Bringing Heaven Down To Earth

blog for the book by Nathan Bierma • www.nbierma.com/heaven

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Friday, March 03, 2006

English department winter reading

The Calvin College English Department held a winter gathering last night for readings by authors from the department (I'm an adjunct). I read from the opening pages of chapter 3 of my book last night (minus the technical theological stuff on "kainos" and "heurisko").

A couple of lines got laughs, which I didn't fully expect ("I love thunderstorms. When I’m indoors, at least." and "We are most likely to hear the chirping of birds or gushing of water on a relaxation tape rather than firsthand")--but which I found encouraging. I must say, in all my revising and fussing over word choice, I never really imagined reading from my book before an audience. But I was glad that the prose seemed to me to be fairly readable--not too many dependent clauses.

As I read from this chapter I was also struck by the fear that these opening lines come across as romantic about nature, and anti-culture--which I'm not, as chapters 4 and 5 clarify thoroughly, I hope. Annie Dillard makes sure to write about the gruesomeness of nature as well as its glory, and that seems as honest as it is uncomfortable. I hope I spilled enough ink on the Fall in chapter 3 to cover all the bases. Either way, I still feel the thunderstorm vignette was the right way to make this pivot into Revelation. You have to hear that rain tapping on the window, I think, to hope for a new earth.

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