Connections: Joseph F. Girzone

Having spent most of my professional life in Christian higher education and specifically in theological education, I want and need to “dig deep” into matters of faith and practice.  But there are times when I need to de-compress from the complexity and remind myself what lies at the center of simple (not simplistic) faith.

Joseph Girzone helps me to do that.  Born in 1930, he has become a well-known writer through his many “Joshua books.”  His writing comes after years in the priesthood, and as has been the case with others, he turned to writing when health factors prevented him from continuing the pace of ministry. In it, he found both a depth and breadth of ministry he never imagined he would have.

His first book, Joshua, introduces us to the main character of the same name, and it is possible to follow him through Girzone’s many other books into a wide terrain of experiences.  Girzone writes fiction, but in doing so, he chooses to make Joshua not simply a Christ-figure, but Jesus alive among us.  Some have found this to be the most controversial part of his writing, but for me, it adds a note of realism, even when I don’t completely agree with everything he has Joshua saying and doing.

Christian spirituality needs Jesus, not just Christology.  Girzone gives us that, and I have found it to be a precious gift in the midst of my other theological pursuits.  I hesitate to recommend any of his books more than others.  His forte is fiction.  You can begin with Joshua.  After that, you can choose among the others as you like.  You will also find some non-fiction works as well.  All together, I think many of you will make a new friend in Girzone (and maybe even in Joshua too), if you have not previously known of him.

If you’re particularly interested in the “spirituality” that emerges out of Girzone’s life and writings, I’d recommend that you read his book, Never Alone.  But don’t do it apart from the novels.  I now understand that Girzone’s writings all fit together and cannot be fully appreciated when they are separated from each other.

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 43 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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