Why Parable? Part 1

Follow the ClownI based my Clown novel series on stories I’ve loved since earliest memory: a type of story called “parable.” Respite its sound, a parable has nothing to do with two of anything, or with a large-hipped fruit, or any kind of male bovine.

What, then, is a parable? Indulge me for a moment in a bit of God geekiness. A parable is a certain type of story. It’s generally brief and employs common, homey elements like baking bread or planting seek or lost money. Then the parable takes those elements and, through the deep magic of story, employs them to turn our upside down world right side up and our outside in lives inside out. In other words, parables start out feeling like a gentle warm bath, and end up as bracingly cold showers. Jesus’ use of parable—of which He was a master—inspired the Clown series. What I hope for myself, what I hope for my readers, is that we live as much as possible in the truth with which Jesus’ parables challenge us.

But there’s more: what’s your response to seeing, hearing, or seeing a great story—be the Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, The Odyssey, or “The Crossing of the Red Sea”? A great story is a treasure of the real and lasting sort—and I believe in sharing the wealth. More than that, stories are roomy. They’re bigger than three points and a poem. There’ a place for sermonizing—I’ve done a bit of it myself—but, let’s face it—most of us would rather hear a cracking-good yarn. There has to be a reason for that. In part, I think it’s because stories don’t spell out what we’re to believe or how we ought to act. They’re spacious: they give us ample room to move around, to glean this now, and that later on. A story read as a child and it is one thing, as a teen and it’s another, as a young parent, yet another thing, as an older adult, something else. Or come to a story while in a happy relationship and it’s one thing, come to it with a broken heart, and it’s another. Stories are multi-sided; like God , they exist beyond our full knowing. Good stories leave us with both answers and questions. We leave them satiated and thirsty, filled and longing…

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