Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Dillard is not conventional in any strict sense of the term. Some will find her writing to be off-putting, as it is emblematic of what might be called postmodern or avant-garde literature. There is a seeming structure to For the Time Being, but that structure is fluid and malleable—almost a stream of consciousness—and calls into question the accessibility of a central theme and argument within the text. Dillard’s prose is also thick. The reasons some do not find her prose enjoyable, however, are the very same reasons that so many do. Her prose may be thick, but it is poetic. For her, language itself, because it has being—because it comes from being—is the very thing capable of rectifying the relationship between human beings and the divine. We might say that for Dillard, writing is an act of creation. It thus partakes of the beneficence God expresses when he himself creates. In this regard, creation is ethical, it is good. Noting this salient feature of Dillard’s work, writer Sandra Humble Johnson has called Dillard an “epiphanist,” a writer capable of discovering God and bringing her readers to that discovery through the process of writing. If Christ is the Logos, such an argument suggests, then language itself possesses a certain metaphysical ability to reconnect with its giver and source. Dillard’s words do this.

For the Time Being is also an unconventional theodicy. It raises the question all theodicies raise: If God is...

(The entire section is 507 words.)