Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Losing the Story

One of the criticisms that seems to always surface about the Bible is that it's a contrived story. There is a lot that underlies the criticism, but one of the things that is usually tied with it is the idea that because it was written with a purpose (or a bias), that it can't be trusted.

Obviously, this is a simplistic reading of the criticism, but it works for now.

It reminded me of one of the quotes from Steve Jobs' Commencement Address to Stanford University in 2005 (the full text may be found here.)

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

I'm not advocating Jobs' read on purpose. What I want to bring out is this idea that we all create our own stories. We all connect the dots in our life to show that there had to be some reason for this or for that – it's how most of us try to come to grips with a universe that we don't control. It's how most of us try to define our universe in terms that it might very well be working toward the end of our own beneficence.

But what do we do in a world where there is no editorial management of what is known and what is unknown? How do you connect the dots of “Eating right now.” “Studying right now.” “Walking outside.” etc.? If it's not clear, let me make it so: in a world where relationships are defined, upheld, and propelled by status updates, circles, and tweets, how to we form a cogent story about our lives?

The dilemma probably revolves around the idea that the ideal is a personal story. The Bible is not about your personal story, however. And so a Christian might be placed even more at odds with a culture that places the context of story in an electronic and impersonal environment, an insular space where your story is cultivated by stream of consciousness, selfish ramblings, and arguments that do little to convince.

The Bible is written with a bias. The Bible is written from a perspective that believes that all of humanity is wrapped in the story of a Creator God and how humanity, from very nearly the very beginning, decides that the dots don't connect to God's story, but the story of self-importance and interpretation of life outside of the community of God.