Saturday, July 08, 2006 began as a response and evolved into a post...

Very thought-provoking discussions on the blogosphere this week!

"Does literature teach us to empathize with other people, or does it merely teach us to empathize with fictional people, who are infinitely less likely to inconvenience us than are real ones?" - Wittingshire - (read the whole article - it's worth it!!)

Kim writes " All I've got to say is, "If loving literature is wrong, I don't want to be right." Go over to Hiraeth and read some riveting responses!

And here's my 2 cents worth...

Reading is not a substitute for action but rather a challenge to action. Anytime I read, I learn - when I learn, I am challenged - when I am challenged, I become uncomfortable - when I am uncomfortable, I move.

Overindulgence in reading, especially certain types of literature, can be unhealthy when it is used primarily as an escape. (like when my son went through a fantasy lit. stage and became disillusioned when the world didn't pan out that way)

But when I enter someone else's world through literature, I can experience different cultures, different viewpoints, different historical eras, different stages of life or even gender. Somehow, in a work of fiction, we enter the lives of the characters - we come to know them - we identify with them - we care about them. When that work of fiction actually reflects the plight of real people, then we can no longer ignore those situations.

Not to say that reading about something is the same as experiencing it in real life, but a vicarious experience through literature (or the movies or photography for that matter) can be a powerful tool - a sword. It can have a compelling emotional effect that non-fiction sometimes lacks. Think of Uncle Tom's Cabin - all the emancipation speeches did not do what this one "novel" did. Consider President Lincoln statement to Harriet Beecher Stowe - ”So you're the little girl that started this big war."

That particular novel is one example of the power of literature to affect change – to alter the course of history and nations.

Now to provoke some thought/discussion/rumbling...

Think of Dan Brown... he certainly had an effect - albeit temporary.

Where is the Christian writer who can break out of the ghetto and write a novel that will speak to Everyman's longing today - the longing that is part of our being because we are made in the image of God and, as Augustine says, our hearts will be restless until we rest in Him?

I believe that he, or she, is out there and I am praying that the Lord will inspire him, or her, to begin that book.

'nuff said... :)

This is the totally unbiased opinion of a English major, Language Arts teacher and librarian.

books and honey - - sweet!!