Orange is the New Knack
Have you ever heard about prison literature? It is a literary genre characterized by literary work written while the author is confined in a location against his will, such as a prison, jail or house arrest.
I didn’t know it was a thing! I guess if you’re locked up somewhere for a while, you’d maybe be forced to pen down your thoughts.
Counting and crossing out tally does get old. You’d probably write a book too or a song, like Tupac did!
Check out a list of books written in prison at the end of this article. I was surprised by the first one.
Anyway, the only Prison Lit I’ve ever read would be the books of Paul of Tarsus. He was in prison when he wrote a good bit of the New Testament. The best thing about those books was the state of his spirit. He seemed content, hopeful and joyful, probably more so than the people he was writing to. He focused on teaching them about God, with the hopefulness of his imprisoned life.
Imagine if he had chosen to focus on his problems and magnify them. We’d have something like this:
“Well guys, hey, I’m still in these chains. I keep telling these guards that I’m a citizen of Rome. I’m a real Jew. A Jew of Jews! What else do they want from me? From the tribe of Benjamin. Did I mention I was circumcised on the eighth day?
The press is outside, I’d like my voice to be heard about this injustice. The food is terrible and I can’t wait to be home again eating Sister Phoebe’s lamb stew.
The prison cell has mold clusters the size of Corinth.
I don’t mind being interrogated but the breath on these guards. Help!
So I mentioned the other day that Diotrephes has been acting up. What’s his deal? I don’t have time for his pettiness.
Anyway, I’m still here.
It’s ok that you haven’t come to see me at all. Just continue living your best life while your friend is here rotting in prison. Please tell Carpus I need my coat, the one with the invincible stitches which I left in Troas. I hope Atrius hasn’t borrowed it and gone on his fishing expedition. That’ll be gross. It’s tailored.
There’s this particular guard who seems to be going through a lot and seems interested in Jesus, but I told him, “Hey, at least you are free and you don’t have these miserable chains around your ankles.”
Am I right?
He’s here again mumbling about believing in Jesus. I should share the gospel but I’m just not in the mood, guys.
Did I tell you about the watery soup of minestrone they serve on Mondays? Not my favorite.
Guys, I can’t even in this place. Lord, help.
Stay woke. Stay ready.
The soldiers can arrest you at any time. I can testify. ”
Well, thank God he didn’t write any of that nonsense!
I say this from experience, seeing past your chains and limitations can be hard. I caught myself complaining a few weeks ago, I probably sounded like this rant above. Till date Paul is my favorite Prison Lit author.
Instead of ranting like me, he wrote these amazing verses:
“Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.” Php 1:12-14
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice.”
Perspective. Chains. Optimism. And some more perspective.
Other works written in prison:
Orange is the new black
A Prison diary
Conversations with myself
The Travels of Marco Polo
Rustichello da Pisa
Do you have a favorite Prison Lit? Which is it?