Friday, June 7, 2013

The God Who Tells Stories

My "right-before-you-fall-asleep" reading over the last week or so has been G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy.  Chesterton has flitted across the periphery of my consciousness for years, but I'd just never quite gotten around to reading him.

I'm glad I remedied it.  Chesterton is good stuff, wry and creative and thoughtful, and it stirs my own musings most effectively.  Whimsy and wit are necessary for good theology.

In last night's reading, Chesterton articulated a line of thinking that I've often expressed myself.  God, he said, is a storyteller.   As someone who loves a good tale or a good yarn, I seriously grok to this way of conceptualizing God's work.  It also speaks to the way that we exist, as creatures of narrative, spinning our own small tales across a flicker of time and space.

But as I've got multiverse on the brain lately, I found myself reflecting on the impact of my peculiar take on the nature of God's work and the whole "telling a story" concept.  Because I no longer see creation as just one single narrative, but as many stories.  As many as God can tell.

That's a lot, by the way.  She has a whole bunch of time on her hands.

What struck me about this was the way it plays out against two different views of storytelling in scripture.   It's the peculiar tension between John of Patmos (who gave us the Book of Revelation) and the Beloved Disciple (who gave us John's Gospel.)

John of Patmos ferociously defends the apocalyptic narrative he articulates.  If you add anything, or change anything, you're in some trouble, buster.  There will be smiting. 

The Beloved Disciple, on the other hand, ends their story...once, and then again...with an acknowledgement that there's more to be told.  So much more to be told, in fact, that the world itself could not contain that story.

One theology of storytelling only hears itself.  Another makes room for more.

Must be why I so love John's Gospel.