This Sunday I launch The Walker Tales on my church when I do my third Children’s message. The Walker Tales is a series of stories that follow Blind Bill who becomes Walker on his journey to become a servant in the King’s court. I’m telling a fictional story because I believe children absorb a lot more from storytelling than from preaching. Rather than follow an argument for the wisdom of doing such-and-so behavior, they experience vicariously the choices and consequences of a person who does or does not make the wise choice.
They intuit the moral blueprint of the world, those universal truths that seem to run through civilization:
- Human life is precious beyond price so one should treat all people with honor, especially the weak
- Work for justice
- Show mercy
- Nurture and protect the ones you promise to love, through hard times and good
- Don’t murder
- Don’t steal
- Don’t lie
- Give thanks to your Creator
- Do your work to the best of your ability
As Walker travels he learns to love the King of the land and know him intimately. He learns to trust him. Every week Walker has an episode which unpacks some truth about his world and ours.
I am not writing parables, though. Jesus spoke in parables a lot but the disciples needed them to be explained in order to understand them. Jesus says at one point that he speaks in parables to a deaf people who are not able to hear the truth (Matthew 13:10f) but that the parables reveal truth to those that can hear.
I am telling a story in which my audience walks along with the hero and learns vicariously what he learns. I think this could be called allegorical fiction, in company with Chronicles of Narnia or that forthright allegory, Pilgrim’s Progress. The Bible has a few examples, such as where Jotham tells a fiction of talking trees that parallels what the leadership of Israel had done, and where Nathan breaks through David’s defenses with the story of the greedy rich man. This last one is particularly interesting because by it is telling fiction and not by direct preaching that Nathan was able to convince David his behavior was repugnant. David had no doubt justified to himself his actions with Bathsheba and Uriah but when he heard the same framework sideways he was able to judge the rich man’s sin and therefore his own. Art, whether a story, a song, or an image has the capacity to bypass the gate-keeper, Reason, and penetrate the heart directly.
I still remember the story and the impact of a Children’s Message delivered by a young and experimenting pastor when I was nine.
Here at home, I write in isolation. I would love to have feedback on these stories! I need beta readers, if you will. My husband loves everything I write but he has learned it is better to encourage me than to tell me something looks/sounds awful. I wonder if any of my readers would care to read and react? I would love that.
I’ll publish Walker Tale #1 tomorrow.
I have to say, now that I have determined to work as a writer I feel much more settled. When I write out an idea I feel satisfied, as though I ate a rich meal. On the days when I do administrative tasks instead of writing I feel restless. I have rescheduled my days so appointments and housecleaning fall in the afternoons, most days.
So that, my friends, is where my head is these days.