Learning the Narrative

You hear sometimes people in politics and public relations talking about “controlling the narrative.”  Usually, this means trying to get a jump on a story by being the first to explain what is going on.  The hope is that a “narrative” friendly to one’s position will be established in the mind of the public so that adversaries will be at a disadvantage, having to attack the already accepted presuppositions of the public.  The constant struggle in the media to control narratives reveals just how powerful stories are.  A well-told story has a way of ingraining itself into the minds of listeners, shaping their understanding of reality. 

Our Lord was a master storyteller.  The parables captured the imaginations of the people who heard Him.  But this is unsurprising since the whole story of salvation is one grand narrative.  It might not seem that way if we’re unfamiliar with the Bible.  We might have some sense of the importance of people like Adam and Eve, Abraham, King David, and vaguely understand them as being somehow connected to Christ.  But the more we learn about the scriptures, the more deeply we can discern the threads that connect all of the different people and their stories.  Moreover, the more clearly we recognize the themes, the more relatable the scriptures become to our own lives.  And the more relatable they become to us, the more salvation history shapes our understanding of reality as it is intended by God. 

But even if we do want to know the scriptures better, it’s hard to know where to start.  The Bible is a really thick book, filled with strange-sounding places and names.  Where to begin?  Recently, I came across a really good resource that’s available to watch on YouTube.  It’s called “The Bible Project,” and it is a series of animated videos that give an overview of the different books of the Bible.  The animation is very well done, and the narrators give excellent descriptions of what is happening in each book, showing how different events that sound strange and obscure fit into the overall narrative of salvation history.  Viewers should know that the creators are not Catholic but Evangelical Protestants, so they do present some things in a way that don’t fit exactly into the Church’s reading of Sacred Scripture.  But overall, it’s a tremendous accomplishment.  I would highly recommend their series on the Torah, the first 5 books of the Old Testament. It’s a great introduction to the series and sets the tone for reading the books as a whole. 

In an age that is obsessed with controlling the narrative, it is essential for Christians to understand our own story.  Unless we know and understand our own story, we will never understand ourselves in relationship to God and each other.  And unless we understand that, we will never be able to engage in the work of evangelization that the Lord Jesus has entrusted to His followers.  Thankfully, there are a growing number of resources out there that present the Faith in a simple but very sophisticated way.  “The Bible Project” is one of these resources.  Check out the Torah Series and let me know what you think.  You can find it here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLH0Szn1yYNee8aedW_5aCpnzkxnV7VQ3K

posted 4/17/21

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