Friday 9 March 2018

Image and Likeness Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body - Erin McCole Cupp and Ellen Gable

Image and Likeness
Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body
Erin McCole Cupp (Editor)
Ellen Gable (Editor)
Full Quiver Publishing
ISBN 9780987915351

I am a big fan of anthologies. First I find they are a great way to meet new authors. Second I find the skill needed for shorter prose is greater. Third it is a great change of pace from non-fiction, and fiction. And this one was excellent on many levels. I had read 4 books by Full Quiver authors over the last year and decided this Anthology might be a great way to be exposed to some other authors to explore. Now to be honest I was familiar with a number of the authors and had read books by three of the seventeen. 

The contributors are:

Michelle Buckman  
AnnMarie Creedon  
Karina Fabian 
Anne Faye 
Ellen Gable (Hrkach) 
Barbara Hosbach 
Dena Hunt 
Katy Huth Jones 
Antony Barone Kolenc 
Theresa Linden 
Leslie Lynch 
Erin McCole Cupp 
John D. McNichol
Damon Owens 
Arthur Powers
Gerard D. Webster 
R. Elaine Westphal 

And the contributions are:

Foreword by Damon Owens
Venus if You Do by Arthur Powers
Thou by Gerard Webster
No Turning Back by Leslie Lynch
Purple Hearts by Tony Kolenc
Cries of the Innocents by Karina Fabian
Victorious by Katy Huth Jones
Movements by Michelle Buckman
Full Reversal by Theresa Linden
In the Death of Winter  by Arthur Powers
Guess Who's Coming to Sunday Brunch by Erin McCole Cupp
Nice by Gerard Webster 
My Pot of Gold by R Elaine Westphal
Claudio by Arthur Powers
This is My Body by AnnMarie Creedon
Good For Her by Erin McCole Cupp
Pear Trees by Dena Hunt
The Walk by Anne Faye
Two Kinds of People by John McNichol
Hard Choices by Barbara Hosbach
MS by Arthur Powers
Made For Love by Theresa Linden
The Death of Me, The Life of Us by Ellen Gable

But this is more than just a collection of stories with a theme, or unifying thread running throughout them. As Damon Owens in the introduction states: 
"The power of stories on people is a fascinating phenomenon. A poem, anecdote, short story, biography or novel can engage our imagination, intellect, emotions, and memory in transformative ways. We truly are "hard-wired" for story. As a Catholic speaker and evangelist for over twenty years, I have witnessed how a well-told story can build rapport, engender trust, and influence even the most reluctant listener."
C.S. Lewis in On Stories: And Other Essays on Literature stated: "It is very rarely that a middle-aged man finds an author who gives him, what he knew so often in his teens and twenties, the sense of having opened a new door." But this book did that. This book is not just a great collection of stories and it is that. Because the theme central to the stories is The Theology of the Body, the stories have incredible impact. I have already started reading through this a second time, taking a slower pace, and just one story every other night. I also have plans to read books by a number of the contributors, the ones I was already familiar with and some new authors to check out.

This book has punch, from the first story by Arthur Powers, which literally has a fist fight. And it is the not the only story to see actual punches thrown. These stories included unexpected pregnancies, the military's don't ask don't tell, vigils at abortion clinics, cancer. There are stories about living in a fallen world, but also stories about a redeemer, and the church that holds his banner high. I especially appreciated Theresa Linden's first contribution Full Reversal, which continues, sometime after her Chasing Liberty trilogy. And Ellen Gable's The Death of Me, the Life of Us is an incredibly moving piece dealing with guilt. And the poem MS by Arthur Powers simply masterful. 

Damon Owens in the introduction also stated: 
"I am indebted to the authors and poets of Image and Likeness for their gifted storytelling of real life "ugly." This book isn't afraid to hold our gaze into the darkness of sin, doubt, and brokenness before the resolution of redemption. Some of these stories are heartbreaking to read precisely because I know this is true. Some of them I will never forget because of their unexpected turn to redemption. Through and through, this is an artistic instruction in TOB that shows us the wounds needing the balm, the balm applied, and the health and wholeness of men and women healed. And, like every well-told story, its penetrating TOB truths will influence even the most reluctant reader."
And I completely agree. And I hope that the editors are considering adding a second volume. This is an incredible collection that I know everyone who gives it a try will be blessed, and likely a little challenged. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!

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