Pastor Kevin gave a quote of Charles Spurgeon a few weeks ago and it has stuck with me. “Visit many good books but live in the Bible.” This has led me to be more critical what I read and what art I “consume.” I love a good story. I especially love the ones that spark the imagination and beg the question, “What if…” I’m a sucker for science fiction and fantasy or taking the normal world but putting a spin on it.
Apparently, I’m not the only one. I’ve lost the pulse of the television world but from what I gather the hunger for the “super” is quite fierce. Many shows feature an ordinary person with ordinary trials…who happens to also be a vampire (True Blood), or werewolf (Teen Wolf), or have super powers (Flash, Supergirl), , or supernaturally connected to the thoughts of others (Manifest), etc. I could go on.
I write this, not to promote these shows nor to condemn them. I really couldn’t say if they are good or bad or neutral as I haven’t researched or watched them. Nor am I attacking non-fiction or escape-type literature. C.S. Lewis, the great Christian writer and author of “The Chronicles of Narnia” justified “escape” literature and has caused me to think differently and much better about the world and my role in it. What I do know, however, is that sometimes I can be guilty of gobbling up stories so much that I spend a great deal thinking about them divert attention from the actual world around me.
As C.S. Lewis wrote in An Experiment in Criticism (1961), “Escape, then, is common to many good and bad kinds of reading. By adding -ism to it, we suggest, I suppose, a confirmed habit of escaping too often, or for too long, or into the wrong things, or using escape as a substitute for action where action is appropriate, and thus neglecting real opportunities and evading real obligations.”
I also think of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 10:23 (NLT), “You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.”
I want everything in my life, even in what I spend my leisure time on, to be beneficial to the Kingdom of God. I must ask myself good questions: Are the stories that I enjoy beneficial to me in some way? Are they refreshing? Are there elements of truth in them that help me see good characters. Does it glorify evil? Does it tap out my emotional energy when it is needed elsewhere? Does it help me to care for and understand others and the “least of these?”
I have been reflecting and redirecting my life to be more present and more aware of my surroundings. I want to dig deeper into the fantastic world in which I live; to discover more about God and what He is like; to comprehend the nature of reality and what is yet to come. We, as Christians, have an awesome privilege to actually understand the story we find ourselves in and to play a role in it. We don’t have to sit idly and and wonderingly by for God has given us a quest and one that is much more rewarding than to merely live in comfort, behind closed doors away from others.
As Bilbo said, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door... You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no telling where you might be swept off to.”