Thursday, 22 March 2012

Fiction - a valid form of teaching?

My young friend was so shocked I thought his face was going to drop off his head. He has been eagerly awaiting the release of my book. The other day I told him that the book was a fiction. His disappointment was clear.
'But...but I've never read a fiction.' Between his words I could hear, 'I've never wasted my time on such trivial things. I'm a serious student of the Word.'
Trying to recover, he continued. 'I guess I could try and read a fiction.' He sounded doubtful.
'Jesus talked fiction.' I waited for the idea to sink in. 'The Bible refers to His stories as parables.'
As I've preached in the last months, my young friend has heard me refer to my book . He is expecting good solid teaching. He won't be disappointed. The teaching is there, but it is encapsulated in story, drama, struggles and real life, instead of clearly articulated points, lists and carefully referenced theology. 
Jesus used both forms of communication to teach his followers, disciples and dissenters. But it is the stories that are remembered, repeated and pondered over. We have taught our children basic life principles using stories like 'The boy who cried Wolf,' so why has fiction been pushed into a genre that is considered lesser literature than a non-fiction book. Consider 'Anne of Green Gables', 'Oliver,' 'The Lord of the Rings' and 'Brave Heart'. The stories remain part of us, long after the book is shut or the movie closes. Scenes return to our minds at unexpected times. They lead us and guide us.
That is my prayer for 'Though the Bud be Bruised.' May the story remain in the readers mind and bring wisdom, understanding and a deeper love of God, as the months and years pass. May it bring hope of healing to those in pain and clarity to those who are confused. These are big expectations, but I have a big God. He asked me to write the book and I have, presenting it as well as I could. Now I release it to Him. I have written it on paper. It is His role to write it on readers hearts.


  1. Looking forward to reading your book, Jo. My favourite way to learn a lesson is through fiction. Must be why Jesus' parables captured the attention of the crowds, and I think, we're still hungry for stories.

  2. Hopefully, "Though the Bud be Bruised" will be the first of many great and edifying works of fiction for your friend.

  3. EXCELLENT post, Jo! I just yesterday received a somewhat curt note from a friend on FB indicating that she would be happy to read books that were nonfiction. She declared that she does not "do" fiction". I thought the very same that you thought—Jesus taught in parables that are memorable to all. Thank you for writing such a thought-provoking blog for those that do not "do" fiction! Blessings!

  4. I learned at a very young age that I could go anywhere, do anything and be anyone through the written word. I learned to LOVE TO READ when I was able to put myself in the place of the heroine. Also, the lesson's I learned from reading fiction, have been the easiest to remember. Those who do not read fiction probably fail to understand the research that goes into the writing of one. Facts are facts, and when you can weave them into an interesting story, the reader is learning the facts, without even realizing it. Putting life to dull information certainly appeal's more, to me. I think Jesus understood that, too. :)

  5. Different strokes for different folks. Not everyone learns the same way. That is why Jesus taught both in parables and in bulleted lists like the beatitudes.

    For those who learn by parable, fiction is the genre. For others, non-fiction works better. But the attitude that says one method is better than the other is really off the mark.

    And some lucky people are at home in both venues. I enjoy both.

  6. Thanks everyone for your encouragement. I agree that if Jesus used both we need both. Fiction has an amazing place but it never will replace non-fiction, not should it!Thanks for your comments!

  7. Interesting that some people think they are beyond fiction. As a lover of fiction it's one I find hard to comprehend. The interesting thing is experts and psychologists have found those who read fiction are better able to deal with others socially as it improves social skills.They empathise with others. I wrote a blog about those findings one time.

    1. Thanks Dale. Interesting research.