Friday, December 31, 2004

Theological speculation for the day

It's a near-universal phenomenon that humans find stories engaging. Whilst in Western society, story-telling as a form in itself has faded, alternative incarnations of story-telling - cinema, computer games, role-playing - and so on are alive and well even amongst those people who have so little interest in stories in their traditional form.

Perhaps we are designed as creatures to respond to stories. In theological terms, God has revealed himself through "story"/"narrative"/"history" - the Bible is not a book of "systematic theology" but a "history". Perhaps this links with the fact that we respond to stories - God has given us the Bible, and has designed us to respond to narrative - the two are different sides of the same theological coin.

I wonder if this also means that stories that correspond most closely to "the great story" are those that we find most engaging. For example, the Harry Potter stories have really engaged at a popular level with all sorts of people. Although they are apparently "neutral" or "non-Christian", there are several themes which actually tie in closely with Bible themes (though I don't suppose that J.K.Rowling consciously considered this when she was writing them). For example; the theme of Harry's mother giving up her own life to save Harry - the idea of Harry being a person destined to overcome evil - the significance of personal moral choices - and so on. I'm sure that with more thought, a longer list could be constructed. "The Lord of the Rings" is another example - again, with Frodo as the "Messiah"-figure who has to overcome evil through humility. Comments?

Oh, by the way, happy new year.

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