Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Is Fiction False?

My wife homeschools our two older boys. Of course this means mailing lists! How these people find out about you, I don't know, but in no time we were receiving catalogs and whatnot related to homeschooling and curriculum.

I just got one catalog from Memoria Press called The Classical Teacher. It pushes classical education like Latin and rhetoric. What was interesting was a little article inside by Martin Cothran called "Is Fiction False?"

He discusses the idea that we can't take all of our information in by just rational/logical means. He argues that fiction not only can speak to the head, but to the heart. A story can put a truth in a context and see how it works out.

A good quote from the article:

I have a friend who regularly asks me to recommend books for him to read. And among the books I recommend are a good dose of fiction, mostly novels. His response is always the same: a grimace, followed by the declaration, "Is that fiction? I just don't read much fiction." My rebuttal has become equally predictable: "Yes, I understand," I say. "In fact, I'm thinking of only breathing out of one lung from now on." Or: "I'm wondering why I need two eyes: I'm thinking of just putting one out." He gets the message: you only limit your understanding if you limit yourself to expository or argumentative writing.

Good thoughts. We can know information, but we don't necessarily know something. ""...By merely assenting to a proposition about something, we have understood it." When fiction places a concept into a situation and sees how it works outside in an experiential realm, we can be more fully impacted by the concept.

So go read some good fiction before the summer days slip away.

Currently reading: (3 non-fiction and 3 fiction)
Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture
Intercessory Prayer
It Takes a Church to Raise a Christian

The Legend of the Firefish
Return of the Guardian King
Shivering World


  1. Good stuff here. I'm currently reading a book you might enjoy (nonfiction): From Homer to Harry Potter. It looks at myth, basically, and it's place in telling truth.

  2. that should be its place. oops.