Reading novels, reading the Bible

/ 29 August 2009

Julia O’Brien has a lovely reflection up about how reading fiction nourishes her reading of the Bible:

Fiction changes my thinking just as non-fiction does, but in a different way. I always finish a novel having learned new information, but more importantly I leave moved in some way. My spirit/soul/self has been led from one place to another. Standing in a new place, I see myself and my world differently than I did before I turned the first page. Novels leave me with moods, attititudes, ah-ha moments.


But, if loving literature is wrong, I don’t want to be right. In fact, what I really want is more literature. I want to read more novels, and I want to read the Bible more as the literature it is and less as a collection of facts, instructions, and propositions. I want to talk more about what happens to me when I read biblical narratives—how I change the way I see myself, others, and the world. I want to talk about how reading and rereading the book of Ruth has prodded me to name the religious and gender messages I’ve internalized and reflect on the life experiences that led me to identify myself as a feminist , as well as acknowledge my own social privilege. I want to talk more about how reading novels alongside the Bible makes each one sparkle more brightly.