"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

14 January 2006

"A Stay Against Confusion"

I haven't a great deal of time to write coherently these days (as is perhaps evident in my last couple of pieces!), but I've been reading Ron Hansen's collection of essays on faith and fiction entitled A Stay Against Confusion. It's often arresting, always interesting. I'd like to share a series of quotations from the first three essays on fiction as food for thought.

We look to fiction for self-understanding, for analogies of encounter, discovery, and decision that will help us contemplate and change our lives.

A faith-inspired fiction has a fondness for humanity and finds cause for celebration in the beauties of the natural world. A faith-inspired fiction is ever aware that we are on holy ground.

A faith-inspired fiction is, as Anthony DeMello has said of story, the shortest distance between human understanding and truth.

Writing with faith is a form of praying.

We figure out our own lives through fiction.

Paraphrasing Willa Cather: the greatness [of truly great writers] was not in the formal features of their writing but in the salutary effect their stories have on our hearts and minds.

He notes that John Gardner has said that writers see more connections than other people tend to do, and adds I finally think our need for stories is our need to find those connections, and to have confirmed for us the theology we hold secret in our heart, that even the least of us are necessary to the great universal plot in ways we hadn't imagined.


Cindy said...

Ok, so today was your turn to post something that speaks startlingly to where I'm at on something I've only spoken to Great Scott about and even then only skimminly.

Sometimes God kinda blows me right out of the water, you know? :)

Megan said...

Learning to find those connections seems to be a frightening, beautiful series of lessons.

alaiyo said...

LuCindy -- He has a way of doing that, doesn't He? :)

Megan -- "frightening [and] beautiful" -- indeed. A call we dare not turn away from.