From the bookshelves: quotes and thoughts from contemporary novelists

February 12, 2019 by Joe Small

Theological wisdom (and theological foolishness) is not the private preserve of professional theologians. Many contemporary novelists deal sensitively with religious themes, often offering provocative insights that pastors can use to good effect in preaching and teaching. Brief quotes do not do justice to the novels from which they are taken, but they can provide wise, often startling, sometimes humorous, but always thought-provoking resources within sermons and adult education.

From time to time, the Presbyterian Foundation shares some wisdom from novels as a small contribution to pastors who seek to proclaim the gospel faithfully week in and week out.

Provocative insights on religious themes from contemporary novelists …

On Church:

In general the churches, visited by me too often on weekdays –  when the custodian was moving about the communion table like a packing case, and sweeping up the chewing gum wrappers that insolently spangled the sacrosanct reaches of the choir – bore for me the same relation to God that billboards did to Coca-Cola: they promoted thirst without quenching it.

John Updike, A Month of Sundays

On Faith:

“But there's something you know … And if you know something and don't act upon it, then you didn't know it in the first place. There is a piece of Chinese wisdom,” she said. “To know and not to act is not to know.”

Don DeLillo, Cosmopolis

On God:

“It's funny,” he said. “After all this time, people still can't do without God. I never would have guessed that He'd survive to your generation. Even the atheists are militant. They can't quite got over Him.”

“Many of my friends don't think one way or another about it,” Sophie told him. “They're not for or against it; they're just beyond it.”

Christopher Beha, What Happened to Sophia Wilder


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