Monday, October 5, 2009

Story, narrative, or what?

Yesterday when I preached on Daniel in the Lion's den, I used the phrase several times, "story of" "story about," etc. It was gently and lovingly brought to my attention that some people mistakenly think the word story is almost always synonymous with fiction. I recognize that's the case with some people; it's easy to misunderstand the intended meaning of the word "story" in a day and age when people don’t always value absolute truth. So, let me try to alleviate this misperception on the use of the word story...

Somehow the term story seems to have a significantly greater force than some of the alternatives, so I'd really like to stick with the word story. How then do we avoid being misunderstood, how do we convey that story is, in this case, a legitimate real — authentic relay of information? I know what I mean when I use the word; getting that across might take some extra effort.

We could use several different words, when we mean story: account, narrative, report, chronicle, or maybe even statement, again, instead of story. This is tough, especially since I plan to preach through the "great stories" of the Bible between now and next May. I don't think it will be appreciated if every week, each sermon begins with a disclaimer on the intended meaning of the word story.

Perhaps occasionally saying things like: these are real people, real places, this really happened, or some equivalent to that, might work. I’m not sure what’s best. Maybe a combination of every so often reminding people that story is not synonymous with fiction, and then every so often replacing the word story with “account of” “description of” or “retelling” might work.

If you have an idea on how to clarify this, please let me know J Who knows, your “story” of helping me out might just make it into the Sunday morning sermon…

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