Short Stories Change the World

Some years ago, long enough to evade a Twitter search, I posted a series of tweets called #shortstorieschangetheworld. Problematically the long hash tag shortened the 140-character Twitter limitation by another twenty-seven letters.

I’ve been listening to the Bible in Welsh this week. I listen in Welsh even more haltingly that I speak, so my gray matter is lighting up in wild explosions of color like a fireworks show each morning. Listening to the Bible in Welsh reminded me of the short series of tweets I called #shortstorieschangetheworld. Fortunately I found an old poetry and lyric book with a list of a few of these tweets.

  • Wounded Knee, Giving Tree, Aesop’s Fables, like bread and wine on 10,000 tables. #shortstorieschangetheworld
  • Holocaust, Nightingale, a crown of thorns, a fisher’s tale. #shortstorieschangetheworld
  • Sleepy Hollow, “My, what big teeth”, nevermore, Robert Johnson’s devil’s deal. #shortstorieschangetheworld
  • Newton’s apple, Watergate, nations fall as we heed the snake. #shortstorieschangetheworld
  • Waxing gibbous moon last night, winked, I think – I hope – before it left the sky. #shortstorieschangetheworld
  • Tortoise and hare, a boy cries wolf, patiently Mandela’s jail is apartheid’s fail. #shortstorieschangetheworld
  • Ten plagues, painted caves, Socrates, God between two thieves. #shortstorieschangetheworld

Five of the seven tweets carry some form of imagery from the Bible. I may be a pastor who focuses my attention on the Bible far more than the average Christian, let alone the average person, but this use of Biblical imagery as reminders of short stories that change our lives is not unique to me. Biblical imagery is weaved into the fabric of our culture. Scapegoat, the writing on the wall, signs of the times, seeing eye to eye, nothing but skin and bones, going the extra mile, a broken heart, bite the dust, eat drink and be merry – these are just a few common references that come from the Bible. Such commonality of cultural reference only occurs when great stories – stories with longevity – stories with transformative power impact people generation after generation.

Easter is coming upon us. We are in the spaces between the strange donkey ride into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the dark day of crucifixion, and the wild resurrection. These are short stories that have changed culture – even to the point of influencing the rise and fall of nations. The entirety of the life of Christ has been given to us in four short stories we call the Gospels. This week Christendom focuses upon the last week of these Jesus stories, and I am reminded that #shortstorieschangetheworld.

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