Vacation Reading – The Value of Story

Over the past week my family has been on vacation.  We went to Ocean Shores, WA.  In October Ocean Shores is closed.  You can still go there but there are 4 stores open and it rains the whole time.  This is a great vacation destination for me because my favorite thing to do on vacation is . . . nothing.  Not so great for a 3 year old and a 1 year old.  They like to be very busy.

However, on my vacation I was able to do something that I don’t get to do too often.  I read a novel.  All throughout Jr. High and High School I read tons of novels.  I loved fiction.  I had my favorite authors and I read everything the released.  But during college my love for fiction was beaten out of me.  Instead I read text books that, while interesting, rarely grabbed my attention or forced me to turn the page.  Reading became enjoyable work.

I still read a lot.  I’m back in school so I’m reading all the time.  And while on vacation I brought a couple of my text books to try to work through.  I also brought along Little Brother by Cory Doctorow.  I’ve heard a lot of good buzz about little brother so I checked it out from the library to see what all the fuss was about.

The Story is about a high school student, Marcus, who is a tech whiz.  He lives in San Francisco and during the aftermath of a terrorist attack on the Bay Bridge, Marcus and his friends are aarrested by DHS and interrogated.  Marcus engraged by his wrongful arrest and the dissappearance of his friend develops a way to circumvent DHS’s attempts to watch what he and his fellow SF natives are doing.

Doctorow does a great job of writing like a teenager, he doesn’t try too hard to sound hip.  Also, the author isn’t just telling a story, he very clearly has some opinions on DHS and the political entities that created DHS protocol after 9/11.  Of particular concern to Doctorow is domestic spying on innocent US citizens.  Make no mistake Little Brother is a very political piece.  But the political principles can easily be absorbed in the power of the story.

One thing that I think education is lacking is helping students to understand that story is just as powerful as principle driven non-fiction.  Story helps us see how principles play out in the every day situations of life.  Even if the situation seems far fetched, the story still carries principles farther than bullet points, statistics and graphs ever could.

Love it or hate it, The Shack is a successful book because it attempts to teach theology in the form of a story.  The same can be said for Brian McLaren’s A New Kind of Christian series.  These are stories about people trying to come to grips with challenging ideas and the implications that those ideas have on life.

The conference that I want to go to the most is Story.  It’s next week.  I don’t really have time or money to go to this conference so I’m eager to try to get some audio or video afterwards.  The organizer of Story, Ben Arment, has seen the value and power of stories, and he want church leaders to grow in their understanding of story’s power.

Much of the Bible is a story, and Jesus was the master story teller.  In just a few sentences he could communicate a powerful truth through the story of a farmer who was sowing some seeds, or a woman looking for a coin, or about a son who left his father’s estate.  These stories are gripping.

I want to fall in love with story again.  All of life is a story and I don’t want to miss my story.  I also want to pay better attention to the stories of those around us.  But I also want to communicate through story.

I don’t know what my next novel read will be but I’m looking forward to the experience.

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