Biblical scholar Marcus Borg apparently thought he’d disseminate his thinking to a wider audience if he put it into novel instead of nonfiction form. In his introduction to Putting Away Childish Things, he admits the novel is didactic and might not have found a publisher if he weren’t already famous. It’s hard to imagine that if people were to read Borg’s nonfiction, they wouldn’t prefer it to a novel with little character development and events that seem designed to make Borg’s points rather than to advance a plot. Quotation marks enclose Borg’s teachings: Professor Kate is interviewed on radio about her latest book, Kate presides over classroom discussions about Jesus and the Bible, Kate reveals her conversion experience over dinner, and so on.
The conflict, such as it is, revolves around Kate’s deciding whether to leave her small liberal arts college to accept a one-year visiting professorship at a seminary. The college won’t guarantee that Kate, not yet a tenured professor, will get her job back. Academia is the world that college professor Borg knows, but academic concerns and the upscale preferences of his professors (like for fine wines and gourmet meals) don’t help them on the relatability-to-average-folks factor.
Although a person should be commended for trying something new, Borg needn’t have done anything to make his thinking more accessible. His nonfiction books are clear and interesting on their own terms.
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