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Ron Hansen s A Stay Against Confusion Essays On Faith Fiction attracted me with a chapter devoted to John Gardner I borrowed the book from the library and quickly polished it off.Hansen is one of those peculiar people commonly referred to as a devout Catholic He begins the book with a meditation on how he fell in love with the deep power of story while attending mass as a child, and he concludes it with an ebullient essay on The Eucharist In between there are ruminations on stigmata, various stories and films that sustain his imagination, and personalities who have Made A Difference When I started the book, the only essay I wanted to read was the Gardner bit But Hansen is a beguiling writer, and I found myself compelled to read even those chapters which at first blush seemed of limited interest.This book is a declaration of love and devotion There are many readers who will find encouragement in Hansen s thoughtful approach to his task for those looking for an appropriate meditation to close the final week of Lent, Hansen s homily on Anima Christi is just the thing Still, I have to admit I find it all a little alien It seems to me this is a devotional impulse that almost takes root at a cellular level within the bloodstream If that sounds cheeky, I don t mean it to I m simply at a loss to understand it.It could be that, as a member of the Church, my devotion is too mean Also, the Catholic Church has long excelled at projecting the romance of devotion in my tradition the romance begins with apocalyptic sects and sex the wiki is a little coy on this matter and mentions only the polygamy , retreats quickly into the barn and stops the door with monster of a book calledThe Martyr s MirrorCatholics get all those fabulous costumes we get shunned if we wear anything with a zipper In any case, my religious dialog begins with a grudge, and moves gradually if at all into the arena of glory, laud and honor.Of course, it doesn t have to be that way for everyone If any of this is a curiosity to you, walk over to your local library and make that request As for whether or not it s worth the cover price, well was it not a Catholic who came up with, Caveat emptor I am an abiding and deeply appreciative fan of the film adaptation of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and I also enjoyed Mariette in Ecstasy for its stalwart ambiguity A Stay Against Confusion contains some lovely essays which give some deeper understanding to these works, and I some of the thought processes of a fine American writer While some parts of it can be a little too Churchy and theologically superficial for my taste, Hansen s writing is always engaging and pleasurable. The subjects of Hansen s book are interesting than his writing about them Ignatius, Hopkins, the martyred priest of El Salvador There s a Catholic bonhomie that fails to address real crises of faith For example, Hansen s reductive essay on Hopkins, he insists that he was refined through his illness and depression and came to some greater spiritual depth, but I don t see Hansen giving real evidence for this In his rather tepid defense of liberation theology, he carefully and dishonestly distances it from Marxism I often felt rather patronized as a reader. A book I expect I ll read again and again in the future I ve read its piece What Stories Are and Why We Read Them three or four times now and assigned it to my students this semester , but the book, as a whole, is every bit as magnificent Hearing the Cry of the Poor The Jesuit Martyrs of El Salvador is devastating I couldn t put it down and found myself, by turns, outraged, appalled and wrestling with how I might forgive the perpetrators of such a horrific crime, not to mention the American government that endorsed and enabled it The essay on Saint Ignatius of Loyola is a gold mine of historical record Hansen s appreciation of Babette s Feast is cinematically and religiously incisive His meditation on the Eucharist the final essay in the collection moved me, at times, as much as any writing has moved me this year What a marvelous book What a generous view into the mind and heart of an individual Catholic, and so into Catholicism itself Hansen as Marilynne Robinson does, as Garry Wills does, as Frederick Buechner does reminds me, again, why I m a Christian. Hansen provides some good insights into writing about faith with the memoir as the medium however his personal examples drift from the topic The first half is worth the time if interested in writing. This is by the author of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, now a movie starring Brad Pitt Mr Hansen writes very cogently about the creative process and specifically writes concerning how one s beliefs in his case, Christianity Roman Catholicism affect the creative process There is a great essay on John Gardner, one of the best writers of the last half century Worth reading for anyone who cares about the creative process and the impact of art on people. Excellent series of essays of writing by an excellent writer. &DOWNLOAD ⇨ A Stay Against Confusion: Essays on Faith and Fiction ✙ In This Vivid And Deeply Felt Collection Of Essays, Ron Hansen Talks About His Novels, Childhood, Family, And Mentors Such As John Gardner He Explores Prayer, Stigmata, Twentieth Century Martyrs, And The Eucharist A Profile Of His Grandfather, A Tough As Nails, Brook No Guff Colorado Rancher, Finds A Place Alongside A Wonderfully Informative Portrait Of Saint Ignatius Of Loyola A Brilliant Reading Of A Story By Leo Tolstoy Follows An Appreciation Of The Poetry Of Gerard Manley HopkinsSurprisingly Intimate, A Stay Against Confusion Brings Together The Literary And Religious Impulses That Inform The Life Of One Of Our Most Gifted Fiction Writers