I’ve just started reading “Reimagining Spiritual Formation – a Week in the Life of an Experimental Church” by Doug Pagitt. I wont be able to say much about it until next week when I hope to have completed it (at least the first time round).
What I already like about it is that it uses personal story in it a lot, it grounds itself in the journals of people who are a part of the community. I like the aspect of story in our spiritual formation.
I always have discussions with people about using story in church and worship as a powerful experience. This kind of conversation regularly centres itself around “what is a good children’s address?” the address is usually the time where the minister or preacher or untrained adult gets up and tries to pull of a magic trick or ruin a Dr Seuss book or tell the children how much Jesus loved them.
Anyhow, Ive always been the fan of stories, in my “children’s address” i usually will write a story or in the absence of an imagination I’ll find me a story and read it. I wont tell a story that hasn’t touched me, and I won’t ruin it by saying at the end “you know this means that Jesus loves you.”
One thing that I find amusing in the Gospels is how the writers choose to take each parable of Jesus and try to give it a meaning. “Jesus meant…” “Jesus said this so…” etc etc etc. If i were the story teller and heard someone trying to give my story a meaning I’d probably want to thwap them over the head.
There’s something about a story that interacts with the imagination, sparks a conversation, allows my dreams to enter into the story. Something that’s exciting, dangerous, beautiful and touching all at the same time and the process of giving a story a meaning rips the gut out of that beauty so that I am pulled out of that imagination, out of that beauty… everything becomes safe and controlled again.
And by adding that gut wrenching part to the children’s address we destroy the children’s ability to enter into the story and be engulfed by it, to be transformed by it.
And that’s what I like about blogging, its also why when i was younger I enjoyed the Adrian Plass Diary series and Dr Seuss, I just like being engulfed by someone elses story, to enter a world, to be nudged and challenged, touched and excited all at the same time.
And that’s what Ive been trying to do ever since I finished my BTh, Ive been trying to exit the world of exegesis and re-enter the world where the story meets me in the most unlikely places. Perhaps we do our ministers/pastors a dis-service by teaching them how to tear apart the bible and explain it all, perhaps that’s why a lot of them seem to burn out.
The story no longer excites them anymore.
They’ve been told that all it means is that God Loves You and that’s all that matters.
And that’s why I’d sooner read someone’s journal than pick up a book, I don’t want to learn that way anymore, I want to enter into a relationship, be engulfed by a story, be surrounded by that imagination again. It’s not escaping, its something else, something bigger than that because the stories become a part of me.
Ive been told that stories are for children, we have to face the facts, grow up, live in the REAL world…
What if the Real World is a Dr Seuss book?
The moral of this story kiddies is that Jesus loves you so very very much….