Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Myth, Fiction, and the Power of Story by Diana Flegal

The Red Tent miniseries premiered this week, December 7th, on television. The novel by Anita Diamant, was published in 1997 by Wyatt Books for St. Martin's Press. It is a first-person narrative that tells the story of Dinah, daughter of Jacob and sister of Joseph. With stellar bestseller status, this story obviously resonated with women.

While I am sure there is varying degrees of criticism from theologians, I remind you, it is a work of fiction. Wikipedia noted that the author knows of no record of a Red Tent being used by the Israelites, but that other pre-cultural groups did use one for the designated purpose imagined by the author.

To me the beauty and strength of the book, and therefore its success, was in showing the fellowship of women at its best, and the true devoted heart of a mother.

Between the first part and the second, I reread the account in Genesis 32 on up to Joseph’s reign in Egypt as Visor. Then I tuned-in the next evening for the second part. I found it extremely moving.

The following morning I continued my devotional reading of Waking the Dead by John Eldredge and
was struck fresh with the truth therein after viewing such a strong drama the two nights before.

John believes Jesus told parables to illustrate eternal truths because unlike mere facts, stories penetrate our hearts and get past our intellectual defenses. And the best stories of all? The ones that bring us eternal truths. John quotes Rolland Hein as he defines myth; “…stories that which confront us with something transcendent and eternal…a means by which the eternal expresses itself in time”.

Like in The Red Tent. Though definitely fiction; the greed, lust and selfish desires of the human condition were portrayed truthfully. Ugly as it was. And we just like the Israelites, can forget ourselves and live in our flesh if we get complacent and forget who we belong to.

But John Eldridge points out the most urgent quality to every myth or big story is the struggle, quest or battle usually underway.   
John points this all out so beautifully on page 34 “The story of your life is the story of a long and brutal assault on your heart by the one who knows what you could be and fears it, …”like Narnia in winter and the sleeping kingdom in Sleeping Beauty, “the world lies under the power of the evil one” 1 John 5:19” page

Think; Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, and Star Wars.

Ephesians 5:14-16 “Wake up oh sleeper…be very careful, then, how you live…because the days are evil”.

Eldredge says, Things are not as they seem, we are a people at war, and…

                                                                                                      we have a role to play.

Doesn’t your heart whisper to you while watching the wee Hobbit that you might have a greater role to play in the larger scheme of things?

On Page 34 Waking the Dead, John tells us,  “When Sam Gamgee wonders out loud, “I wonder what sort of tale we’ve fallen into?” his question assumes there is a larger story going on.”

John opens his book with one of my favorite quotes by Saint Irenaes, The glory of God is man fully alive.

That is what my heart longs for. And it is what John Eldredge said is needed for the church today. To awaken to the fact things are not as they seem, we are a people at war, and we have a role to play.

For those of you who love story, and long to be fully engaged in the work God has for you, I highly recommend this book.
Have you ever allowed someone to rob you of your purpose in life like Dinah had in The Red Tent ? Or felt the whisper of a vision that you have a great role yet to play in life?


Davalyn Spencer said...

What an encouraging post, Diana. I've read Waking the Dead twice, and taught a course about it once - incredibly moving at each encounter. Oh, the power of story that we write, and the power of story that we live, sometimes without realizing it.

Nan Jones said...

...“I wonder what sort of tale we’ve fallen into?”... Mercy goodness! Mine is a doozy :) Loved this post Diana. Thanks for sharing.

Linda Glaz said...

It is do easy to allow others to take away our calling. We have to continue with it and fight for it every day. Never give up when you know you are called to something.

Cliff Keller said...

Psalm 20: ...May [the Lord] grant you according to your heart's desire and fulfill all your purpose. We will rejoice in your salvation and in the name of our God we will set up our banners! May the LORD fulfill all your petitions... Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the LORD our God.

Diana Flegal said...

Davalyn, that is awesome. Yes Linda! Amen! And Nan, we know it is exciting. Cliff thanks for stopping by! Yes, we will trust in God!