Telling Stories, Telling the Truth

Reading with my children has reminded me of a truth that years of adulthood had almost caused me to forget: that “story” is truer than “precept.” We adults tend to think that we arrive at the truth of a story by reducing it to two or three abstractions that the narrative embodies. The parable of the Prodigal Son is “about” grace and forgiveness. The Lord of the Rings is “about” courage and friendship. But our children know it’s the story that does the work on us, not the disembodied precept. 

Story has a peculiar power to change what we want--which is another way of saying that story has a peculiar power to change who we are.  That's why I tell stories and write them and talk about them and teach them. 

I wrote the Wilderking Trilogy (The Bark of the Bog Owl, The Secret of the Swamp King, and The Way of the Wilderking), The Charlatan's Boy, The World According to Narnia, St. Patrick, and The Terrible Speed of Mercy: A Spiritual Biography of Flannery O'Connor. 

Besides teaching literature and writing at New College Franklin, I teach online writing classes and the occasional one-day, live-action writing seminar. I am a devotee of the anecdote, that most underrated narrative form.