In this final episode of the Finding Christ in Cinema podcast (for now), we discuss how Christians can use storytelling as a tool to help them speak to their friends and loved ones. Stories can be told through theatre, movies, television, radio, and even personal testimony, and we discuss how it’s all possible.
Storytelling can be powerful. Whenever we listen to a story, we make room in our thoughts for new ideas and entertain certain themes to which we may or may not have given credence before. Likewise, hearing a good story can remind us of a time when things were as they should be and then create a longing within us for that stasis. After all, a story is just an account – either real or imaginary – told for entertainment (not just “haha” entertainment, but “hmm, I’ll have to think about that” entertainment).
By stories, we can identify with the protagonist and live somewhat vicariously through them. If we’ve been endeared to them enough to invest any interest in them, we will want to see how their troubles resolve. It’s by the purging of this Aristotelian pity that we as an audience to any story experience catharsis, which solidifies – for good or for ill, depending on the story – any lasting impression we have. Simply put, we see the fruits of the hero’s labor so that we can meditate on how our own fruit will…well, labor.
This mechanic has been the hook of good storytelling through the ages, especially in the Judaism of Jesus’s day. As already alluded to, Aristotle mentions this hook in his Poetics, but it is clearly evidenced in Jesus’s parables. Though not all parables are stories per se, the parables that are stories are all the more effective because of their propensity for narrative structure, character development, and cartharsis. In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, for example, we follow the titular reckless youth from the riches of a successful family to the rags of eating out of a pig trough, and we have pity for him all the while. Then, in that climactic moment when he decides to return to his father, we follow him to his renewed and restored stasis as his father reinstates him. It’s a touching story because we identify with the lost son and can, therefore, be affected in our own lives because of his resolution.
One of the most effective ways that Christians can use storytelling for the kingdom is by the use of personal testimony. Such a medium potentially includes all the bases for a good story: an exposition of the ways things used to be before we knew God, the rising action of when things first started changing, and the climax of when we finally returned to God to be renewed and restored back to life. As for the falling action/resolution…well, we’re still living that out. Because, truth be told, we don’t know how things will pan out in the end. But like the man whose sight Jesus healed, he didn’t know anything more than the loving miracle he experienced, and that was enough to share with anyone.
So the next you’re sitting on your double-decker couch watching one of your favorite movies with friends and family, take the opportunity to plant or water a couple of seeds for the kingdom and then pray that God provides the increase. That’s what the Great Commission is all about.
Finding Christ In Cinema is the show where we discover Christian themes in movies past and present. Join us and together we’ll dig deeper into the silver-screen classics of yesteryear as well as the box-office hits of today. Brought to you by the Great Commission Transmission Network. View the complete show notes, including links to articles discussed, by clicking here.
Use the audio player at the top of this article to listen to the podcast, or use the links below for other convenient ways to hear FCC.