Tag Archives: literature

Is Fiction Inferior to Non-fiction?

Many of the people I meet at book tables explain to me that they only read non-fiction. The implication is that fiction is somehow inferior. Just give me the facts whether of history or engineering or finance—write it out for me in logical order.

Non-fiction writing has great value. I’ve written nine non-fiction books and many articles. But soon after my book, Revolutionary Forgiveness was published, a neighbour asked me a question. “Why don’t you write about forgiveness using the medium of a story with descriptions of characters dealing with bitterness and hurt?’

Good question. I still feel it is important to summarize biblical teaching on forgiveness [and other subjects] and give examples of those who have abandoned bitterness and resentment. But in some ways fictional characters and situations can illustrate more deeply the thoughts and feelings, the anguish and pain of unforgiveness. Fiction can also reflect powerfully on the subtleties of joy and peace that comes with forgiveness.Scan_20170327 (5)

Consider historical fiction. It is one thing to read the facts and figures of life and death, of battles and defeats that occurred in World War Two. But when we read, for example, All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doer, the effects of the war on allies and enemies become stark. We feel the story. A French family with a blind daughter open up to us the anguish and fears that reverberate deep inside the psyches of an occupied people. In the same book, a German family gives us an agonizing glimpse into the pressures and fears that drove many to conform and even resort to unbelievable cruelty under the Reich.

Rust Bucket jpeg, 288 pixOr take slavery. We are told that there are an estimated 27 million slaves today; men, women and children being trafficked for sale to brothels, farms, and businesses. Telling the true story of one or two who escaped can put a face on this evil. However, fiction, written, as I have done in Captives of Minara and Rust Bucket, helps to illuminate both those who traffic and those who are kidnapped. We can gain a heightened a sense of the unbridled malevolence of its practitioners and agony of the victims.

What about indigenous affairs in North America? The Back of the Turtle or The Inconvenient
by Thomas King, or Susan Cooper’s The Ghost Hawk probably accomplish more in raising awareness and sympathy than a dozen government studies.

Think of geogrScan_20170327 (6)aphy. In Christy, by Catherine Marshall, we journey back in time to an earlier day in t
he Great Smoky Mountains. We might be able to read depictions of the flora and fauna, the slang of the people and their superstitions in non-fiction books but we would miss the living sense she gives of people and place. We would not feel ourselves walking with Christy among spring dogwoods.

Consider terrorism and Islam. We have myriad books written about Islam, pro and con, but without fiction books such as The ReScan_20170327 (4)luctant Fundamentalist, or The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahanjan, we will miss insights into the influences moving liberal Muslims to become militant as well as the anguish of those affected by their militancy.

But let me hammer in the final nail in the coffin of those who restrict their reading to non-fiction. Do you mean to tell me that the method of the greatest teacher of all time is defective? That is, should we discount the parables and stories Jesus told to teach us about how to act and believe? The parable of the good Samaritan. The Lost Sheep. The Rich Man and Lazarus. I doubt any would go that far. Jesus not only taught straight-forward principles—the sermon on the mount—but a multitude of stories. He was the penultimate story-teller. It is an honourable calling.

Give fiction a try…but be careful of your choices. Not all fiction is created equal.

(Further articles, books, and stories at: http://www.countrywindow.ca Facebook: Eric E Wright Twitter: @EricEWright1 LinkedIn: Eric Wright  Also check out his books on Amazon.)



Mankind: Evolved Animal or Created Custodian?

I love to watch the antics of our local wildlife. The chipmunks are eCheeky squirrel 11xpert tunnelers. I’m never quite sure where they will pop up next. On the other hand, their cousins, the squirrels, weave sturdy nests high in some of our trees. I’ve never know them to be blown down in a storm. The wrens and hummingbirds exhibit amazing skill in crafting and hiding their nests. And who can thwart a raccoon that wants to get into a compost bin?

There is, however, a qualitative difference between their skills and that of humans. A couple of days ago a dental surgeon extracted a troubling molar. He was skilled and personable! I’m quite amazed at the continual development in the field of dentistry—so much improved over the clunky drillWTripTrainMt smalls scared me as a child.

The whole range of human achievement is astounding: in medicine, in engineering, in computer science, and in avionics, to name a few. While all creatures show skills suitable to their environment, humans continually invent, create, and imagine, as well as modify their environment. Non-human creatures have little or no ability to innovate or create. Arguably, thOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAeir ability to create music, literature, or art is non-existant.
Why is this, if we are but evolved animals? Where did consciousness come from? How did we learn to communicate, invent, dream? From God, of course.

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
What is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet….
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8:3-9)

God made us just a little lower than the angels and gave us the responsibility to be His stewards on earth. He gave us glory and honor and as custodians, He expects us to useB our faculties to do good both to one another and to the earth.

Inspired by this creativity, much good has been done in medicine, in dentistry, in agriculture, indeed in every field of human endeavor. But sadly, much evil has also been invented and perpetrated on others and much destruction has been visited on the good earth God gave us. When we do good, we live up to our mandate and bring God honor. When we do evil, we do much more damage than raccoons or sharks.

Let’s use our creativity to do onto others (including the environment) as we would have them do onto us.