Aspects of my Story - Reading Fiction

By | 05:00:00 2 comments

I've always enjoyed a good novel.
Since being introduced by mum to Enid Blyton's books as a child i've grown up reading. As a teenager i read The Stand by Stephen King and set about a course of reading and collecting the first edition, hardback copies of all his books. This ended shortly after i became a Christian, when events led to my repentance from the effect they were having on my soul, and chucked them in a bin.

In recent years my choice has been historical fiction by such authors as Bernard Cornwell, Conn Iggulden & Simon Scarrow, along with the hilarious fantasy books by Terry Pratchet. I do read some Christian-fiction, although i've enjoyed some, in general i find the stories & writing to be less gripping.

Reading fiction has always been a tension in my mind; is it a waste of time when i could be reading other more Christ exalting books? . . . Perhaps . . .Yes!

Reasons i Read Fiction
But i've found that after a while of constantly reading theological works, or when i'm bogged down in such places as Leviticus; to pause and read a novel (which takes about 2-3 days), relaxes my mind and refreshes my capability to read better things that require much more thought & effort.

Besides this i think there can be a lot to learn & use from novels, Jesus himself was big on telling stories (parables). With many of these books the *'Historical Note' at the end helps inform about what's factual & what's not, in the story.

Problems With Fiction
Obviously there are problems that a Christian faces when he or she reads fiction. I've listed 3 examples below.

Language
Language in non-Christian fiction is always going to be an issue, and i guess it's down to each individuals conscience on this one. I tend to skip 'the' words as much as possible, and because i read fiction fast & not really that often its affect is very little, if any. However to constantly be reading books with foul language would undoubtedly have an affect upon a persons thoughts & speech.

Fantasy
Many books promote fantasy. Perhaps a day dream of being a knight or aiming arrows at the enemy. I've often been guilty of dwelling on something like this & putting myself in the heroes shoes for a few days after a book . . . Replace 'Richard Sharpe' with 'Gary Boal'.
Or perhaps that description of the hero getting it on with a lady keeps bouncing around your head. Or perhaps the stories of romance, written especially for women, can cause a dissatisfaction, much like the guy in 'that' book.

Lust
I remember using the facilities in a friends house, lifting a novel by the toilet and flicking it open. The book opened naturally to a specific page (i'm guessing due to the husband), that was more descriptive than Mark Driscoll's message in Edinburgh 'Sex the good bits', that has since been taken off the web.
This affected my mind for days, and i'll never, ever let curiosity open another 'womans' romance novel again.


Overcoming The Problems


  • Read fiction sparingly, or if it has deep & detrimental affects, not at all. Jesus said that we ought to gouge out our eye rather than let it lead us into sin and we've got to apply that here.

  • Read authors that friends have recommended, or that you know of. This helps guard against unexpected sexual (or other sinful) content. If you know an author has a history of depicting graphic sin - avoid.

  • Read fast so you are not staying with a story, its themes & characters too long.

  • Read more of the Bible than you do Fiction or any other book.

  • Read in accountability so that others can 'pull you up' on what you read, or if you are reading too much fiction.

  • Read without dwelling too much on it. That is, enjoy the story, but don't let it take your thoughts captive.

  • Read in a manner that obeys 1 Corinthians 10:31 in glorifying God.


  • Read about fictional characters asking yourself the questions; "Do i get more excited about [heroes name] or about Jesus Christ?" And "Am i more excited about the storyline of this book than i am about the storyline of the Gospel?"



    *I've found that the Internet is a great place for inquiring about the history in which fictional stories are set. I'd add that checking the history is vital after reading a historical novel as it would be stupid to take everything in a book as 100% accurate.
  • 2 comments:

    Eni said...

    Your enthusiasm for Enid Blyton is well acknoweledged,for I have even written a book titled, "The Famous Five: A Personal Anecdotage" (www.bbotw.com)

    Stephen Isabirye

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