29 August 2019, The Tablet

The story of God

Across the Universe

The story of God

This month found me at the World Science Fiction Convention in Dublin, discussing science, religion and storytelling on panels ranging from asteroids to epistemology.

Why am I so passionate about fantasy and science fiction? When I was a kid I only read books with “facts”, like poor Eustace in C.S. Lewis’ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. But when a creative writing teacher assigned us the Narnia books, I was stunned to discover that my faith was an adventure as exciting as any fantasy story. From them I learned that fantasy could tell a story that was true, better than any mere compilation of facts.

Our philosophy, our ethics, our religion exist in a lived context. Seeing an idea within a story lets us test that idea by relating it to our own daily lives. At the same time, observing deep issues at the remove of a story (especially one set “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”) lets us drop the defensiveness and prejudice that blind us from seeing our own lives clearly. It’s no accident that Jesus taught in parables and not theological discourses. And you remember stories… which is more than you can say about most of the Epistles you hear on a Sunday.

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