The importance of Scripture, literature, and cartoons
I am writing a prisoner (I will call him John) at this time whom I have only written four letters. He is very intelligent and a good writer as well. He also loves reading. Today he shared with me the title of a book he is reading called ‘Sacred Romance’. The author when talking about the stories in the Old Testament brings to light how epic it is. There are villains, heroes, tragedy, and humor and in the end, the good guy wins. I thought that interesting. I related to him about an article I read many years ago where the author (forgot his name) talked about the happenings related in the bible to the Jewish people is, in fact, an autobiography of all of our lives and how God works with us. For instance, the 40 years in the desert wandering around aimlessly can bring to light aspects of our lives or periods in our lives where we felt like we were going nowhere. Or the betrayals and injustices experienced, and of course in the end death. I also found that intriguing and helpful.
John also mentioned stories, fairy tales and fantasy that can also be found helpful in growing in understanding about our lives and what it is all about. I have found that to be true. Many people do not like to read fiction because they will say “that it is not real”. I don’t agree. Stories even if fiction can tell us much about life and teach us how either not to react or how to respond to the many trails all of us have to go through. If one is conscious of that fact then the stories, fables, and fairy tales can reach us on a deeper level.
Below is my response to what he wrote about:
“Interesting book that you read the “Sacred Romance”. One author also wrote on the bible being an autobiography of each of us as we make our pilgrimage through life. When you think about it, both can fit into giving meaning and understanding to our lives. I guess all stories do that to one degree or another. Fairy tales come to mind, Grimm’s to be exact. They are filled with struggle, evil and good and do not always have a happy ending, yet all of them give hope.
Like when we feel that we are in the desert, with no path that we can see, yet if we are faithful we can feel the living water coming out of the dry rock. Also, the Lord allows us to reap the fruits when we rebel out of love to draw us back to Himself.
I think cartoons can be important as well. They are more often than many suspect a look at the human condition in a compassionate manner. One of my favorites is ‘Calvin and Hobbes’. I have from the ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ collection, three books that I have read many times. I let them rest in my bookcase for six months and when I read them again, just as fresh and as funny as the first time. I guess many see themselves in the characters. I remember the strip “Kathy”….a woman who had many, many, ‘Issues’ and all of her friends seem to have them as well. Very funny as well as empathetic from the authors' point of view. “Keeping up appearances” is truly a funny show, yet in real life, it would be truly tragic. Yes, we need humor. I find the book of ‘Jonah’ very comical. Every time we read it in church I find myself chuckling over his response to his call and his temper tantrums, and how God dealt with him. The same way he dealt with the people of Nineveh, with compassion and love.”
Reading is such a joy and it opens up ways of thinking that we may not have thought possible before. I believe that when we read certain writers, no matter the subject when they speak to us, they are in reality bringing to light ‘truths’ that we already know, but never knew how to speak. I guess when we read books that make us struggle to understand are the ones that give us new paths to explore and to help expand our understanding of life. To understand the inner workings of ourselves and by that of others as well, allows us to be able to listen more deeply and to not have the compulsion to judge. We can do this because we have grown to a lesser or greater degree of self-knowledge that does not lead to self-hatred, but love and compassion for ourselves and then for others.
As a Christian, I do believe that the Scriptures are a window into seeing the world in a Godlier manner. However, there are other books that do that sometimes in a more powerful way because they are written in a manner easier for us to understand. Yet a firm foundation in the Scriptures especially the New Testament for Christians is essential. We need a place to stand from, a place to be able to make sense out of life. Our faith can do that, gives us the means wherein we do not have to flee from pain and suffering, but walk through it, knowing we are not alone, ever. Some reject this thinking it wishful and childish, yet personal experience for the one who experiences God’s love in his or her life, says otherwise.