james lee burkeEvery artist, whatever the medium, is a pale example of our Creator God, and the best artists know that. James Lee Burke, whose novels are full of violence and glimpses of evil, seems to be an unlikely candidate for drawing attention to “God’s thumbprint” in our world, but he consciously does just that.

In an interview with PBS’s Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, Burke talks about how religion (specifically his Catholic faith) plays a role in his writing. His primary character is Dave Robicheaux, a Louisiana cop and alcoholic.

[H]is character is based one, on the Everyman character in the medieval morality and religious dramas. But also primarily I see his antecedent as the Good Knight in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. It’s a great character, the Good Knight, chivalric figure who is always the peacemaker in the story, the pilgrimage…

As far as redemption is concerned, I’m speaking as an artist. I believe the central theme in all Occidental literature is about the search for salvation. It is the basic theme of Western literature, and that’s what we all end up painting, acting out in dramas, or writing about.

His latest books have drawn more heavily on Biblical imagery, and Burke says that is purposeful.

The stories I’ve written are the Passion Play. I mean, they clearly come out of the New Testament. The imagery, the icons all have to do with Golgotha. That’s what they’re all about.

See the entire interview with James Lee Burke at PBS’s Religion & Ethics Newseekly.