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So Rod Dreher’s sister is battling cancer. It is nasty. Their faith is extraordinary. Here’s his latest post (I think)
There are 8 comments on it.
As I scrolled down on his blog I noticed he had another post about buying wine in Pennsylvania. I don’t think he enjoys it.
There are 85 comments on it.
That’s a stomping.
Does it mean anything? Maybe not. Rod’s been documenting his sister’s battle with cancer for a couple weeks now. The response has been beautiful.
But still…. 85-8?
It is kind of akin to rearranging the chairs on the Titanic isn’t it? Facing mortality should be a required course for us all… life is better if we live with the reality of our own deaths at the front of our mind.
I’m back here at JWalking after a bit of time because I just want someplace to record thoughts from time to time. I doubt that many of the thoughts will be political – there are plenty upon plenty of people offering their opinions on everything political and I doubt that I have much to add that will make any substantive difference anyway.
What is fascinating to me these days is story. It hit me at some point in the past year that I didn’t really know how to tell a story – at least not to my kids who are bottomless pits of story consumption.
A year or so ago I had the bright idea that we should tell them original stories every night before bed. I felt so good about the thought. We would be teaching them creativity, originality, and other good things too. Why they would probably become story tellers themselves.
So we embarked… well, first my wife bailed. After a day or two it became, “Ok, here’s Daddy with the story.” Then my children turned into NY Times book reviewers. “Uh, Dad, is that really the best you’ve got? I mean, really?” I felt like someone working for Henry Kissinger.
Then the became demanding. Night after night my daughter would order, “Brand new Daddy and Livvy [said daughter] story as silly as you can make it. Totally new. New. Got it?” She was 3.
And so I told stories. They sucked. Truly. There were panda bears and talking animals and even, on one disastrous night, an ice cream store I had opened for the animals. Actually that wasn’t the worst.
While I was doing this I began work on my screenplay. The two things worked together to teach me a bit about what a story needs.
First – there has to be an actual story. Not just a ‘chase’ – not just “A happened and then B and then C and then D. The end.” Characters have to want something. They have to change. There has to be a purpose – and an occasional porpoise – to the story.
Second – there has to be tension, conflict. Now my bedtime stories don’t typically have much blood or gore but for them to work Livvy and Aidan have to be emotionally rung out just a bit… they have to feel it.
Now all of these things got me thinking about God, of course. “The author and finisher of our faith.”
What a story he has created on this blue ball in space. Our story has it all. Humor and drama. Sacrifice and betrayal. Hero(es) and Villain(s). And an ending too. There are the micro endings – our own individual deaths for instance. But then there is a macro ending too. At some point this whole story comes to a close.
But wait! That is just the end of Act Two. There is always a third act – or should be anyway. The third act is where it all comes together. Where all of the previous plot points get resolved. The third act is the completion. God has that one planned too. it will be a brand new story indeed.
And so, for my three readers… if indeed there are that many… thanks for reading.
For the last ten months or so I’ve been engaged in a completely different world – the world of screenwriting. It began as a writing project – probably the 21st Century version of a yen to write the great American novel – a shot at a screenplay. I knew that I knew nothing about the art but was inspired by a thought I’d been having over and over… were I to die my regrets would swirl around the stories I never told… stories that only I could tell.
Isn’t that a stirring thought? My stories. Roll the symphony music.
Ten months later I am no less convinced that I want to tell these stories. I am, however, daily humbled by the incredible art known as screenwriting. While I may be able to learn the skills needed, every day shows me how very, very little I know.
When I was growing up my father always said that true geniuses are those who know how much they don’t know. I was too far from genius to comprehend what he was saying. I don’t think I’m that much closer now to be a genius but I am at least not so stupid as to miss his point – being humbled by what we do not know is a first step to learning what we need to know and if things turn out just right maybe we will stumble upon genius in the process… or maybe not!