[From the archives.]
We Need Stories
I’m a Jane Austen fan. Her novels, her short stories, her letters. I’m a fan of adaptations too, whether taken directly from her work (Emma Thompson rocked the script for Sense and Sensibility and won a well-deserved Oscar for it) or a modern spin (we’ve watched Clueless more than once at our house).
I’m also a fan of the latest Pride and Prejudice adaptation: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. This video blog is the cleverest modern take on Austen I’ve ever seen. Lizzie Bennet as social media vlogger? Yes, it can be done, and done so well that you forget the plot was originally written over 200 years ago. Today marks the finale, and I will miss this series greatly.
One of the main reasons for its success is Ashley Clements, the person cast in the title role. She carries the heavy burden of being Elizabeth Bennet, perhaps the most read heroine in 19th c. British literature, and makes it look like a natural fit. You can watch the videos for yourself to see what I mean.
What I’d like to point out here, though, is the fact that Ms. Clements herself is worth admiring if for no other reason than a recent post on her blog.* Some of her fans told her that they’d been going through hard things and even, though they thought it might sound silly, found comfort in knowing they could always stop by for The Lizzie Bennet Diaries on Mondays and Thursdays for the latest installments.
Ms. Clements told them she understood completely:
We need stories. Stories are important. There is nothing silly or dumb about relating to them and feeling attached to them. They help us see ourselves and others in new ways. They help us feel our feelings. They make us laugh when we feel low. They help us realize dreams and conquer fears. They give us a fuller understanding of the world.
There is so much more she said in that very short post, and you can read every golden word of it here.
A Fuller Understanding
It’s a powerful tool, story-telling. In the hands of a master, as Austen proved so well, it can grab a person for life. In the hand of The Master, it can be life-changing.
Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.” (Matthew 13:34-35.)
Why do we resonate with story so much? C.S. Lewis said:
To be stories at all they must be a series of events: but it must be understood that this series – the plot as we call it – is only really a net whereby to catch something else. The real theme may be, and perhaps usually is, something that has no sequence in it, something other than a process and much more like a state or quality. (On Stories, 1947.)
In story after story, Jesus spoke of this “something other”, of things like love, greed, comfort and hypocrisy. He told stories that are more than memorable; they are a call to action, a call to faith, a call to turn to the one who is the very Word himself.
Story. Everybody has one. And each of our stories – yours, mine, everyone’s – is part of the Master Storyteller’s story. What is the real theme (as Lewis put it) of your story in his?