Tags: the power of stories



So, I realized I never posted about faith-sharing group's "Resurrection" session.

Sarcastic Lutheran tweeted the Monday before Lazarus Sunday: Question of the day: how does the resurrection matter to people who aren't churchy? how does a "theologian of the cross" preach Easter?

I was fascinated by this question, and so at faith-sharing group that Tuesday (the first one we had), when we opened up the floor for people to volunteer to lead moving forward, I lifted up the idea of Resurrection. I very much didn't want to impose on the group, but other people were excited about it, too, so \o/

I'd double-booked myself, so I ended up not leading until the Tuesday of Holy Week.

I came prepared with a whole bunch of texts, because that's how I roll:
+ Wendell Berry's "Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front" (from whence the phrase "practice resurrection")
+ I had wanted to include quotations from Nora Gallagher's Practicing Resurrection, but I couldn't find where I'd put them
+ Lazarus Sunday readings:
Ezekiel 37:1-14
John 11:1-45
+ Jeremy's post on Jesus re-spawning (and Becca's comment about Jesus regenerating, a la Dr. Who)
+ "funerals for the living" (Monica Coleman blog post, hat-tip: Maria)
+ Marc Cohn's "Walking In Memphis" (which I'd heard at the gym recently)

As you might guess, I ended up just talking about some of the thoughts I brought with me (including the fact that daily lectionary apparently included ALL the raising-from-the-dead stories, which for me begged the question, "So what makes Jesus' Resurrection different?") and not taking out any of the readings.

Rowan had a copy of the spring 2009 ("resurrection stories") issue of consp!re magazine, and we read the opening poem several times. I borrowed her copy of the magazine (and may order myself a copy online, though I think I copied down all the quotations I really wanted to keep in the two weeks that followed). I really wanted to read the poem to you, LJ, but every time I tried it didn't sound right, and eventually I gave up and went to bed. I did type it up for you, though. It's written in strips of capslock typewriter font, and at first I was going to preserve the "stanza" breaks, but then that wasn't working, so I just put in breaks where there is a literal page break.


In order to talk about Jesus' Resurrection, we ended up talking about what led up to Jesus' death, and so I told ALL the stories. I very much didn't want to present just my preferred version, so I kept doing the, "Well one version says this, and one version says that," and I felt a bit abashed at how poor my knowledge is when working without sources at hand. (It made me want to immerse myself in the Gospel narratives, to internalize these stories so much more.)

Eventually Kayla had to actually stop me in the interest of time, force me to move through the Holy Week narrative with less detail -- but when I ~apologized at the end of session, she said she loved it, that she is usually having these conversations with people who don't have that level of knowledge about Christian stories (she's UU) and so she never would have imagined that there would be so much in, for example, the Holy Week story, that she would have to ask someone to leave out some details in the interest of time.

Unitarian Jew Sarah (who loves pre-Easter Jesus) asked me lots of questions, and at the end of session she told me she thought my answers were so "satisfying" which she has found so rarely ♥


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on today's edition of "things that have made me cry":

I hope that you know that you have people who love you like this.

Some of them you know about, some are a secret. I don’t wish for you to get cancer, or something else that looks terrible on the outside, so you get to find who your people are, the depth of their affection, love, faith, ability to show up. Miles deep.

But aren’t you curious?

-Molly, "You People Are Amazing"

In another post, she mentioned the MUGA test, which they keep calling her Muggles test :) and the pastor at the UCC church in my hometown commented:
Actually, you do have magical powers: alchemy. You're taking seemingly random and disconnected events and turning them into a parable. Amazingly good news. Keep telling the story.
I was reminded of the definition of Christianity I once heard: "Gather the people, break bread, and tell stories."
every week is ibarw

"The danger of a single story"

coffeeandink posted a number of links, which I'm working my way through.

One is a talk given by Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie.

At about minute-two (of a nearly twenty-minute talk) she says: "Because all I had read were books in which characters were foreign, I had become convinced that books, by their very nature, had to have foreigners in them. And had to be about things with which I personally could not identify."

I've heard stuff like this before (see my tags) but I don't think I've ever been quite so struck as I was in that moment.

She goes on to approach this idea about monolithic ideas ("a single story") about groups of people (the poor, Africans, Mexicans) from various angles.
tell me a story [lizzieb]

(I also still have no physical-activity icon.)

I was catching up on Justine Larbalestier's blog and read her post "YA & Girls Playing Sport":
Back in early August, Doret Canon of the wonderful blog, The Happy Nappy Bookseller, wrote to thank me for linking to her and ”put in a request for a YA novel featuring girls playing sports. Any sport will do.” I misread her as asking for recommendations for such YA novels when she was in fact asking me to write ‘em. (What can I say August was kind of mental for me.) I was ashamed to discover that all I could think of was Catherine Murdock’s Dairy Queen series and my own How To Ditch Your Fairy. It transpired that Doret knows more about YA sports books than anyone else on the planet. We soon got to talking about books, sport, and YA about girls playing sport.


Justine: What do you think of the theory that girls who like sports don’t read? (I’ve had several girls write and tell me that they loved How To Ditch Your Fairy despite all the sport in it. On the other hand, I had another girl write and tell me she loved it because she’s a point guard. She comes from a family of basketball playing twins.) There does seem to be a conviction that girls have zero interest in sports books.

Doret: I haven’t heard that theory. Though I have heard that sports books featuring girls don’t sell. How can girls buy books they don’t know about. I always feel bad when a girl comes into the bookstore still in uniform mind you, searching for sports book and I have nothing to show them. It totally sucks. Also it sends an awful message to girls who play sports, that they must hunt down stories that reflect a big part of who they are. Let’s just hope that sports self esteem is working because under representation is bad for anyone’s psyche.

Justine: You said it. I can’t think of any girl sports books that have sold really well. I’m hoping that’s just ignorance on my part. Can you think of any really popular girl sports books?

Doret: No, you’re right there aren’t any sports books featuring girls that have sold really well. But, they haven’t been given a chance. It seems like such an obvious market and I don’t know why it’s being ignored. There are readers waiting and wanting and I am not just talking about the athletes. There are others like myself who simply enjoy and appreciate the games.
The bolding is mine. I was so struck by the phrasing because it so reminds me of conversations about lit with GLBTQ characters, characters of color.

Stories about who we are are so important. I remember during one of the rounds of Fail, catvalente wrote (and I could have sworn I quoted it before, but I can't find it, so I'm quoting it now, though yes I know that not being able to find books about women playing sports is at a rather different level than what Cat is talking about):
Stories teach us how to survive. They tell us that our lives can be transcendent, that we can overcome almost anything, no matter how strange, that we can go into the black wood and come out again, that the witch can be burned up in her own oven, that we can find someone who fits a shoe, that the youngest, unloved child will find their way in the world, that those who suffer can become strong, can escape, can find their way into comfort and joy again. That there are secrets, and they are always worth discovering, that there are more and different creatures in the world than we can ever imagine, and not all want to eat us. Stories teach us how to win through, how to perservere, how to live.

As a child of abuse, fairy tales kept me going when I was a girl. Because Gretel could kill the witch, because Snow White could come back from death, because Rapunzel could live even in the desert--then, well, I could too. I could dry my tears and clean up the blood and keep living. This is what stories do. They say: you are worthy of the world, no less than these heroes.

And when we see story after story that has no one like us in it, a book entirely without women, a TV show where white people speak Chinese but there are no Asians visible, a movie set in California without Hispanics, image after image of a world where everyone is straight, and when we are told that it's no big deal, really, there is no race in future societies, that it's not anyone's fault if all the characters are white, that's just how they are, in the pure authorial mind, that we have no sense of humor, that we are ganging up on people because we speak our minds, this is what we hear:

You do not have a right to live. There are no stories for you, to teach you how to survive, because the world would prefer you didn't. You don't get to be human, to understand your suffering or move beyond it. In the perfect future society, you do not exist. We who are colorblind, genderblind, sexualityblind would prefer not to see you even now. In the world we make in our heads, you have been obliterated--even better, you never were. You are incapable of transcendance. You are not worthy of the most essential of human behavior. If you are lucky, we will let you into our stories, and you can learn to be a whore, or someone's mother, or someone's slave, or someone's prey. That is all you are, so pay attention: this is what we want to teach you to be.
tell me a story [lizzieb]

"You don't fix faith, River. It fixes you."

I've been reading the blog Velveteen Rabbi, and she's been posting amazing poetry recently. I love her thoughtful engagement with Jewish texts more broadly, though. I tend toward a much more academic engagement with texts, but her posts feel so... deep, and rich, and there's just something about her writing that feels almost warm... and as she tells the stories I feel almost like I'm living them.

And speaking of Jewish stories... via friendsfriends:
Can you please go to Someday Stories and vote for Evelyn from MA?

Evelyn from MA is the mother of Leah Larson, a seventeen-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl, who decided that there wasn't enough quality reading material out there for Jewish girls--so she decided to create some.

When she was thirteen, she started Yaldah Magazine, a publication for Jewish girls by Jewish girls. It's the American Girl magazine for Jewish teens, and it's actually good. If you look on the staff page, you'll see that aside from a couple of moms, it's all done by teenagers.

That's impressive. And more importantly, this is an issue that's close to my heart. There really is not enough good reading material out there for Jewish teens. When I was growing up, most of the books were poorly edited and had lame plots. And I complained about them. I still do.

Instead of complaining, Leah's making a difference. And she really is--this is a magazine that I've seen my (very sheltered, censored) nieces read. It's solid and impressive. And it's amazing that Barnes and Noble is interested in distributing it.

"then sings my soul . . ."

I was sitting at my kitchen table this morning, eating my breakfast, inhaling the cool [57F at 10am] misty air coming from the open window, and loving it.  I do enjoy the classic sunny days, but it's the colder weather that viscerally lifts my spirits.

I was reading Alan Jones' Reimagining Christianity and got to this part (p. 50):
    Sometimes I feel like one of the old rabbis in the Hasidic tradition who told the story about the people gathering in the forest around the fire to tell the story of redemption.  As time went by, they forgot the story and could no longer find the place in the forest.  But they did remember that there was a story.  All they could do was light a fire and tell the story that there was once a story.  This isn't as gloomy as it sounds, because it is a story about the power of stories.  And the rabbis knew that God loved stories.
I just about cried.
tell me a story [lizzieb]

Anansi Boys (Neil Gaiman, 2005)

Trickster narratives are not my cuppa, so I was all prepared to give this particular one a pass, but then musesfool wrote: "what I really, really liked about this book is that it's about stories, and how they get told, and what they mean, and how they can change your life." Now, that’s pretty much as close as I get to a bullet-proof kink, so I had to read it.

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