The Power of Narrative

Our languishing culture is made up of individuals, not a collective mass audience. Most of them are blasé, complacent individuals. To simply confront them with holier-than-thou accusations or rah-rah chants is fruitless. Moral outrage doesn’t make sense to them anymore, and misplaced skepticism is profuse. How do you cure a patient who refuses to believe they are ill?

This is an age-old problem with an age-old solution. Do not merely inform them. Show them.

Imagine the thoughts that must have gone through the prophet’s mind as he walked to the residence of the King of Israel. Nathan was approaching David, the legendary musician and warrior who was – as God Himself said – a man after God’s own heart.

But David had just committed adultery with Bathsheba, and after learning she was pregnant by him he deliberately had her husband put on the front line of the fiercest battle so that he would be killed. After Bathsheba mourned her husband’s death, David took her as his wife. David had disgraced himself in front of YAHWEH, but he had grown so full of himself that he hadn’t even realized it.

How did the prophet break the news to the complacent king? With a parable.

Despite its subtlety, the story was powerful enough that David empathized with the story’s protagonist who was done wrong. He was so outraged by its heartless antagonist, in fact, that he said, “As the LORD lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die” (II Samuel 12:5).

Then Nathan exclaimed, “YOU are the man!”

The realization brought David to his knees. He felt conviction because he had witnessed his own actions analogized in a story he had never heard before – a story from which he was otherwise personally detached. He was thus caught vulnerable, with no witty excuse prepared in order to plead his innocence. David was truly guilty.

The American people need to be told stories about themselves that they haven’t heard before – stories that suddenly reveal that the sort of character we despised is what we ourselves have become.

That’s why Matthew Perdie and I (likely to be joined by my siblings and some friends) are planning a venture into narrative film. He’s doing all the groundwork in New York City while I’m doing the screenwriting out here in Ohatchee, Alabama. I experimented with screenwriting a few years ago, and as I have just three classes left before graduating from college, I look forward to trying my hand at it again. Historical drama and epic are my passion, but modern themes will likely be explored first.

Our goal will be to use narrative film to awaken people’s consciences to seek the truth.

Luke Historians

Luke Historians

Last year, I introduced my original idea for Luke Historians. But after an exciting year of expansive writing opportunities, I decided to modify the LH mission with the huge goal of eventually becoming a publishing and media company that explores the intersection of ideas. While the website is still far from being complete, the vision is there (also follow on Twitter, “like” on Facebook and subscribe on YouTube). I present to you:

www.LukeHistorians.com

To Most Excellent Theophilus, et al

Greetings. Prepare to bask in the irony…

No, this isn’t about Luke Skywalker.

Luke Historians is a project inspired by one of the fascinating anomalies of Scripture: a scientific Greek who wrote two books of the Bible.

Doctor Luke

As a Greek physician living in first century A.D., Luke descended from the famous Hellenic traditions of pursuing truth through human reason, research and observation. The Greeks are credited with playing a key role in the development of the scientific and historic methods. Indeed, the word “history” has its roots in the Greek language, and the method of historical inquiry was first outlined by Thucydides (c. 460-400 B.C.), an exiled general who compiled an account of the Peloponnesian War.

General Thucydides

“In investigating past history, and in forming the conclusions which I have formed, it must be admitted that one cannot rely on every detail which has come down to us by way of tradition. People are inclined to accept all stories of ancient times in an uncritical way – even when these stories concern their own native countries…

…Most people, in fact, will not take trouble in finding out the truth, but are much more inclined to accept the first story they hear…

…And with regard to my factual reporting of the events of the war I have made it a principle not to write down the first story that came my way, and not even to be guided by my own general impressions; either I was present myself at the events which I have described or else I head of them from eye-witnesses whose reports I have checked with as much thoroughness as possible.

Not that even so the truth was easy to discover: different eye-witnesses give different accounts of the same events, speaking out of partiality for one side of the other or else from imperfect memories. And it may well be that my history will seem less easy to read because of the absence in it of a romantic element. It will be enough for me, however, if these words of mine are judged useful by those who want to understand clearly the events which happened in the past and which (human nature being what it is) will, at some time or other and in much the same ways, be repeated in the future.

My work is not a piece of writing designed to meet the taste of an immediate public, but done to last forever.”

- Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War

Notice the style similarities between General Thucydides and Doctor Luke:

“Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.”

- Luke 1:1-4 (NASB)

Investigate. Eye-witness accounts. No nonsense. Give me the facts, with no sugar on top. Facts with eternal significance.

Marvin Perry’s Sources of the Western Tradition offers the following prologue to the writings of Thucydides:

“The Greeks carefully investigated events – the first people to examine the past with a critical eye. Thucydides examined men’s actions and their motives, explicitly rejected divine explanations for human occurrences, searched for natural causes, and based his conclusions on evidence. In this approach, he was influenced by the empiricism of the Hippocratic physicians.”

It is not an unreasonable leap to conclude that Luke, a Hippocratic physician, was heir to this method of historical inquiry. Furthermore, Luke’s writings address a Greek audience that thought…well, like Greeks.

Among the questions of contemporary readers are these: Why did this man love Jesus and think his fellow Greeks needed to hear about Him? What made a skeptical Greek believe that Jesus was the Son of Yahweh, God of the Hebrews? Why did he believe in Jesus Christ’s resurrection, the core belief of Christianity?

Luke Historians is a website dedicated to trumping convention in two ways:

  1. Our society governs by the doctrine that “the present is the key to the past,” which was originally supposed to apply to only the scientific concept of uniformitarianism. But how often is the past viewed through the lens of the present throughout all culture? We must instead investigate the past to interpret the successes and failures of the present. The Past is the Key to the Present.
  2. The Bible is necessarily respected in academic circles as the single most influential text in Western Civilization. But fundamental misunderstandings about this remarkable book exist because the Greek and Hebrew minds clash. Most residents of the Western World descend from the Greek (or Gentile) heritage of thought and thus have difficulty understanding the historical and prophetic narrative of the Hebrew Bible. That is why Luke is a great starting point for common ground debate, because Luke himself was a Greek taking part in a very Hebrew happening. Luke Historians is intended to be a haven for all the nerdy Christians, Skeptics and any others interested in solving the Bible and its role in history to crawl out of their various gang slums on the internet and meet for intelligent problem-solving. A Meeting of the Greek and Hebrew Minds.

In short:

Combating Biblical, Historical and Scientific Ignorance…

by forcing Skeptics and Bible Believers to research together against their will since 2010!

Video by Theodore Shoebat

Dramatizing History, Part I: Why Dramatize History?

dramatizing-history-banner

A significant part of story telling is retelling true stories.  From news articles and headlines to ballads and epics, the tone of conveying history is vast from generation to generation.

Webster’s New World 3rd College Edition
drama: greek roots/1. a literary composition that tells a story, usually of human conflict, by means of dialogue and action, to be performed by actors; /2. the art or profession of writing, acting or producing plays.

dramatize: to make into a drama; adapt (a story, events, etc.) for performance on the stage, in a movie, etc.

1828 Webster’s Dictionary
DRAMA: [Gr. δραμα, from δραω, to make] A poem or composition representing a picture of human life, and accomodated to action.
DRAMATIZE: To compose in the form of the drama; or to give to a composition the form of a play. At Riga in 1204 was acted a prophetic play, that is, a dramatized extract from the history of the Old and New Testaments. Tooke’s Russia.

The stage and screen have a way of presenting history to a wide audience – the young, the old, the illiterate and the inarticulate. Of course, a medium so effective for communication is, like the internet, excessively flawed in many ways. Freedom of speech is often abused, morality mutilated and “artistry” sickening.

Many proper Christians throughout time have decided that avoiding such a potentially tentative industry would make things better. Unfortunately, with few believers actively protecting and improving the field, it is now largely governed by an elite and wealthy group of people that abide by a liberal code with a vengeance. No, there is no need for generalizations and stereotypes, but the facts are cold and hard. Non-discerning people produce material that becomes a hit thanks to a non-discerning audience. The vicious cycle continues, and everyone in the industry begins a limbo challenge: how low can you go before the audience simply can’t bear to watch it anymore?

I heard that not too long ago some atheists stated that “Christians aren’t very creative”.  Us?  The ones that read the History Book of the Universe?  The ones that understand the awesome story of creation, corruption and redemption better than anyone else?  The ones that see history as CHRIST’s excellent plot – more intricate and beautiful than anything a novelist can conceive of?

These past two years I worked on writing a historical screenplay, and during that time I learned a lot about not only history, but the artistry of telling it.  I would like to share what I learned and perhaps make that the main theme of my blog.

Dramatizing history can cover a wide range of topics and styles.  Sometimes it covers historical events with fictional characters (historical fiction), and other times is actually covers historical characters and historical events.  The latter is often more challenging because it requires you to harness your creativity within a pre-set plot.  The fun in it is that it is similar to an artist painting from reality and a photographer taking and enhancing a photo – the writer gets to show the audience his or her perspective of the whole picture and enhance the shades and details of the story that they find fascinating.

Hamlet_quarto_3rdBy the way, the Christian authors are – or should be – the best.  They are the people that see important meaning and themes of history and understand why it is worth remembering.  If you think they aren’t creative, it is because there are too few of them in comparison to the non-believers that have taken over the professional story telling industry.  Those people have, as Geoff Botkin said, worked extremely hard to get to where they are while many Christians have been lazy and thus surrendered the creative industry to them.  Furthermore, the devil has been around long enough to make up some pretty convincing stories himself – and he wants to retell history in a way that glorifies him rather than the CREATOR.

The painting in the banner is of a scene from Shakespeare’s Hamlet.  It is the scene in which his uncle, the king, is convicted of his sin while watching a play that Hamlet produced about a character who acts like the king himself.  That is where Hamlet’s line, “The play’s the thing – wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king” comes from.  It reminds me of the time Nathan told a convicting parable to King David (2 Samuel 12) - but King Claudius was not nearly as repentant (a la King Saul).  I’ve read that even Hamlet is supposedly based on an actual historical character.

Well, I’ll begin my research, analysis and writing and see what comes of it.

Tradition!


 Fiddler On The Roof

I didn't get to make a post on the first day of March, so I will begin this post with what occurred then.  Our friends the Williams kindly invited Rachel, Joseph and me to accompany them to a splendid performance of Fiddler On The Roof.  I saw the movie many years ago, and I think the JSU Drama Department performance was very well done.

The story is set in Anatevka, a small village in Russia in the year 1905 - on the eve of the Russian Revolutionary period (which goes right along with my upcoming study).  It follows the life of Tevye, a Jewish peasant and father of five daughters who says that living in their village is like being a "fiddler on the roof"; seemingly crazy, haphazard and risky, yet precisely balanced and preserved by Tradition. The drama and comedy (and of course, the music...live orchestra at the theatre we went to) unfolds into a very entertaining family story that ends on a rather sad note...the political culture changes invade and end up moving even the villagers grounded by Tradition to scatter about the world.

I found myself humorously thinking that a "Fiddler" set in our era would begin the other way around: people trying to withdraw from the modern mayhem to find some sort of Tradition to balance with in the first place!

~~~

Our soap supplies arrived this week, so we were able to make glycerin soap on Friday.  The process is amazingly simple and fun, but you will have to wait and read the details and see the photographs (whichever decent ones out the 50 make the cut) in the next issue of The Girlhood Home Companion.

I've returned to my WVWW Year II Audios (did I mention that I haven't been studying while I was finishing up the screenplay?) and have enjoyed the lectures on The American Revolution, John Locke, The Declaration of Independence...I am way too into it most of the time.  I like to rewind and re-listen constantly (just as I reread pages in books - and then rarely finish them).  My little portable headset CD player has been much appreciated, but suddenly the rewind button quit working (I took that as a sign).  I am thus now forced to listen attentively while resisting the urge to rewind and get that tiny historical detail.

As soon as I finish those, I have to drill through Geometry.  Then I study to take the infamous ACT and then - I'll be considered a "Homeschool graduate".  Oh...and Dad finally got me a driver's manual to study for my permit.  That's probably the subject I could care the least about (if that goes below math, that is really saying something), but I have it to do.

~Amanda~ 

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Comments

Thursday, March 13, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by ArtisticFlare
Hello there. Thank you for the comment! :) It does indeed look like we have a lot in common. :) Hopefully we can get to know each other better.

Do you mind if I add you to my friends list?

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Thursday, March 13, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by ArtisticFlare
Thank you. :) It really was a thought provoker! It made you think long and hard on some things.

That is cool that you might get a wordpress blog, they are fun. :)
Later

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Thursday, March 13, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by BlogBoy
Haha, that is funny! I thought the music might have been a little to rocky for some people, but it IS Irish and it is only going to be on there for a few more days. Lol. I'm glad your siblings enjoyed it ;)

Thanks, I'm glad it turned out so nice.

Eric