Fiction as a Spiritual Discipline

My wife is the most voracious reader I know. Fiction is her first love. The good stuff – Jane Eyre and The Great Gatsby, Madeleine L’Engle, Buechner, all things Dickens. Recently, when she rifled through War and Peace, I began to feel a little intimidated.

Eugene Peterson says that pastors should read fiction as part of their spiritual regimen (wonderful advice I was never once offered in seminary). I think every Christian should heed this wisdom. Listening to the story. Being captured by the narrative. Discerning truth as we are tugged through the plot. “Every good story is a retelling of the gospel,” says Chesterton. If that’s true – and I believe it is – then we need to read more good stories. God knows, we need as much of the gospel as we can get.

Here is a quick hit on four novels that have told me much truth:

East of Eden, John Steinbeck
The Chosen, Chaim Potok
‘Til We Have Faces, C.S. Lewis
Peace Like a River, Leif Enger

peace / Winn

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