Thursday, November 8, 2007

What's Your Story?

Stories as Spiritual Practice
Sojourners Magazine
November 2007

Since the only thing I love more than telling a good story is hearing one, imagine my delight when I received the current issue of Sojourners and saw that it is a special issue dedicated to books and theater. It contains great children's book suggestions for kids of all ages. I have long been intrigued by the use of stories to communicate the faith to our children, and also their critical role in the development of relationships between human beings. Some of you may remember that I wrote a paper for my D.Min. degree several years ago on the use of narrative to build empathy - the topic and the practice continue to fascinate me. Hearing one another's stories - across barriers of culture, nation, race, and any other divider we can think of - may be our best hope as God's children to learn to live together with our differences. As I mentioned a couple of days ago, one cannot read a Khaled Hosseini novel and continue to demonize all Afghan people. That is the power of a good story. Fiction or not, a story does not have to be literally true to communicate some of the most profound truths that exist.

Associate Editor of Sojourners Molly Marsh challenges us to open our minds to the power of story in her editorial column. She writes the following:

"The simple settings and characters of Jesus' stories helped direct listeners to the truth that lay underneath. The alternate world Jesus came to reveal was so radical, so unlike what his listeners-then and now-understood to be real, that his stories, with their unexpected plot twists, surprising language, and elements of mystery, helped uncover what had previously been hidden. Whether they are collected in books or enacted in front of us, many stories still perform that function. Through language, setting, and characters, authors and playwrights entertain and educate us, puncture our illusions, and surprise us with new perspectives. They can help us see more clearly both the world we inhabit and the world Jesus calls us to help create."

Molly Marsh also encourages us to nurture our imaginations, saying that "Minds and spirits that are open to imagining the world Jesus came to bring-and our place in it-also get us one step closer to realizing it."

Walter Brueggemann once wrote "Faithful imagination is more important than dominant technique." Those words have stuck with me. We all have an opportunity to create better stories than the ones the world is telling right now. We can model alternative stories to the ones we hear on the news of wars, killings, and wacko celebrity moms. So . . . post a good story of kindness or reconciliation or faithfulness or truth telling on this blog and spread the word!

Reverent Reader


At 11/9/07, 9:37 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a test...Betsy

At 11/9/07, 9:58 AM , Blogger Reverent Reader said...

Hey there, Betsy, you came through just fine!

At 11/10/07, 11:20 AM , Blogger Timothy Carter said...

Interesting blog. As an author, I'm always happy to find people who like books. Perhaps you'll check out my YA novel, Epoch, at some point?

Well, an author can hope.

At 11/10/07, 12:32 PM , Blogger Reverent Reader said...

Hi Timothy Carter -

Thanks for writing - I would love to read "Epoch." Will see if I can get my hands on a copy. Would love to hear any other recommendations you may have.


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