On a whim…

Chaotic, esoteric, marginally coherent, stuff about life.

A Tale Told Twice?

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Preachers, sales people, and raconteurs tell tales, we know. But our tales tell more than one story. Often it is the unconscious story by which our world view is shaped. I am not an advocate of political correctness but I wish to champion the role of story tellers as those who help shape our perception of the world around us.

In the comments that follow I am equally subject to the indictment that I would lay at the feet of others. Mea culpa.

Recently I read an attractive story of a drought apparently relieved following the prayers of many people. Among those who prayed was a child who bore an umbrella; a sign of deepest faith. It was touching as such stories usually are.

What struck me in the tale was the role played by each of the characters. I thought of how predictable the arrangement was and it seemed to comply with an unstated rule, “Children have faith and adults don’t.”

In many circles ‘child-like faith’  is idealized. Set aside the biblical precedence, please, and indulge me for a moment. It seems too easy for story tellers to rely on children to have this kind of faith but I wonder how much more powerful might the story be if a child is presented as a skeptic. Maybe the child was admonished by her parents to show evidence of faith by grabbing an appropriate talisman such as a bible, a rosary, etc. Maybe the child is cajoled by his mother on the way out the door and as a form of protest he seized an umbrella from the corner where it has lain, dusty from disuse.

Imagine how the story might proceed as the child raises this symbolic act of skepticism and watches the rivulets of water wash the dust from the protective shroud?

By avoiding the easy road where the story teller admonishes us to, “look at this childish act of faith” and by taking a less predictable path we who remain skeptical are confronted. Before us emerges a new possibility of grace rather than dregs of remorse over the loss of our childish innocence?

We live in a skeptical age. Unlike the scene in the New Testament where children are viewed as incapable of appreciating Jesus for who he is, it is we, the adults, that appear to suffer from an impaired capacity to believe. To paraphrase, Jesus might well have said, “Suffer those who struggle (and yet believe) to come unto Me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”

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Written by David Wilkerson

6 March 2008 at 11:27 pm

Posted in Creativity, theology

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