Saturday, April 11, 2009


I'm a little too old to have watched Pokemon on cartoons, but I'm not to old to have played Super Smash Brothers on Nintendo 64. There's a Pokemon or two in that game and I think they are hilarious. They waddle around and everytime they take a step they mutter their own names. Peekah. Peekah. Peekah. And then they let it rip: "Pee KAaaaaaaaa CHOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!" And as they perform their massive move 'o' death and destruction lightning descends from heaven to consume their foes.

One second squeaking as they step. The next, screaming demons.


The other night I was telling a good friend how much I admired and envied his ability to tell good stories. I told him if I could have any super power I would choose to be able to tell amazing stories. I got laughed at and one friend said he'd choose to shoot laser beams from his eyes. But I still think telling stories is better because I could tell him a story that scares him into submission or inspires him to fight on my side. I could tell any kind of story I wanted. (And luke, your cop-out answer of "the ability to have any super power at any time I want" doesn't top mine because I would still be better at telling stories. The jack of all trades is master of none!)

This is silly, but I think stories are powerful. Stories can give meaning to mistakes. Stories are the context we live in. Everything that we read, see, smell, hear, or taste--everything we perceive--is inextricable from our interpretation of the world around us. Stories actually shape how we think about the events in our lives.

I'm reading a book about transformational development. There's a quote in it from Lesslie Newbigin, a Catholic bishop from India: "We live in the biblical story as part of the community whose story it is, find in the story the clues to knowing God as his character becomes manifest in the story, and from within that indwelling try to understand and cope with the events of our time and the world about us and so carry the story forward."

That quote reminded me about a conversation I had with some friends recently about our faith. The we talked about innocent people suffering and asked "Is God involved in human suffering? And if so, why does he allow it to happen?" Those are hard questions to answer on my own authority. But I think that this quote offers some helpful insight.

The bible tells a story. It's a story about a world with a great beginning, a big mistake, a curse and crumbling foundation, and a promise of redemption and hope. What Newbigin points out is that God is in the story, yes, and he has a huge personal investment in redeeming the story, but he also gives us a huge a role to play in coping with all the crap that happens in this world.

Finding out how I fit into that story is what's hard. I know it takes a lot of searching and a lot of mistakes. It feels like the time spent trying to figure it out is unfruitful. But if you do "tell yourself into the story" then how much richer will your experience be?

And maybe,


I Dream of Scotland said...

Sam, I want you to know that I wasn't laughing at you. You had a good point.

I was talking with a group of people about God's story, and the way it unfolds. How there is sadness and pain, but that any true and great story requires that. And about how God as the storyteller must tell the pain and deceit as well as the victory.

Plus, I like your beard. Just thought you should know.

luke said...

no no, not jack of all trades--jack of any trade. big difference. by definition of the super power you are the best. booyah. tell that story.

i like your thoughts though. i think sometimes it's really hard to see how you fit into the story, or how your story is shaping up. the times that have more fulfillment tend to be when we see the story? maybe. though of course it's always good to remember the story is much bigger than just our own.

i think it's dangerous trying to tell the story yourself, because then you play with trying to author it in ways--you can't help it. but what is the interplay with forming your own story based on your limited perspective and the guidance of the all-seeing narrator?