Making Grendel’s Mom Mad
A man with his nose against a cedar might not be aware that he’s in a forest. Taking a few paces backward might prove to be informative and helpful…especially if he wishes to navigate that forest with any success.
Similarly, as fallen creatures, we’re often too close to our own world to see it clearly. Reading good fiction enables us to step back a few paces and look at our own world, maybe even through a few different lenses.
And good fiction will lend clarity for this view, while bad fiction will only blur our view. But how do we know a good story from a bad one? We can take our cues from the Master Storyteller, whose stories are themselves Truth. G.K. Chesterton maintained that “If the characters are not wicked, the book is.” N.D. Wilson continues the thought:
We must tell stories the way God does, stories in which a sister must float her little brother on a river with nothing but a basket between him and the crocodiles. Stories in which a king is a coward, and a shepherd boy steps forward to face the giant. Stories with fiery serpents and leviathans and sermons in whirlwinds. Stories in which murderers are blinded on donkeys and become heroes. Stories with dens of lions and fiery furnaces and lone prophets laughing at kings and priests and demons. Stories with heads on platters. Stories with courage and crosses and redemption. Stories with resurrections.
Yet this sort of talk makes many well-intentioned Christians very nervous. Shouldn’t we be trying to flee the things of this world that are destined for destruction? Isn’t our time better spent reading the truthful stories of Scripture and perhaps other books that can better help us understand it? Why read fiction?
As Christian storytellers strive to portray a world that is like the one that God has made, their stories include the sorts of people we find in God’s story: wicked, righteous, courageous, corrupt, vile and valiant. Fictitious? Perhaps. But very real.
Recognizing then, that we need to grow in this area, and that we want to be able to help others do the same, below are the talks from the first Raggant Fiction Festival on September 26, 2015.