“Roughly 30 percent of the Bible is expressed through rational propositional truth and laws. While 70 percent of the Bible is story, vision, symbol and narrative.”¹
70 percent! That is no small thing.
If the Creator has chosen to reveal Himself is in this way, that tells me that Story has power. More power than any of us know. A great story doesn’t simply develop a plot; it invites you to experience a particular world – and worldview. It is transformational. The more artful the storytelling, the more it’s able to move past rational thought and embed itself into our subconscious… and the greater its ability to change our worldview. I think the stories we consume shape the stories we repeat to ourselves and to each other, the stories that mold, not just our values, but also our identities.
There is nothing more dangerous than a perverse worldview beautifully and artfully portrayed. A play like Medea can make you sympathize with a woman who murders her own children because she’s ticked off at her husband. An artfully done Breaking Bad can make you sympathize with a man who trades his family – and even the science he truly loves – to serve death. All because it makes him feel alive. Sympathy for and identification with a sad, twisted character can work like a poison, slightly and subtly twisting your worldview. It’s never “just a show.” It’s never “just a story.”
I’ve felt that kind of story-power in my own life, and it altered the course of it… for the worse. It didn’t have to do with Film, but with a book series: The Diaries of Anais Nin. She was a writer in Paris in the 1920’s, living the “artistic life.” She presented that “artistic life” in an extraordinary and emotionally engaging way – and it swallowed me whole. I began to think that, for the artist, “nothing is forbidden.” Suffice it to say, that the power of Nin’s storytelling led me into a whole mess of trouble and a wasted decade of my life.
Now, I’m chewing what do I, as a creator, do with this hard-won wisdom? I feel the tickle of my particular calling in the back of my mind. I want to tell the truth, even if it’s sometimes not pretty. Not pretty, but beautiful, traversing the words and the way of the One who is Truth. Redemption is at the core of creation, and I’ve got a creative atom to split. It can either generate life-enhancing energy, or it can destroy.
And I have no more decades left to waste. None of us do. I don’t want to own my truth. I want to own the Truth. That’s a powerful thing.
We are the storytellers, the truth-tellers, the shapers of dreams. The Cultural Ambassadors of Christ. Let’s hold that realization with fear and trembling. Fearful, risky, challenging, exciting. This is all good.
¹Godawa, B. © 2009, Hollywood Worldviews: watching films with wisdom and discernment, InterVarsity Press, https://godawa.com/