Tuesday, November 13, 2012

It's All About Stories

Back in the age of modernity, everything was about competing systems. One worldview was held up next to another, and they were analyzed, weighed and measured against reality—or at least the reality that the scientific method could measure or rationality could accept.

If you encountered another belief system, you tried to logically show how the Christian view made more sense, or matched up with our understanding of reality. If you encountered a faithless person, you tried to use a scientific, rational form of theology to show them that they had to believe in something more than their perception allowed.

Today, these apologetics no longer work in the West; at least, not on their own. Oh, you may still find an old modern holdover, but most people have given up on systematic thinking. They inherently mistrust logic, because they know it is fallible. People mistrust rational attempts to explain the world because (a) they have experienced things in life that defy logic, or know of people who have and (b) they don’t like having to accept something that they would rather ignore. They want to pick and chose the things they believe and do independent of any standard or reality.

Like the vegetarian that wears leather shoes; or the pro-lifer who is in favor of the death penalty or war. (And, yes, I am aware that Pro-Life does not really mean that. It has a narrow definition.)

What does work today—what will allow people to connect—are narratives. Our stories speak. True or fiction, structured and artistic or at-the-water-cooler spontaneous; stories are the capsules that deliver messages, teach worldview and convince people of realities. To engage and impact culture today is to engage the stories. We need swim in the collective narrative. We need to contribute to the pool of experiences. We need to spread stories that communicate Truth. We need to constantly re-inject the Ultimate Story into the conversation.

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