A Call to All Revolutionary Storytellers or Fight the Darkside, Luke! Use the Force!

Have you noticed how hard it’s getting to tell the good guys from the bad guys?

When my son was home for Christmas break, I watched a couple of his action/adventure movies and had to keep asking, “Is that guy on the good side or the bad side?” My son’s answer was often, “It’s complicated. Just keep watching.”

Usually everything got sorted out at the end of the movie but not always.

It’s the same on TV. Many lead characters on shows I love are seriously flawed. Like House, with his nasty disposition and pesky drug addiction. Or Gibbs, on NCIS, who is so wounded by losing his first wife that he’s gone through three others trying to replace her. Or Don Eppes on Numb3rs who is so out of touch with himself he can’t commit to any woman, so he’s restless and searching despite his other accomplishments.

Or the show about the group of men and women who are elected to serve the people but are always discovered to be harboring corrupt personal agendas or hiding immoral lives behind false fronts. No wait, that’s the Evening news and those are political leaders. My bad.

Anyway. The good news about this cultural development is that it is closer to the Biblical model of presenting the story of people’s lives than say, Marcus Welby or Father Knows Best. God always included the faults and flaws of his followers alongside their acts of faith and heroism in Scripture.

For example, we know that Father Israel tricked his brother out of his birthright. We know that Noah had a bit too much of the fruit of the vine one night after the boat landed. We know that Sampson was often ruled by little Sampson. We know Peter panicked when Jesus needed him most. And we know that King David resorted to murder to cover up a spring fling with an alluring neighbor lady.

60 Minutes would have had a field day.

But then, Morley Safer has nothing on God. God is the original investigative reporter.

So, as I said. The good news about this modern development is that it is akin to how God presents the stories of people’s lives; the bad news is the way many of us are reacting to these flawed characters.

Modern man enjoys stories about flawed heroes and ambiguous outcomes because we recognize the deep flaws in our own characters and so we want to see ourselves portrayed sympathetically. We’re moving away from story endings where the “good guy” wins and the “bad guy” gets his due because we’re not so sure which one we are and we’d like to think there’s a little wiggle room for the villain in the end.

It’s our cultural way of saying we recognize that we are all capable of doing wrong – or choosing wrong- or actually being wrong-hearted but rather than hope for change or salvation – we’re going to embrace our dark side, find a way to appreciate it and decide we wouldn’t be ourselves without it. We run to Darth Vader and call him “Papa” rather than go through the effort of resisting and overcoming the virus we inherited from the poisonous fruit of our ancestors.

There is another way.

God tells the stories of flawed heroes in the Bible to illustrate two truths.

The first is that “no one is righteous, no not one.” When our first parents fell from grace, we all felt the bruise on our souls. The best of us cannot save ourselves.

The second truth is that there IS salvation to be had. We aren’t supposed to embrace our dark side, we’re supposed to bring it to Christ and receive His cure. The heroes of the Bible became heroes through the power of the same spirit that is available to us now!

Our culture has truly developed a dangerous “sympathy for the devil” and it runs like a scarlet cord through the stories that we watch and that we tell. Christians shouldn’t be running from this, however, we should be diving in to engage the culture with our own stories.

“Yes!” We should cry out. We are all flawed, even our good guys need to be saved. But here are stories of faulted men and women who found a different way than the ying/yang of cherishing their faulted selves. Here are the stories of those who discovered that Jesus embraced them with their flaws, saved them despite their dark sides but then empowered them to change.

God is calling all His story tellers to hit the road with their stories. Now is the time to be telling them in all their glorious detail. Add to the culture your own tales of faulted heroes and heroines with fatal flaws who found a Way, a perfect Hero who paid the price for us all and made the ending of the final story anything but ambiguous.

In an age when the culture is steeped in the lie that humanity’s best chance is to acknowledge our dark sides and embrace them, the cry of the revolutionary storyteller is “THERE IS HOPE IN THE DARKNESS. THERE IS HOPE!”

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    The Conversation

  1. Andrea says:

    What an awesome contrast. I hope you dont mind. I posted a link to your blog on both of my blogs in friendly links.
    God bless, andrea

  2. I’m honored, Andrea. I so enjoy what you have to say on Arise2write! Thank you for your kind encouragement. You are a Revolutionary Storyteller!

  3. I was just thinking about blogging on our need to recognize that the battle between good and evil never rests. (We’re thinking alike a lot these days!) It’s our purpose everyday to wake up realizing we’re here to fight for truth. Thanks for a great post, Lori!

  4. God speaks a the same message to those who have ears to hear. Some days I’m blind and deaf, so I pray I am also mute on those days. Thank you for all your support, you are one who is called to be a revolutionary storyteller!

  5. Ed Sturgeon says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Ed Sturgeon says:

    Sometimes we like to be forewarned in our stories when an innocent person is going to die. For example, in the Star Trek TV series, the nonessential character in red who leaves the starship was always the one who died. I am told that this convention has been retained in the new Star Trek movie, but I haven’t seen it yet. I’m looking forward to seeing it soon.

  7. The new Star Trek is absolutely awesome (and I was skeptical). And, yes, of course, the nonessential character goes – has to – it’s required! It’s funny you should talk about being forewarned that an innocent person is going to die – all of the Old Testament is a forewarning that Jesus would come and die. We must be hardwired to want that forewarning! Thanks for dropping by, Ed!