Reading the likes of Updike, Dickens, and Faulkner with a preacher's eye, David Dickinson offers an instructive examination of the role of the sermon as a literary element and, most strikingly, of literature as a modern sermon. Popular perceptions of religion, religious authority, and the practice of preaching have changed significantly during the past century, so much so, Dickinson argues, that fiction writers have a surprising and unique ability to preach to readers through their own fictionalized sermons and the characters who deliver them. The Novel as Church analyzes the context and intent behind these messages, uncovers the dissonance between "novel" and traditional preaching, and illuminates how readers' attitudes toward preaching (and those who preach) may be influenced--or not--by the sermon writers themselves.
David Dickinson is Director of the St Albans Centre for Christian Studies and a minister at Marlborough Road Methodist Church in St Albans, UK.
AcknowledgmentsIntroduction 1. Sounding the Depths of Dissonance 2. Have We Heard the End of the Sermon? 3. Amen: The Assumption of Authority 4. Keeping Faith: The Troubled Preacher in Updike and Lodge5. Heaven in Ordinary: Religious Experience in Fictional Sermons6. Words: Poison in the Ear, a Game with Language, or Naming Truth? 7. Shaping Paradise through Preaching 8. Memory and Imagination Epilogue Notes Bibliography Index