Saturday, February 6, 2010

Faith 'n' Fiction Saturday: Why Read Fiction

Amy's asking us yet another good question this week:

Today we're going to discuss why Christians should read fiction. If you are a lover of fiction, it's no doubt that you're heard all sorts of arguments against spending time reading it. In fact, a commenter just this week on my blog said she's heard it referred to as emotional porn. The very concept of Christian fiction had a huge battle to face in conservative circles and is, in my opinion, still facing those battles in its attempts to grow. Is there any value in reading fiction for Christians? Why are some people so resistant to the idea of reading fiction? If you DON'T read fiction, why don't you read it? (Please keep in mind we are talking about ALL fiction and not just Christian fiction)
I think all types of reading have value. Not just fiction. Not just nonfiction. I think having both in your life is good, is important. Almost like a well-balanced diet, if you will. You can't live by bread alone.

I've never been one to dismiss fiction, to undervalue its worth, its purpose. So the idea that there are readers out there who look down their noses (if you will) at others who read fiction is a bit of a new concept to me. Perhaps because most of the readers in my life love fiction as much as I do. And those in my life that aren't readers, don't understand the fascination, the obsession with reading in general. Not just fiction. But reading at all.

I grew up (for the most part) surrounded by readers. And so reading for pleasure--for pure pleasure--was something that came natural, felt right, to me. Yes, I enjoy a good nonfiction book now and then. Sometimes I exercise my reading-to-learn muscles. But I think you can learn by reading fiction. Maybe not in the exact same way. Maybe you have to be a little more careful in how you process what you read. But I'd argue that you have to be even more careful in how you process nonfiction books. Especially, especially in how you process Christian nonfiction books.

I'm not quite sure how to approach this topic. But. I'll try to be coherent. (I hope!)

Reading gives me something to think about, something to write about, something to talk about. Reading helps me connect with others. With my family. With my friends. With my online friends.

The best books--regardless of publishers, regardless of labels--are those with complex characters that engage the reader on multiple layers. Books that make you think. Books that make you feel. Books that make you question perhaps. Books that leave an impression, make an impact.

I think most of what I read has some value. (Maybe the equivalent of a candy bar at times.) But I think almost all of it has something of value, of worth. Even if that something is just to illustrate the world's fallenness, its brokenness, its need for a Savior. I just finished a book actually that was about the meaninglessness of life, of the brokenness of humanity, of feeling hopeless and it had characters making really poor choices. And I didn't like what I was reading. Not really. Yet now that I think back on it, I see that those characters just had really big God-shaped holes. They were men and women living in darkness. They, of course, didn't realize their need for a Savior, didn't realize that there was someone who could save them, who could love them, who could redeem their lives from the ugly brokenness and the messy muck they had gotten themselves into. But I could. Of course I really really doubt that that was the author's intent. But still. If you bring God with you into the reading experience, you can get something (be it big or small) from it.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

1 comment:

bigguysmama said...

Thanks for sharing! I was clueless too that some people snub fiction! I'm going to get my post up here shortly.

Mimi @ Woven by Words