Tuesday, July 20, 2010

SF and theology...

Just the other day, a friend of mine posted on Facebook a list of fifteen books that would not be forgotten by him because of their influence in his life. He tagged some friends (not me, but I saw it anyway) and told them to do the same. The rules were simple recall fifteen books that would not be forgotten by you, but you had to do it in fifteen minutes. Then post it in your notes and tag other friends so that they could do the same. It is a good enterprise, I think to do such tasks every now and again. I cannot say that this list is the same list I would have written a year ago, nor is it likely that a year from now the list will remain the same. So here is my list in no particular order.

  1. Dune by Frank Herbert
  2. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  3. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
  4. Resident Aliens by Hauerwas and Wilimon
  5. The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky
  6. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and Oliver Relin
  7. The Freedom of a Christian by Martin Luther
  8. The Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov
  9. I,Robot by Asimov
  10. After Virtue by Alisdair MacIntyre
  11. A Canticle for Liebowitz by Walter Miller, Jr.
  12. The Large Catechism by Martin Luther
  13. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
  14. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  15. Batman Knightfall series (a major story arc across the Batman comics in the mid '90s, most of which have been collected into trade paperbacks)
Full disclosure... I specifically left out the Bible and the Lutheran Confessional books, except the Large Catechism on purpose. I think that they are fundamental books (or collection of books as the case truly is) and they inform my reading of just about everything else. I take them as axiomatic. They are part of the fabric upon which these others have been brought into.

With this list though, I am somewhat surprised in some ways, and not at all in others, to see so many SF books here. And for the record I understand SF not as science fiction but more to the point of Speculative Fiction. Speculative fiction asks the questions of human existence often in a different context so that it helps us make sense of our own lives. And I think these books here are so memorable because of their impact in helping me make sense of my own life.

And the best ones do it because they resonate with the story of God's redemption of the world in one through Jesus Christ in one way or another. And good theology goes along the same task, serving the world by explicating and speculating about God's story told primarily through the Bible, so that the gospel might be proclaimed and make sense for the hearers. Theologians are called to an imaginative task. We get to ponder anew what our great God has done, is doing and will yet do.

Next to my bed I have a big stack of SF novels and collections of short stories for my consumption. They used to be the only thing on my reading list. Then it became only theology. I am moving to somewhere in the center, where both are read with great joy.

1 comment:

Phillip said...

My list would overlap quite a bit with yours.