Tag Archives: storytelling

Sharing Your Remarkable Story

You have a story of faith and God’s work in your life. “And if people don’t take us seriously,” says Aaron Armstrong, “that’s still good news worth sharing.” He briefly describes the struggle his wife has experienced and links to a couple versions of her remarkable story.

“For years, whenever she or both of us have told the story of how we came to faith, we’ve seen people stop speaking to us, back away slowly as if we were whacked, or (in one instance) convert to an entirely different religion.”

We Tell Ghost Stories In Order to Control Our Fears

“One of the primary experiences ghost stories deal with is fear,” Chris Yokel explains. “Many literary critics recognize that the management of fear is one of the important explanations for the existence of the ghost story. Julia Briggs in her book Night Visitors says, ‘Both the recital and reading of stories of the terrific unknown suggests a need to exorcise in controlled circumstances, fear which in solitude or darkness might become unmanageable. By recounting nightmares, giving them speakable shapes and patterns, even if as compulsively as did Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner, we hope to control them and come to terms with them.’”

Do we control our fears when we tell stories of indomitable evils, of horrors that cannot be held back, or of despair that literally eats at us? How much do our stories define for us this “terrific unknown”?

The Story We Tell Ourselves

Derek Rishmawy describes an idea he teaches young men and women who think they’ll ditch their biblical morality for a season in order to have fun.

I always tell my students they need to be aware of the myths and stories they tell themselves about reality, because the story you think you’re in determines the character you become. Neutral time is a particularly popular story. It goes something like this:

I’ve been a good kid in high school. I’ve done my homework, been to Bible study, and didn’t mess around too much or anything. Now, though, I really want to go out and enjoy myself a bit. The “college experience” is calling, and I can’t be expected to go and not let loose a little bit. I mean, I really love Jesus and my faith will always be a big part of my life, but you know, I’ll just go off for a bit, maybe a semester or two, have my fun, and then be back around. You’ll see.

Where else in real life does this exist? Would they tell the Lord to his face that they’ll mock him with their actions for a time and then come back? This is easily the beginning of a story Old Scratch often tells. It begins with the suggestion that morality doesn’t matter and can be left aside for a time and builds to the declaration that Jesus never cared about you because if he did, you wouldn’t be in this immoral mess.

Trash Planet Vacation, a WALL-E Draft

Early drafts of Pixar’s wonderful movie WALL-E were very different from the final film. The key robot wasn’t playing Hello, Dolly everywhere, but “leading a Spartacus-like robot revolution.”  There was a Planet of the Apes vibe to the storyline, and the writers hoped to make the entire film dialogue free. For a time, they threw around alternative titles, like Trash Planet, but eventually they worked a fix for their original title and along with it, a better story.

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Koontz on stories

Today is Sissel Kyrkjebø’s birthday.

And no, I didn’t send her a present. She didn’t send me anything last year, and I do have some pride.

I’m currently reading Dean Koontz’ Mr. Murder, which I’m finding even more excruciatingly suspenseful than his usual stuff. Koontz has adopted the wise policy in recent books of making his heroes blue-collar workers, a tactic that’s both fresh and realistic, and I salute it. In this older book, though, he falls back on the conventional author’s timesaver of making the main character a fellow author (saves research). But it gives him the opportunity to make some dramatically appropriate comments on the idea of Story Itself. Here the hero, Martin Stillwater, talks about it with his wife:

He said, “You and I were passing the time with novels, so were some other people, not just to escape but because… because, at its best, fiction is medicine.”


“Life is so d*mned disorderly, things just happen, and there doesn’t seem any point to so much of what we go through. Sometimes it seems the world’s a madhouse. Storytelling condenses life, gives it order. Stories have beginnings, middles, ends. And when a story’s over, it meant something, by God, maybe not something complex, maybe what it had to say was simple, even naïve, but there was meaning. And that gives us hope, it’s a medicine.”