On Story

by Sandra

Fae just recently blogged about Donald Miller’s podcast from Mars Hill. Being a fan of Donald Miller, I listened to it before I went to bed last night.

In it he criticizes the tendency to always try to extrapolate meaning from the Bible, even though the Bible is mostly narrative. He argues that we don’t do that with any other pieces of narrative, and especially not the stories from our own lives, and suggests that perhaps we should look more closely at the Bible for its narrative qualities and at God as Author.

The correlation he makes is that we, in turn, have the ability, the responsibility to author our lives, to live with passion and purpose to create a “story” out of our lives that is impactful and meaningful, and not like a film that you’d want to get up and walk out of half-way through.

To drive home his points, Miller uses passages from scripture and also from STORY, by Robert McKee, a screenwriting manual that has become so revered in the entertainment industry, referenced so often as the apex of the craft, it has sunken into parody. I’m even using it as one of my text books this semester. Don’t get me wrong though, for however eye-roll inducing the book is in some places, McKee does indeed know what he’s talking about.

Especially in the very last paragraph, which Miller reads at the end of his talk. What he read struck me to the point of pulling the book off the shelf this morning and taking a closer look. As a source of inspiration for the writer’s life, it is effective. Yet to take the word “story” out the paragraph and replace it with “life,” to apply this to living a life of meaning, as Miller suggests throughout his talk, it takes on a new poignancy. Read:

“Write (live) every day, line by line, page by page, hour by hour. Keep Story at hand. Use what you learn from it as a guide, until command of its principles becomes as natural as the talent you were born with. Do this despite fear. For above all else, beyond imagination and skill, what the world asks of you is courage, courage to risk rejection, ridicule, failure. As you follow the quest for stories told with meaning and beauty, study thoughtfully but write boldly. Then, like the hero of the fable, your dance will dazzle the world.”