Monday, March 25, 2013

Should Christians Read Fiction?

I love reading. I love reading the Bible, theology, some basic Christian living books (though not all are profitable), and biographies. I must confess, I have trouble with fiction. I do not understand why. I can remember reading books in school for Reading/English class having a hard time just reading stories. When I am reading book, I am already screaming at the top of my lungs when will this book end after chapter one.

Last year, I made a commitment to read more fiction. I started with J.R.R. Tolken's classic, The Hobbit, which is now a major motion picture. It took me nearly five months to finish the book which is the same amount time it took me to finish this theological classic from Wayne Grudem. I am one sad strange little man. Needless to say, my attempt to read more fiction failed.

Earlier this year, I read an interesting post by Yancey Arrington on why we should read more stories so I decided to try again starting with The Complete Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I have always been a fan of Sherlock Holmes so I thought this would be easy. I was wrong.

So, I began to think that maybe reading fiction is a waste of time. Now you are probably thinking the same thing as I shared my struggle with you. Should Christians read fiction? Russell Moore can answer that better than I can:

Is reading fiction a waste of time?

I’ve found that most people who tell me that fiction is a waste of time are folks who seem to hold to a kind of sola cerebra vision of the Christian life that just doesn’t square with the Bible. The Bible doesn’t simply address man as a cognitive process but as a complex image-bearer who recognizes truth not only through categorizing syllogisms but through imagination, beauty, wonder, awe. Fiction helps to shape and hone what Russell Kirk called the moral imagination.

My friend David Mills, now executive editor at First Things, wrote a brilliant article in Touchstone several years ago about the role of stories in shaping the moral imagination of children. As he pointed out, moral instruction is not simply about knowing factually what’s right and wrong (though that’s part of it); it’s about learning to feel affection toward certain virtues and revulsion toward others. A child learns to sympathize with the heroism of Jack the Giant Killer, to be repelled by the cruelty of Cinderella’s sisters and so on.

Read the rest here

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