This post was originally written as a reflection for my writing class. So far, we've talked about writing, how great it is, and how it affects us. Yes, this is a class. Cool, right?
One thing I mentioned to him about class was my professor's observation that The Lord of the Rings is possibly one of the most powerful stories ever written. Both my boyfriend and I love LotR. Both of us would agree with that statement. But, to understand what I think (and add to his ever-growing mental database of how other minds work) he started asking me questions that forced me to articulate things that usually exist as untapped feeling in my head.
I love reading, writing, and stories very much. But my feelings about them are wrapped up in things I truly believe. Reading makes us better people. Reading expands our mental experience and our empathy. Stories give us hope and show us how faith and living interact. Even stories that aren’t “Christian.” Even stories that are dark. Some stories may not be particularly edifying, but I would argue that most of them are, at least in some way. Literature would mean nothing if it didn’t in some way echo truth.
Sometimes it takes me a while to argue these things properly, but I think the evidence is all around us. I know I definitely wouldn’t be the person I am today without books. They’ve been such a big influence on how I grew up and how I think even now that I have no idea what kind of person I would be if I didn’t love reading. And – this is a feeling I don’t think I’ll bother articulating – I have to believe I’m a better person than I would have been otherwise.
The reflections that give rise to this kind of thought are one of the reasons I love discussing literature. I wish more people would talk about these things. I wish more people could see what stories do for us. Until then, I will continue the conversations. I hope whoever reads this will, too.