Thursday, January 28, 2010

The truth, the whole truth...

Is fiction a lie?

It amazes me how although we Christians all worship one God, we have such widely varying opinion on so many things. One of those areas of divergence is fiction. There are religious leaders who will say that only the bible and non-fiction books are worthy of the time it takes to read them. While I won't argue that any time spent in the Bible is time well spent, I do have to take issue with the idea that fiction is in some way wrong or evil.

So, those of us who like fiction argue that Jesus told stories and site his parables as an example. The fiction detractors come back with the idea that the parables weren't made up, but rather accounts of things that really happened. Now granted, just about any of the illustrations Jesus used were very practical, contemporary scenarios, so of course they could have happened. Does that mean that Jesus got the directive from the Father: tell the story of Esther of Capernaum...you know,the time she lost her coin? (Okay, now I'm being a little flip.)

But beneath my digression lies my point. Does a story have to have happened to possess value? If that's the case, well, then...we fantasy writers better just take our "My Documents" file and move it to the recycle bin.

As you have probably guessed, I don't think that a story need to be factual to have value, but what it does need to do is point to truth. Western Society has abandoned the existence of truth, even as it contradicts itself to do so. ( I can't get into the argument right now, but how can a person say it is true that there is no such thing as truth?) What the reading world needs is material that reflects the deep, God designed truths that no matter what philosophy comes along, no person can truly deny without eventually talking himself into a knot.

So, in the sense of thinking on whatever is true, I believe we can still do that in the context of fiction. If a fantasy story points the reader to the truth that one leads best by serving, is there no value in that? After all, isn't it the veiled truth that we pursue and discover hidden within our experience the one that brings us the greatest, most personal revelation?

6 comments:

  1. Here is something that I thought of a while back, when I was confronted with the question of 'What is the opposite of fantasy?" I answered, at a loss for words, 'Truth.'

    But I never could get over that, because it just didn't sound right. Here is what I wish I would have said ( :D ):

    The opposite of a Lie is Truth;
    The opposite of Fiction is History;
    The opposite of Fantasy is Reality.

    Well, I need to go, so I will leave it at that.

    Farewell and God bless,
    Jay Lauser aka Sir Emeth Mimetes

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  2. Hi Jay!

    I think you make a good point. Truth and reality aren't the same thing. Our reality reflects truth, but isn't truth in itself.

    But I need to think about that some more. I'm in my mid-afternoon slump where my brain stops working, so I'm just going to make a mess if I keep ruminating.

    Thanks for dropping in!

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  3. I'm reminded of something a Scoutmaster said when I was training to be a Cub Scout leader. He said Scouting is a trick we use -- lure boys in with "dangerous" things like rock climbing and archery and BB guns -- and in the process of teaching them these "dangerous" things, we also teach them important things like safety and first aid and character.

    If fiction is the "trick" we use to teach people about important things like integrity and fidelity and obedience to God, then we're still accomplishing good.

    CS Lewis was a master at this. My stories may belong in the bitbucket, but his? Not possible.

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  4. I can almost picture Peter, sitting by the fire, telling some big windy that started with, "Once upon a time..." and Jesus smiling and nodding, reclined back on one elbow.

    Would that have been worthy of inclusion in the Bible? No. Only choice bits and pieces were deemed worthy. Those pieces we need to know for our instruction and to strengthen our faith.

    There was a whole lot more livin' goin' on when Jesus was on the earth though!

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  5. Becky

    I think all have well stated thoughts. And the food for thought you posed definitely will make one think.

    One thing that springs to mind me when confronted with such an idea as this is. Do readers or skeptics have a problem separating truth from fiction?

    Often when studding the word of God one is faced with separating history from truth when using other study resources. That is an important factor when looking at the Word.

    I think if we realize that when we read a work of fiction, we need to understand that it is just that, "A work of fiction." If not we lose the reality of life. Don't forget, we often WATCH fiction before our very eyes.

    I hope my rambling meant something. I like the article.

    Louis

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  6. Thanks, Kristen, Pegg and Louis for your insightful comments. Whether or not anything I've said is at all intelligent, it gratifies me that these posts occasionally get other people's wheels turning.

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