Fiction: the Old/New Tool of Evangelization

Raymond Arroyo, a New York Times bestselling author and journalist, visited Benedictine on April 17. Courtesy Will Wilder Press.

By Ivy Mackey, The Circuit.

Stories are one of the oldest forms of transmitting knowledge, but today, this form appears to be underutilized. On April 17, Raymond Arroyo, a New York Times bestselling author and journalist, presented a talk called “How Fiction Can Save Our Culture and Renew the Church” in the Ferrell Academic Center at Benedictine College.

Sponsored by the Convocation & Arts Committee and the Gregorian Institute, Arroyo spoke of how fiction is a powerful tool in the realm of evangelization.

“Fiction is a lens through which we see the world,” Arroyo said. Arroyo went on to explain how Jesus used parables to teach the truth in an understandable context, and that evangelizers today need to incorporate this more often.

As the author of Mother Angelica’s biography and the Will Wilder series—about a twelve-year old boy in search of relics—Arroyo understands the influence stories have over people, particularly children.

“Writing children’s literature has really sensitized me to the power of stories,” Arroyo said, explaining how when parents stop telling good stories to their children, the children will look elsewhere for answers. Oftentimes, these children will end up finding answers in the wrong places.

Speaking specifically to potential writers, Arroyo advised not to sugarcoat (words of wisdom he got from Mother Angelica herself) or tell the audience what to think. He said that if you want to write a good Catholic novel, just live your life as a good Catholic and your faith will show through the story.

“People do not like to be preached to, you have to let the reader do some of the work,” said Ben Sonnek, a junior English major.

Having been invited by Dr. Steven Mirarchi in the English Department, Sonnek was pleased with Arroyo’s unique perspective and the theme of how actual literature can help save the world.

Overall, Arroyo’s talk was met with positive feedback and much enthusiasm. Sonnek commented on how Arroyo made sure the audience was engaged throughout the night.

The talk concluded with Arroyo signing copies of his Will Wilder books. The following morning, Arroyo gave a similar talk that was targeted more for young readers, though there were a small number of Benedictine students in attendance as well.

For more information, contact Raymond Arroyo at www.raymondarroyo.com.