John Updike and Religion: The Sense of the Sacred and the Motions of Grace

John Updike and Religion: The Sense of the Sacred and the Motions of Grace



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John Updike and Religion: The Sense of the Sacred and the Motions of Grace by James O. Yerkes, James Yerkes

This book is the first to take an in-depth look at the religious vision of Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Updike. In his very first piece of autobiography, first published in 1962 and later titled "The Dogwood Tree: A Boyhood," Updike characterized religion as one of "the three great secret things" in human experience, the others being sex and art. Since then his literary production of more than fifty books in four main genres - novels, short stories, poetry, and critical essays - has consistently and insightfully explored a wide range of religious issues. The essays collected here evaluate the religious dimension of Updike's prodigious literary vision, looking broadly at Updike's understanding of religion in ordinary human experience, in the context of historic Christianity, and in contemporary American culture.

The three main sections of the book comprise fifteen original essays, five in each section, together with an introductory essay by Updike himself. The three sections explore Updike's "sense of the sacred" as a pervasive dynamic in human experience, as what gives existential credibility to historic Christian witness, and as that which ultimately undergirds the peculiarly American religious understanding of cultural obligation and order. This study does not pretend to be exhaustive, but it is thoughtfully representative of the full range of Updike's literary production to date as it bears on issues of religion. Given the current interest in religious issues spawned by America's culture wars, this book will no doubt spark provocative and productive dialogue on those issues within the context of Updike's unique literary vision - a widely honored authorial perspective spanning the last half of the twentieth century.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802838735
Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
Publication date: 12/01/1999
Pages: 303
Product dimensions: 6.25(w) x 9.32(h) x 1.05(d)

Table of Contents

Remarks upon Receiving the Campion Medal3
1.Updike and the Religious Dimension
As Good as It Gets: The Religious Consciousness in John Updike's Literary Vision9
The Obligation to Live: Duty and Desire in John Updike's Self-Consciousness31
The Pocket Nothing Else Will Fill: Updike's Domestic God50
When Earth Speaks of Heaven: The Future of Race and Faith in Updike's Brazil64
Updike 2020: Fantasy, Mythology, and Faith in Toward the End of Time80
2.Updike and the Christian Religion
An Umbrella Blowing Inside Out: Paradoxical Theology and American Culture in the Novels of John Updike101
What Is Goodness? The Influence of Updike's Lutheran Roots119
Writing as a Reader of Karl Barth: What Kind of Religious Writer Is John Updike Not?145
The World and the Void: Creatio ex Nihilo and Homoeroticism in Updike's Rabbit Is Rich162
Learning to Die: Work as Religious Discipline in Updike's Fiction180
3.Updike and American Religion
Faith or Fiction: Updike and the American Renaissance195
Giving the Devil His Due: Leeching and Edification of Spirit in The Scarlet Letter and The Witches of Eastwick208
Guru Industries, Ltd.: Red-Letter Religion in Updike's S.228
Chaos and Society: Religion and the Idea of Civil Order in Updike's Memories of the Ford Administration242
The World as Host: John Updike and the Cultural Affirmation of Faith257
Bibliography of Citation Sources and Updike Criticism267

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John Updike and Religion: The Sense of the Sacred and the Motions of Grace 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When the story of 20th century literature is complete, one of the prominent names in it will be John Updike's. James Yerkes edited a fine collection of essays dealing with the topic of faith and Updike. Written in a delightfully down-to-earth manner, this book may have a longwinded title, but Updike admirers who fear wading in the dark waters of academic posturing need not worry, for the book is a relatively breezy read. Editor Yerkes, who maintains an Updike page on the Internet, writes about Updike without delving into eight-dollar words. Nothing stuffy here. Contributor James A. Schiff observes that for Updike, 'God permeates every aspect of human life so that his presence is felt in and around households. Updike doesn¿t state his beliefs in so many words, preferring--as most artists--to 'suggest that the possibility of there being something greater beneath the physical surface Schiff sees God presence in Updike¿s writing, although 'beneath the surface, pushing through, as well as above the world, providing light and hope.' Schiff sees such an ambiguity as clearly attesting 'to the artist¿s artistic achievement since God, in life and in fiction, is never easily or clearly found.'