What is story? It is the telling of significant actions of characters over time (CCTV images, by contrast are not a story, but just moving pictures). Like currency, stories change hands without losing any of their value. They belong to the ‘economy of abundance’ (see Tuesday). They are a way of preserving memories and provide a form in which our minds can receive and retain information. They invite us in, evoke our imagination and do there work ‘from below’, in our subconscious, where they grow and blend with other stories we have heard and experiences we have had.
The best stories are to do with life’s struggles and it is the messiness and failures of our lives that ironically make the most successful stories. Not all stories work for good – you can think of people and places that carry negative stories and hence a ‘bad reputation’. We can only counter these with more positive stories.
” Most of us rise no higher than the stories around us”. Exposing ourselves, our children and others to life giving stories is vital.
Experience is the stuff of stories and we moved on to consider the concept of the ‘experience economy’ – that is, the attempt by professional marketing experts to package and sell ‘experiences’, and ultimately the experience of ‘transformation’. It may be the dream of an altered, sexier body image or it may be the ‘holiday of a lifetime’. Not everyone wants to be transformed into a ‘better person’ !
Final thoughts, on this our final day of the conference, addressed the implications for Christians in a world that has ‘gone wrong’.
The attitude of I’m all right, Jack’ is unacceptable. Assurance of our own personal salvation at the expense of all else is a kind of heresy, and is the enemy of faith, since it implies that we know the mind of God (Gnosticism). If we truly live for Jesus we will be drawn into his being for others.
The well tried formulae of our faith (eg creeds) no longer ‘travel’ in a troubled world. Not that they are wrong, but that they come across as bossy, as having all the answers and they speak of hope without enacting or delivering hope.
We were left with some simple and positive responses. In conversation, for example, we can hear ourselves think and open ourselves to the possibility of changing the way we view the world and the way we act. We express and build trust in others. Conversation is part of the ‘economy of abundance’ (see Tuesday).
Jesus saves not only by his death and resurrection but by showing us how to live. Our micro-actions can contribute to the ‘virtual circles’ that are as real as the ‘vicious cycles’ we more commonly hear about.
Church is a place were we can stay honest. It is a place for people in their brokenness and vulnerability, not their success. It supports our intentional action (see Wednesday), and enables us to rise above our circumstances. It is where we practice compassion, conviviality and our confidence in abundance. It draws upon the enrichment of scripture and of past times to remain confident in God and in the human ability to correct its own errors. It arouses the urge for co-operative creativity. It is a place of gratitude and generosity.
Following our final service of communion and healing (annointing with oil), the ‘Noson Lawen’ showcased contributions from the various children’s and young people’s groups and the workshops that have been meeting throughout the week – including singing, drama, video, Tai Chi and more. A fitting climax to the week and the start of fond farewells as people prepare to go their separate ways.
PS I did buy one of Ann Morisy’s books before the bookstall packed up – and am happy to lend it.
Many thanks to Parch. Geraint Tudur for the photos of the conference which appear on these blog pages