Why this narrative?

Faiths and belief systems are characterised by narratives. An earlier post On Suffering, pointed out how the narratives of different world religions make sense of suffering.

The Christian narrative at its core, is based on a simple tenet:

believe in the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and believe that his death was for the restoration of your created purpose – and you will be saved.

Belief itself shapes space and time and so beliefs holds significance.

So why this narrative? What is so magical about this story, that our belief alone shapes eternity?  Doesn’t belief in an exclusive narrative such as this create hate, exclusion and  pride?

Many beliefs do create hate, exclusivity and pride. A belief in moralism or intellectualism definitely leads to pride. It says that “I’m good” or “I’m smart” and “I’m better than you” or I’m smarter than you.” Michel Foucault argued that all truth claims are in fact power-plays.

foucault

In response, it has been pointed out by many apologists and thinkers that the post-Enlightenment post-modern sentiment “there’s no such thing as truth” is an oxymoron, a self-defeating statement. It undermines its own assertion. It corrodes its own ability to claim truth.

The reality is that everybody has beliefs about the world, and by the very nature of believing, excludes others. The significance then lies NOT in suspending belief in an effort to be inclusive, but by extending genuine love to others.

I believe that the Christian narrative fully understood, should make the most loving, inclusive and humble people.

At it’s core, the Christian narrative tells us Ultimate Reality, became flesh and walked the planet. This man, loved those who did not love him, and forgave those who hated him and killed him. The story says, you are not saved because you’re good, but because this man was the good person you could never be. The only way to attain life is to accept you are NOT suffiicient for salvation. His resurrection from death, means that death itself is turned backwards and its power broken. This life IS significant, despite its suffering.

 why this narrative

This narrative, enacted in the hearts and lives of believers, should and could change the world.

 

A Christmas Carol

scrooge

Who doesn’t love a good story of Scrooge at Christmas? The miserly man who hates the holiday cheer, is reformed through a series of rather confronting dreams and wakes to a new lease on life, love and generosity.

However, on closer inspection,  the story may have sinister 19th century overtones.  Ebenezer [Hebrew for “help of God”] Scrooge,  owns a counting house and is a notoriously miserly business man. He has no love for Christmas, and hates the very sentiment. However, three spirits appear to him in dreams and show him Christmases past and present, recounting life events including his own future death. This is enough to inspire in him a love of the Christmas and good cheer to all.

Does anyone else notice something suspicious about a cold hearted, money hungry, eccentric old man, with a Jewish name in London, chief of a counting house who hates the very idea of Christian holiday ? Faced with his own imminent cold grave, his own selfishness is illuminated, he repents and becomes joyful and generous.

a-christmas-carol1

The story moves from a tale of human redemption to something dated by racial overtones. While the story of restoration through a realisation of Christ’s birth is joyful, unfortunately Dickens tale errs to moralism – Scrooge is Jewish and selfish and should become Christian and generous.  I’m not the only one who thinks so:

http://blogs.riverfronttimes.com/dailyrft/2010/12/dickens_christmas_carol_anti-s.php

If Christians are to tell stories of redemption, we are better to take a biblical [and indeed Hebrew] perspective of how the narrative plays out. The protagonist is always the common one, always flawed. One does not become a follower of Christ by accepting the holidays and charitable ways – but by radically being confronted by the grace given.