May 3, 2012

Why Christians Should Read Literature

Many Christians wonder whether reading fiction is a good use of time. In an interview with Tim Challies, Russell Moore, the Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice-President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, discusses the benefits, possible dangers, morality, and responsibility of reading fictional literature.

Here are some of the benefits Moore sees of reading literature:
  • "Fiction helps to shape and hone . . . the moral imagination."
  • "Fiction can sometimes, like Nathan the prophet’s story of the ewe lamb, awaken parts of us that we have calloused over, due to ignorance or laziness or inattention or sin."
  • "Fiction helps the Christian to learn to speak in ways that can navigate between the boring abstract and the irrelevant mundane."
  • Fiction teaches empathy
  • Fiction is "rooted in an endlessly creative God who has chosen to be imaged by human beings who create."
Moore also shares his personal guidelines for whether or not to read a book that might contain objectionable material, and muses on the difference between literature and mere fiction.

Challies asks Moore to recommend a few contemporary novels. Moore's first and highest recommendation is for A Confederacy of Dunces. On his recommendation, and in spite of the hideous cover art, I downloaded it for my kindle. Happy reading!

Read the whole interview here.

A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole


  1. Hey so would did you think of the book, Confederacy....? I checked it out the library also on Moore's recommendation. Just finished it last night.

  2. Hi Scott. I'm almost done with Confederacy of Dunces. I need to finish it before saying anything definite about the book as a whole, but I am enjoying the (admittedly crude) humor and the way that all the characters and events are being brought together. I'll write more later. Would love to hear your thoughts.


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