Monday, April 21, 2008

Holy Fiction

Awhile ago I had a comment on the blog left by David Felter (check out his blog IdeaBridges). This is (in part) what he said:

"The faith of some individuals is insufficient to allow them to see them [the parables of Jesus] as "holy fictions." They must see them as true stories. What happens in many "true stories," is what I call the distraction of the concrete, which inhibits the communication of the abstract."

I've been rolling the term "holy fictions" around in my head ever since.

Jesus did use stories to help convey the truth about who God is and how He works. He talked about lost things, seeds of various kinds, kings, bridegrooms, good guys, and bad guys. He used illustrations from real life, but there's no doubt that the stories themselves were fiction.

Of course Jesus didn't just use fiction. The Sermon on the Mount is pretty literal. But when He wanted to talk about who God is, He usually told stories. Fictions.

So, why can't we get our heads around the fact that fiction is an essential link to understanding God?

I'm throwing it out there for discussion.

One thing I have noticed in that Christian culture (in North America) seems to embrace the idea that fiction is "merely entertainment". Which is nonsense. A brief perusal of history will tell you that literature has turned the tides of many epochs, has influenced many leaders, and has caused real change.

Fiction has the power to not just reflect current culture, but to lead it. It can deposit new ideas into people's minds and imaginations in a way that non-fiction cannot do. (not that I'm against non-fiction! Far from it!)

Fiction, as an act of worship.

That's what I'm striving for in my writing. Failing hopelessly, but striving none-the-less.

I want to write something God can inhabit. Something that, in spite of my limits, my flaws, my bad spelling (oh my, I'm a terrible speller!) and my pathetically small vocabulary, God can fill and reveal Himself to those who read it.

Then, like Adam and Eve in the garden, my work will be "clothed", not by any brilliance of my own, but by God who shows the reader depths that I can only guess at.


Anonymous said...

I've been thinking about this blog for awhile. In almost any spoken word event, there is a call to stories. It is about relating, about being real, about possibilities and turning ideas and truths into pictures (which is what Jesus did). I have even come to recognize a need for good fiction, that celebrates God's grace at work in and through His people and the world.
I like how you put it - fiction as an act of worship. The church needs more stories to emerge...

The Koala Bear Writer said...

Good thoughts. I always try to remember the motto of many 19th century writers - "to teach and to entertain." Dickens, Anne Bronte and others wrote for social reform. Fiction changes lives. May we use it for God's purposes,