This month's Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy blog tour features not one book but many: participants choose their favorite books, new or old, classics or almost unknown, and discuss them as they will. Not sure what I'm gonna talk about -- I'm just gonna sit down at the computer and let fly with whatever comes to mind. After all, most of my favorites are rooted in classic literature: The Chronicles of Narnia, for instance, or Pilgrim's Progress -- which, now that I think about it, is probably my very first introduction to Christian fiction. Sure, there were stories in Sunday School or in anthologies, but Pilgrim's Progress was a totally different animal than the "Dick and Jane" types of stories I encountered as a young'un.
As soon as I learned to read, I read everything, including stuff that was beyond my comprehension. I could read the words, follow the sentences, but couldn't always understand the meaning of the material. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though. It caused me to stretch my young mind, to ask questions, to learn the basic research tools of looking up the hard words in the dictionary or interviewing my elders who knew more than I did.
Pilgrim's Progress, more allegory than fantasy, was easy to understand, and I could draw direct parallels with reality. The Chronicles of Narnia was not so tidy, and I could not always see Truth in the fantasy, being so caught in the story that I didn't step back to try to gain any wisdom or knowledge from the material. But that's the beauty of story, isn't it?
A story can do what a parent or a preacher or a mentor cannot: it can engage our minds and emotions in such a way that truth has a chance of being introduced, whereas we might not give much credence to what other people say, or we might be too distracted to really hear them. A story has the ability to reach us when a lecture avails nothing.
Not that a story's main job is to teach, preach, or discipline. Stories can be oral histories. They can be entertainment. They can be introductions to new worlds and ideas, reminders of old worlds and foundational ideas, glimpses into other cultures, wild rides in the unbounded imaginations of creative authors. Stories have the power to change, heal, inspire. They have, as a collective force, drawn me toward the Wonderland of storytelling. Over the course of the next two days, I hope to talk about other favorite books that have shaped my life.
Meantime, visit these stops on the blog tour, and check out the favorite tales of other writers and readers: