Revolt of the Storytellers or Fight the Darkside, Luke! Use the Force!

toy-932922_640Have you noticed how hard it’s getting to tell the good guys from the bad guys?

When my son was home one year 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 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 and those are political leaders. 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 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 responding to these flawed characters and how their stories end.

We seem to enjoy stories about fallen heroes and ambiguous outcomes because we recognize the deep fault lines 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’re all capable of doing wrong – or choosing wrong- or actually being wrong-hearted. But rather than telling 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 HIM.

LET ME TELL YOU A STORY ON THE WAY.

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

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7 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Cathy Baker says:

    Your posts always challenge me — and this one is no exception. Lori, didn’t you post this quote from Bradbury yesterday? “Let the world burn through you. Throw the prism light, white hot, on paper.” We have the greatest Storyteller of all leading the way. Thank You, Jesus!

  2. Lori, I am so thankful we met at BRMCWC and thankful for this blog. In my efforts to be a transparent blogger, you set the bar for what I want to accomplish. My pleasure to pass these words of wise challenge along to my social networking community! Keep ’em coming! <3

  3. Going to link this. The world is looking for heroes–fallen or unfallen–it sometimes doesn’t know which.

  4. Cathy, your poetry truly burns white hot on paper!

    Carol Anne, Little did we know that sitting next to one another, we were already friends! Will love getting to know you!

    Hey Marcia, love what you said.

  5. Carol Weeks says:

    Great post. Inspiring, funny, challenging…

  6. Yes, absolutely! Thank you for putting this in rousing, inspiring terms that I can come back to again and again when I need to remember why and how I’m to tell my stories.

    I love it when others put into words those things which I hold deeply but have never tried to express.

  7. Thank you. Here is how I sumerize current plot lines: “The only way Agent Chuck Roast can save the world is by BREAKING ALL THE RULES.” We even see it in commercials for FOOD for heaven’s sake: “Outback; No Rules, Just Right.”
    I don’t want to eat at a resturant with no rules.