Tag Archives: storytelling

The Plot Thickens

So, I don’t know how deep today’s message will be, but at least it has a spiritual bent to it.

Thing is, on the way to Little Girl Blue’s daycare today, I was thinking about some of the novels I’ve been reading lately. And, for that matter, thoughout my life. And it struck me that many of the novels I read have a “hero” or a very small number of heroes. That is, there is one person or a couple people who hold the fate of the plot in their hands. It might be the prophesied deliverer in a swords and sorcery epic or the brilliant tactician in a space opera or the detective who puts all the pieces together in a crime novel.

And then there are other novels and series I read, where it is more an ensemble thing, much like I am doing in my own novel. There are key characters, but no single person is the lynchpin and in some cases, critical characters will never meet or have any reason to interact.

I don’t prefer either type of novel, really, though I do appreciate the reality and complexity of an ensemble piece, even as I relish the focused drama of a hero-oriented story.

The Bible, my friends, has both aspects. Now, I’m not calling the Bible a fiction, mind you. While I think some elements are symbolic or metaphorical, overall I think it is an honest account of God’s plans and the history of humans. Yes, you can quibble over whether God really created the Earth in seven days and made Adam from the dust of the Earth, but then you’re just arguing semantics. Some very complex things are couched in simple terms. But the fact is that God created things, God has a plan for us, we have gone astray from that plan, and He made a way for us to get back in line with it.

But getting back to my original observation, the Bible gives us an epic ensemble piece in the Old Testament, and a hero/savior one in the New Testament.

The OT gives us this sweeping account of where we went wrong and all the missteps we took along the way. There are victories and defeats, successes and failures, love and anger, joy and sorrow, and so much more. Many players, some more effective than others, shape the flow and direction of the story.

And yet it is all a set-up. It’s really a prelude to the NT, when Jesus arrives. Because then we have the hero that everyone else has been paving the way for. The story God gives us takes a sudden and dramatic turn, and becomes very focused. What we end up with is Jesus’ story, and even though there are other people in the NT who are movers and shakers, they are all responding to (and uplifting) Jesus and his role in things. It’s all about the Christ and the fallout from his arrival (most of that fallout good, but with its bitter and bittersweet aspects, too).

It’s interesting that the Bible gives us the harder to absorb and more thorny ensemble piece first, and only gives us the more personal and in some ways easier to digest hero tale last.

I don’t know what that means, if anything. I just thought it was interesting to note.