Friday, July 06, 2007

Non-Fiction is True

Some things are counter-intuitive. That just means that you wouldn't have thought of it if somebody didn't tell you. (Double negatives are cool, too.)

I have neck problems. When my neck hurts, I hold it this way and I do not want to hold it that way. But I've found a great booklet (Treat Your Own Neck, McKenzie) that teaches that you need to exercise your neck that way. It works. But it's counter intuitive. I would not have done so unless somebody told me to.

Fiction as truth is sort of the same thing. It is obvious once you see it but otherwise remains a mystery. Many people assume that fiction means 'not true' but that is simply not true. Granted, there are plenty of fiction writers who write things that are mostly not true. But, here's the deal, nobody reads them. The ones who write things that are true are widely read.

But I thought you said it was fiction? Aren't they making it up?

Well, yes, and no.

Good ficiton writers understand the world and in understanding the world they are able to convey truth in a story, in a character, in a situation. Oftentimes, much better than any non-fiction account of a similarly true event.

As a pastor, I sometimes have the privilege of giving counsel. God-words often bounce off the counselee with the same consistent rebound of return volley that said counselee practices on Sunday morning. But a story has a way to penetrate deep into the soul. Especially if the story, the made up story, is painfully true.

Here's another post but I'll give you a teaser. We cannot understand God's story, the Bible, if we cannot even understand a basic story, say C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia. We think we understand the truth statements of the Bible but if we are incapable of understanding stories, we really do not understand the Bible. BECAUSE-the Bible IS a story.


Anonymous said...

Very true.

Rick said...

Great post, Virgil. I just told someone recently that I didn't have time in my life at this point to read non-fiction. There is far too much fiction out there that I need to read. (Of course, then I turned right around and started a non-fiction book this week...but the principle holds true!) :D