Monday, May 15, 2006

Christians and their Imagination

“Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
G.K. Chesterton

Every year I make a list a books that I feel I ought to read. I sort my annual reading list into categories. Some of my headings include such books as Theology, Pastoral or Homiletic, Church History, Christian Biography, a Journal or Collection of Letters. Added to the list of clearly “spiritual” headings are such books that fall under the categories of poetry, novel, mystery/fantasy novel. I believe that fiction has as much importance in my spiritual growth as does my yearly “theology” book.

Christians need to nurture their imagination. It takes a mind that is able to “imagine” in order to savour the beauty and to understand the depth of the work of Jesus on the cross. It takes an imagination to empathise with and love your neighbour. Nowhere in scripture are we commanded to read fiction; however, Jesus not only taught using “story,” he also lived the greatest story ever told. As Douglas Wilson writes, “The story of the gospel is a glorious story.” The gospel is a story, a true story. A story that regenerate and Spirit-filled men and women understand, a story that regenerate and Spirit-filled imaginations love. Christian imagination can be fostered by reading fiction. Over the next month or so, I plan to make a case for Christians reading fiction.

On the subject of poetry and Christianity, Christian poet, George Herbert, writes in his definitive work, The Temple,

Harken unto a Verser, who may chance
Ryme thee to good, and make a bait of pleasure.
A verse may finde him, who a sermon flies,
And turn delight into a sacrifice.

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