When i first began to read, I never considered what “genre” the books that i was reading fell into. Like most people, I initially chose topics that i was interested in and books that looked easy to read. As my reading progressed I was able to quickly pick up a book and determine spiritual awakening movies within the first few pages whether it would appeal to me. This also allowed me to check out books that i probably wouldn’t have otherwise.
It was quite a few years (decades, ALMOST! ) until I really discovered that I was most interested in books that could help me grow spiritually, intellectually and inwardly. I realized that some of the books that i previously enjoyed could be classed as “spiritual fiction”, and most of my favourite movies fell into this category as well. Books like “The Hobbit”, “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant” series, and “A Christmas Carol” I read more than once, prior to my focus on spiritual fiction.
My favourite movies are “Oh, God! “, “Scrooge” with Alastair Sim, “It’s A wonderful Life” and “The Lord Of the Rings” movie trilogy. It probably isn’t a coincidence that i also watch all the Christmas classics still – “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer”, “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas”, “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” and “The Little Drummer Boy”. Probably my two favourite Christmas movies (which are getting hard to find on TV now) are “The Homecoming” based on “The Waltons”, and “An American Christmas Carol” with Henry Winkler. Yes, “Fonzie” starred in a spiritual fiction classic, and if you get a chance it is well worth watching. “The Homecoming” isn’t really spiritual fiction, however since i can’t imagine living the way they did, it might as well be fiction for the majority of us today.
My belief or realization of spirituality probably originated way back when i was a child, watching “The Grinch”, “Rudolph” and “Charlie Brown” in the days leading up to Christmas Eve, and then attending church at midnight with my parents and siblings. When we got home after church, we would sit and read “‘Twas The night Before Christmas” before going to bed. I was too young to realize that all of those stories could be classified as spiritual fiction. I just knew that although some were scary in some places for a little kid, they always made you feel good at the end.
So, back to my title. What does fiction have to do with spirituality? Why does it seem (to me, at least) that the most memorable books and movies dealing with spirituality are mostly fiction? I am sure there are lots of exceptions – true stories that inspire and motivate people to help their fellow man – that cause up to stop and think that perhaps there is “something” or “someone” out there on our side. In my case, my memories originated with cartoon fiction as the main sources of my awakening to spirituality. Although I watched lots of other fiction and other cartoons, I don’t think there are many that i can specifically recall that had a message that i would choose to watch and hear again and again.
Perhaps the single biggest reason for combining fiction with spirituality is to allow you to choose whether to believe or not. It is a way to control the outcome of a lesson in order to get a lasting, powerful impact, particularly for children, in a way that they can understand without all the verbal explanations that would confuse them. Then, as we grow older and advance (or regress? ) to more complicated situations, the explanations also grow with our increased capacity to understand. As a child, I never wanted to watch “Scrooge”, however now I never miss it at this time of year (I bought the VHS version years ago) even though I know the story, the outcome and virtually every line of script.
Had I been made to watch it as a child, I’m sure I wouldn’t look forward to watching it again every year. It is probably also safe to assume that the shows I watch over and over again were originally made to make money, and to capture a specific audience at the time that they were made. I doubt if the creators of “Scrooge” in 1951 ever dreamed that their movie would still be widely viewed and reproduced almost sixty years later. To me, that emphasizes the enormous impact that the fiction component of a spiritual undertaking can have on its success. Was it originally profit that motivated its production? Probably. Did the spiritual message imparted through fiction contribute significantly to its ongoing success? I say yes, as it did to all of the examples I have given above.