Editor’s Note: This article by SD Smith appeared on gospelcoalition.org, and it’s a good one. Enjoy!
I’ve heard pastors and longtime Christians argue against reading fiction since it’s “not true.” But great literature can be an avenue of profound blessing and an ally to teach us to anticipate the kingdom of God in all of life.
If we’re moved when we come across an ancient oak swaying beside a brook in a sunlit valley, we don’t immediately try to justify its existence. If we’re sensible, we don’t think, You know, this tree would be much better if it had a Bible verse carved into it. We let it be, and we praise God for it.
It’s like this with stories—they’re best enjoyed at their natural best. If you’ve lived beneath the sheltering shade of great tales, you can think of a thousand ways they’ve proved their importance and helped you to give thanks.
Here are five such ways.
1. Stories help us escape into reality.
My friend Heidi Johnston, author of Life in the Big Story, says the best, most faithful stories aren’t an escape from but into reality. God made the world. It is enchanted. There is magic in the wind. We only need to see it. Sometimes stories unlock the part of our hearts that refuses to acknowledge wonder. The best tales can open us to gratitude and enable us to see glory. They can awaken longing and help us find what’s real but hard to see. We are, as C. S. Lewis says in The Weight of Glory, in need of a powerful enchantment:
Do you think I am trying to weave a spell? Perhaps I am; but remember your fairy tales. Spells are used for breaking enchantments as well as for inducing them. And you and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness which has been laid upon us for nearly a hundred years.