Fiction is one of the most powerful forces in our world today.
Through story, we can walk a mile in
another person’s shoes. Through story, we gain words and images to explain our emotions. Through story, we see truth moved from the abstract to the concrete. Through
story, we realize we aren't alone in in the
world. As novelist John Olson puts it, “Story gives
us a glimpse of the reality we can’t see because we’re so distracted by the
fantasy of our lives.”
Yet it seems like many of us don’t utilize the power of fiction
to its maximum. Some fear it and never give it a place in their lives. But more
often, we become stuck in a rut, only reading one or two genres.
Why do we get stuck in a rut? I think largely this has to
do with our heart holes. For humans are fallen beings. We were designed to be
perfect, but when Adam and Eve sinned, a huge void was opened up within the
human heart. Things we were created to experience and feel and do were lost,
and whether we acknowledge their existence or not, we sense the gaps keenly.
Genres help us to deal with those gaps. Why? Because genres
result from the consistent use of certain elements. Those elements are used
consistently because they evoke a specific response. They evoke that specific
response time after time because they touch on one of those gaps, one of those
heart holes Therefore, when we favor one genre over another, it is often
because we feel more keenly the heart hole which that genre helps heal.
Therefore, by understanding literary genres, we better
understand ourselves and what we crave. More than that, by reading a variety literary genres we broaden our perspective of ourselves
and of our world around us, enabling us to better understand other people and
what they desire, which in turn helps us to serve them better with compassion.
So over the next few week we'll be looking at the most prominent fiction genres--their characteristics,
their benefits, their drawbacks, and the heart holes they address