Finally! An Answer!

…but is that the point of science fiction?

A long time ago, Brandon posted 

My grandfather, a pastor for many years, has always said that Science Fiction is a waste of time, because “it posits at things which God never intended.”

I’ve struggled with this for a little bit to give an answer better than, “I like it,” or “I’m better at imagining that than I am at coming up with Amish romance plots.”

Well, a rather brilliant post is up on Decomposed that offers 5 Reasons Why Your Pastor Should Read Fiction. While he’s targeting fiction in general and pastors in specific, I think his reasons apply equally well for “everyone” and “science fiction.” (Having poked around his blog for a little bit, I suspect Mike Duran would agree.) Go check out his reasons, comment there, comment here, but get the discussion going.

Should we read fiction? And, if we’re so inclined, should we read science fiction?

Read it! Read it all!

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2 responses to “Finally! An Answer!

  1. I think he’s on pretty solid ground with the reasons that he gives.

    1) Reading fiction — good fiction — awakens the beauty and power of language.
    Gotta agree with this one. And I think, particularly when it comes to improving one’s sermon writing, a certain Prof. Z would agree that there’s value here.

    2) Reading fiction stokes the imagination
    This one I’m a little less sure about. There’s nothing wrong with it, I just think it might be his weakest point. Perhaps its importance is in support of #3 …

    3) Good stories speak to us in ways that exposition and data cannot.
    I liked his example of the parables. I would think that, tying back to the first two points, reading fiction could help a pastor in developing his ability to make illustrations when preaching, teaching, or even just off the cuff at a party or in an evangelism call.

    4) Reading fiction also helps us stay tuned to pop culture at large.
    I agree with this as well, but I think you gotta be careful not to go overboard with it. Jesus, for instance, certainly understood the things that gripped that “wicked and adulterous generation” of his. He spoke to those things. But his ministry also transcended those things. It was timeless. I think a pastor should be able to speak to the popular culture in a way that touches their interests, but also draws them out of the mundane rather than diving into the mundane with them.

    5) Reading fiction breaks the potential monotony of the ministry routine.
    Functionally speaking, this is no different than the pastor who spends time playing sports on his day off. Every pastor needs some R&R time. There’s nothing intrinsically better about sports over science fiction. Unless you need to lose some weight. Then the sports might be a good idea. ;^)

    • I’m sorry, but I’m actually not acquainted with “a certain Prof. Z!” I will say my seminary, in its final year, has a sermon-writing class that in part is dedicated to learning to preach narrative sermons. It was one of the most enjoyable and intuitive experiences for me at the sem!

      I agree with the “going overboard” — as for so many things, it’s walking the middle road, isn’t it? You need to have your ear to the ground and anticipate how things will affect your congregation. For instance, it might be good to have a good grasp of Twilight (though that influence seems to be waning at the moment) or 50 Shades of Gray, if for nothing else than to be able to point out why they may not be the wisest choice for entertainment! But balance it out — you don’t want to be a culture hog, either.

      I like your comparison of sci-fi to sports; we all have things that bring relaxation. My choice of reading Neal Shusterman is inherently no better nor worse than playing a game of basketball. (Walking a middle road there, too!)

      Your point three is important, especially in today’s culture. We are a culture of stories; being familiar with stories in general will help us be able to communicate well with others. This past Sunday’s sermon was based on Abraham sacrificing Isaac; a good three-quarters of the time I spent simply telling the story and adding those touches that would make it real to the congregation — the heat of the sun, the exhausting experience of climbing the mountain, the feel of the ropes against Isaac’s skin. Showing this historic example of “not withholding anything from God” made the application so much more real for the congregation.

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