cover image Nourishing Narratives: The Power of Story to Shape Our Faith

Nourishing Narratives: The Power of Story to Shape Our Faith

Jennifer L. Holberg. IVP Academic, $25 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-51400-524-8

In this insightful if occasionally meandering entry, Holberg (Pedagogy), an English professor at Calvin University, posits that being able to better understand narratives will help Christians deepen their faith. While church culture tends to prize certain stories over others—favoring biblical tales or faith testimonies that hinge on miracles or dramatic triumphs over adversity—ordinary moments are central to Christian faith, the author contends. She writes that Christians can find wisdom in literature, citing 19th-century writer Christina Rossetti, who wrote poems that broached her doubts about faith, while nonetheless recognizing that she was “not lost to the grace of God.” As well, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre voiced an “insistence on God’s call to active vocation for all,” including women, and Flannery O’Connor asserted that “robust engagement with fiction... is a measure of strong faith.” Switching to scripture, Holberg suggests the Bible exhibits “narrative hope”—floods, storms, and calamities are redeemed by an overarching knowledge of God’s goodness—and encourages Christians to live out their own “stories of hope” by trusting in God’s grace. Despite a few distracting anecdotes, including one involving a foot injury and another about birds that help locate honey in certain Indigenous African cultures, Holberg’s passion for scripture and literature animates this entry. Bookworms will be delighted. (July)