All posts tagged John Steinbeck

  • The World and The Dance

    “And in the distance the Jesus-lovers sat with hard condemning faces and watched the sin.”
    –The Grapes of Wrath

    Thus John Steinbeck depicts the world-denying Pentecostals in The Grapes of Wrath as self-righteous , self-appointed morality police who take perverse pleasure in condemning the Saturday night square dance in the California migrant camp. Steinbeck’s terse portrayal of the “Jesus-Lovers” is unflattering, but not an unfair invention of fiction. Unfortunately, such people do exist, and in their existence they horribly distort the good news of Jesus Christ.

    The worst way to define ourselves as Christian is in the negative: What we are against. Steinbeck’s migrant camp Jesus-lovers were against dancing (and most other expressions of humanness). Of course, it is a caricature, but only in that it is perhaps an exaggeration. There remains the misguided tendency to identify ourselves by what we condemn.

    And we have made this quite clear to the wider society. Ask a non-evangelical to define what evangelicals believe and odds are they will not speak in terms of a personal salvation experience (the classical marker of evangelicalism), but will give you a summary of political positions and a list of items evangelicals are opposed to. And that these items may indeed be real evils and not the innocent dance of Steinbeck’s novel is beside the point. The question remains, do we really want to be primarily identified by what we are against? Don’t we have some good news to identify us?

    Here’s the question: What do we think of the world? Are we part of the world or not? Do we love the world or not? Do we have hope for the world or not? Read more

  • Subhuman

    I’m reading John Steinbeck’s East of Eden. I’ve been wading through a lot of heavy theology and philosophy over the past year, so I decided to take a break and read a novel just for the pleasure of it. On Peri’s recommendation I chose East of Eden. But as it turns out East of Eden is a modern reworking of Genesis with plenty of theological and philosophical thinking. The antagonist in the story has to be one of the most evil characters in literary history — the monstrous and whorish Cathy Ames (Kate Trask).

    Steinbeck introduces Cathy (Kate) with these words:

    I believe there are monsters born in the world to human parents.
    Read more