Calling All Storytellers – How to Use the Force

toy-932922_640Have you noticed how hard it’s getting to tell the good guys from the bad guys?
I watched a couple of my sons movies with him recently and had to keep asking, “Is that guy on the good side or the bad side?”

My son’s answer was, “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. Most lead characters now are not just quirky, but seriously flawed.

Like House, with his nasty disposition and pesky drug addiction. Or Gibbs, on NCIS, so wounded by losing his first wife that he’s gone through three others trying to replace her

Or the show about the group of men and women who are elected to serve the people but always turn out to be harboring corrupt personal agendas or hiding immoral lives behind false fronts.

No wait, that’s the evening news reporting on congress. My bad.

Anyway. This post sounds as though I’m against the current trend of fallen main characters but, honestly, I think it may be closer to the Biblical model of storytelling than Marcus Welby or Atticus Finch.

In Scripture, God always revealed the faults and flaws of his followers along with their acts of faith and heroism. 

For example, we know that Isaac tricked his brother out of his birthright and that Noah had a bit too much of the fruit of the vine one night after the boat landed.

We know Sampson was often ruled by little Sampson and that 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 was saying, 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 responding to these flawed characters and how their stories end.

I think we enjoy stories about fallen heroes and ambiguous outcomes because we recognize the deep fault lines in our own characters 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 wiggle room for the villain in the end.

It’s our cultural way of saying we recognize that we’re all capable of doing wrong – or choosing wrong- or actually being wrong-hearted.

 But rather than tell stories that illustrate hope for change or salvation – we’re now trying to embrace our dark side, find a way to appreciate it and maybe even 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 we can be saved.

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 virulent strand of corrupt DNA through the stories that we watch and that we tell.

Storytelling is powerful and if we hear this storyline enough times, it becomes our truth. 

Here is the lie: We are fallen and there is no cure for that so we should embrace our fallenness and cherish it as an integral part of ourselves.

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 through our stories, our poems, and our plays. We are all flawed, even our good guys need to be saved.

But here are stories of fallen men and women who found a better 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 and do their best work now! 

Now is the time to be telling our best stories 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.

Don’t preach. Don’t plead. Just tell one great story after another. Answer the virulent strand of lies with a scarlet cord of truth hung from the window of your creativity.

We who know Christ are filled with the Holy Spirit, the originator of creativity, of characters, of plots that engage on every level. We are connected to the Original Force.

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. Change is possible. We aren’t slaves to our lesser selves!”

I know the way. Follow me to His heart. Let me tell you a story along the way.

Think your little stories don’t matter, loved ones? Think again.

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    The Conversation

  1. Anonymous says:

    There once was a teenager who joined the fire department. He was actually at the only fire where a firefighter died in action in our area. He became a carpenter, a husband, a father, then a fire chief. It has now been 50 years that he has been chief. He has his flaws but caring for his firefighters, praying for them (although he doesn’t speak of that very often), securing a chaplain who cares about them, and spending seven days week at the station making sure safety is a priority, training is on the cutting edge, and being there for his family (and he counts his firefighters as his own as well as his immediate family) is his life’s contribution. He was saved and baptized before he was 24. Not a church attendee, but he lives his faith every day. God uses men like this in a mighty way. That’s my story about a man who has done the work God set out for him. It has seldom been easy but he never turned back. MOMMA

  2. Lori, I agree wholeheartedly. Well said!

  3. Thank you, Lori. You inspire my heart!

    This one is going in my permanent inspiration file, the one I keep in the file with my current writing. The one I pull out and re-read to remind myself of why I write.

    Thank you.