Just some informal thoughts about the power of story, AT&T, the 57th President of the United States, and of course, a little about one of my favorite novels:
Setting out to write The Mockingbird Parables I had been conscious of how religious language can lose its power and meaning in our lives. I grew up evangelical, and noticed that some of the language of my own tribe or Christian subculture had lost its effectiveness because I had heard it so many times. More pressing than my own disconnection, was that fewer and fewer of my friends knew what in the world we church people were talking about. It is always helpful for me to be reminded that Jesus chose to teach in stories — and He used stories that were culturally relevant.
Parables are stories that create space in our lives for reflection.There isa strong spiritual element to storiesbecause they moveso effortlesslyinto our memories and clear out their own room. A good story will set up shop in our imaginations and allow us to contemplate our lives. To Kill a Mockingbird is a grand story; it is the one book that library associations have said everyone should read before they die (and they voted that ahead of the Bible). It is a poignant and thoughtful tale about the meaning of compassion. The most widely read novel in English speaking secondary schools, Lee’s novel is becoming one of the preferred texts for teaching ethics and morality — it is in many ways the perfect American parable.
I think business culture has locked into the power of story and has essentially begun using parables to sell us on their products. Take for instance the AT&T commercial — with the man and woman missing each other on the train. It’s one of my favorites: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xAJmdhQzJ4
It tells a modern and relevant story about the importance of connection. The couple who might miss meeting will eventually have a child who will be President — but thank God for AT&T. It is essentially a parable teaching us about the importance of having AT&T — a service that will be reliable when connection is vital.
AT&T spent millions of dollars on a commercial that finds space in our imaginations in order to influence a phone purchase. We have a story about connection that is way more powerful than a wireless network — and an obligation to share it. To Kill a Mockingbird moved into my imagination and allowed me to revisit the compassion my faith requires — it provided me with another narrative to understand my responsibility to love my neighbors. As Jesus reminds us, stories have the power to stick with us, and the ability to lay dormant until we are ready to hear their message… I think that stories help us make those “connections” between our faith and the way we live our lives. We have quite a connection to share –an obligation to tell our stories — to love our neighbors – think about the power of our story next time you go cell-phone shopping