It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered... Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. ~Samwise Gamgee
A storyteller, to some extent, always lives with the knowledge that this world is not our home.
We live in several worlds--our own world with its ups and downs, and the worlds of our characters with the problems that they experience. I have lived for five years bearing the burdens of characters I will never meet, in the hope that writing them will bring some good to people I know.
Authors aren't the only ones. Readers have that special connection to fiction as well.
See two bookworms together and one will look sideways and say, "You know that story." And the other bookworm will smile and say, "I know."
It had an impact.
Stories are not the end all. Faithful, dominion-minded relationships with church and family and spouses and parents are the fabric of which society is made, and I don't want to discount or belittle that or put writing fiction on a pedestal of idolatry where it does not belong. But I do wish to try to explain why readers and writers take fictional worlds with such gravity.
Creating fiction is an opportunity to watch God at work. It's like taking a break from tugging on His arm and asking why, and just watching the story unfold. Trusting him to show each step. Looking at the wonder; pausing from analyzing how it all happened and sharing in the breathlessness of what's going to happen next.
Fiction shapes the hope of a people. Not only that, it shapes the love of a people. And to cap it all off, it shapes the remembrance of a people. To shape the remembrance of goodness in the hearts and minds of your circle of friends is no little thing. Therefore it follows that studying the ways books shape our hearts is vital to make sure that our affections are trained rightly. Characters influence people just as much as real life friends, so getting it right and true and God-honoring is no mean business.
The keepers of the stories are the keepers of the hearts of a generation.
Frodo and Sam comforted themselves with stories. The bright flame of heroes who had made it to the end comforted them time and again as they drew closer to Mordor and horrors that their simple hearts had never dreamed existed. In the midst of the great heartache, when they're fighting ultimate good and evil, Sam takes time out of their final climb to kneel down next to Frodo and point up and say, "Do you see that star up there Mr. Frodo?" And then later on, "Do you remember the Shire? They'll be having the first of the strawberries with cream."
Such little, trivial things. Who cares about strawberries and cream and one little star when Sauron is gathering orc armies?
Should we really take time to tell stories when there is homework to finish and careers to settle on and grandparents to care for and sicknesses to heal and foster babies to rescue from abuse?
Of course we should.
It is the stories that remind us of the wonder of God's goodness. The importance of remaining faithful. The reason why we fight. Stories are a form of reminder. A constant preaching to the soul through the lives of others the themes of mercy and forgiveness, grace and redemption, God's mighty power through history, the hope that we have in spite of sickness and pain and fear that Jesus will come again and make all wrongs right.
To remember the grace God has given us in the stars and the strawberries in a world that we have marred so much with sin.
If you know a weaver of tales, or a lover of tales, take time to listen. There's a whole world of heartache and laughter, fierce love and faithful practice behind their artistry. There are rules and a PhD science and tons of dos and donts behind the way your favorite character swings his sword and rides his horse and makes one flesh with his wife. And an urgency to send their message just as great as a teacher feels to teach their class or a parent feels to teach their child.
Storytelling is a gift.
In a world marred by sin sometimes it feels like a broken gift.
But when we gather together the broken pieces, the great Teller of Stories takes the silver shards and melds them together to make them whole.