Can Literature Shape Character???

Posted: February 22, 2017 in World On The Edge


I have been changed by books I’ve read, and I’ll bet you have, too. I’ve thought about the characters and their motives, their place in time and how that affected them. I’ve wondered about the author’s reason for creating a certain character, and what he/she wants the character to impart to the reader.  All  handled by authors who have something very particular to share with readers. And I’ve judged books as by this criteria: Do they speak of the good, truth, and beauty of our world? By this, I don’t mean that the book must be anywhere close to squeaky clean. Sometimes these things are only apparent when a story accents the lack of them.

Story comes from Christ himself–history is His story.  Christ teaches through stories, through fiction, such as  The Prodigal Son. A work of art, a story told by Jesus Christ. We see something of ourselves in the story, either in the forgiving father or the wayward son. Something that moves us, even changes us.

The evangelizing power of literature has been sanctioned by Jesus, himself–Joseph Pearce.

Joseph Pearce (born 1961) is an English-born writer, and as of 2014 Director of the Center for Faith and Culture at Aquinas College in Nashville, Tennessee. Previously he had comparable positions, from 2012–2014 at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, New Hampshire, from 2001–2004 at Ave Maria College in Ypsilanti, Michigan and from 2004–2012 at Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, Florida. He is known for a number of literary biographies, many of Catholic figures. Formerly aligned with the National Front, a white nationalist political party, he converted to Roman Catholicism in 1989, repudiated his earlier views, and now writes from a Catholic perspective. He is a co-editor of the St. Austin Review and editor-in-chief of Sapientia Press. He also teaches Shakespearian literature for Homeschool Connections, an online Catholic curriculum provider.–Wikipedia

Below is his full talk, “How Literature Shapes the Christian Character.”  It is well-worth hearing–especially for writers–but in case you don’t have time to watch, here are some major points.

First of all, our imagination is the image of God in us as the creator. We are called to be creative. The Christian character can be defined as the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. Even if we don’t do it well, it’s worth doing–in life and in our creative efforts, be that writing or something else.

If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly. G.K. Chesterton

We are given talents by God to be used. God does not remove the gift just because we abuse it. Many times we start doing things badly in order to do it better, but we won’t do it better until we continue doing it badly. Practice makes perfect. So, we must keep creating, keep writing.

Nature is a study for eternity for those so gifted–Tolkien

“The Lord of the Rings” is unadulterated Catholic ideology. God becomes man on the Feast of the Annunciation–same day the ring is found. The ring is synonymous with sin–the person wearing the ring fades, which is the addictive quality of sin.

Certainly NOT comparing myself to Tolkien, but my own writing is based in Catholicism, as well.  My characters may not be Catholic, they may even be enemies of the church, but regardless, they are all human beings, created in God’s image and likeness, living in a world in which God’s presence is infinite, and available to all.


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