by Bria Isaacson, News Editor
Prominent Catholic author Joseph Pearce will visit Asbury University next week. He is the author of many biographic books on writers, such as G. K. Chesterton, J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, as well as his memoir “Race with the Devil: My Journey from Racial Hatred to Rational Love.” He is also the writer-in-residence at Aquinas College and Director of the Aquinas Center for Faith and Culture in Nashville, Tennessee.
Pearce has visited Asbury before and was in a documentary made by professors Devin Brown and Greg Bandy, according to Brown.
“He is a great speaker, great writer, great Christian, and he’s become a great friend,” Brown said.
Pearce will be speaking during a Tea and Scones event on April 4 at 4 p.m. in the Kinlaw Board Room, and he will be giving the Faith and Literature chapel message at 10 a.m. on April 5.
During the Tea and Scones event, Brown will be interviewing Pearce on writing and publishing, and Pearce will do a meet and greet afterwards.
For chapel on Wednesday, Pearce will be presenting his testimony on his journey from imprisonment for hate speech to his conversion to Catholicism, as documented in his memoir.
This is part of the Faith and Literature chapel series, an annual English chapel provided for through an endowment by Robert Wood to honor former English professor Arthur Brestel.
Greg Haseloff, associate dean of campus ministries, said, “With gratitude for the teaching and shaping provided by Professor Arthur Brestel, Dr. Robert Wood has generously given to make this series possible each year.”
This endowment allows the department to bring one chapel speaker a year to Asbury, though the department sometimes chooses Asbury English professors, such as Erin Penner or Chuck Gobin, to speak instead. This chapel has been a part of Asbury for at least 15 years, according to English Professor Dan Strait.
The Faith and Literature chapel is important to campus, Strait said, “because of our commitment to developing the creative and imaginative life, which we find so essential to our faith in developing empathy. As C. S. Lewis wrote, ‘But in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.’”
Pearce represents this quote well, as his wide reading contributed to his conversion. “He became Christian largely because he read Chesterton, Tolkien and Lewis,” Brown said. “Reading the right books in life turned him Christian.”
One of the right books he read was the Bible. In a speech at the 2014 Napa Institute Conference, Pearce pointed out that Jesus Christ was a great storyteller, and the story of the prodigal son is one of the most powerful parables. He said, “[The characters] were work of arts, a story told by Jesus Christ. And yet that story is so powerful that for 2,000 years whenever people have heard it they’ve seen something of themselves…. So the evangelizing power of literature has been sanctified and sanctioned and made bona fide by Jesus Christ himself.”