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    Why Stories Matter

    March 9, 2012 by Brandy Vencel

    I wasn’t going to write today. My nose is running, my throat is sore, and I’d much rather be languishing on my couch. But I was browsing the Internet for a moment, and I saw’s interview with N.D. Wilson. We here are old enough that we have begun collecting Wilson’s novels, and I read the interview with interest.

    He didn’t let me down, and he did wow me with this one:

    You’ve said you learned more philosophy, maybe even theology, from C.S. Lewis and Tolkien than from anything you studied in college. Is that one reason you write fiction rather than theological tomes?

    Christians have sometimes been suspicious of stories, because they really can influence you. If you read the Twilight novels once a month for a year, I think you’d be a different human afterward—and not a sparkly one. Stories are like catechisms, but they’re catechisms for your impulses, they’re catechisms with flesh on.

    My first response to this was, naturally: thank you!

    And then after that, I had nothing but a whirl of thoughts in my brain.

    For instance: when I come across very well-intentioned homeschooling parents who want to strip stories from their curriculum and instead concentrate on “facts” because facts are…well, you know…they are just so much more factual than stories. And then I try to explain why we read fairy tales and Greek mythology and lots and lots of literature, and some of them get it.

    And some of them walk away thinking I’m the crazy one.

    If you are wondering how a story could possible be a “catechism with flesh on,” Cindy perfectly answered that question over at the CiRCE blog:

    It is interesting to me that in our culture we allow people to feel things emotionally or we allow for facts but we shun the use of metaphor which brings the two together. Often we glorify our feelings to the level of truth without any propositional backing or, alternately, we rest on propositions which we do not love, all while fearing the metaphor which would illuminate our truths into our loves. Metaphor is what takes us from the known to the unknown, the heart of teaching.

    I have seen people who love facts defend stories containing really bad {false} ideas because the stories gave them really nice feelings about God or their spouse or their children or something. So we see that this idea of story-as-catechism is important as both an offense and a defense.

    Story matters, and it matters what the story says.

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  • Reply Trisha March 9, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    Beautiful, Brandy! Thank you!

  • Reply Daisy March 9, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    Amen! I completely agree.

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