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Fictional portrayals of the clergy


The portrayal of clergy in fiction is the theme of a new book by Sue Sorensen, an associate professor of English at Canadian Mennonite University. The Collar: Reading Christian Ministry in Fiction, Television, and Film is described by publisher Cascade Books as “a wide-ranging study of the many ways – heroic or comic, shrewd or dastardly – Christian ministers have been represented on page and screen.”

In the book, Dr. Sorensen explores a variety of characters in novels, plays, TV and movies – from The Scarlet Letter to Footloose, Brother Cadfeal to Rowan Atkinson’s vicars – to make inquiries about “pastoral passion, frustration and fallibility.”

In a university press release, Dr. Sorensen says that when she began work on the book, she could think of many negative portrayals of Christian ministers in literature and film and hoped she would find more positive portrayals in her research. However, she says some of the books she found most heartening included portrayals of pastors who were failures, but good failures – characters who “were deeply flawed human beings but trying their best to serve God and the church.”

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