Do You Ever Feel Guilty Reading Fiction? by James L. Rubart

Do you ever feel like you should be reading something ‘more spiritual?’ Like the latest bestselling non-fiction title? The one that promises to do your laundry, mow your lawn, and turn the negative way you feel about your snooty neighbor into a gusher of love?

Has anyone ever made you feel bad about reading too much fiction? Don’t let them. Keep reading stories.

The reality is, stories stick with us far longer than five points and two wrap up action steps. Stories embed their way into our soul. And they resurface at times when three bullet points wouldn’t come close to the comfort those stories bring.

(It always cracks me up when I hear of a preacher who says, “Christians shouldn’t be reading fiction! They should be reading the Word, or non-fiction only!” I want to tell them about this man many consider the greatest story teller of all-time named Jesus, but I think my point would go screaming over their head like a rocket.)

I realize some Christian fiction has a high fluff factor, but even in those there are messages of truth and comfort and hope.

Still feel guilty? Then do this. When you finish your next novel, write down two things the stories stirred in you. The truths the story revealed. Then meditate on those truths till you’re finished with your next novel. Then do it again.

)And yes, of course you can do this with one of the CR staff’s novels, are you kidding?)

Do you ever feel guilty reading fiction? Why? And if you do, what do you do to stop feeling that way?

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About James L. Rubart

Husband, Dad, Author, Speaker
This entry was posted in Honored Alumni, James L. Rubart, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Do You Ever Feel Guilty Reading Fiction? by James L. Rubart

  1. Sarah says:

    My husband used to not read at all and now he is reading a ton. His book of choice are the non-fiction ones that help you with all that stuff you listed above. He feels that my fiction books do nothing for me. I have pointed out that they are full of scripture and real life applications on how to deal with everyday situations. He’s unconvinced. Thank-you for writing this and I will be writing down things that impact me in my fiction books from now on!

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  2. I never feel guilty for writing or reading novels, Jim, and no one will change my mind unless God’s going to change His mind. I was called to write fiction, and I know that calling was from God. I’m sorry, but I feel so badly for those who can’t allow a novel to draw them closer to God. So many have helped me in my Christian walk that I feel reading is as vital as attending a worship service. I worship God when I read.

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    • Sarah says:

      I feel the same way. So many good novels have drawn me closer to God. Made my walk with Him more special. I devour novels and won’t ever stop until the Lord calls me home. And then the greatest chapter of my life will unfold!

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    • jimrubart says:

      So agree with you, Hannah. I use scenes from novels often to illustrated a truth to friends and to remind myself of something God has shown me.

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  3. Sarah Goebel says:

    Are you kidding, Jim? How could any preacher tell people they should not read Christian fiction? Like you said, Jesus was the greatest story-teller ever? I am a Christian non-fiction writer as that is the way God has gifted me. However, there is a class at the college where I am enrolled that actually teaches us how to tell stories in order to help communicate the principles and truths found in the Word of God. It is an area I so admire as I am not naturally gifted in it, and I hope to take this class when it becomes available to online students. Storytelling is so powerful for touching people’s lives. So I am on the other side of your posed question. I used to feel insufficient and less than for not having the ability to communicate God’s amazing truths through real-life like fiction stories. I use to feel out of place with my Christian friends when they were discussing a great fiction novel that I had not taken time to read. Then, I came to the conclusion that God uses both the Christian fiction and non-fiction writers for His purposes! No one should feel less than or guilty for writing fiction or non-fiction, and no one should feel guilty for reading either! God has gifted people differently and God has people who need different things. All is good when inspired by Him!

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  4. Iola says:

    This “Christian’s shouldn’t be reading fiction” attitude annoys me, because it is speaking from ignorance.

    First, this attitude seems to assume that all fiction is like 50 Shades of Gray or Da Vinci Code. It’s not. And Christian fiction is especially not like those examples. It is full of true-to-life characters facing real-life problems. Better that we learn from the mistakes of fictional characters than have to learn the lesson for real in our own lives.

    Second, have they read a Christian non-fiction book recently? They are full of ‘illustrations’ that make or reinforce the serious point. Some of these illustrations are from the life of the author or another famous person, some are made up (fiction).

    The days when a family would sit around in the evening and listen to father read a book of sermons is long gone. Writers of non-fiction have learnt from Jesus. Sometimes people don’t learn from being bashed over the head with facts. They have to be shown, and the best way to show is often through a story. Through fiction.

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