Monday, June 10, 2013

Talking about stories

Our Christian faith is a faith of stories.  Nothing characterised this aspect of our faith more than the Easter midnight liturgy.  Seven readings of the salvation of our people told over a fire.  It always remind me of the chats and stories over a campsite fire.  A young child hears the story of the deliverance at the Red Sea and the faith has been handed down one more generation.

Stories are how our faith have been handed down.  The Bible is a book of stories, originally handed down the generations by word of mouth.  Such stories form the basis of our understanding of truth, as expressed in our faith.  Some stories are physically ordinary while others physically miraculous.  Both contribute equally to the truth of our faith and both are used to illuminate our lives.

In a modern society, however, which equates facts as truth, stories that are not factually feasible like parables and fables are shunned as a scientifically logical society glances ashamedly to what it sees as its superstitious past.  I find it strange that some English-speaking cultures shuns stories while others embrace it.  For instance, Irish (and other Gaelic cultures) notions of humour tends to be anecdotal while English humour less so.  Stories seem to be an embarrassment to some.

But just as science and faith inhabit different spheres, facts and truth are not necessarily the same thing.  Facts are physical records of what actually happened, verifiable by reason or experience. Truth, on the other hand, tells us about ourselves and what we need to do to give meaning to our lives, as informed by our understanding of events, factual or otherwise.  Truth can sometimes come from a non-fact, and is not a lesser truth of as result of it.  For instance, we all accept that sometimes, slow and steady does win the race.  That doesn't mean that we all believe that a hare and a tortoise met up and agreed to run a race that resulted in the saying.

Truth therefore can come from stories that may not be factual.  Or rather to be more accurate, truth does not depend on how factual the the story is.  Should we therefore be worried about how factual are stories that we share with our children.  No, stories that we share are the stories of our faith, which tells us who we are and the type of people we all seek to be.  We educate our children with the stories we tell.  With that, we hand down the truth of who we are and how we would like to be known so that the chain of faith finds one more link to the next generation.

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