Monday, May 21, 2007

The Story of the Stars

I’m teaching at the Blue Ridge Christian Writer’s Conference this week so I’m thinking about story a lot. And every time I think about story, it teaches me more about God.

Here's what I mean. (I’ll try not to get too theoretical—yawn, yawn). At the heart of every story is a transformative event--either a transformation that we see occurring or one that we realize will occur. Typically, movies begin by showing a portrait of a character in normal life, then a crisis that turns everything upside down, then the person's struggle to return to normal, and finally a discovery and a changed life. Written stories follow this basic pattern as well, but usually include a gripping beginning to snag the reader's attention.


That's what we see in the Bible in the book of Ruth as Naomi moves from a full life to the emptiness of loss, into the struggle to find balance again, and then arrives at last, smack dab in the middle of a new kind of normal. It's what we see in the life of the prophet Samuel as he moves from normal life serving in the temple, (without knowing God), to a transformative encounter with God that leads to a new and different life (both knowing God and speaking for him). It's the story of Jesus's disciples, of St. Paul, of Moses, of Abraham, of Adam and Eve.

And of me.

Every day we live in the middle of another struggle or a discovery on our way toward terror or worship or retirement as we plod through life on our way to a new kind of normal. The sweep of the Bible takes us through God’s narrative of the transformation of a planet and it’s flesh-covered ghosts who are all the time searching for hope and truth and Cool Ranch Doritos.

I think that this universe is shaped from the material of a story. Tales woven through our genes. And, since I am one of its characters, the grand story of the stars is the intimate story of my heart.

Ok, forgive me for waxing eloquent there. I’m at a writer’s conference. What can I say.


Heather Ivester said...

Blue Ridge -- what a great place! Hope you're enjoying the conference. I remember attending one of your workshops in 2004.

I just finished reading Sailing Between the Stars. Loved it! My review will be posted online around the first of June.

I know your book will encourage many people to explore the mysteries of Christ.


Steven James said...

Thanks Heather. It's good to hear from you. I'm glad you didn't find this one as R-rated as "Story.";)

Flea said...

Story R rated? I read it to my young teens. Was that wrong? They're dealing with some of the same stuff.

Steven James said...

r-rated... well, just the story about cain. a little visceral and intense.
but i think that's a story that needs to be told like that.