Everyone likes a good story, especially children but also adults. A good story gets a person involved in dramatic activity. It stirs one’s emotions. A good story attracts one’s attention, but it also holds that attention over the course of time. And a good story is repeatable. Its benefits don’t wear out, and its drama never really becomes old.
I’m sure that most of you can remember such stories that you have enjoyed. I’m fairly old, but I still remember some stories that I read as a child, “Wolf” by Jack London, “Lassie Come Home” before it was made into a movie, “My Friend Flicka”, “The Secret Garden”, “The Last of the Mohicans”, and others. I can remember my wife and I reading “bed time” stories to our children each night before they went to sleep. And it was obvious that these young children were learning from these stories. If we tried to skip a few lines to finish quickly, they would stop us and insist that we repeat the story line for line and word by word. They knew the stories, and they didn’t want to miss any part of them.
A good story for children
I believe that children learn language and how to read from stories, probably before they begin to read English grammars in school classrooms. And I believe that youth learn some valuable lessons about growing up from stories like “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, and adults learn about history from stories about George Washington, Lewis and Clark, Daniel Boone, and other famous figures from our past. So stories have many important benefits for all of us beside those of just being interesting entertainment.
I think that the particular format for a story has some important effect on its benefits. I think that it makes a difference whether the story was one that we heard read to us, or one that we read from a book ourselves, or one that we saw depicted in a movie or video like the movie “The Passion of The Christ” or “Saving Private Ryan”. Some TV dramas, like “Star Trek”, have taken on the aura of great stories with an almost timeless appeal.
A good story in tradition
And I think that often times embellishments that are added to stories from other stories and cultural traditions hamper or destroy the value of the initial stories. I think that this is what has happened with the initial stories of God’s incarnation in human flesh through the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem and the resurrection of Jesus from his tomb in Jerusalem thirty-three years later. These stories have been initially recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the Bible.
There is a very interesting and dramatic story about an earlier revolution in Egypt that had some significant consequences on the world. It is the story of God’s deliverance of about two million foreigners after 430 years of service under the dictatorial rule of various Egyptian kings. The actual exodus of these people occurred with the leadership of Moses who delivered them with God’s help from their positions as slaves under the control of Pharaoh, and the story even includes an account of the destruction of some of the Egyptian army without any of these Israelites even throwing one stone or a spear at their oppressors. It is an amazing story that is found in the Bible in the book of Exodus, chapters 1 through 14, and it really happened although the exact date is uncertain.
And CNN recently reported that the comic book version of ” Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story”, which was published in Arabic and distributed in Cairo in 2008 may have had some influence on the young adults who led a non-violent revolution in January and February of 2011 in the streets of Egypt and in Tahrir Square in Cairo.
So what good stories do you remember? What stories have made a real impression on you and why? What recently popular stories do you feel may have some really good lasting qualities about them? What are those qualities? Do you know a good story you’d like to share? Let’s talk about this.