An Open Letter on the Power of Fiction

Some years ago, my wife left, moved in with one of my best friends (insert country song of choice for theme music here) and tried to take my son from me as well. In that last part she failed, and I thank God for that often, although not as often as I should. Following my divorce I also had some career “hiccups” which knocked me around a bit, lost most of the “friends” I had when married, and even had to change church congregations. In other words, my life was quite the mess.

I continued on, however, mostly for the sake of my son. Now it is a fine thing to be sacrificial for one’s children, but that should not be our primary motivation. Rather, my first reason for carrying on needed to be to serve God, and all other considerations must be subsumed into that one.

So I continued on, although my outlook was often bleak and much of the color seemed drained from life. Now, at this point, I should mention that I have always been an avid reader, which is perhaps no surprise from someone who writes, however poorly. As a youth I had greatly enjoyed both science fiction and fantasy, genres I had enjoyed up until my early college years. As I grew older, however, I felt I should put those away as childish things, and move on to more “adult” literature (no, not that kind, if you are thinking anything prurient). While I still read, and often with enjoyment, it was not with the same sense of wonder I had experienced when younger.

Then along came the “Sad Puppies” campaign. IYKYK. My interest was peaked, and I picked up a few novels by John C. Wright. The following is an excerpt from a letter I recently wrote to him on his own blog:

Dear Mr. Wright,
I have wanted to say this for some time, but I have neglected to do so, so please accept my apologies.
Nine years ago I went through the hardest time in my life. I lost my wife, and nearly my son. As I saw my family collapse I was at an absolute nadir emotionally and spiritually. For some time afterward I felt adrift and aimless, even as I tried to salvage as much normality as I could for my son.
Then along came the Sad Puppies, and simply on a lark I picked up one of your books. I had greatly enjoyed fantasy and science fiction in my youth, but as I aged I had put them away as childish things. The first books of yours I read was the “Orphans of Chaos” series, then “The Golden Transcendence” and next, my personal favorite, “The War of the Dreaming”. As I read the adventures of Galen Waylock it was as if a mist lifted from my mind’s eye, if you will. I am reminded of Gandalf’s quote, ” I have forgotten much that I thought I knew, and learned again much that I had forgotten.”
I remembered hope and forgot despair. I have read much more of your writing since, and have never been disappointed. When you are at your best I often cannot tell whether I am reading your work or Gene Wolfe, who, by the way I also came to find indirectly through your writing.

Mr. Wright was, at one time, an atheist. In what has to be the most hilarious conversion story I have ever heard, however, he accepted and obeyed Christ. I should say the hilarious part is not that he suffered a heart attack; it is rather, that his wife, a devout Christian Scientist who had long sought his conversion, summoned a Christian scientist preacher to pray for him. Mr. Wright made a miraculous recovery, after engaging in a conversation with Mary the mother of Christ. He explained to his wife that he was now a believer and intended to convert, to her great joy. He then became a Roman Catholic, much to her…. surprise? Mr. Wright can, of course, tell the story much better and in greater detail, and I encourage you to read his record of it at length, as well as any of his other writings you can get your hands on.

All of which is to say that I remembered hope when I listened for it. Our best tales, our best fiction, is a reflection of the struggle we must all face, but with heroic action. The line between good and evil does indeed run down the middle of each of our hearts; and when I see Roe overturned and states outlawing abortion, I cannot help but think “Aslan is on the move.” When I read of a young mother in Texas who decided to give birth to twins, marry the father, and now work towards building a whole family, I cannot help but remember a humble hobbit wondering how anyone so small could make a difference. When I see a Supreme Court Justice who has endured slanders, threats and trials innumerable, yet stands firm after over thirty years’ battles to protect the innocent and uphold justice, I cannot help but think of one tired old wizard, weary after centuries, rallying the men of Gondor to defend their people.

So read Mr. Wright’s books, and Tolkien, and Lewis, and all those who wrote, and still write, tales of adventure against evil, hope against all odds, faith against darkness, and love triumphant over all. And when you read, remember that this is your story also, for each of us is even now choosing what side we stand with. We do not know how much longer the battle will last, but we know who will win. Stand fast.

Enjoy the read, and by all means bookmark this site:

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