Monday, February 28, 2011

One Way to Practice Discernment

Since practice is consistent, incremental, hypothetical, and under controlled circumstance, how are we to practice discernment? For life is neither consistent, incremental, or hypothetical; and it’s anything but controlled.

This is where I believe fiction can be a huge benefit to the Christian. Through fiction, we can face the questions of life before we encounter them. This gives us time to think and to search the Scriptures for the appropriate response—something we usually lack in life.

But more than that, fiction meets every requirement of practice:

It is controllable. You can choose when you want to tackle which topics and how much you want to work at that subject.

It is hypothetical. Fiction, by definition, is not real, but it must mirror reality or otherwise no one would read it. This mirroring of reality allows us to vicariously experience and wrestle with question we ourselves may face one day. Fiction gives us the chance to ask beforehand, “What would I do if I were faced with _____________?”

It can be incremental. Because fiction is controllable, we can pace ourselves. Again we have choices about how often we indulge in story or which types of stories we indulge in.

It also can be focused. Discernment is complex with many layers which must all connect when applied to life. But with fiction, we can focus on one layer at a time, whether it’s unraveling your personal limitations or practically applying your skills to a target area like humor.

But most of all, fiction, unlike life, is repeatable. You cannot stop life mid-action or rewind a conversation. But you can reread a book, pause a movie, and dissect accurately a situation portrayed in fiction.

As a result, I believe one of the most practical ways to practice discernment is through fiction.

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