About

WHO HE’S NOT

On Amazon.com he’s not to be confused with

Andrew William Griffin, Robert William Griffin, W.E.B. Griffin, William Griffin, M.D., William A. Griffin, William D. Griffin, William E. Griffin, William Edmund Butterworth III Griffin, William Edmund Butterworth IV Griffin, William Hall Griffin, William J. Griffin, William L. Griffin, William L. Griffin, William M. Griffin, William N. Griffin, William P. Griffin, William R. Griffin, William T. Griffin, William V. Griffin, William W. Griffin, W. S. Griffin, or other William Griffins—noble authors all!

On the Internet he’s not to be confused with

William Griffin, upholsterer, who was hanged on Tyburn Hill, London, in 1726; William Griffin, indicted in North Carolina for assault and battery in 1899; William Griffin, who took over from Smokey Robinson as lead singer of The Miravles from 1973 to 1977; William Griffin, aka Rakim former of the rap duo Eric B, now a solo artist in New York; William Griffin, Irish Mountain Running Association, Club Rathfarnham; William Griffin, former high school football star, now running back of the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs; William Griffin, Animal and Plant Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture; William Griffin, professor, Center for Social Dynamics and Complexity, Arizona State University; William Griffin, author and historian of Irish-Americans; William Griffin, author and railroad historian; William Griffin, attorney, Davis Malm & D’Agostine P.C., although we do look remarkably alike; William Griffin, Chapter 13 Trustee, Fairway, Kansas; William Griffin, member, American Guild of English Handbell Ringers, sponsor of WHG scholarship in the annual Distinctly Bronze Ringing Event; William Griffin, orthodontist, Huntsville, Alabama; William Griffin, co-director of the ARC National Key Centre for Geochemical Evolution and Metallogeny of Continents and Chief Research Scientist; William Griffin, whose company is an integrated freight forwarder and customs broker providing import, export, brokerage, and warehousing services to customers worldwide; William Griffin, author of 36 epic novels in 6 series, all of which have been listed on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly and other best-seller lists; noble gentlemen all!

WHO HE IS

He’s Henry William Griffin, as it appears on birth and baptismal certificates and copyright notices.

He’s H. W. Griffin, after the scholarly custom of initials only for Christian names; e.g., E.M.W. Tillyard, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien.

He’s Henry W. Griffin on forms, licenses, agreements, questionnaires that honor a middle initial but not an initial initial (first initial).

He’s H. William Griffin on forms, licenses, agreements, questionnaires that do honor an initial initial (first initial).

He’s William Griffin, writer, editor, journalist, translator, publishing consultant who lives in Alexandria, Louisiana, with his wife Emilie who’s also a writer.

Contact

It isn’t easy to contact me by an e-mail address that makes no sense, but I had no choice. All addresses with the words “William” and “Griffin”, in whatever order or whatever language, were already taken. Both seem to be common names in the United States and Ireland, and yet I thought I was the only one. But I don’t mind. Nothing forward about our family. A backward family, some called us. Hence, the following e-mail address.

niffirgmailliw@aol.com

Alas, it doesn’t look American or Irish; it looks like a sign in a Welsh railroad station. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. There are a lot of Griffens, Griffings, Griffins, and Griffiths in Wales.

Books

The thing you hope to do as a writer is leave behind a shelf of interesting books.
SALMAN RUSHDIE ON BEING KNIGHTED BY QUEEN ELIZABETH II IN 2008.
arranged according to genre, then date

NONFICTION

Job and King Lear: An Essay in Christian Tragedy (1962).

Clive Staples Lewis: A Dramatic Life (US, 1986). C. S. Lewis: The Authentic Voice (UK,1998,2005).

His Holiness Pope John Paul Visits the City of New Orleans, text by and with Emilie Griffin(1987).

Out Here in Jerusalem: An American Narrative (1994).

C. S. Lewis: Spirituality for Mere Christians (1998,2007).

Hoots! A Monograph in honor of Walter Hooper on the occasion of his eightieth birthday, March 27, 2011 (2011).

Thomas à Kempis: A Brief Life (2011).

The Admirable Admiral, or How I Lost the Battle of New Orleans, 8 January 1814, But Won the War of 1812: A Biography of Sir Alexander Forrester Inglis Cochrane, GCB, Admiral of the Ocean White, Commander in Chief, North American Station (2012).

Dragons Both: Dueling Autobiography by Emilie and William Griffin (2013).

FICTION

The Fleetwood Correspondence (1989,2008).

Fourth for the Eighth (1995).

Faithful But Unfortunate (1998).

Dill of the Nile (2010).

PLAYS

Seat of War (1956).

The Omega Point (1962).

The Contemporary Flesh and The Classical Spirit (1964).

Fourth for the Eighth (1968).

Campion (1971).

Seven Deadly Sins (2010).

Seven Lively Virtues (2011).

Wade Center Tenners (2011).

POETRY

Complete Poem of William Griffin (2003).

JUVENILE

Jesus for Children (1985,1994).

Bert & Bertha, King & Queen of Kent, or How Christianity Came to England (1991).

Hopkins Skipkins Jumpkins (1993).

ANTHOLOGIES

The Joyful Christian: 127 Readings from C. S. Lewis (1977).

The Newborn Christian: 114 Readings from J. B. Phillips (1978).

The Electronic Christian: 105 Readings from Fulton J. Sheen (1979).

Endtime: The Doomsday Catalog (1979).

The Faithful Christian: An Anthology of Billy Graham (1994).

G. K. Chesterton: Essential Writings (2003).

TRANSLATIONS (Latin)

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis (2000). Buy from Amazon.com

Augustine’s Sermons to the People—Advent, Christmas, New Year’s, Epiphany (2002).

Consolations for My Soul by Thomas à Kempis (originally Soliloquy of a Soul )(2003).

Meeting the Master in the Garden by Thomas à Kempis (originally Garden of Roses and Valley of Lilies)(2005).

Augustine of Hippo, High Anxiety: A Brief Life in My Own Words (2010).

Matching Wits, Augustine and Adeodatus of Hippo, being a translation of “De magistro” (2009).

The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language by Eugene Peterson; Catholic Edition, with Apocrypha and Deuterocanonicals by William Griffin (2012).

Friends Forever: Translations of Cicero’s “De amicitia” by Emilie Griffin, and Aelred of Rievaulx’s “De amicitia spirituali” by William Griffin (2013).

TRANSLATIONS (Korean)

With Emilie Griffin

Deep-Rooted in Christ: The Way of Transformation by Joshua Choonmin Kang (2007).

Scripture by Heart: Devotional Practices for Memorizing God’s Word by Joshua Choonmin Kang (2010).

SPECIAL EDITING

Shroud [of Turin] by Robert K. Wilcox (1977).

Carnage at Christhaven, a serial mystery novel by William Griffin and other members of the Chrysostom Society (1989).

Just As I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham (1997).

Resurrection Fern: Tales of a Dominican Friar by Val A. McInnes, O.P. (2010).

Waterloo Red: Young Adult Novel by Jesse R. Core III (2011).

Reviews

arranged alphabetically according to title

No author, I think, is deserving of much censure for vanity if, taking down one of his ten-year-old books,

he exclaims: “Great Heavens, did I write as well as that then?”

Ford Maddox Ford, “Dedicatory Letter, The Good Soldier.

BERT & BERTHA, KING & QUEEN OF KENT

Young Adult Novel Not Yet Published, 1991.

It’s wonderful! It’s hilarious! Everything is done so nicely, so casually, the characterization, the history, the Christianity. —MADELEINE L’ENGLE, Newbery Award winner and author of such bestselling young adult novels as A Wrinkle in Time and A Swiftly Tilting Planet.

The characterization is crystal clear. The central characters as well as the four Frankish Kings and the Mother-in-Law. The Archdeacon was so real that I didn’t notice right away that he was a parrot! The reconstruction of early medieval history in Canterbury and Paris seems quite complete. —WALTER WANGERIN, JR., National Book Award winner and author of the young adult work The Book of the Dun Cow.

Here’s to Bert and Bertha, last of the Canterbury tales! Sassy and slapstick! Wacky and Gothic! Soap opera before soap! Impossible to read quietly! History in an uproar! —CALVIN MILLER, author of the Sangreale Chronicles and a multitude of other books, adult as well as young adult.

CONSOLATIONS FOR MY SOUL BY THOMAS À KEMPIS

Soliloquium Animae translated by William Griffin

Crossroad Books, 2003, paperback, $19.95

It was sheer pleasure, listening to your natural, playful rendering. —CHRISTOPHER WEBB, Renewal Officer, Council for Ministry, The Church in Wales.

As always, whatever springs from your pen and keyboard makes for good reading and lifting of the spirit. —LUCI SHAW, author of Water My Soul, The Angles of Light, and Writer in Residence, Regent College, Vancouver.

I’ve just received it, and I’m already consoled by my reading of it. It is surely the world’s Most Beautiful Paperback. Indeed, what a beautiful book, to see, to touch, and to read…. Thank you for a book I already love. —WALTER HOOPER, literary adviser to the estate of C. S. Lewis.

There is so much helpful counsel from the old writers that most of us know nothing of. Thank you for bringing this piece to us. —RICHARD FOSTER, author of Celebration of Discipline, Prayer—The Heart’s True Home, and a dozen other books; founder of RENOVARE.

CLIVE STAPLES LEWIS: A DRAMATIC LIFE

1986, San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco. 507 pages, hardcover, $24.95.

C. S. LEWIS: THE AUTHENTIC VOICE

1988, London: Lion Publishing. 440 pages, softcover, £5.95.

2005, London: Lion Publishing. 440 pages, softcover, £9.99.

Griffin’s subtitle, “A Dramatic Life,” refers to his striking style of presentation. Lewis walks onto the stage almost immediately, speaking as if in a one-character show, and holds our attention throughout hundreds of scenes, to the very end of the book. This cinematic technique requires the reader’s cooperation at first, but soon draws one fully into the life of C.S. Lewis. One comes to experience him with rare directness, as the biographer seems to disappear and leaves the reader standing face-to-face with his subject. —EUGENE KENNEDY, Chicago Tribune.

Though Griffin flatters Walter Hooper, the American who lucked into the executorship of the literary estate late in Lewis’s life, with the wish that Hooper will eventually write the definitive biography, “Clive Staples Lewis” should suffice for most. —JOHN LOUDON, Los Angeles Times.

[Griffin’s] dramatic biography is a mosaic based on diaries, letters, the reminiscences of friends and on his books—a kind of literary snapshot album of Lewis’s life, showing him now in genial debate with fellow Inklings, J.R.R. Tolkien and Charles Williams, now tutoring Kenneth Tynan, now hiking with Owen Barfield, now gorging on a rare post-war ham. The technique is effective. —CHRISTINA ROBB, Boston Globe.

Griffin writes clearly—and cleverly—describing scores of heart-warming incidents and conversations—sad, humorous, provocative—and all filled with human interest. It can be opened at almost any page and will engage the interest of the reader. —MABEL SIMMONS, New Orleans Times-Picayune.

William Griffin’s new biography comes like a breath of fresh air. He indulges in no tiresome rehashing of plots, no hagiographical folderol, no paraphrases in academic jargon of ideas originally expressed simply and clearly…. He has authored the first satisfactory biography of Lewis to date…. Such writing demands a certain mental acumen, coupled with a graceful style, to be successful. Griffin possesses these qualities. —ARTHUR LIVINGSTONE, New Oxford Review.

This is the book about C.S. Lewis that I had wanted to write—until I read it and realized how much labor must have gone into it…. At first, Lewis’s life moves as if it were filmed on an early home movie camera, but very soon, as you become accustomed, it takes on a cinematic power which leaves you with the strong impression that you have experienced Lewis’s life not only along with him but as it happened to him. —PAUL FORD, Catholic Twin Circle.

To his credit Griffin has researched Lewis’s literary scholarship as carefully as his more popular religious writings. Because of the immense—and still growing—popularity of Lewis’s work, few libraries will want to be without this engaging book. —BOOKLIST.

In this stimulating and imaginative narrative biography, author-playwright Griffin brings before us the man, as often as possible via his own words, throughout his long and energetic career at Oxford and Cambridge, particularly in his relations with friends, family, students, critics, editors, thus vividly revealing the warm personality of this keen logician with puckish humor (he once settled a dispute with a student by a sword). —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.

The power of this tour de force comes from the art with which Mr. Griffin has surveyed the mountains of written material and carefully selected, according to appropriate chronology, those words and passages that mark the progress of Lewis’s life. —THOMAS H. STAEHL SJ, Catholic Book Club.

I hesitate to call this book “exhaustive” because all too often that term suggests “exhausting.” This biography of C.S. Lewis is indeed exhaustive, but it is also enthralling, even for one who has read other biographies and memoirs of Lewis, along with published letters of that distinguished scholar, novelist, poet, and friend…. In my judgment…this will stand for a long time as the definitive biography of Lewis, not only because of its meticulous scholarship but because of the grace and vigor of its style and the strength of its characterization. —MARY MCDERMOTT, Christian Century.

William Griffin has written a crisp and moving account, and he says he wrote it for Americans…. Griffin is…to be commended for trying something original. He has not written a traditional biography, a selectively styled literary biography, a dangerously tricky spiritual biography, or the popular life and times. Avoiding preachiness, omniscience, and tedious digressions, Griffin has opted to let C.S. Lewis do the talking…. Griffin’s approach pleases because it is new, and it keeps the reader focussed on Lewis rather than the musings of the author. —LYLE DORSETT, Christianity Today.

Whenever possible, Griffin wisely lets Lewis speak for himself, giving the book something of an autobiographical flavor. That method, taken together with the chronicle form, relies heavily on accumulation of detail for its final effect. By design, Griffin denies the reader sweeping summations as well as knowing previews…. But there are surely enough vignettes, anecdotes, ipssima verba here for each reader to puzzle out a portrait of Lewis that brings the master of dialectic and metaphor to life in a way that no other biography has achieved. —JOHN B. BRESLIN SJ, America.

In its colloquial, readable style of brief vignettes—a deliberately cinematic approach to biography—it does provide a panoramic view of its subject and the history of his education, his beliefs, his coming to Christianity, his social and cultural milieu. Appropriate for public libraries. —NATALIE C. TYLER, Library Journal.

When this volume plopped on to my desk, I thought, “Hm-m-m-m, a biography of C.S. Lewis written by an American…it will never fly.” Despite my misgivings, however, it does fly—often first class…. These and many of the dramatic events in the context of a scholar’s daily life are what make Griffin’s work a treasure. —BILLY D. EDSON, San Diego Union.

The personality in some biographies lingers on long after you have read the book. C.S. Lewis, whether or not you have met him before in his many writings, is one. —HM, Academic Library Book Review.

The preface ably elaborates on the hint offered in the title, and the 11-page table of contents clearly exhibits the unusual and intriguing character of this biography. —ROBERT WEHRWEIN, Rochester [MN] Post-bulletin.

Griffin…writes a lively biography that brings out the qualities that made his subject so fascinating. —NEWARK [NJ] STAR-LEDGER.

An imaginative biography that captures C.S. Lewis’s life in which the author allows Lewis to speak for himself. —SPIRITUAL BOOK NEWS.

The life may not really be all that dramatic, and some of the passages in Griffin’s work are humdrum, but those shadings of everyday life show much of the man, thinker, and writer Lewis was…. Those interested in this philosophical critic and who want to look deeper into his soul and feelings, should embrace Griffin’s probing and revealing biography. —KYLE KULISH, UPI.

This Dramatic Life (which distinctly is not a fictionalized biography, though some of its minor details may be conjectural) gives us the true Lewis, virtues, and foibles, with much lively detail…. It is Griffin’s aspiration to trace with sympathy Lewis’s peregrination through the corridors of life, as revealed for the most part in Lewis’s own words and those of his friends…. If one is pleased by its approach and methods, this unusual biography is a touching and successful book. —RUSSELL KIRK, Book World, Washington Times.

[Griffin’s] book deliberately avoids interpretation, psychoanalytic or other. It just narrates the events of Lewis’s life, in attractively bit-sized episodes, and laces the narrative with short quotations from his writings. hus Lewis’s life is presented as it was lived. In fact, Griffin’s insistence on avoiding interpretation leads him so far as to deliberately avoid giving more time to the more significant events, for significant events do not create more time as they occur. —PETER KREEFT, Book World, Washington Times.

The author is amazing in his ability to inject much detail into his short-diary-like paragraphs. He captures many scenes unknown to most readers. —DH, Bookstore Journal.

Griffin’s portrait of Lewis is of a vulnerable and weak man with great hopes for grace and goodness, a man whose hunger for transcendence and redemption helped him to make a very ordinary life a life of allegory from which many people continue to learn. —SUSAN R. GANNON, Cross Currents.

It is composed of a series of vignettes—excellent selections on theological, literary, and personal episodes in his life. While the book does not review Lewis’s writings, it does distill their essence and discusses the context in which they came to birth. It is an illuminating biography that all who have been influenced by this great Christian witness will find fascinating reading. —E. EARLE ELLIS, Southwestern Journal of Theology.

One of the distinctions of Clive Staples Lewis: A Dramatic Life is that, besides telling the story of Lewis’s life in an imaginative and highly readable manner, its subject speaks in it for himself. —NISSIM REJWAN, Jerusalem Post.

Griffin brings us closer to an autobiography than we have any reason to expect of a biographer. This is an important work in Lewis studies, skillfully executed and bound to interest those who wonder about the man behind the remarkable books. —CAROLYN KEEFE, Church & Synagogue Libraries.

The reader unfamiliar with Lewis’s life will return to his works with renewed appreciation after reading this warm, affectionate study. —MARGARET P. HANNA, Cithara.

Griffin’s deliberate title, “A Dramatic Life,” is a clue to the fine sense of narrative this author has developed, producing a biography that reads as well as the life it conveys was lived…. The principal asset of this work is that it put me on the scene. —JAMES H. GASQUE, Virginia Theological Seminary Journal.

What sets this biography apart from the more standard biographies of Green and Hooper, Sayer, and Wilson is its unique, almost literary approach. —LOUIS MARKOS, professor, Houston Baptist Seminary; author of “The Life and Writings of C. S. Lewis,” The Great Courses.

C. S. LEWIS v SPIRITUALITY FOR MERE CHRISTIANS

Volume in the Spiritual Legacy Series

1998, Crossroad, 220 pages, paperback, $14.95

I think your explanation of Mere Christianity superb; you’ve defined it better than anyone before. —WALTER HOOPER, literary adviser to the Estate of C.S. Lewis, compiler & editor of two dozen books by Lewis.

[Griffin] has exegeted for us a central feature of the life and thinking of C.S. Lewis, namely, his spirituality…and he has done it with zest and aplomb. I commend it to you. —RICHARD FOSTER, author of Celebration of Discipline, The Path to Spiritual Growth and Prayer, Finding the Heart’s True Home.

[Griffin’s] book is wonderfully instructive on the interplay between the unfolding of Lewis’s own personal pilgrimage and his most famous writings. It is charming, witty, and profoundly strengthening. —HOWARD E. BUTT, JR., president of Laity Lodge Retreat Center & the H.E. Butt Foundation, author of The Velvet-Covered Brick & Renewing America’s Soul.

While other authorities are interested in recruiting Lewis to their camp, Griffin always takes the man whole, carefully articulating Lewis’s deep understanding of beliefs that unite all Mere Christians. —HAROLD FICKETT, novelist & biographer.

To the corpus by and about C.S. Lewis, William Griffin adds a much-needed and first-rate exploration of Lewis’s spiritual life…. The resulting book not only brims with insight, it provides a delightful read. —TIMOTHY JONES, author of Celebration of Angels and The Art of Prayer.

William Griffin, quite possibly C. S. Lewis’s best biographer, has once again merely observed the spirituality of the titan scholar whose impact on us all is anything but mere…. Still Griffin’s latest offering on Lewis is so remarkable that without its insights no Lewisphile can claim to understand the British scholar. —CALVIN MILLER, author of a hundred books, fiction and nonfiction, for adults and children.

[Griffin’s] book is fresh in just the way Lewis’s books are, and humorous, wise, and interesting. —FISHER HUMPHREYS, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University; author of The Way We Were: How Southern Baptist Thinking Has Changed.

ENDTIME: THE DOOMSDAY CATALOG

originated, compiled & edited by William Griffin

Collier / Macmillan, 1979, paperback, $8.95

Browsing through Endtime you will find many of the images in which Christian belief has been framed—its inconsistencies, superstitions, and childlike simplicities, but also its grand affirmations, its profundities, its joys, its guidelines for living. To read it is to have as good a time as Mr. Griffin obviously had in compiling it, but with this entertainment value there is also, for the discerning and seriously reflective, much to profit from, much to learn. —EDMUND FULLER, Wall Street Journal.

[Endtime is] hard to describe but equally hard to put down. In it you will find everything everybody has ever said about the end of the age, complete with drawings, cartoons, and pictures. A real experience awaits you. —CHRISTIANITY TODAY.

As morbid as it…sounds, Endtime is more often stirring and inspirational than depressing. Griffin approaches the whole apocalyptic mess with an appealing blend of Christian piety and good humor, sweetening the more fearsome passages with cartoons and anecdotes and witty asides from the likes of C.S. Lewis, Cleveland Amory, and Augustine of Hippo. —BEN REUVEN, Los Angeles Times.

ESSENTIAL WRITINGS BY G. K. CHESTERTON

compiled & edited by William Griffin

Orbis Books, 2003, paperback, $16.00

Chesterton takes his rightful place among the Modern Spiritual Masters with this excellent anthology. Mr. Griffin’s charming and original approach captures both the breadth and depth of this astonishing writer and thinker. It is a delightful re-packaging for today’s reader. —DALE AHLQUIST, president, American Chesterton Society, author of G. K. Chesterton: The Apostle of Common Sense.

I celebrate any book that reintroduces G. K. Chesterton, and this smorgasbord of his writings should awaken the reader’s taste buds. —PHILIP YANCEY, author of Soul Survivor, What’s So Amazing about Grace, and other best-selling books.

The works of G.K. Chesterton have been instrumental in the spiritual formation of many Christians, including such key authors as C. S. Lewis and Dorothy L. Sayers. His words are no less helpful to each one of us today in our spiritual understanding, and this volume is a wonderful way into Chesterton’s thought. Editor William Griffin has sorted each selection by the categorical touchstones of Paradox, Humor, and Humility, and then supported each entry with Scripture. In this way, the reader is gently drawn into the devotional insights which flow so naturally from Chesterton’s bracing and joyously exuberant view of life. —MARJORIE LAMP MEAD, associate curator, The Marion E. Wade Center, Wheaton College. Some writers need to be defended against dismissive critics; Chesterton urgently needs to be rescued from uncritical admirers. William Griffin has done just that in a book that will entertain, instruct, and provoke longtime readers of GKC as well as newcomers. [In an E-mail:] Most excellent! —JOHN WILSON, editor, Books & Culture.

William Griffin’s omnium-gatherum of G.K. Chesterton at his wittiest and wisest is a marvel of graceful editing. A perfect introduction to one of the most capacious and hilarious minds in the history of Christendom. —GREGORY WOLFE, editor, Image: A Journal of the Arts & Religion.

It’s wonderful! You did a great job in choosing passages and introducing them. I enjoyed the debate at the end. What characters! And the debate is, as you say, still relevant. —WILLIAM A. BARRY SJ, has a doctor’s degree in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan and is co author of the classic work The Practice of Spiritual Direction.

Fine opening assessment of this prolific writer [Chesterton]. —FREDERIC AND MARY ANN BRUSSAT, Spirituality &Health.

Of special value for Chestertonians is a verbatim account of a debate between Chesterton and his close friend and archfoe George B. Shaw, which alone is worth the price of the volume…. Griffin seems infected by Chesterton’s natural playfulness, so that his commentary is often rifled with mirth and puns, an approach to Chesterton that has much to say for it. —DANIEL BOICE, Catholic Library World, volume 74, March 2004.

Sometimes touching, often enlightening, yet rarely really satisfying…. Chesterton comes through loud and clear—bombastic and magisterial, deft and inspired, stylish and intelligent. Not always the epitome of the Spiritual Master perhaps, he is certainly worth reading a century after his rise. —ANTHONY J. GITTINS, New Theology Review.

Griffin, the editor, has gone to great lengths to show us the breadth of the author and to make it clear that he can neither be dismissed or apotheosized. His was a particular moment in English Catholic life that is gone. But some of what he had to say undoubtedly remains valuable. How much of that is strictly “valuable” is another matter. As is the question whether in the end the somewhat obtrusive editor of the volume does not seem to have the louder and perhaps more interesting voice. —PAUL LAKELAND, Religious Studies Review, April 2004, p. 216.

THE FLEETWOOD CORRESPONDENCE

AN EPISTOLARY NOVEL

Doubleday, hc, $15.95, 1989. Hodder & Stoughton, hc, £9.99, pb, £6.99, 1989.

Here are the witty, sophisticated, and surprising letters of a young devil caught up in his courtship of an attractive, intelligent, and independent woman. They are filled with sane advice about faith, prayer, the niceties of recent biblical criticism. And the writing is slick as the devil himself. —JOHN L’HEUREUX, novelist, author of the best-selling novel A Woman Run Mad (1988).

What a delight is The Fleetwood Correspondence! Humor and sound theology do not always go together, but both are in abundance in this charming novel. I love the picture of Dante winding “his way down into Hell as though he were roller-skating down The Guggenheim.” This is a thoroughly contemporary book dealing with contemporary issues with clarity and wit. —MADELEINE L’ENGLE, long a bestselling writer of novels for adults and children.

Though the author swears this book was not written by C.S. Lewis, it seems so authentic a contemporary update of The Screwtape Letters that New Age readers will suspect that William Griffin is somehow “channeling” he late English master. Whatever the origin, the book is a light, delightful look at a Devil’s bid for a young lady’s soul in the ‘80s. Screwtape fans will surely welcome the Fleetwood update. —DAN WAKEFIELD, novelist, writer-producer for television and film.

A witty toast to C.S. Lewis in the form of a spry follow-up to that epistolary classic, The Screwtape Letters…. Throughout, Griffin satirizes laissez-faire theology, takes a few swipes at sectarian rivalry, and keeps the project rolling with wit and good humor. —KIRKUS REVIEWS, January 15, 1989.

Griffin, biographer of C.S. Lewis and a contributing editor of PW, creates a witty, infernal correspondence peppered with devilish touches. —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, January 20, 1989.

Never before has the quintessence of a soul oozed so convincingly from between the covers of a book…. Much as I hate to admit it, it’s d—d good. —ROBERT SIEGEL, poet, novelist. professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

I was delighted with The Fleetwood Correspondence. While C. S. Lewis was one of the heroes of my young adulthood, I have to say, despite my loyalty to him, that I think your story is more ingenious and more theologically insightful. —ANDREW GREELEY, priest, sociologist, best-selling novelist.

A delightful story…. A faithful mirth that laughs out loud at the chronicle of a persistently fumbled temptation into sin and faithfulness…. At the deluded, self-aggrandizing flummery of Fleetwood, so sophisticated theologically, so incisive sociologically, so finely critical of religion in America—and so flatly stupid, I laughed out loud…. You made me laugh again and again, though the issues here are serious indeed (and the reader knows how serious to the writer)…. Again and again (like Milton….) Fleetwood’s infernal doctrines reflect obversely the Church’s supernal ones. —WALTER WANGERIN, JR, professor, prizewinning novelist and spiritual writer, Lutheran pastor.

I’ve had a devil of a time with those who perennially wrest poor Screwtape from his long—deserved forty—year rest. Naturally, I picked up this book, skeptical of its value. I began reading because Bill Griffin is my friend. I continued because he is an excellent writer, and I finished it in a single sitting because I was enchanted. —CALVIN MILLER, bestselling Christian novelist and spiritual writer, Baptist minister.

Having frequently considered the works of the devil, I was delighted by this inside view of the supernatural other world. Here angels are the tough guys, roughly outmaneuvering their opposites. The correspondent Fleetwood styles a corrosive jauntiness, but a close reading discovers him bemoaning the flimsy state of the atheistic literati; analyzing the complications of inculcating unbelief since his demonic compatriots are all confirmed atheists; and admitting to the difficulties of marketing despair. —KAREN BURTON MAINS, bestselling Christian writer.

I’m not sure whether Bill Griffin has captured the spirit of C. S. Lewis or the Devil, but those who have enjoyed The Screwtape Letters will recognize some familiar footprints, only this time in American soil. A delightful book! —KEITH MILLER, long-time bestselling Christian author.

I was swept away by Fleetwood, a tour de force and engaging and charming! I also envy the prose [style]. —JACOB NEUSNER, rabbi, professor of Judaic studies at Brown university, the most published author in the world of religious books alive today

The most enjoyable and delightful reading I’ve done in years about topics that are so profound. —JOSEPH L. GIRZONE, priest, author of the bestselling Joshua novels

HIGH ANXIETY BY AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO

A Brief Confession in His Own Words

translated by William Griffin

Not yet published

William Griffin continues to bring the wit and colorful language of the Latin spiritual masters into our own language with his skillful and playful translations. With this latest, an anthologized life of Augustine in the bishop’s own words, we are able to welcome the great African as a lively conversationalist into our own circles of contemporary Christian discourse. —EUGENE PETERSON, Presbyterian pastor; professor emeritus, Regent College, Vancouver, B.C., Canada; translator, The Message.

This is sweet work…. As he has done previously with the saint’s sermons, William Griffin has delivered to another generation the full humanity of Saint Augustine’s person, the full poetry of Saint Augustine’s prose. In Griffin’s translations we glimpse how fully alive our holy antecedents remain despite appearances, and we apprehend how much more fully alive we become in conversation with them…. The translation lights me up. Gives me an entirely more sympathetic sense of the Hippo-ite. —SCOTT CAIRNS, author of Philokalia: New & Selected Poems.

That last bit [a sentence about John Gardner in an essay by John Wilson] prompted me to pause and comment (great writing is always “fractal”), and it was then that I said that you often achieve similar effects (as in the rendering of Augustine you had read to us that morning[at Laity Lodge during a Chrysostom meeting])and that indeed at such times you remind me of Gardner. —JOHN WILSON, Books and Culture,

ON FIRST LOOKING INTO GRIFFIN’S CONFESSIONS

Calvin Miller

Tolle, lege!

Here is a new gate to an ancient garden.

All is made new here!

Even the path has been refurbished.

Yet it still ambles

through the lenten lands of lush renewal.

And best of all, above this old familiar

Eden stands Jesus

Crying come and be

cloned in my likeness

So you will matter

In my world.

HOPKINS SKIPKINS JUMPKINS

A Christmas Tale about the Trinity Bunnies

Not Yet Published, 1993.

It is beautiful! I felt a simple splendor in reading it I haven’t felt in reading a children’s story in a long, long time. I think the graphic of the window is especially powerful. —CALVIN MILLER, Baptist pastor and author of the Singreale and Symphony trilogies as well as a number of children’s books.

Your story in the hare-vein, the HOPKINS, SKIPKINS, & JUMPKINS tale of the feast and courses at Christmastide, courses and courses and courses. “Plum jam or lemon curd or bramble jelly or orange marmalade.” That sort of exuberant detailing makes this story colorful and dense with happy description. Likewise, the repeated Question of Questions, grave with a fine Jewish tradition (“Why is this night different from every other night?”) undergirds the story with an excellent sense of allusion, a remembrance of religions in their best dress and Grundwerk. A grinning and good children’s story! —WALTER WANGERIN, JR., Lutheran pastor and author of Book of the Dun Cow and a number of other children’s books.

A witty, rollicking romp in the company of some of the most cultured rabbits you’ll ever meet. Bill Griffin has penned a most charming tale. —STEVE LAWHEAD, bestselling novelist and author of a series of children’s books fearing a rabbit.

Hare! Hare! Hopkins, Skipkins, & Jumpkins is a Christmas story to make a bunny proud. It has the wit of Bugs, the charm of Thumper, the acquired wisdom of Peter Rabbit. In short, it is a thumpingly good tale! —KAREN MAINS, author of such adult works as Karen, Karen, You Are What You Say, Friends and Strangers and of such children’s works as Tales of the Resistance (with David Mains).

Caroline and I read Hopkins Skipkins Jumpkins, and we loved it. It is whimsical, charming, and amusing. It makes credible a theme which is difficult to represent credibly, that loving God is an end in itself, and a joy. I wonder why it is easier to see that with three bunnies than it is with people? —FISHER HUMPHRIES, Baptist pastor, professor at Beeson Divinity School, Samford University, and author of two books on prayer (Broadman).

JESUS FOR CHILDREN

1985, Harper & Row, pb, $7.95. 1994, Twenty-Third Publications, exp, pb, $9.95

Jesus for Children is pure heaven to read, and William Griffin reminds us that Heaven is a lot like a playground: unless you remember what it is to be like a child, you can’t get in. Read, smile, and learn. Prepare yourself to be hooked by the intrigue of Bill Griffin’s narrative magic. His dialog ripples with life. Best of all, even as you read, you discover a story teller who tells the story his way but does not change the world’s greatest story—all the substance of the New Testament is left intact while the life of Christ…no, the life of Jesus…gains an enchantment not to be missed. —CALVIN MILLER, Baptist pastor in Omaha, Nebraska, and author of 20 books of popular theology, spiritual guidance, and inspirational fantasy, including the Singer, Symphony, and Singreale trilogies.

We have been reading it at night to the boys, and they have really taken to it. The stories are simple and fresh and alive. Very much in the spirit of the original event, I imagine. Hats off to you, Bill; both Alice and I know how difficult that is to achieve. Well done! —ALICE & STEVE LAWHEAD, authors of children’s books and novelists {letter to author}.

In these brief stories the Bible characters surprise us; their words and actions are refreshingly human, not pious and predictable the way we think of most Bible stories—no cant, no sentimentalizing, lots of brisk dialog. Jesus and his contemporaries come alive for us. Children should love Jesus for Children. —LUCI SHAW, poet, author, editor, publisher.

We know what happens when the gospels are turned over to scholars and to minsters, but we are surprised and charmed when artists such as William Griffin and Elizabeth Swisher go to work. Their Jesus for Children made me laugh, it made me think, and it made me grateful for Jesus. I was enchanted. —FISHER HUMPHREYS, professor of theology, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and author of half a dozen books.

A sad thing happens in a society as saturated with religion as ours. We start hearing only the sounds of Bible’s words and miss the meaning behind them. That’s why all of us, not just chilren, need a fresh voice now and then. Bill Griffin has given us such a voice in his Jesus for Children. —PHILIP YANCEY, author and editor at large, Christianity Today

Jesus for Children dances and charms—always whimsically in tune with the Kingdom of Heaven. Its pungent simplicity stole my heart. Out of the shrouds of “far away” and into the crisp surprise of our daily work-a-day world, Bill Griffin brings delightfully real people and fresh, precious glimpses of The Lord Jesus Christ. We are the brighter and happier for it. Children will listen—children will smile—children will love Jesus for Children. —MARJORIE AINSBOROUGH DECKER, author of The Christian Mother Goose series.

I really like your writing for children and the energy with which you present the stories of Jesus, really making them live. —GLORIA GAITHER, author, songwriter, member of The Bill Gaither Trio.

One of the best children’s books on Jesus I’ve ever read is Jesus for Children. —RICHARD H. SCHNEIDER, senior staff editor, Guideposts.

Children will appreciate the modern language …. The style is crisp…. This would be a good addition to a church library. —BETH AUWARTER, Church and Synagogue Libraries.

The author has caught the essence of the story without elaboration so the stories are allowed to interpret themselves…. It is a book for children by someone who understands how children read stories. —MURRAY J.S. FORD, Theodolite.

For a brief overview of the New Testament for children and parents, this is quite a useful book. —LORETTA G. SEYER, Catholic Twin Circle.

A fresh version for children of the story of Jesus. —CHRISTIAN BOOKSELLER.

THE JOYFUL CHRISTIAN

127 READINGS

compiled & edited, & with Foreword, by WG

1977, Macmillan, hc, $7.95. 1999, Simon & Schuster, pb, $15.00

If we have read any Lewis at all, we will know that joy is indeed a serious business, and not only in Heaven. Serious but not solemn. It is mostly a matter of semantics…. For joy, as distinct from happiness or mere distraction, doesn’t at first disclose its source. Yet joy exists, and there has to be a source. When we find that source, which is God, we may not need joy anymore. Not, that is, until we get down to the serious business of Heaven. —ANTHONY BURGESS, New York Times Book Review.

The most welcome general book in the field of theology. Excellent for both those who have long appreciated Lewis and those who need an introduction. —CHRISTIANITY TODAY.

The Joyful Christian gives as good an introduction to the breadth and depth of Lewis’s religious reflections as you are likely to find between two covers. —AMERICA MAGAZINE.

A treasury of delights. —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.

A joy to read…. The Joyful Christian will serve as source material for the student and meditative reading for the layman. —LIBRARY JOURNAL.

JUST AS I AM: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF BILLY GRAHAM

1997. HarperSanFrancisco / Zondervan, hc, $28.50. HarperCollins UK, hc.

[“During this time, two of my daughters, both with experience in writing and publishing, urged me to consult a friend of theirs in New Orleans, Bill Griffin, for the additional help we would need. Bill is a publishing professional with thirty-five years of experience as an editor with several major New York publishers and as religion editor of Publishers Weekly for a dozen years; he also has written a biography of C. S. Lewis. I was surprised when he indicated that he had been following our ministry for many years and would be more than delighted to help in editing what my staff and I were doing. He and John Akers became the project’s editorial coordinators. They worked together as a team to bring the enormous amount of written material down to manageable size and to fill in gaps that had not been covered.” —BILLY GRAHAM, “Acknowledgments,” Just as I Am, page 733.]

His autobiography is…clearly a collaborative effort, but it maintains, miraculously, the same solid, distant baritone that still mesmerizes football stadiums…. Graham’s gift has been to appreciate that in matters of faith there is no approach too simple, no argument too crude, no question too basic. The people around him intuit this, and respect it…. The inner tension of this autobiography is that of the public man whose private life became so attenuated that it gnawed at his own spiritual integrity…. Graham is gruffly honest about this—he recalls at one point that he was so removed from his family that he failed to recognize his own daughter and his own son…. Although the high political anecdotes keep one amused throughout this tome, and the story of Graham’s life itself is so remarkable, this underlying regret propels the book with a sadness that is strangely haunting. It makes one wonder whether the Christian calling to God is ever compatible with the Christian calling to family, a tension that Graham, alone among our modern fundamentalists, seems humble enough to grasp. —ANDREW SULLIVAN, New York Times Book Review.

While it’s not the literary masterpiece of the century—though in general it’s well written— I read the book with a sense of awe, as it standing in the presence of a person who, without trying, towers over the century. Who else could give us a view of our presidency from inside the White House, uninterrupted for more than a half century? And never once was he even tempted to seek residence in that house, though often urged to do so. No one in church history could compare to Billy Graham in the numbers of people personally introduced to Jesus. And the understated report of it here is stunning. To this day, I weep whenever I watch those final moments of the TV specials, multitudes streaming down from the stands, not to Billy, but to Jesus. Yet, in this book, the magnitude of that phenomenon overwhelmed me.

Just As I Am is not just a chronology of crusades and of personal friendships with people in high places. Billy tells us details of fascinating stories I’ve never heard. From the text, some enterprising author could cull a book on Near Death in the Air, or Interrupted Sermons or Close Encounters with Bullets and Bombs. And those would represent only a few of the astounding tales that crowd in, one on the next. Events in a single year in the life of Billy would make ample biographical material for a lesser mortal’s entire life! As readers, it is as if Billy had welcomed us to spend a week or so in his log home, hidden away on the side of a mountain in Appalachia, where we can sit by the fireplace as the patriarch reminisces. —ROBERTSON MCQUILKIN, Christianity Today.

HONORS: 17 weeks on the New York Times Hardcover Bestsellers list; Christianity Today’s 1997 Book of the Year; Christian Booksellers Association Bestseller List in hardcover and softcover; Evangelical Christian Publishers Association 1997 Gold Medallion Award in the category of Biography/Autobiography.

THE IMITATION OF CHRIST BY THOMAS À KEMPIS

Translated by William Griffin

HarperSanFrancisco, 2000, hardcover, $20.00

An astonishingly fresh translation of the great spiritual classic that has been shrouded in deadly piety far too long. So daring and playful and passionate—keep it close and read it slow. —COLEMAN BARKS, translator, The Essential Rumi.

I cannot recall when an inspired translation has so effectively converted a timeless classic into an idiom that goes straight to my modern bones. —HUSTON SMITH, author of The World’s Religions.

[This] is an original translation by William Griffin, a fellow writer who possesses an exceptional facility with both Latin and English. He’s quite serious and sensible, and at the same time an extremely funny guy. I mean only Bill Griffin, an old friend of mine, would have the imagination (and the daring) to translate “Trahunt desideria sensualitatis ad spatiandum: sed cum hora transierit, quid nisi gravitatem conscientiae, et cordis dispersionem, reportas?” as “Our sensual desires promise us a promenade but deliver us only a dragonnade.” And then, I all but fell out of my chair when I came upon this line: “All-nighters of roistery and doistery lead only to mornings of huggermuggery; that’s to say, of sickness and sadness.” Funny, but at the same time right to the point, because such behavior does indeed produce only sickness and sadness. I love Mr. Griffin’s translation, scholarly and urbane, and look forward to its publication. —RICHARD J. FOSTER, author of Celebration of Discipline and Prayer, Finding the Heart’s True Home.

You told me once that you were quite vain regarding your Latin. This vanity is being converted to stunning virtue in this work. Very fresh—very pungent! I’ve been using Ronald Knox’s translation for thirty years —and I’m ready now to trade it in for the Griffin translation…. I’m carrying it around, quoting it to my friends. “Heavenly heavyweights.” “Happy times in happy places.” “Us poor paupers and poopers.” “Largesse of Your Comedown.” “Shaggy syllogizing.” “Smacked with yet another wet fish”…. Bill Griffin’s translation is a resurrection! So alive, so redolent with wit, so supple and lithe! Reading this rendition of the Imitation, we know immediately why for so many generations it’s topped the bestseller lists in spiritual reading. —EUGENE PETERSON, translator, The Message; professor emeritus, Regent College, Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Through centuries of spiritual life writing, scarce few books have been more beloved than The Imitation of Christ. But its words seem increasingly archaic to our modern sensibilities. William Griffin’s masterful rendering will go far in helping new generations of readers discover the attractions of this ancient classic. His decidedly daring translation allows the Imitation once again to brim with light hearted energy and life changing insight. There’s not a stuffy moment in it. —TIMOTHY JONES, author of Awake My Soul and The Art of Prayer.

The opening pages have already captured my imagination and delight. No more the droll, heavy ponderings for me. This translation has the refreshment–and the power–of crashing waves at the beach. I may get knocked off my feet, but there’s a beach nearby upon which I can rest. —CATHERINE C. SCHALLER, Asst. Director, Doctor of Ministry Program, Haggard Graduate School of Theology, Azusa Pacific University

I am tempted to break into a trompette volontaire and nominate you for the Homo Illuminatus award! I’ve been relishing Book 1 of the Imitation, knowing full well that while you have always appeared polished, I have been unbelievably slow in hammering out the many dents in the Russell armor. —WILLIAM C. RUSSELL, SJ

As I began cheering wildly after reading the last page of the galleys, the woodpeckers started pecking, the swallows started swallowing and the Mississippi River started rippling: cosmic applause for this magnificent modern rendering of The Imitation of Christ. Bill Griffin has given an invaluable gift to the Body of Christ. —BRENNAN MANNING, author of Ruthless Trust

The translation is great. Like Griffin I had read the Imitation 50 years ago as a Jesuit novice, and when I got some distance from novice fervor, I wondered why everyone thought it a spiritual classic. Now I know why. This translation is a gem. It brings out the fresh, down to earth, straight from the shoulder wisdom of the author. Thomas à Kempis once again can engage his readers to pull them into serious reflection on the fundamental issues of the spiritual life, indeed of life itself. A classic has been given a translation it deserves. —WILLIAM A. BARRY, SJ, has a doctor’s degree in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan and is co author of the classic work The Practice of Spiritual Direction.

Reading the manuscript of Bill Griffin’s revival of the Imitation of Christ was sheer enjoyment. I could never imagine how anyone could put that masterpiece into a modern idiom. But Bill accomplished the impossible and with humor and tongue in cheek all throughout. I could tell he was enjoying the task immensely because it shows in the lightness of the read and the clarity of the thought. I am sure it will be widely read and for a long time. —JOSEPH E. GIRZONE, priest and author of the Joshua novels

William Griffin’s version of The Imitation allows it to strike you in the face, as it must if one is to get its point. Any imitation of Christ that isn’t shocking is not an imitation of Christ. This is an invaluable supplement to the spiritual library that The Imitation has now become. —DALLAS WILLARD, professor of philosophy at the University of Southern California and author of The Divine Conspiracy

The purist may not be happy with the freer translation of Thomas à Kempis but, for me, it makes his writing more accessible for today. —REVD ERNIE WHALLEY, General Superintendent of the North Eastern Area, The Baptist Times, 22 June 2000, page 11

Colloquial, savory, practical, astringent, and earthy are words that came to mind as I turned these pages. Latinist Bill Griffin’s penetrating, acerbic intelligence serves him well in his new rendering of this Christian classic. —LUCI SHAW, poet, publisher, writer in residence, Regent College, author of The Angles of Light

In this fresh translation of The Imitation of Christ William Griffin, a Christian man of letters and of wit, breathes life and passion into a devotional classic that has already touched millions of people deeply across the centuries. —FISHER HUMPHREYS, Professor of Divinity, Samford University

An acceptable, fresh translation by William Griffin…. Griffin’s efforts to return the text to its original simplicituy, rejecting many of the accretions of more poetic renditions, results in some stunning devotional moments. —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (11/13/00).

If you’re like me, you’ve probably heard of this book for many years and never read it. Thanks to a new translation—in very idiomatic and even at times earthy English—it is quite accessible to the contemporary reader. —NEWARK STAR-LEDGER (12/24/00).

Griffin has brought snap, crackle, and pop to these pages. No doubt his own works on C.S. Lewis have colored the way he sees the world. Humor peeps through these spiritual admonishments. And that is always a salutary thing given the modern impatience with moral pieties. —FREDERIC AND MARY ANN BRUSSAT, Spirituality & Health: Spiritual _ (01/05/01).

A bold new translation of the Christian spiritual classic. —FORECAST (Nov 2000).

The Genuine Imitation…. The prose is constantly illuminating and surprising the reader at the same time. I much enjoy your fresh tropes and turns of phrase—the Griffin wit and sense of play in devotion. —ROBERT SIEGEL, poet, novelist, professor emeritus, University of Wisconsin

“Marvelous…. If I’d had your translation with me in the Army, instead of the ancient one I had, I believe my Christian development would be more advanced than it is. How it grips you! It’s not exactly a matter of your putting it down, but a question of whether it will allow that to happen. Let me say, not as a Latinist, but just as a reader, that you have released a powerful book upon us. I know what you’re up to. You’re going to make us imitate Christ no matter how hard we resist!” —WALTER HOOPER, author, literary adviser to the Estate of C. S. Lewis

I’m having a wonderful time reading your Imitation. No previous version of it ever struck me as having any humor. Thank you for bringing it alive to me. —JOHN LEAX, poet, professor, Houghton College

A masterful presentation. —HENRY GARON, author, scientist, professor emeritus, Loyola University, New Orleans; and MARIE GARON, author, Licensed Professional Counselor, spiritual director

I’ve had such a wonderful time with your pertinent and impertinent translation this spring and summer. —JEANNE MURRAY WALKER, poet, playwright, professor, University of Delaware.

Mirabilis et doctimissima happyissima translatio tua, et sine dubio Thomas a Kempis gaudet (Yours is a wonderful and scholarly and stylish translation. No doubt Thomas à Kempis himself rejoices). —PATRICK T. TWOMEY, Rector, All Saints Episcopal Church, Appleton Wisconsin.

To read the Imitation again in your translation came as a shock at first, then a relief, then a delight. This time I could read just on the edge of self-deprecating humor that gives the book credibility for the modern searcher who needs, above all, distance from too much self-preoccupation and navel-gazing. What a wonderful voice you’ve found here! —MURRAY BODO, OFM, Franciscan priest, retreat-giver, poet, author of Poetry as Prayer: Denise Levertov

MEETING THE MASTER IN THE GARDEN BY THOMAS À KEMPIS

Garden of Roses and Valley of Lilies translated by William Griffin

Paraclete Press, 2005, paperback, $19.95

[You certainly are in a class of your own. I don’t know how you do these things.] Refracted through William Griffin’s rollicking translation and commentary, these “lost” works of Thomas à Kempis come to new life. Who says spiritual wisdom has to be dull? —ROBERT ELLSBERG, author of All Saints: Daily Reflections and Saints’ Guide to Happiness.

What a treat to read this book! … Every family needs someone who will traipse up to the attic or flip through old photo albums, rummaging around for forgotten treasures. William Griffin does just that for the family of God, dusting off ancient volumes and limbering up antique texts. Here we see a new side to the venerable Thomas à Kempis. Griffin does a masterful rendering of the old—transforming what we might be tempted to write off as archaic and helping it ring compellingly, with freshness and gentle humor. Griffin’s helpful asides, scattered throughout the text, as well as in the Afterwords, provide illuminating background for someone wanting to go even deeper in reclaiming the old but far-from-musty insights of Kempis. A delight to read and ponder! —TIMOTHY JONES, Episcopal priest and author of, among other books, The Art of Prayer.

William Griffin’s translations are spiritual in the best sense of the word: they blow the dust off devotional classics by breathing fresh air into lively English paraphrases. Like his masters, Griffin knows that the Christian pilgrimage is serious play, a strange but exhilarating pas de deux between sacred and profane, a reverence for holy things and the joyful irreverence that only true holiness can inspire. —GREGORY WOLFE, Writer in Residence & Director of the MFA Program, Seattle Pacific University Publisher & Editor of Image; A Journal of Arts & Religion.

Meeting the Master in the Garden reminded me of why I read The Imitation of Christ over and over again when I was in the high school seminary ages and ages ago—its wisdom, its unction…. A wonderful gift…. I will dip into it again and again. Your introduction was superb, and the inserts I found especially helpful; they are themselves a small compendium of wisdom for us today. What a clever way to make Kempis’s words relevant for the modern reader! Midrash will never grow old as a way of opening up a text. —MURRAY BODO, OFM, Franciscan priest, retreat-giver, poet, author of Poetry as Prayer: Denise Levertov.

William Griffin does it again—brings the ancient into the contemporary with salutary results. Who among us today can read Kempis in Latin with penetration and ease enough to profit from it? With Griffin, inaccessible Christian classics become not only extraordinarily readable and personal, but we discover how much our own age has to learn from the past in terms of wisdom, devotion or practicality. — LUCI SHAW, poet, author, The Crime of Living Cautiously; Writer in Residence, Regent College.

William Griffin’s recent translations of classic works of Latin spirituality—Thomas à Kempis’s Imitation of Christ, Consolations For My Soul, and Meeting the Master in the Garden; Augustine of Hippo’s Sermons to the People, High Anxiety, and My Son Adeodatus—do us a much greater service than mere translation of recognized masterpieces. His books recover these masterpieces for our world. This demands a writer who is as in love with English as he is with Latin; one who knows both the high and colloquial styles of each. People are usually shocked by Bill Griffin’s work. His are the freest and, as a result, the most liberating of translations. Griffin has the audacity to save his reverence for what the works themselves revere—God in Jesus Christ—rather than the precedents set by his outmoded predecessors. This allows him to delight in the original works and translate this delight into English prose that smacks you in the face one moment and capers away the next. He is a genius who understands that there’s real laughter in the divine comedy. Don’t expect to sit down with these books and earn yourself a gold star by hustling off another classic into the “read that” bin. Griffin’s works are books you can actually use as devotionals. Take them into your prayer closet and read them as they were meant to be read, slowly, a chapter or two at a time, as you think and pray about your life in God. You won’t be hearing the distant and thus irrelevant voice of a remote and impossibly pious saint. Through Griffin’s brilliant recoveries of the originals, you are going to hear a wise and intimate voice speaking to you in shockingly contemporary and sprightly terms about ultimate things—things you know in your heart. There’s great love in these books: a love of the word that references the Word through whom all things were made. If you’ll listen intently, these books will help re-create you. —HAROLD FICKETT, is a novelist and essayist; his most recent work is The Living Christ: The Extraordinary Lives of Today’s Heroes; a biography of Albert Schweitzer is forthcoming.

This is the first new English translation of Thomas à Kempis’s Garden of Roses and Valley of Lilies in four hundred years, and it is enchanting. The instruction and inspiration of the author of the perennially popular Imitation of Christ have been rendered into language that is fresh, lively, and perfectly suited to Thomas’s aphoristic style. William Griffin has clarified and enriched the original by interleaving with Thomas’s work comments of his own about medieval understandings of issues as diverse as love, war, flowers, bells, flagellation, salt, death, and guardian angels. To read this paraphrasal translation is to receive astringent wisdom and encouragement; I expect that was the experience also of those who read these books in the fifteenth century in Latin. —FISHER HUMPHREYS, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University.

SERMONS TO THE PEOPLE BY AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO

Advent, Christmas, New Year’s, Epiphany

Translated by William Griffin

Doubleday, 2002, Image paperback, $15.00

These sermons come alive in Griffin’s marvelous translation. One can almost hear Augustine working his audience, pausing to recall a scripture text, reveling in word play and enjoying the reactions of his audience, willing his people to believe as deeply and joyously as he does in the mystery of God-with-us. —WILLIAM BARRY SJ, has a doctor’s degree in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan and is co-author of the classic work The Practice of Spiritual Direction; dean of American Catholic spiritual directors.

In the last few days I’ve have been discovering the pleasures of Augustine the preacher. The sermons are a delight—I never knew that this side of Augustine even existed. Thanks. I hope a lot of preachers and ex-preachers and would–be preachers will be as enthusiastic as I am…. William Griffin’s translation art has installed a new preacher in the American pulpit. It turns out that all the time Augustine was writing landmark theology, he was also preaching earthy, colloquial, witty, Christhonoring sermons to his African congregation. And now, thanks to this lively translation, he’s preaching them to us.—EUGENE PETERSON, Presbyterian pastor; professor emeritus, Regent College, Vancouver, B.C., Canada; translator, The Message.

I have finally had a chance to sit at length with your latest. What a pleasure! The saint has never struck me as so winsome, nor so clever. Projection? On your part? On mine?… I like very much your approach to translation—namely, bringing the text all the way into the idiom at hand…. “As he has done previously with Thomas à Kempis’s The Imitation of Christ, William Griffin has unearthed an invaluable treasure from centuries of obscuring linguistic accretion, whose sediments and sentiments have until now kept the radiance of these treasures too far from us. In this delightful translation of Augustine’s sermons, Mr. Griffin has recovered the saint’s homilies, delivering them all the way into the contemporary idiom, where yet another generation might hear his living voice, and might attend to both its serious matter and its joyous mode. —SCOTT CAIRNS, director, Creative Writing Program; poet; author of Philokalia: New & Selected Poems

I love your introduction—the reader is transported to Tagaste and Hippo and horses and couriers and a cagey bishop who ordains Augustine before he knows what hit him, etc., etc. There’s a convincing immediacy about it all—which comes through in the sermons as well. I just read one of the New Year’s sermons and got a kick out of Augustine reading the faces of his congregation, talking about what they’re going to do as soon as they leave church, how they’re trying to live in two worlds, etc., almost as if he was preaching in St. Patrick’s early New Year’s eve, knowing everyone’s going out to booze it up and watch the ball fall and try to make it all have meaning of sorts, so far from real ritualizing like the liturgy. The reader gets a sense that there is a strong interaction between Augustine and his hearers, that these are sermons, not The Confessions or The City of God. Your words and their tone are so perfect for a sermon; Augustine’s voice comes through, even in the English—or at least A voice, one that I like very much. It’s a voice that is consistent throughout the text, giving credibility to the translation. —MURRAY BODO, OFM: Franciscan priest, retreat-giver, poet, author of Poetry as Prayer: Denise Levertov.

I love your draft of the Sermons of Augustine! It’s a wonderfully alive translation. —BRUCE MILLER, JCL, pastor, judicial vicar, Diocese of Alexandria LA.

Again and again William Griffin proves that ancient prose can speak with vibrancy and power. These centuries-old sermons, translated afresh and with great gusto, allow wise old Augustine to speak compellingly to the questions we face daily. What a knack Bill Griffin has for making the old become new! Such is the gift he shares with us here. —TIMOTHY JONES, Episocpal priest and author of Awake My Soul and The Art of Prayer. Augustine is one of the top five most significant figures in Christian history, and sadly, the sermons of this great thinker are hard to find and harder to read. Not any more! Bill Griffin is a master translator who has used his great skills to bring the beauty and joy of Augustines’s preaching to the modern reader. This book is a treasure. —JAMES BRYAN SMITH, Assistant Professor of Theology, Friends University, co-author of Devotional Classics, author of Embracing the Love of God and Rich Mullins: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven.

Here is St. Augustine in the eyes of William Griffin. With the exuberance of paraphrase and the liberty of association, with “whiffs” and “miffs,” “squeals and squawks,” “toted” and “tot,” “crimped” and “crumped,” “Hecklers” and “Jecklers,” Griffin gives us the great sermonizer in his own way. Griffin can make his language sing as a hymn and at the same time rock. The translation is “mediative,” “sermonic,” “calendrical.” If there are not such words, there should be. Griffin lights a fire under St. Augustine and hots up the text. Sometimes witty, sometimes almost wily, Griffin translates some of the most serious stuff relating to our human condition. “He [Christ] brought all the potentates low…not by whanging away with metal against leather but by hanging like a lump from the wood.” Without him [Christ] we would be “dead as a doornail.” Praise be for the Griffinesque touch on the old master. Praise be. —DIANE GLANCY, professor of English at Macalester College, teaching creative writing and Native American literature; she’s written in virtually every genre; The Mask Maker is her most recent novel.

The Augustinian renaissance continues with this volume devoted to the saint’s sermons from Advent through Epiphany. Griffin offers a lively introduction, describing Augustine’s history and the ritual observance of the winter holidays in the fourth century, and then provides comfortable, “paraphrasal” translations of 23 sermons. It’s a real treat to read them, for they remind us that although Augustine has survived for us as a writer—most notable for his Confessions and City of God—he was in his own day primarily a bishop and a priest. Griffin writes that it is through Augustine’s rarely published sermons that we encounter an impassioned orator, “revealing the real Augustine, not the one we thought we knew.” The volume closes with three appendices containing essays that contextualize Augustine’s preaching. —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.

Augustine the theologian has shaped 16 centuries of Christian thought. Augustine the preacher has been largely forgotten. But as Bishop of Hippo, Augustine sough to bring his complex Christian world view to an audience of simple parishioners. In this book Griffin brings a selection of those sermons to life for a modern audience. The result is anything but dry. Here we see Augustine’s keen wit as he laments sleepy parishioners and imagines his flock as his “adopted tots in the Kindergarten of the Lord.” Not a word-for-word rendering, to be sure, but an effective one, nonetheless. Despite the approachable language and fun tone, there is serious theology here, as Augustine grapples with mysteries like the Trinity and the Virgin Birth. While Griffin sometimes pushes the casual translation too far—it is difficult to imagine Augustine saying the Latin equivalent of “salvation’ll”—admirers of Augustine’s theology will be grateful to have this fine and fun version. —JOHN GREEN, Booklist.

It is evident that Griffin spent much time, not only [in] understanding Augustine himself, but also in understanding the nuances and idioms of both the English and Latin languages. Almost like Scripture, Augustine in his very refreshing and very poignant points still speaks to us today. Griffin reveals the remarkable man in all his candor in this translation…. One can read the fifth-century Augustine in the twenty-first century and appreciate the translator’s desire to make this happen. It almost reminds me of the movie “Back to the Future”…. Knowledge is truth, and it crosses the bridges of time through such streams of relentless effort and giving as Griffin exemplifies in this extraordinary work. —MSGR. RONALD HOPPE, The [Alexandria LA] Church Today, 12/18/02, 7.

If you have already read the Confessions and want to get a glimpse of what Eugene Peterson has called Augustine’s “earthy, colloquial, witty, Christ-honoring sermons to his African congregation,” you should pick up the new translation of some of those sermons into our contemporary idiom, Sermons to the People…. —CHRIS ARMSTRONG, Christian History, April 2003.