LEARNING OBJECTIVE – To consider the use of religious themes in fiction. By the end of the lesson: All must – understand a range of religious themes used in fiction. Most should – be able to consider why religious themes in fiction may be popular. Some could – evaluate the impact of religious themes in fiction. Fiction and Religion <ul><li>List works of fiction (books, plays, poems) which are religious in nature or have a religious theme as one or more of the storylines. </li></ul>
Task one <ul><li>What types of religious theme are commonly used in fiction? </li></ul><ul><li>Why do you think that books with a religious theme may be popular and why may they be unpopular? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you like fiction with a religious theme? Why? </li></ul>
Task two <ul><li>Each person/pair will be given a different poem which contains a religious theme. </li></ul><ul><li>Read the poem carefully and identify the religious theme . </li></ul><ul><li>Think about the attitude shown towards religion , i.e. is religion being supported, criticised, laughed at etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Now join with another pair and discuss as a four the two poems you have been reading. </li></ul>
Poem titles – you should have notes on the following… <ul><li>Goliath and David by Robert Graves </li></ul><ul><li>A CHILD'S HYMN by Charles Dickens </li></ul><ul><li>ALL THINGS ARE FULL OF GOD by: John Stuart Blackie </li></ul><ul><li>My Savior Wears Jeans by Andrew Embry </li></ul><ul><li>Death be not proud by John Donne </li></ul><ul><li>Prayer before birth by Louis MacNeice </li></ul><ul><li>Church Going by Philip Larkin </li></ul>
Goliath and David by Robert Graves Yet once an earlier David took Smooth pebbles from the brook: Out between the lines he went To that one-sided tournament, A shepherd boy who stood out fine And young to fight a Philistine Clad all in brazen mail. He swears That he's killed lions, he's killed bears, And those that scorn the God of Zion Shall perish so like bear or lion. But ... the historian of that fight Had not the heart to tell it right. Striding within javelin range, Goliath marvels at this strange Goodly-faced boy so proud of strength. David's clear eye measures the length; With hand thrust back, he cramps one knee, Poises a moment thoughtfully, And hurls with a long vengeful swing. The pebble, humming from the sling Like a wild bee, flies a sure line For the forehead of the Philistine; Then ... but there comes a brazen clink, And quicker than a man can think Goliath's shield parries each cast. Clang! clang! and clang! was David's last. Scorn blazes in the Giant's eye, Towering unhurt six cubits high. Says foolish David, "Damn your shield! And damn my sling! but I'll not yield." He takes his staff of Mamre oak, A knotted shepherd-staff that's broke The skull of many a wolf and fox Come filching lambs from Jesse's flocks. Loud laughs Goliath, and that laugh Can scatter chariots like blown chaff To rout; but David, calm and brave, Holds his ground, for God will save. Steel crosses wood, a flash, and oh! Shame for beauty's overthrow! (God's eyes are dim, His ears are shut.) One cruel backhand sabre-cut "I'm hit! I'm killed!" young David cries, Throws blindly forward, chokes ... and dies. And look, spike-helmeted, grey, grim, Goliath straddles over him.
A CHILD'S HYMN Charles Dickens Hear my prayer, O heavenly Father, Ere I lay me down to sleep; Bid Thy angels, pure and holy, Round my bed their vigil keep. My sins are heavy, but Thy mercy Far outweighs them, every one; Down before Thy cross I cast them, Trusting in Thy help alone. Keep me through this night of peril Underneath its boundless shade; Take me to Thy rest, I pray Thee, When my pilgrimage is made. None shall measure out Thy patience By the span of human thought; None shall bound the tender mercies Which Thy Holy Son has bought. Pardon all my past transgressions, Give me strength for days to come; Guide and guard me with Thy blessing Till Thy angels bid me home.
ALL THINGS ARE FULL OF GOD by: John Stuart Blackie (1809-1895) All things are full of God. Thus spoke Wise Thales in the days When subtle Greece to thought awoke And soared in lofty ways. And now what wisdom have we more? No sage divining-rod Hath taught than this a deeper lore, ALL THINGS ARE FULL OF GOD. The Light that gloweth in the sky And shimmers in the sea, That quivers in the painted fly And gems the pictured lea, The million hues of Heaven above And Earth below are one, And every lightful eye doth love The primal light, the Sun. Even so, all vital virtue flows From life’s first fountain, God; And he who feels, and he who knows, Doth feel and know from God. As fishes swim in briny sea, As fowl do float in air, From Thy embrace we cannot flee; We breathe, and Thou art there. Go, take thy glass, astronomer, And all the girth survey Of sphere harmonious linked to sphere, In endless bright array. All that far-reaching Science there Can measure with her rod, All powers, all laws, are but the fair Embodied thoughts of God.
My Savior Wears Jeans by Andrew Embry When I finally pass away some day, I can merely hope and pray That I will gaze upon Christ. Though he is constantly depicted in free flowing robes of white, That is not the Savior I expect to see in my sights, No, that image simply is not right. My Savior wears jeans. Yes, He wears jeans, an opinion I refuse to deny, And if you need reassurance you only need to look toward the sky, And gaze at the intricate shades of blue. His jeans are long, battered, tattered, and torn. They've been stained with blood, tears, and sweat since before I was born. The blue varies through fades, and prices He's paid. The most appealing part of the jeans are the many splotches of bleach, >From where He has tried to reach and teach, As He walks to and fro, Cleaning the coats, of those whom He knows. And I will be the one of the first to confide, That those stains on his jeans will stay there with pride, No matter how much He uses Clorox 2 or Tide, Because the blotches we see is from where He's lived, thrived, and died, And eventually risen days after making his crucial decision. Yes, it is true, I can see through the blue, my Savior wears jeans.
Death be not proud by John Donne DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so, For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow, Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me. From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee, Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow, And soonest our best men with thee doe goe, Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie. Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men, And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell, And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well, And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then; One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally, And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.
Prayer before birth by Louis MacNeice I am not yet born; O hear me. Let not the bloodsucking bat or the rat or the stoat or the club-footed ghoul come near me. I am not yet born, console me. I fear that the human race may with tall walls wall me, with strong drugs dope me, with wise lies lure me, on black racks rack me, in blood-baths roll me. I am not yet born; provide me With water to dandle me, grass to grow for me, trees to talk to me, sky to sing to me, birds and a white light in the back of my mind to guide me. I am not yet born; forgive me For the sins that in me the world shall commit, my words when they speak me, my thoughts when they think me, my treason engendered by traitors beyond me, my life when they murder by means of my hands, my death when they live me. I am not yet born; rehearse me In the parts I must play and the cues I must take when old men lecture me, bureaucrats hector me, mountains frown at me, lovers laugh at me, the white waves call me to folly and the desert calls me to doom and the beggar refuses my gift and my children curse me. I am not yet born; O hear me, Let not the man who is beast or who thinks he is God come near me. I am not yet born; O fill me With strength against those who would freeze my humanity, would dragoon me into a lethal automaton, would make me a cog in a machine, a thing with one face, a thing, and against all those who would dissipate my entirety, would blow me like thistledown hither and thither or hither and thither like water held in the hands would spill me. Let them not make me a stone and let them not spill me. Otherwise kill me.
Church Going by Philip Larkin Once I am sure there's nothing going on I step inside, letting the door thud shut. Another church: matting, seats, and stone, And little books; sprawlings of flowers, cut For Sunday, brownish now; some brass and stuff Up at the holy end; the small neat organ; And a tense, musty, unignorable silence, Brewed God knows how long. Hatless, I take off My cycle-clips in awkward reverence, Move forward, run my hand around the font. From where I stand, the roof looks almost new- Cleaned or restored? Someone would know: I don't. Mounting the lectern, I peruse a few Hectoring large-scale verses, and pronounce "Here endeth" much more loudly than I'd meant. The echoes snigger briefly. Back at the door I sign the book, donate an Irish sixpence, Reflect the place was not worth stopping for. Yet stop I did: in fact I often do, And always end much at a loss like this, Wondering what to look for; wondering, too, When churches fall completely out of use What we shall turn them into, if we shall keep A few cathedrals chronically on show, Their parchment, plate, and pyx in locked cases, And let the rest rent-free to rain and sheep. Shall we avoid them as unlucky places? Or, after dark, will dubious women come To make their children touch a particular stone; Pick simples for a cancer; or on some Advised night see walking a dead one? Power of some sort or other will go on In games, in riddles, seemingly at random; But superstition, like belief, must die, And what remains when disbelief has gone? Grass, weedy pavement, brambles, buttress, sky, A shape less recognizable each week, A purpose more obscure. I wonder who Will be the last, the very last, to seek This place for what it was; one of the crew That tap and jot and know what rood-lofts were? Some ruin-bibber, randy for antique, Or Christmas-addict, counting on a whiff Of gown-and-bands and organ-pipes and myrrh? Or will he be my representative, Bored, uninformed, knowing the ghostly silt Dispersed, yet tending to this cross of ground Through suburb scrub because it held unspilt So long and equably what since is found Only in separation - marriage, and birth, And death, and thoughts of these - for whom was built This special shell? For, though I've no idea What this accoutred frowsty barn is worth, It pleases me to stand in silence here; A serious house on serious earth it is, In whose blent air all our compulsions meet, Are recognised, and robed as destinies. And that much never can be obsolete, Since someone will forever be surprising A hunger in himself to be more serious, And gravitating with it to this ground, Which, he once heard, was proper to grow wise in, If only that so many dead lie round.
<ul><li>What is the point of using religious themes in poems and books? Is it a good idea to do so? </li></ul>
Past exam question: With reference to 2 works of fiction, explain why religion is a popular theme in fiction today.