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Stories are all around us: they are in the books we read, movies we watch, news we view, and the games we play. They permeate all of what we encounter. Turn on the TV and there is a commercial that sells us a story about the product. Watch kids play and they construct a make-believe world of house, dragon slaying, tea parties, or adventuring.

We are shaped by our stories. After the movie Jaws was released people were afraid of going to the beach. Even today the musical theme is recognized by many. People still think that archeology is done with people wearing fedoras carrying bull whips. Even I, after unwisely watching Steven King’s IT, became afraid of clowns. Still today, I find clowns creepy… but that’s another story.

We are also not careful with our stories. Steve Allan (one of the first hosts of the tonight show) lamented in his book ‘Dumbth’ that people wrote TV characters asking for advice. That’s right… not the actors or actresses but the characters themselves!  There is a distinction between fantasy and reality and, while the border is fuzzy sometimes like in documentaries and the news, we still need to be careful in what we take in.

But stories are not inherently bad. Jesus used stories to explain his points, as do many other religious leaders. Some stories tell us what not to do while some show us the consequences of good actions. We learn, for example, when we play games such as the cooperative game Pandemic: all players must work together and the world can be saved; or in stories such as in the Christopher Nolan Batman movies show that there is evil and it is here to destroy and stopping it comes at a great personal cost.

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 10:5 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” It is wise to be cautious about how stories affect us. [1]

Understanding the power of stories can help the learning of truth as well as having the ability to demolish the philosophical parts of stories that set itself against God.

Some of my favorite stories are found on my Bio page and include:

Pilgrims’ Progress by John Bunyan – Even though it is very allegorical the journey that Pilgrim takes has also shown me that even the hardest journey if toward the correct goal is one that strengthens our soul.

Babylon 5 – Ancient evils can only be stopped at the great cost even if that means standing alone. This show still captivates me with the characters and storyline even though the graphics are dated.

The Sci-Fi Trilogy and The Narnia series by C.S Lewis – Some adventures can only truly be enjoyed when read by your Father when you are young. These books are that and still can be enjoyed as an adult. Both are tragic in their Fall (what makes the fictional world bad) but brilliant in the way they end.

G.K Chesterton’s Father Brown – Somehow I like Father Brown inductive adventures more than Sherlock Holmes. One can only hope for a modern show that has the same whimsy and the paradoxical Priest.

What are some of your favorite stories and why?

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[1] McKay, Brett & Kate. 2015. “Beware the too Compelling Narrative.” The Art of Manliness. http://www.artofmanliness.com

This article originally posted on The Apologers Blog on June 22, 2015

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