The fifth volume in the series, The Best Christian Writing 2006 is a gathering of previously published essays. Writings originally appeared in an array of publications including The Christian Century, First Things, and The Hedgehog Review.
“Good Christian writing,” the introduction states, “which of course is always difficult to define, possesses an added dimension. Not only do the words of good Christian writing hit a mark, not only do they possess qualities shared with good writing in general, not only do they genuinely illuminate some human situation or human personality – but they do so from a specific angle. The angle is the reality of Christian faith.” In his own essay that makes up the book’s introduction, Mark Noll added, “the one essential quality of good writing is clarity.”
I enjoyed Andy Crouch’s piece from Books & Culture titled, Omit Unnecessary Words. It was an interesting comparison of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild conference and the Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing conference. Similarly, My Africa Problem…and Ours by Gideon Strauss, Brother John by August Turak, and Picturing the Passion by Gregory Wolfe were food for thought. Many of the works in The Best Christian Writing 2006 were commentaries on the thoughts and writings of other writers.
My favorite selection, because it had the most take home value for me, was Spirituality for All the Wrong Reasons: An Interview with Eugene Peterson by Mark Galli from Christianity Today. “Many people assume that spirituality is about becoming emotionally intimate with God,” Galli says. (30)
“That’s a naïve view of spirituality,” Peterson responds. “What we’re talking about is the Christian life. It’s following Jesus. Spirituality is no different from what we’ve been doing for two thousand years just by going to church and receiving the sacraments, being baptized, learning to pray, and reading Scriptures rightly. It’s just ordinary stuff. This promise of intimacy is both right and wrong. There is an intimacy with God, but it’s like any other intimacy; it’s part of the fabric of your life. In marriage, you don’t feel intimate most of the time. Nor with a friend. Intimacy isn’t primarily a mystical emotion. It’s a way of life, a life of openness, honesty, a certain transparency.”
Peterson continues, “If you read the saints, they’re pretty ordinary people. There are moments of rapture and ecstasy, but once every ten years. And even then it’s a surprise to them. They didn’t do anything.” The Best Christian Writing 2006 is not Chicken Soup for the Soul, it is more for the intellectual. Far from the feel-good story collections, this book is primarily a gathering of recent academic discussions. – PeggySue Wells, Christian Book Previews.com
The Best Christian Writing 2006 is the latest edition of the critically acclaimed series that offers a collection of the best and brightest Christian writing in one compelling volume. The Best Christian Writing 2006 contains accessible essays that provide an excellent overview of the range and depth of Christian thinking and display the unity in diversity evident in today's leading Christian writers.
The contributors distill the riches of belief into lucid explorations of faith that reflect the many dimensions of lived Christianity. Well-crafted and provocative, these essays will inspire and challenge readers who seek to live their faith in a contemporary world. This important resource includes contributions from a diverse group of distinguished writers.