January 30, 2015

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In a recent interview with Artur Rosman, Christian writer Gregory Wolfe discussed why many modern authors”€”specifically those who write Catholic literature”€”tend to whisper rather than shout, like their predecessors did. This humility isn”€™t exclusive to religious writers. Wolfe contends: “€œ[P]ostmodernism questions any and all master narratives, favoring smaller-scale, intimate stories over epics and dramas.”€ According to Wolfe, the loss of ambitious plotlines is due to “€œsecularism, pluralism, and hedonism.”€

I don”€™t know enough about literature to say if the art has lost its edge. But I know that small stories can still unveil moral lessons. There is a sense of duty in Binx Bolling’s small-town life. Mr. Edward Ives”€™ spiritual vision and path to forgiveness are not diminished by his humbleness. Even the barbaric Stanley Kowalski believed in a social code. These men aren”€™t Dante Alighieri or Odysseus; they don”€™t slay monsters or transverse all of God’s reality. But their tales are microcosms of real life.

Stories make sense of the world in a way that science and deep thinking can”€™t achieve. What’s more engrossing: a textbook explaining Einstein’s theory of relativity, or watching the film Interstellar? Would you rather read a 50-page white paper on public policy, or a touching anecdote? And what peer-reviewed scientific study can compete with the Bible in describing human fallibility and a well-ordered life?

“€¨With progressives increasingly converting to the cult of scientism, it’s more important than ever that conservatives leverage stories to make their case for liberty and limited government. For too long, the left has dominated the practice of speaking to the heart. It wouldn”€™t hurt to take a shot at the narrative instead of the lecture. Conservatives can”€™t do any worse.


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