Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Truth About Fiction

Fiction is bursting with truth.  Not fact, but truth.  Sometimes a fairy tale expresses verity far more wisely and beautifully than a news account ever could.  My heart has been changed by great fiction in its various forms. 

I'm no Roger Ebert, in fact, I rarely go to the movies these days.  I think each person has to figure out for themselves how much, and of what, they give access to this stunning organ between our ears.  I'm very careful here of the two extremes of legalism and license.  To quote the Apostle Paul:

"All things are lawful to me, but not all things are profitable.  All things are lawful to me, but not all things edify".  ~1 Corinthians 10:23

(I digress a little from my main point, but it's worth saying:  Each one must decide what type and degree of media they allow through the synapses.  Some folks are extremely sensitive, and negatively affected by certain images and types of stories.  Others are less so.  And I'm not even talking about material that is clearly garbage or clearly wicked.  I'm talking about the amount, nature and character of the reasonable communication we import into our souls.  I struggle with that tension daily.  Make no mistake, though, what you watch and listen to will impact your mind and heart.  Nuf said.)

What prompted this blog is actually the wonderful fiction I have been viewing/reading of late, and how much I have gained from it in my walk with God on this deception-ridden pilgrim road.  In particular, I have been drowning in J.R.R. Tolkien, having seen Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit", rereading the same, and re watching "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy (not all at once!). The themes of perseverance, the noble struggle to overcome evil, the joy and blessing of true friendship...all of these and many more have charmed me through these fairy tales packed with life and truth.  When Bilbo Baggins has mercy on the nasty and pathetic Gollum, I find conviction rising up within...and the reminder of the Savior's call to mercy on the last and least.  When Gimli the Dwarf and Legolas the Elf fight side by side as friends despite a gazillion years of entrenched "racism", I can pray hopefully for a world gone mad with misunderstanding.  And in my favorite scene of all in any Jackson film, I am encouraged by Samwise Gamgee.  What a beautiful metaphor for the brotherhood of the church when Frodo can't carry his burden one step further.  Sam knows he can't take on the ring...but he can carry Frodo!  That moment reminded  me to go and sit with a dear friend whose problem I cannot fix, but with whom I can share soup and bread and the comfort of mere presence.

I must admit, many of the tales I love belie the cynicism of the post modern era.  I'm pretty sure some of my fellow students from NYU film school would find me unsophisticated.  (Not all of them...I had some pretty wonderful and open minded friends at that bastion of "individuality" who really were tolerant and kind!  My own film crew, very different from me politically and ideologically, loved me just the way I am!)  I still like a story where the bad guy gets busted, and where complicated characters make me root for them to do the right thing.  I'm not ashamed to say I love a good old fashioned tale of good vs. evil.  It's the cosmic metaphor, and I think it resonates with the very nature of our being.  Enough to alter our way of thinking...and doing.

A quote by my favorite fiction (and non-fiction) author of all time:

“Children are not deceived by fairy-tales; they are often and gravely deceived by school-stories. Adults are not deceived by science-fiction; they can be deceived by the stories in the women’s magazines.”
~ C.S. Lewis

There is great truth in fiction.  And much of what passes for "fact" is rubbish in the extreme.  Give me "The Light Princess" by George MacDonald over the "fact based" TV show "The View" any day of the week and twice on Sunday.  No offense to fans of The View, but I'm pretty sure I'll profit more from Aesop's Fables.  And that's not sarcasm.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


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