Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The sacred art of story telling

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I've said this before, but I think I should say it again. Story telling is a sacred art.

It's not that all stories are written in that way. Some are written for crass commercial reasons. I think of a woman who was very famous when I was growing up. I truly don't remember her name. But she was one of the pioneers of prurient writing. She figured out how to use explicit sex (at a time when such was taboo) to sell millions of books. She set out to do that. And she did.

But there are other kinds of stories too. There are the kinds of stories you hear on the NPR Story Corps program and web site. And the kinds of stories you sometimes read in commercially successful books. I'm thinking of stories such as The Kite Runner.

Most of you know I am an ordained minister (Disciples of Christ). I don't practice my profession anymore. No sermons, no funerals, no weddings, no visiting the sick or infirm or standing as a minister by the bedsides of hurting or dying people (the hardest and most rewarding part of what I did).

If you've read what I write, you probably also know that I am unabashedly liberal, at least by Missouri standards. Maybe not by the standards of where you live.

So you won't be surprised when I say that I see most of the Bible as stories. The Bible is interlaced with history, but even the gospels are the stories of Jesus told though the eyes of authors. Each author molds the story as he sees fit to make the point he wants to make, and it is hard (some would say impossible) to find the real man Jesus behind the molding.

Still, for me, those stories (and a lot of other stories) are sacred. They express something about God and human beings that touches me and changes me. There doesn't have to be some supernatural magic in them for them to be deep, meaningful and spiritual.

Even people who write the kinds of stories I do can approach it as a calling, a vocation meant to express something about God and people that goes beyond just sales or becoming famous.

So for me, good stories, even good mystery stories, are sacred. Someone who approaches storytelling for reasons other than just the crass, is sharing in the kind of thing which has been happening since almost the beginning time, since the time before writing, since the time people sat around in a group and heard other people tell about their ancestor Abram and so many others in all kinds of cultures.

If you are a writer or a reader of good stories, you are taking part in something which is a blessing to us all.

If you would like to respond to this post, please leave a comment or go to my web site where there is an email address. Thanks.


Realmcovet said...

Well said!

Joe Barone said...

Thanks, Realm. I note that Erica has some wonderful things to say about you today. She's right. You are a special person.

Corey Wilde said...

I second what Realmcovet said.

Realmcovet said...

Why thank you Joe!! Coming from you, that means so much to me.