Saturday, December 11, 2010

Imperfect stories

I went to see the new Narnia movie tonight.  It was a good show--ok characterization, ok pace of action, etc.  But all of the richness of the spiritual connotations was replaced with humanistic philosophy--basically, you can make yourself better and better.  So that was a disappointment.

They kept the conversation with Aslan and Lucy at the end, though, where Lucy is asking if she'll ever see him again.  Aslan responds that he's known by another name in her world, and she has to get to know him by that name there.  And he says something about how she had all these experiences in Narnia so that she would better be able to recognize him in that world.

And how many of us, as children, read those books and allowed the view of Aslan to affect the view that we had of God? 

It's a little scary to me, actually, especially now that I'm writing fiction.  There are lots of ways that we portray God in the world, especially if we are claiming the name of Christ.  There are lots of ways that we can screw up how people think about God; there are lots of way that we can harm their willingness or ability to hear from or about him.  So I guess that story telling isn't any different.

And yet if my assumption that storytelling is powerful, maybe more powerful than making claims or statements, then it's really important to be careful of the stories we tell.  The way we frame those stories, the way we understand how God interacted in those stories has a great impact on what we're communicating about him.

I've been thinking about this too as I go through a children's storybook Bible in the evenings.  There are so many ways that our theology or background affect how we read the stories.  You can sometimes guess at the perspective of the story-writers based on what they leave out or how they frame things.

Imperfect people reflect the image of God imperfectly.  We also tell imperfect stories.  But I think it's important that we be reflecting and story-telling anyway.  So I'm going to keep on telling mine.  But I'm also going to keep praying that God will lead and guide my words and protect others from the damage that my imperfect stories could cause.

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