Great piece by Richard Barlow at the Boston Globe this weekend:
From classic literature, religious lessons
Jane Austen, long revered in literature classes and more recently on movie and television screens, has become part of the iconography of another group: Christians.
Austen acolytes' hearts are being warmed this winter with a "Masterpiece" series of television movies based on the British novelist's books. The project boasts a particular Austen-Boston link, in that WGBH 2 produces "Masterpiece."
It is hardly surprising that public television sensed audience interest in the woman who penned such staples of English lit classes as "Sense and Sensibility" and "Pride and Prejudice." What's more intriguing is her particular appeal to Christian writers and readers. Last year, at least three Christian publishers brought out books about Austen.
This burst of interest might surprise some who are familiar with her writing. For one thing, Austen's characters who are clergy are a decidedly mixed bunch, some laudable, some loutish. And more importantly, Austen, in both her life and her literature, was not of the evangelical, religion-on-the-sleeve school.
In "A Walk with Jane Austen," published by WaterBrook, the evangelical imprint of Random House, author Lori Smith admits that some would cringe at the notion of Austen as a Christian writer. (...)