keep it light

Last night I took along a collection of Spurgeon’s writings on death, so I’d have something to read while I waited for my son’s band concert to begin. I forgot how much I enjoyed Spurgeon’s style. Even when his theological conclusions are wrong–such as death for the Christian is actually a cure–his homespun illustrations are so powerful that they almost persuade me anyway. I think that preachers should periodically read Spurgeon’s sermons, if for no other reason than to be inspired with the possibilities of a good illustration and the importance of frequent application throughout their sermons. 

Spurgeon also took frequent rabbit trails, and at one point in a sermon on death he mentioned how people were always sending him fiction books to review. He said that he didn’t have time to read the sad ones, as there was too much sadness in the world already. That made me feel better, because I have never liked to watch serious movies–the kind that win Oscars. I think that my life is serious enough, and on those rare occasions when I watch a movie, I want to be entertained rather than burdened. I make exceptions of course, for movies such as “Saving Private Ryan,” “Schindler’s List,” and “Seriously, I Really Know What You Did Last Summer,” but in general I would rather use fiction as a means of escape. If that makes me a shallow person, then I’m as shallow as Spurgeon. Here’s his quote:

“Story books are sent me to review, and when I perceive that they contain harrowing tales of poverty, I make short work of them. I see quite enough of sorrow in real life, I do not need fiction to fret my heart. If men and women must write books of fiction at all, they might as well write cheerfully, and not break people’s hearts over mere fabrications. If I must weep, let it be over an actual grief, and not over a painted affliction.”

4 Comments

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  1. Hey, they can’t all be Powerman & Mosquitoboy.

  2. Not that light!

  3. Somebody once said that reading stories of fictional characters helps us extend our sympathies toward real people, if they resemble the characters we know and like from fiction. If you already possess sympathies for people unlike yourself, then the defensible values of fiction are largely aesthetic: stories are about beauty, escape, it’s delight. So maybe you and Spurgeon aren’t shallow, Dr. Wittmer — you’re just getting your moral encouragement elsewhere.

    Looking forward to your new writing project, by the way. Any chance you’ll rewrite the content as a Tolkienesque legend?😉

  4. I’m the same way about “serious” literature. Most of it is too depressing for me. Glad I’m not alone!

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