As a journalist, I have long been cognizant of and grateful for the value of stories, the building blocks of which are, of course, words.
In faith traditions words are crucial and yet inevitably metaphorical because all words always point beyond themselves to a different reality from the words themselves. And good stories point beyond themselves, too, as they uncover meaning and integrate it into a larger context.
As the writer of this HuffPo piece notes, telling stories helps us understand what we ourselves think about things and how to make sense not just of our own stories but of the world beyond -- and how that world is attached to our stories.
In the Jewish and Christian traditions, God is said to have created the world simply by speaking it into existence. God's words created the cosmos. And in Christian theology, that happened through what Christians call the Word, Jesus Christ, whose stories, known as parables, are rich with layered meaning.
And, of course, words are what an angel is said to have spoken to the Prophet Muhammad, who eventually had them written down as the Qur'an, which Muslims believe to be God's word.
I think of the importance of stories this weekend because I'm celebrating another birthday. And because one day after that is the wedding anniversary (it would be No. 109) of my maternal grandparents, whose stories we continue to tell. And because I've just recently turned in the manuscript for my next book, Woodstock: A Story of Middle Americans, which will contain stories about what people of my generation brought to this country in the way of values, approaches, adapability and more. (The book should be out by spring. Stay tuned here. I'll let you know.)
I'm also thinking about two funerals I attended in recent days -- one of a 67-year-old man, the other a 34-year-old man. There were stories galore about each. In fact, my former Kansas City Star colleague Barbara Shelly wrote this nice piece about the older man.
When my father died 22 years ago, the pastor who preached his funeral told us we must continue to tell his stories. And we have. It has helped us understand not just who he was but also who we are. Indeed, if we don't tell our stories we'll never know who we are or how we connect with the rest of the world. And then we'll find that faith means very litttle.
(I borrowed the image here today from Facebook.)
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THE UNFORGIVING DEITY
From time to time the satirical Onion likes to write about God and religion. In this fun piece, for instance, God explains why she rarely forgives anyone. Remember, folks, it's satire.