New Series: Reading as a Spiritual Practice
I read to escape. I read to learn. I read to cry. I read to experience. I read for comfort. I read to laugh. I read to imagine. I read to escape. Oh wait! I already said that.
I love to read and that has been true about me for as long as I can remember. I was 5 when I could read the sign for “ColorTile” and what a disappointment that was! Their bright, multi-colored block sign looked like a toy store until I could read it for myself. Finally, I understood why my mom would never take me there!
My favorite thing to read is fiction. I get emotionally attached to characters and experience their story with them. This love of reading, of story, has been with me for a long time and there have been times when I wondered if it was pleasing to God. Three years ago, I was challenged to fast from all fiction for a period of 9 months in order to complete the Ignatian exercises. That was the hardest fast of my life! But in that time of being removed from my crutch, I came to understand some vital things about God, myself, and story.
- God chose to be revealed through story. That is a pretty risky move if you ask me. Story is open to interpretation and varied responses based on the reader–their mood, their current circumstances, their social standing, their culture, and on and on. Non-fiction, fact based writing would have been a much clearer way to make sure we got everything right about God. But God didn’t choose that.
- Humans are storytellers. All human history is preserved through story! We told stories in caves with pictures, and then around fires. We created language in order to share our stories. We make movies to tell our stories. Perhaps, we are mirroring our Creator with our stories.
- Story communicates both thoughts and feelings at the same time. The master story tellers weave a tale for a purpose! They want us to know their position about something and choose to craft word magic in order to communicate it. They could come out and write a position paper explaining what they believe to be true but when they instead weave it into story, it becomes immortal. We wrestle with it and wonder about it and experience it.
- All truth is God’s truth. If a story communicates something that is true about human nature, it offers praise to God as God is the artist being admired. If a story causes the reader to wrestle with a previously held notion or postition, God is praised as the human will explores freedom. If a story creates wonder, God is praised as the Creator of all wonderful things. All truth is God’s truth; even truth conveyed through fiction.
We are going to explore some of my favorite novels, series, and books together looking for God. If you have a title that you want added in, leave a comment and I will see what I can do!