So authors are gathering in Cheltenham for the Literary Festival, hoping to entice us into buying their new books. Last night I heard Vince Cable and Stanley Johnson talking about their Brexit novels, and as we left we began to wonder if there is still a place for the political novel in a social media-driven world.
Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites are sources of immediate news, whether personal, local, national and global. They share immediate impressions, un-nuanced emotions and initial responses. Time is needed before news can be weighed and assessed, and most of us don’t use social media in that way.
Blogs and editorials allow more scope to reflect on the bigger picture and the better question, but even they do not often have the distance in time and vision to allow for a considered view to develop. It takes time to take in a vista, to look for patterns and themes, to sort the fake news from the actions and trends which are going to affect our lives in the longer term.
In fact, I believe it takes novels to bring that task to fruition. Only when we can transport the immediate into a more creative distance, and sort many truthes into THE truth, is it possible to reflect on where we have been, and where we are going. Stories help us to grasp that there are more possibilities beyond what our eyes can see. And in all of that, to find out where God has gone before us, and beckons us to follow.