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Buechner on faith and fiction

“In fiction, as in faith, something from outside ourselves is breathed into us if we’re lucky and if we’re open enough to inhale it.  I think writers of religious fiction have to stay open in that way.  They’ve got to play their hunches more and take risks more.  They shouldn’t try to keep too tight a rein on what they’re doing.  They should be willing to be less professional and less literary and to be more eccentric and more antic and more disheveled.”

So said Frederick Buechner, author of a couple of my favorite novels, Brendan and Godric.  I love the quote because it gives me courage to keep writing the stories that have grabbed my heart.

But I also love the quote as a reader.  When I read fiction, something from outside myself is breathed into me if I’m lucky and if I’m open enough to inhale it.

I’ll read with discernment.  If the fumes are noxious, I’ll close the book.  But I’m glad I wasn’t bent on keeping my reading choices squeaky-clean and safe for a twelve-year-old when I read Brendan and Godric.  They get just a bit earthy sometimes, but they still carry the fragrance of heaven.

I’m thankful for my freedom as a Christian. How about you?

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Categorized: books , fiction
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