The Truth In Fiction

In an interview, Will Willimon, a former bishop in the Methodist Church and author of the recent novel Incorporation, explains why he turned to fiction:

I think you can be more truthful. And the truth rendered by fiction is usually a much more textured, rounder truth than the truth available in straight discourse and analytical, philosophical writing. We are, as Luther said, simul justus et peccator. In the church, we believe we are being redeemed. We have been — we are being — redeemed, but not yet. We are not there yet. And in fiction, you can capture that same quality.

It’s no surprise that some of our greatest novelists — Flannery O’Connor, Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene — were Catholics. There is a sacramental quality of fiction, an incarnational quality of fiction, whereby the earthy people, utterly human people, have been in some mysterious way embraced by the divine and become themselves sort of sacramental. We see God through the most mundane and quotidian of devices.