Friday, August 18, 2006

The Creation of a Masterpiece

mas┬Ěter┬Ěpiece n.
The most outstanding work of a creative artist or craftsman.

I got to have a long conversation recently with another friend about what kinds of things we look for and identify with in Story. If you have read my earlier post, you know how I feel about Story and what I think the stories we identify with can tell us about what we value. Something my friend and I talked about though is what a story says about the creator.

Personally, I don't think it's important whether I know what the writer of a book or TV show or movie was trying to say. Unless I happen to find out an author's purpose or intended message for a story and it's something I find particularly untrue or repugnant, what matters more to me is what effect the story has on me and what it means to me. (That specifically applies to fiction; non-fiction is an entirely different matter. In non-fiction obviously what the author is trying to say is the whole point of the work.) However, whether or not the author's message is my primary focus doesn't negate this fact: the creation can tell you a lot about what the creator values and believes to be true, if you know where and how to look at it.

When a writer creates a story, they are creating a world that exists and functions according to what the writer believes to be true. The heroes in a story behave the way the writer believes a true hero should behave, and villains in a story embody the characteristics the writer believes to be evil. Moral choices are made in the story according to the writer's beliefs about morality.

The worlds that writers create through Story are just an incomplete, two-dimensional copy of the real world. In the same way, this world and this life are mere reflections of the life God has promised to those who are saved, which we will someday live in the world he has prepared. This world we are living in now and the story he is playing out in it speak the qualities, characteristics and truths of the Master Creator and, like all non-fiction, the message the Author is communicating is of vital importance.

Watch a sunset and you get a glimpse of the glory and beauty of God. Take in a mountain vista from a hiking trail and you see a hint of his majesty. Every roll of thunder is a whisper of his power. When you hold your newborn child in your arms, you experience the merest speck of the kind of love God has for us, in spite of everything. Whenever you see someone do something amazingly unexpected and good, you get a glimmer of the kindness, mercy, and goodness that has its very definition in God. God's message was acted out for us by his son Jesus, who showed us the nature of a true hero by living sinless and dying and rising again to redeem us.

Don't miss what God is trying to tell you.

Psalm 19

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.

There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,

which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is hidden from its heat.

The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.

The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.

The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever.
The ordinances of the LORD are sure
and altogether righteous.

They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the comb.

By them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

Who can discern his errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.

Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then will I be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.



Anonymous John Buerger said...

Great post, Jon. I loved what you said about story, especially God's work in our lives and the way He communicates His values through the story of history. Indeed, it is my contention that the story of redemption is written throughout nature, history and even the stories we create. Perfection, fall and then redemption/re-creation. We find it in every area of human inquiry. Thanks for a great post.

Sunday, August 20, 2006 3:18:00 PM  
Blogger treeinforest said...

Thank you for the conversation that inspired it.

Sunday, August 20, 2006 8:46:00 PM  

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