Saturday, October 19, 2013

of scars and meaning; a treatise on stories

"I like the scars because I like the stories.  Bravery, stupidity, pain-- none of them come easy." -Julie Martinez.

There's an idea that runs around certain circles that "Christian stories" ought to to be clean and neat, wrapped up little boxes of suburbanized ideas, white picket fences, and August barbecues while you tell someone you're praying for them (though you'll probably forget.)

I've fallen in love with quite a different kind of story, the kind that I hope to write about and read about and live for the rest of my pinprick of a life.

In the stories I love, there are monsters;

they are dragons, grand and steaming fire.
they are aliens with strange faces and brazen violence.
they are bureaucrats with plastic pens.
they are demons who look like angels and speak with an orangey- grey tinge.
they are men who have run from pain and into drunkenness.
they are wrapped in barbed wire, estranged from hope.

I don't believe that sharp edged darkness is stronger than light, and I believe that though the hero's hands may waver, the best stories are the kinds that march through a kind of soul blackness, the kinds that cross swords in the valley of the shadow of death-- that feature the kinds of heroes that emerge only because they had something stronger than death and hell pushing them forward and giving them strength (and peace.)

In the stories I love, the heroes are human;

some of them brave and cursed and still fighting.
some of them forgiven, clad in white.
some of them burdened by the stars.
some of them craving escape and crying out for home.
some of them curled up in little balls because of their pain.
some of them numb, broken by their own sins.
some of them tragedies with hearts of gold.

In these stories, the heroes are not perfect, they are not stain-free, and they are usually scarred.   They are fighters, believers and unbelievers, hopeful and depressed, struggling to pursue the light.   Finding it does not come free or easy, but I would argue that the stories are better for it.

"Why do we look for truth in books?"  -Daniel Schwabauer

We're storied creatures, bathed in the echoes of humanity, thirsting for our lives to be more than a blip on the radar, a pinprick on the tackboard.   We pretend we're searching for security, for safety and happiness, but it's not true.  We want what we've wanted since childhood-  a good story.  But we've grown up being told that stories are insignificant, that they're entertainment; something to come home to after a long day; nothing more.

But stories, grand stories, terrifying stories, the kind that make children quake and shake comfortable adults from suburban lives onto great adventures, the kind that are about darkness and light and the invasion of hope into a bleak world, the kind that feature terrible monsters and noir heroes and conflict that points to glorious, universe shaking Truth--

those stories are the kind we're running from, and the kind that some of us are desperate enough to sell everything to find.


  1. ABBY.

    This kind of sums up everything ever.

  2. ............THIS. IS. AMAZING.
    Oh my word. Your writing is excellent!


  3. Not only did you reference Mr. Schwabauer (which you totally get cool points for!) but you also pinpointed why I strongly dislike most of Christian fiction. Too perfect and, to quote, "stain free". Real people aren't like that!!!! Bravo girlfriend! ^_^