Kingdom Pen Interviews – Philip Yancey

His books had been in our house for years. But it was only a couple of months ago when I really took a closer look at them. After reading What’s So Amazing About Grace?, I was thoroughly convicted, challenged, and more determined to live a grace-filled life. And was also thoroughly captivated with Philip Yancey’s work.  phillipyanceypinterest

I had to read more. But first I wanted to tell him thank you. After contacting him through his website I wrote him a note in the comments section and then had the marvelous idea to get an interview with him!

After gracious months of emailing back and forth here is the wonderful result of the interview!

There is much wisdom to be gained from this seasoned, non-fiction author as his answers are chock full of writing advice!

Kingdom Pen: What is your personal testimony?

Philip Yancey: I’m in the process of writing a memoir, so you’ll get the full story one of these days (or years).  Unlike many testimonies, mine tells of a conversion from the church—from an angry, uptight, racist, legalistic church in the South.  As a Christian and as a writer, I’ve spent my life and career picking over the words and concepts I learned from that church, understanding them anew in the light of grace, and discovering the hidden treasures that were layered over.  I’ve found, sadly, that the church is as likely to turn someone away from God as toward God.  It’s amazing that God would turn over the mission of spreading the Good News to ordinary people like us, as we so often get it wrong. [Read more…]

Is Fiction Inherently Worse Than Nonfiction?

A couple months ago, I came across an article from a semi-popular Christian blogger whom I generally respect in which she was explaining why she no longer read fiction.  While she enjoyed some fiction, as she explained it, nonfiction was simply more applicable to real life because it actually had information on real life, and for that and other reasons related to the lack of morality in a lot of modern fiction, she had simply stopped reading fiction. fictionvsnonfictionpinterest

The idea that non-fiction is inherently better than fiction is hardly an idea that I’ve encountered several times, sometimes by bloggers writing on the internet, and sometimes by other people in my life who don’t understand why I devote as much time to fiction as I do.  Often it’s presented like it was in the article before:

Why read stories about untrue things when instead you could read stories about life how it actually is? 

Within Christian circles, it can sometimes be set as a matter of holiness.  What’s the value in reading a fantasy novel about mythical creatures and ungodly magic , when instead you could be reading a theological work that would be bettering your spiritual life?  But the arguments aren’t always articulated.  Sometimes, people may not raise any verbal objections to fiction—but they show with their actions and reading choices that they simply have no use for fiction in their life because of these reasons.

In this article, I’d like to defend fictional works against the charge that they are less real, less useful, or less transformative than non-fictional works like biography, history, or theology.  While many may read fiction just for enjoyment and without any thought to these categories, the best fiction is the kind that is both enjoyable and useful.  And so, without any further ado, let’s examine the value of fiction.

1. Fiction is as Real as Non-Fiction

This point may seem to be hard-sell at first.  After all, given that non-fiction is about the world as it actually is, how could fiction be just as real under these categories?  To be sure, if we’re defining ‘real’ as giving us propositional truths about the world that we live in, fiction can’t win in that race.  However, this prompts the question about what is truly real.

Many today believe that the physical world is the most real world that we have.  However, this is a rather novel development in the scope of human history.  While they have disagreed about the nature of the spiritual world, most philosophers and theologians before the 1600’s tended to believe that there was a spiritual world that was more real than the physical world that we live in.  In other words, there are eternal concepts such as justice, goodness, or beauty that are more real than the individual cases we often see of them on the earth.

This is what led Aristotle, a Greek philosopher living over 2,000 years ago, to argue that literature (or poetry, as it was known back then) was closer to reality than the world we lived in.  In his Poetics, he argued that

“Poetry is more philosophical and more significant than history, for poetry is more concerned with the universal, and history more with the individual.”

[Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here as he works toward achieving these goals.

KP Book Review: The Christian Imagination

by Leland Ryken

Looking for a book that takes a deep look into how our Christian faith should integrate into our practice of writing?  I read this book two years ago and it has already become pretty much my go-to source on the different questions that I wrestle with concerning this topic. ChristianImagination

In this book, Ryken has put together a collection of essays that address many different aspects of writing: from what a Christian philosophy of literature is, to why Christian fiction can become weak, to how Christians should portray evil, and even how to write good poetry.  Each of the ten parts of the book have several long essays on the given topic, a couple shorter parts of longer essays, and most also end with a collection of quotes from different writers concerning the topic, leading to a look at these issues that manages to be both wide and deep. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here as he works toward achieving these goals.