Nights" are very, very good.
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« Reply #36 on: July 10, 2007, 12:31:59 PM »

Tina, I won't throw a stone for your evaluation of Dostoevsky. He might, indeed, strike you as very wordy and cold. Especially in translation, probably, this side of him might get too much on your nerves. In original Russian, for readers like myself it might be better, because his very "epileptic," stylistically faulty Russian is, sort of, "part and parcel" of his writer's charm, of his mesmerizing effect on the reader.

I believe a Westerner might try to penetrate into Dostoevsky's world through cinematography. Akira Kurosawa's "The Idiot," and especially Luchino Visconti's "White Nights" are very, very good.

I think where I get hung up is in the 19th century social etiquette and the page long descriptions of romantic feelings and "does she love me, this wretched scoundrel that I am?" ruminations.  It's a little hard to relate to in our fast paced, blunt, say-what-you-mean culture.  Or maybe it's because I am always so busy with the kids & job that I don't have time to really read like I used to.  (That's why I've whipped through so many Chekhov novellas & short stories). 

Thank you for the suggestion on the movies - I'll give that a try.  Especially for The Idiot.  I've read The Brothers K. but bogged down in The Idiot.  The other thing I think would help would be to read up on 19th century Russian history and society.  It's such a different world view.     
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« Reply #37 on: July 10, 2007, 12:46:28 PM »

A lot of sci fi is so humanistic or anti-religious that the very lack of spiritual faith and emptiness in its characters reaffirms my belief that life is meaningless without God.  

That is sad but true, which is why I am so delighted when I find science fiction that is not anti-God, anti-Christian or anti-religion.

You know, there are A LOT of Christians in this world --2 billion or so-- and many of them like to read.  And many of them like science fiction.  Do you think there might be a market for more pro-Christian science fiction?   Cool  Not Bible verses in space, mind you, but some good, thoughtful science fiction that also incorporates a positive view towards Christianity?
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« Reply #38 on: July 10, 2007, 01:24:19 PM »

I haven't seen the movie. I can't imagine it would be nearly as good as the book; after all, the best parts were the philosophical discussions--and those wouldn't translate well to film.

No, you get some, but it is reduced.
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« Reply #39 on: July 10, 2007, 01:41:51 PM »

That is sad but true, which is why I am so delighted when I find science fiction that is not anti-God, anti-Christian or anti-religion.

You know, there are A LOT of Christians in this world --2 billion or so-- and many of them like to read.  And many of them like science fiction.  Do you think there might be a market for more pro-Christian science fiction?   Cool  Not Bible verses in space, mind you, but some good, thoughtful science fiction that also incorporates a positive view towards Christianity?

You know, it's funny but the ones who seem to have a good hold on sci-fi are the Mormons (hardly a suprise considering their little planet populating weirdness).  I didn't realize it until I read an article on Beliefnet.  The great SciFi Channel series Battlestar Galactica - Mormons. 

Wasn't there a RC priest who wrote sci-fi a few years back?  As big a seller as Christian, i.e. Evangelical Protestant fiction, has become, I'm suprised someone hasn't taken this on.  Though can you imagine how hokey and badly written that would be? 
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« Reply #40 on: July 10, 2007, 03:01:53 PM »

Do you think there might be a market for more pro-Christian science fiction? 
You might try Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis. Also, The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury is very good too (not pro-Christian but at least not anti-).
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« Reply #41 on: July 10, 2007, 03:04:20 PM »

You know, it's funny but the ones who seem to have a good hold on sci-fi are the Mormons (hardly a suprise considering their little planet populating weirdness).

Scientologists are pretty into the sci-fi too. Grin
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« Reply #42 on: July 10, 2007, 03:46:48 PM »

Scientologists are pretty into the sci-fi too. Grin

You are so right - who could forget L. Ron Hubbard!  Though after he took to living offshore in international waters to avoid the IRS, his book production dropped way off. 
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« Reply #43 on: July 10, 2007, 07:51:47 PM »

Speaking of sci-fi, as a person sailing from the former USSR, I can't but mention brothers Arkadiy and Boris Strugatskiy's novels and short stories, among them a short story titled "A Picnic on the Roadside," which became the framework of the plot for Andrei Tarkovskiy's motion picture titled "The Stalker" - anyone here seen it...? Arrgh. Smiley Anyone seen "Andrei Rublev?" "Solaris?" "The Mirror?" "Nostalgia?" "The Sacrifice?" Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh..............................
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« Reply #44 on: July 15, 2007, 03:54:38 PM »

Yes - I've seen Andrei Rublev several times, Solaris once, and  Stalker (1979) a few times. I haven't seen the others yet. My impression from those few Russian films is that silence, and the actual being of living is not consciously excised from Russian film. American film is reduced rather to the 'highlights' of a story - only the 'important dialogue', events -  if it doesn't 'drive the story forward', then it isn't there. As one used to American film, the first time I saw  Stalker it was rather a shock - an extremely long sequence where the protaganist eats breakfast (I think with his wife, and she smokes?) .. with barely any dialogue. It was rather like, like just eating breakfast in real life. I haven't seen it in a few years though. I think it is interesting to compare them (I like to watch Bollywood film as well - where the Musical dieth not.)

I have seen some reference 'Andrei Rublev' as the greatest motion picture ever made. I think it might be so (and, I suggest it as a good film, just approach like reading a book rather than expecting a 'movie'.)

Now - I had heard a few years back about a major epic motion picture made in Russia about Peter the Great, IIRC. I *never* found the film - anyone know about it?

--------------------
Regarding adherence to religion and creativity in storytelling. Catholics have it hands down in numbers and quality, IMHO (and, that's in English.) Orthodox writers don't figure much (though there are a few), as there just aren't many Orthodox writers writing in English. Mormon sci-fi just doesn't do it for me. Really, besides Catholic sci-fi and other fiction, only higher-church Anglicans tend to put out the quality (that, or folk of 'odd religions'.) Protestantism is so anti-creativity, that works by Protestants seem to be very starved (as Battlefield Band sang in 'My Bonnie Yew Tree' -
"Did you no' think tae tell when John Knox himsel'
Preached under your branches sae black
To the poor common folk who would lift up the yoke
O' the bishops and priests frae their backs
But you knew the bargain he sold them
And freedom was only one part
For the price o' their souls was a gospel sae cold
It would freeze up the joy in their hearts".)
That is - where some haven't edited that verse from the song (I'm sure some Presby Kirkers find it offensive.) But, I think that's the missing element - Joy makes sub-creation, without it... blah.
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« Reply #45 on: July 16, 2007, 11:29:40 AM »

Wow, Aristibule, brother, thanks...

Actually, I think the "real time" is not a Russian invention in cinematography, it's European... Probably Antonioni's "Ecclise" (1960) is truly a classic motion picture where this approach is used: when heroes, for example, cross a street, they REALLY cross a real street, with the camera following their every step, every movement of their body, arms, head, etc. But, on the other hand, yes, in Tarkovskiy's "Stalker" this "real time" is sometimes exaggerated, taken to the extreme.

Have you seen "The Mirror?" Personally, I like it more than all other motion pictures by A.T., even more than "Andrei Rublev." It may even be my most favorite, most beloved motion picture of all times, the best in cinematography that I've ever seen.

I also love Fellini. "La Dolce Vita" makes me cry every time I see it. Especially the scenes with the hero's father, and the last sequence on the beach.
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