less is more (formerly The Scoop)
is a  more or less monthly newsletter from author Ken Kuhlken

Woe is Us?
On Christian books, writers, publishers, and booksellers
To read from the beginning, go here. 

Part Five:

To study how other writers have succeeded in finding their audience is of course not only valuable to Christian writers, but it may be more critical and perhaps harder for us on account of current prevalent attitudes toward Christian thought and stories.

Graham Greene, especially in The Power and the Glory and The End of the Affair, wrote about problematic people: a humble yet deeply flawed priest, and a woman trying to live out her faith during times of tragedy of both worldwide and personal. But he also wrote spy stories he considered entertainments as opposed to the novels he approached with profound care and gravity. The entertainments were meant to support him and build his readership. The novels ask us to think more vigorously.
Ron Hansen is a dedicated Catholic who has written fine novels in which Christian themes or characters don’t  figure. But his Mariette In Ecstasy is decidedly Christian though it avoids being cast aside by secular readers by showing the story, an account of a young nun enduring a stigmata experience, in what appears to be objective detail. For those unacquainted with the term, stigmata is the mysterious manifestation of wounds on a person’s body that correspond with the crucifixion wounds suffered by Jesus. The experience may be viewed as form of hysteria or a  miracle, and Ron Hansen leaves the answer to the reader. 
Flannery O’Connor, an earnest Christian, was a boldly critical observer of "good Christian people". Also, the characters she created are often larger than life, exaggerated almost to cartoonish proportions. 
Anne Lamott,  like Flannery O’Connor, is refreshingly original. Her brash, commonly profane, and self-revealing style and humor are probably what have made her work succeed remarkably with mainstream readers. Humor can win over most anybody.

John Irving is another master humorist, and though he doesn’t profess to be a Christian, A Prayer for Owen Meany takes Christian beliefs including the miraculous and prophetic quite seriously. Owen Meany became and remains extraordinarily popular, perhaps because Irving has the gift of making wild and outrageous stuff believable. I studied with him in Iowa and learned that he attributed much of his style and storytelling attitude from reading Charles Dickens.
In Part Six I mean to share several insights about the creation of Feodor Dostoyevski’s The Brothers Karamazov. Meanwhile, if you haven’t read the novel please stop everything else and do so.

What's This? A Tuition Reduction?
While most colleges become evermore fixated on preparing students for particular vocations, Perelandra College remains dedicated  to a simpler mission: enabling students to think broadly and deeply and to express themselves honestly and well, no matter what vocation or mission they choose.
Other institutions can prepare students to prosper financially, usually in exchange  for a costly investment. In part because we make no vocational promises, we keep the costs to students so low they will not need to mortgage their future.
When we founded the college in 2002, we became a non-profit corporation with a  goal of covering operations and administrative costs through donations. Just lately, through frugality and with the help of some generous friends, we have met that goal.  For now, at least, we only charge students what we pay our faculty. We are most grateful to everyone who has helped us reach this goal.
Now I should make a pitch for some
year-end giving, but I prefer to be subtle. 
Magical Music

To prepare for Christmas, listen here.
News and Notes from Perelandra College include an invitation to submit a story (at no charge) and perhaps earn a bunch of money
Wishing y'all peace, especially over the sometimes frantic holiday season.

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