In This Issue: The Christian and Literary Art
Two weeks ago I asked a young adult Sunday school class what saints in their past symbolized the continuing story that is Christianity. Of the four or so who responded, at least two mentioned a grandfather “who told us kids wonderful stories.”
In literary creation, as Richard Epp points out, we move beyond clichés and become sensitive to the subtle colors and shadows of reality. Through art we “become” another person and so discover ourselves at the same time we learn to love the other.
But we have often been unable to take our own stories and our own creativity seriously. “Sometimes,” said one of the class members, “my grandfather would feel guilty about telling his own stories and would try to sneak in a Bible story.”
Perhaps the grandfather would have felt less guilty if he had reflected on the form and function of the stories of Israel and the Church. Most of the Scripture, after all, is made up of stories and poems. As Ted Hiebert points out, “in a story we view God through the experiences of others who have been confronted by him and we are invited to understand and shape our own lives—in all of their dimensions—in the light of the shape of the story of the lives of God’s people.” And poetry allows “glimpses of the Inexpressible” which appeal to a deeper human level than does dogma and creed.
“Prose is bread, poetry is honey. Bread alone is a meal; but bread with honey is a feast.” Wilfred Martens asserts this in a short piece which deliberately attempts to use poetic prose to sharply distinguish the two. And it is poetic prose that he finds in his review of Ingrid Rimland’s The Wanderers, a novel of the flight of Mennonites from Russia to Germany to Paraguay.
A story by Phyllis Martens and poems by students at Tabor College and Fresno Pacific College are meant to remind us that only a continuing tradition of story and picture and poem and song can nourish the continuing traditions of the peoples of God.
Much of this issue was planned and coordinated by Katie Funk Wiebe, Associate Editor.