Pennington and Ryken on reading narrative

“‘A literary narrative… is primarily interested in getting us to relive an experience, not [merely] to grasp an idea.’ Thus, a good story (such as we have in the Gospels) resists our impulse to merely reduce the story to abstract propositions, while inviting us to relive and enter the experiences presented. A literary text ‘invites us to enter a whole world of imagination and to live in that world before we move beyond it.’

When we analyze stories without experiencing them, or if we approach them only on a nugget-hunting search for the truths buried there, we undercut the essence of the genre of the story itself. To reduce a story to its ‘ideational content is to rob [it of its] power, distort its true nature, and make it finally unnecessary. If the ideas are the important thing in a work of art [or story], we obviously do not need the work itself once we have deduced the ideas.’”


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