Posted by: Postordinandy | July 24, 2009

Dangerous Stories

Stories have always been important. Since the earliest times, whenever a family or community gathered, stories we told and retold. They formed and informed our cultures and languages. They gave us our personal and corporate identities. They told us where we belonged, how things worked, why things happened the way they did, what the future may hold for us.

Christians – despite occasionally appearances to the contrary – are not defined by our buildings, liturgies, or even by our statements of faith. We are defined purely by the ‘Grand Stories’ of the Christian faith: the life and work of Jesus, the work of God through the ages, the action of the Holy Spirit.

As exiles in culture that is not fully ours, we need these dangerous stories to give us the courage we need to carry on in tough or confusing times, and strategies for how such progress may be made. Exiles need to re and re-read the Gospels in particular. We need to make them ‘our story’, so that – for all our failings – we can emulate Christ as boldly as we can.

As a church, we recently spent some time reflecting on the nature and power of stories. It occurred to us that these God-stories are inherently dangerous to all who engage with them:

  • Dangerous to those who hear them – for they challenge assumed lifestyles and worldviews.dangerous
  • Dangerous to the host empire – for they challenge those systems and structures that are not godly.
  • Dangerous to the religious institutions – for those of us within them may recognise ourselves more in those whom Jesus challenged during his ministry than we would like to see.
  • Dangerous to us as individual Christians and as story-telling communities – for how we do so, (our assumed knowledge and our language for example), may be problematic or indecipherable to others.

To an extent, the art of creative story telling seems to be dying within the Christian community – many of us rely on others telling us what we should believe and why, rather than hearing the story and mulling over the possible teaching behind it. How do we re-engage with stories in this way? Should we worry that the art is dying? What are the stories that we should be telling and how?

It seems to us that the answer may be found in the telling and re-telling of these stories – both to others and ourselves. In particular, we found ourselves challenged with respect to the level of understanding that those outside the Christian community have of these powerful and dangerous God-stories. Our temptation can be to say to ourselves: “isn’t it terrible that people don’t know the story anymore”. Our calling must be, instead, to say: “let’s tell them the story – they don’t know it!”



  1. […] Sticking a finger in the chest of injustice We moved into perhaps more challenging territory for our 3rd session on the Exilio course… thus far, we have looked at the ideas of ‘dangerous memories’ and ‘dangerous stories’.  […]

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