What if we ran out of stories? It doesn’t seem like we’re any danger of that. Netflix announced earlier this year that it was going to spend $8 billion on original content in 2018. Other media outlets are increasing their output. Even amateurs with a smartphone are producing YouTube series.
Our appetite for stories doesn’t seem to be slowing either. Streaming, from Netflix alone, accounts for 15% of all the online traffic worldwide. Binging on a richly-textured series is a happy pastime for a lot of people. (For me, too, truth be told.)
But what stories guide our common life? It doesn’t seem that we can agree on a narrative that helps us understand the moment that we’re in. Is it The Handmaid’s Tale? The Avengers? Game of Thrones?
One of Bishop Sharma Lewis’s key initiatives has been to encourage Virginia United Methodists to read through the Bible once a year. Besides being a means of grace, immersing ourselves in Scripture gives us a chance to be formed by our most elemental stories. They are by no means easy to read. (Game of Thrones has nothing on some of the violent displays in Israel’s history!) But they challenge us to see, behind every disturbing human episode, a divine hand and intention.
Television critics like to bemoan the fact that so many of the new TV offerings are retreads of old tales. But here’s a basic plot that could illumine every story. We say it every time we gather around the table. Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.
O the stories we could tell with that premise!