S2 Ep12: Lee Camp’s Controversial Orthodoxies

A man of many interests, Lee Camp is a theology professor, the host of the Tokens variety show, and the author of Scandalous Witness: A Little Political Manifesto for Christians. In this episode, Jonathan and Lee discuss Lee’s controversially orthodox assertions, the necessity for a hermeneutic of love, and the inextricability of true hope and the courage to encounter a new story.

On Giving an Account of What You Have Seen

I once sat next to a writer at a school concert. I knew she was a writer because she had her notebook and pen and was actually writing during the concert. She looked to be about ten or eleven, and she was essentially live-blogging the event, writing down everything she noticed. I could hardly watch the concert for looking over to see what my neighbor was writing. It was this kind of thing:

  • After the violin players are finished, some singers come up and sing a song about the red river valley.
  • Then a band comes and sings a rock and roll song. They all have glasses except for the drummer.
  • Two boys come up to play a song, but one of them forgets his guitar and has to go back to his seat and get it. Everybody laughs, but not in a mean way.

I love the fact that this young writer wasn’t waiting for something fabulous to happen before she started writing. She just gave an account of what she saw. There’s a whole worldview there: she believed that the things she saw in the world around her were sufficiently meaningful to be worth writing about. And in writing about them, she dignified those seemingly mundane events.

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S2 Ep11: A 2008 Wingfeather Release Day Review (Bonus)

Going all the way back to 2008, here’s an episode of the old Rabbit Room Podcast in which Jonathan reads aloud his release day review of On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness—with an introduction by Andrew Peterson impersonating Alfred Hitchcock. Yeah, we never were sure exactly what that was about.

S2 Ep9: Remembering Charles Portis, with David Kern

In this episode, Jonathan and the Circe Institute’s David Kern reminisce about the work of the recently deceased Charles Portis. They discuss the connections between fiction and flim-flammery, the role of the ridiculous in comic storytelling, the importance of leaving some work for the reader to do, the world’s smallest perfect man, and one of the world’s most perfect opening sentences.

David Kern heads up the Circe Institute’s Podcast Network. He hosts the Close Reads podcast, The Daily Poem podcast, and the Libromania podcast. A shortened version of this conversation will be posted as an episode of Libromania.

Notes for Writers of Alma Maters

I graduated from Warner Robins High School (Go Demons!). Our alma mater probably looked a lot like your alma mater:
 On the city’s eastern border,
Led by God’s great hand,
Proudly stands our alma mater,
Dearest in the land.
We will ever sing thee praises,
Striving without fail.
Here’s to thee, our alma mater–
Robins High all hail!

 I’ve always felt that Warner Robins High School, the institution of learning where I first encountered Paradise Lost, The Canterbury Tales, and polynomials, deserved a better alma mater–though I suspect it’s close to the median for this sort of thing. Literary standards for alma maters are pretty low.

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Remembering Charles Portis: A Writer Who Makes Me Want to Write

I am forever asking writers, “Who are the writers who make you want to write.” For me, the first and best answer to that question is Charles Portis, the novelist best known for True Grit. I don’t suppose I could ever do what he did as a storyteller, but he has always made me want to try. I am sorry to say that Mr. Portis died yesterday, at the age of 86, in Little Rock, Arkansas.

In 1998, Ron Rosenbaum published a paean to Charles Portis in Esquiremagazine, praising him as “our least-known great writer”: 

Perhaps the most original, indescribable sui generis talent overlooked by literary culture in America. A writer who—if there’s any justice in literary history as opposed to literary celebrity—will come to be regarded as the author of classics on the order of a twentieth-century Mark Twain, a writer who captures the soul of America, the true timbre of the dream-intoxicated voices of this country, in a way that no writers’-workshop fictionalist has done or is likely to do…

Tom Wolfe once spoke about the way city-born creative-writing types go directly from East Coast hothouse venues to places like Iowa City, where “they rent a house out in the countryside, and after about their fifth conversation with a plumber named Lud, they feel that they know the rural psyche.”

Charles Portis is the real thing to which these grad-school simulacra can only aspire in their wildest dreams. He is a wild dreamer of a writer.

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S2 Ep6: Elyse Fitzpatrick & Eric Schumacher

Elyse Fitzpatrick and Eric Schumacher are co-authors of Worthy: Celebrating the Value of Women. In this episode, Jonathan, Elyse, and Eric discuss writing as an antidote to reducing other people to categories, the church’s responsibility to defend victims of sexual abuse, the cowriting process for Elyse and Eric, and how they have chosen to navigate a politically fraught topic.

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