Monday, February 13, 2012

Apologist Interview: Holly Ordway on Literary Apologetics

Today's interview is with Holly Ordway. Holly is an academic, a poet, a Christian apologist and author of Not God’s Type: A Rational Academic Finds a Radical Faith. She is also director of ACM's Literary Apologetics Certificate program. She talks about literary apologetics, what it is and is not, excellence and creativity, what apologetics looks like through literature and the arts, developing and sharpening the skills of the literary apologist, the Literary Apologetics Certificate, and more. Visit Holly's blog: Hieropraxis.

Full Interview MP3 Audio here. (30 min)

Subscribe to the Apologetics 315 Interviews podcast here or in iTunes.


Brent said...

Holly, I think I love you!

Very, very good! And inspiring!

dgfisch said...

A question for all. Is there any general works that deal with a history of Christian allegory, from The Shepherd of Hermas to Pilgrim's Progress to C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia and Space Trilogy? Dr. Ordway has revealed a novel approach to expressing Christian truth without lofty philosophical argumentation (which can be scary for some readers).

I understand the writer's workshop model, and really hope the next generation can become articulate in speaking the Gospel in many novel ways.

Holly Ordway said...

For listeners interested in the poetry I mentioned in the interview: this is the opening of Malcolm Guite's sonnet sequence on the church year, on his blog:

dgfisch: I can't think of a specific book that covers the history of Christian allegory, although it would be very interesting to read!

I think that today, straight allegory is not as effective as it was in centuries past; modern works such as Narnia, the Space Trilogy, and Lord of the Rings are more powerful because there are allegorical elements, but deeply integrated into a story - what Tolkien called 'creating myth.' That's something that we will be discussing in Week 4 of Principles of Literary Apologetics in the Literary Apologetics program...

CA said...

It is great to see Holly (a woman !!!) doing apologetics. Here are a few of my thoughts that you may like to dialogue with...

Once upon a time, the university campus was a bastion of maleness, but this is no longer the case. In fact, I believe that more than 50% of graduates from universities are now women. So why is it that so few women are interested or involved in apologetics?

Take my wife for example. She loves to read fiction, study postgraduate-level history, solve murder mysteries, and homeschool our children. However she has no interest in the traditional apologetics as found (for example) on Apologetics 315.

Since my wife is hardly an isolated example, I therefore suspect that traditional apologetics may be more of a male-thinking activity. This would appear to explain the maleness of traditional apologetics, and also explain why Holly comes at apologetics from such a different angle.

We could at this stage debate whether my observations and conclusions are correct of not, however my concern goes further and it is this: how can we get those of the female gender to see apologetics as something that is a vital part of living the Christian life in 2012? There are so many smart educated Christian women such as my wife, yet how many women are learning apologetics of some type and passing this on as a part of everyday life to friends, colleagues and especially to their children.

I would like to see Holly and other woman apologists investigate these questions and start a movement in which apologetics is part of the staple diet for those such as my wife. Does this involve CS Lewis or Tolkien style literature? Does it involve starting a new genre of historical fiction? I'm thinking for example of this book by Craig Hazen:

To be quite honest, I hardly read fiction, and Holly's approach is an angle that may not resonate with me. I am however saturated in traditional apologetics. I would love my wife and daughters to be reading apologetics books, and I would love to look back in 20 years and see a generation of women that have been excited by apologetics and are making a difference using apologetics as a seventh sense emanating naturally from a life saturated in thinking that is bigger than this world.

As a final semi-related thought, my daughters love the Caroline Lawrence historical fiction stories that a situated in the Roman Empire around (I think) the first century. These books and the associated TV programs are really excellent and make further study of that era exciting and wonderful :-)

MaryLou said...

Two things struck me from the podcast. Holly talked about the poetry of Hopkins showing that Christianity encompasses all of life, including the hard things, even if they're discomforting. That's one of the reasons Hopkins resonates with me.

And it's one of the reasons that so much of contemporary Christian fiction leaves me cold. The villains are rarely really nasty and everybody gets what they want in the end. The childless woman is miraculously pregnant. The man in the wheelchair gets out of it and walks. The unemployed person suddenly gets the job ov his/her dreams -- but that's not real life and I want to read about God in the thin places, not just the fat ones!

The second thing that hit me was how right Holly is about the need to write with excellence because we have a God of excellence. I do some editing and critiquing occasionally and I can't tell you the number of bad manuscripts handed to me that people say God told them to write. I am always tempted to say, but if God told you to write this, why isn't it any good?

So I agree that a person simply expressing his or her faith in a poem or a story isn't enough. It HAS to be GOOD! I'm thrilled that Holly is offering the opportunity for Christian writers to study apologetics and hone their writing skills at the same time. May God bless Holly, Athanatos and the literary apologetic certificate program.

MaryLou said...

There's an interview with Baylor professor Ralph Wood on the topic of Literature and the Christian Imagination that goes nicely with what Holly said in her interview. It can be found here:

Or it can be accessed through iTunes under Beeson Divinity School.

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