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Thread: realism, short stories, and worldview

  1. #1
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    I'm asking this b/c I know it will come up in discussion with my Rhetoric boys. Can a writer with a Christian worldview write in the realistic mode and still be faithful to his worldview? One of the weaknesses pointed out about the realistic mode is that it ignores the most real thing of all. However, some stories are simply created to delight and not to teach about ultimate realities. Not every story (especially the short stories we're currently discussing) has time to deal with themes of ultimate reality. The teacher's notes say that an author will always write out of his worldview, but I don't THINK you mean to say that the author's worldview will always be conveyed in his writing. Obviously a Christian author's stories won't be opposed to a Christian worldview, but do you believe that they must somehow expose his beliefs about ultimate realities?
    Thanks,
    Bonnie

  2. #2
    Hi Bonnie! What a great question. :-) Here are a few thoughts for you---hope they help you process the question!

    1. You ask, "Can a writer with a Christian worldview write in the realistic mode and still be faithful to his worldview?" I think the answer to that is an emphatic "Yes"---the novel Crime and Punishment is my favorite example. That book has all the typical style characteristics and other trappings of the realistic mode, but it is centered squarely on the problem of a man's relationship with God.

    2. You point out that "some stories are simply created to delight and not to teach about ultimate realities." I think this is certainly true---my favorite example here is Winnie the Pooh! However, I think it is also true that every author does affirm SOMETHING about reality, morality, and (or) values through his story, even if it be a trivial or commonplace observation. The merest fluff novel still typically affirms (or denies) something (such as "friendship is good" or "loyalty is valuable" or "being angry really will get you into trouble").

    3. You ask (if I may paraphrase), "Does an author's beliefs, especially about ultimate realities, ALWAYS come out through his writing?" Jane Austen is one author whose attitude towards God (surely the ultimate reality!), for instance, is hard to determine simply by reading Pride and Prejudice. So, I thoroughly agree with you that not all of an author's worldview will always come out (though a Christian author's worldview, insofar as it comes out in his book, should in no way contradict Scripture), and often the author will not address the "ultimate realities" because their purpose is to please, not to ponder (or not to ponder Ultimate Things). And there's nothing really wrong with that, in my opinion, though traditionally the more a book DOES ponder some of the deeper realities, the more it is considered great literature. Pride and Prejudice, which addresses some of the deep realities of human pride in its effects on human relationships, is nevertheless not considered as "great" as Paradise Lost, which considers the ULTIMATE realities of what God says about pride, how it offends Him, and how He provides ways for it to be abolished in our lives.

    What a great question! Thanks for letting me consider it with you. :-) I hope some of these ideas help! Please let me know...?

    Christy Somerville
    Staff Author
    Director for Rhetoric Literature
    Lampstand Press

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