Friday, January 19, 2018

Talk at the University of Kent on Brethren

This coming Tuesday, 23 January, I'm giving a talk at the University of Kent about my novel Brethren as part of the creative writing research seminar series. It is at 1600 in Keynes lecture theatre 2. The blurb below contains (at least) one misleading statement, two doctrinal errors and one major heresy. How many can you spot?

My novel Brethren is set in an evangelical church in Liverpool in 1984. It describes a series of encounters with supernatural beings: an angel, a demon, and (in the climactic scene) an avatar of the dead Christ.

My protagonists are fundamentalists, who rely on the Bible alone for their theology and cosmology. In the Bible, angels are the messengers of God. In other words, their bodies are a medium through which messages travel: a communications technology. But angels are also God’s ambassadors. A substitute for Him. A veil over His living presence, which may be removed.

Hence, Christ is a special kind of angel. The word made flesh.

Demons are harder to define, but we know that they pretend to be angels. If Christianity is based on an ethics of substitution—Christ sacrifices Himself for us (in our place), we love our neighbours as ourselves—then demons instead usurp the place of God, which means they also usurp our place. Their aim is not to reveal or redeem the substituted thing, but to replace it.

I’ll use some episodes from Brethren to explore these ideas.

Jonathan Walker is the author of Pistols! Treason! Murder!: The Rise and Fall of a Master Spy (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009) and Five Wounds: An Illuminated Novel (Allen & Unwin, 2010). His website is www.jonathanwalkervenice.com