A Saving Story
We need more stories and fewer facts floating about in our brains with no context to help us use them.
Whenever my children faced a problem, I tried to tell them a story—usually by writing a play. Soon they were requesting topics. The greatest challenge was writing a play titled The Loch Ness Monster versus Dracula . . . with Ninjas—none of your business which of my adult children requested this tale.
Working through cultural problems by telling a story works, because a story is like water in your mind. A bad story might flood your soul, creeping into every crack and crevice destroying what God made. A good story comes at just the right time, in just the right way, and fills a proper place, watering the mind and making it grow strong while baptizing the imagination.
This has always been true and we know it. The first stories we hear never leave us, for good or bad. I think of Mom reading us books or Disney films I saw as a little boy, or Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories, and realize how much they still influence me: the ungrateful boy who forgot his parents, the magic of the Love Bug, and Narnia . . . always Narnia and the North!
Culture is made by the stories a society believes, and when those stories fail, the nation fails. Why? Facts without a story do not move us to action, but the right story can transform a situation. Work by imagination . . . God help us to find better stories.
You do not have to go back to Homer telling stories about Troy; the brilliant Watership Down, one of the best assaults on the all-powerful state, began with a Dad telling his kids stories about rabbits on a car trip. If Britain would listen to the story, the nation might be saved great grief that is coming if they keep growing the national government.
A story can save us, even Peter Rabbit. Imagine if our leaders stayed out of gardens they should not enter. The wrong story can have nearly fatal consequences. Wuthering Heights was poison to my soul, but Jane Eyre was the medicine God used to make me well. This is not just true of fiction. Whether it is a news site or an educational program, the facts always are embedded in a story that the writer believes is true. Americans used to think we were a “shining city on a hill,” now other Americans think we are a source of evil in the world. The story you tell will not change the facts, but change how you interpret the facts.
A good education will tell a story in part of a community that has an overarching quest. The best story also happens to be true: Jesus and His tale is the greatest story ever told—and it happened. A fairy tale happened, and if we believe Him and the story Christ told, then the story will save us.