Why Christians should read Camus

An interesting article by Leland Ryken, a professor of Literature at Wheaton College:

Why Christians Should Read Camus


“The first reason why Christians should read Camus the novelist is thus a narrative and aesthetic reason: Camus is a great storyteller and provides the materials and occasion for artistic entertainment. The Stranger is worth reading just for the brilliance of its style. The example of John Milton is instructive at this point. Although Milton eventually came to deplore the moral viewpoint of the Roman poets who had fired his youthful imagination, he nonetheless records that “their art I still applauded.” After all, the image of God in people is what enables them to create form and beauty. I have always relished the aristry of The Stranger despite the distance I feel from the worldview that it offers for my approval.

“This is a second reason for Christians to read Camus: his fictional characters and the events of their lives are a window to our world. The daily news is also a window to our world, but it is out of date 48 hours later. Meursault, by contrast, haunts our memory and becomes an unforgettable acquaintance. As we ponder him, we come to understand some of the people in our own lives.

“To sum up:  another good reason for Christians to read Camus is the clarity with which his writing embodies leading philosophic viewpoints of the modern and contemporary worlds. The fact that The Stranger is set in Algeria 75 years ago, far from being a detriment, gives the book a helpful distance from our own moment in history. Emancipated from the surface clutter of our own cultural situation, the story is able to highlight the essential features of our world.”

I reviewed The Stranger some time ago here: The Stranger.


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