Many stories seem to want to do more than tell an exciting story. For lack of a better phrase, they "have something to say"--above characters and plots they want to make a point about something. Sometimes they have points to make about human relationships and human nature. Others have a moral to the story, like "Crime Doesn't Pay." And still others incorporate a social commentary into the story.
I am interested in everyone's take on this. How important do you consider these elements? Do you like them?
When reading, do such things distract you, or do they add to the story? What are some common and uncommon themes that you've read?
When writing, how conspicuous do you make them? How conscious are you of their part in your writing?