Homespun Research and the Heart of Reading

Happy Friday to you all!  It is March 1 and I have the privilege to once again write something (hopefully intelligent or at least maybe witty) to you every Friday for this month.

I have been doing some reading…I know, it is a dangerous thing to do.

Most notably, I have recently reread C. S. Lewis’s Four Loves and Dorothy Sayers’s Mind of the Maker.   These are two fantastic books one is about the four basic kinds of love (yeah, that was sort of a giveaway) and the other about creativity as a reflection of our Divine Maker.  Both of these books for very different reasons have me thinking on the notion of the reader and the process of reading, which leads me  to another of Lewis’s books, An Experiment in Criticism.  

I hope to take you on a little wandering through my thoughts as I ruminate on these books and the effect they have on my perspective of reading, literature, and the heart of the reader.  

My journey towards this topic commenced shortly after graduation, when I started to miss school. (I know I’m not entirely sane).  Before grad school, I would of told you, “I don’t read nonfiction.”  I suppose it is because most of the time people recommended nonfiction books that did not appeal to me or were on topics I was not interested in.  Truth be told, I was more interested in escaping my reality then learning about how I was viewing my reality through the books I was reading. But as a longing for learning crept into my heart again, I begin to do research on the topics I loved best – fairy tales and fantasy.  This homespun research opened the door to a fantastical world of discussing the topics I loved best and all the while I was shaping my understanding of reading and why reading/stories are important.

My initial research into fairy tale criticism was entirely from a secular perspective.  I looked up the best critics who saw the world through the lenses of Marxism, feminism, psycho-analyticalism, and most importantly atheism – well if they weren’t atheists, they held to an agnostic position that discredited the existence of any god(s).    Though these critics were not necessarily bad at what they do, as a Christian, I had to filter what they said.  I had to suspend my beliefs and biases in order to follow their arguments.  This was a good exercise in critical thinking, as Lewis describes in An Experiment in Criticism. 

However, such intellectual exercise is exhausting if you aren’t filling your mind with what you actually do believe, which is why I have found Lewis and Sayers so refreshing.  They discuss my favorite topics but from a biblical perspective.  They confront the issues of the secular critics and give strength to the Christian biblical worldview.  Therefore, their writings make it possible to read the critics and stay informed but not become lost or disillusioned by them.  For a good reader is a well informed reader; a good reader is one who does not just escape from reality, but when escaping into a book takes his/her biblical worldview with him/her; a good reader reads.

Until next time…and more of my meanderings…Happy reading!

On a side note (but rather important), if you are looking for some good nonfiction such as the books mentioned above, may I suggest  Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Donald Williams’ newest book from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.

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About LizzyBeth

There is a Story inside of me that I must give a voice. I write so that imagination can take me to Faerie and I can catch a glimpse of the Otherworld and hopefully so will you.

Posted on March 1, 2013, in Authors, C. S. Lewis, Dorothy Sayers, Lantern Hollow Press Authors, Literary Criticism, Rachel Burkholder and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Rachel has excellent taste in nonfiction books–and that’s not a fiction!

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