Saturday, 08 May 2021

Great story with a part for all of us

“NO time to die” — no, not the Easter story re-hashed but the latest James Bond film, which should have been released over this Easter weekend but now won’t hit the screens until at least September.

It will doubtless fill cinemas, receive the usual mixture of plaudits and brickbats, give pleasure to many and make a few very rich, or at least richer.

The delay has, of course, robbed me of a good start to an Easter sermon, but the sadness caused to some by the delay is food for thought.

Why are we so hooked on stories? Including the September release, there are (I think) now 25 Bond films, many produced by the wonderfully named Albert Broccoli.

The recipe — glamour, violence and intrigue — does not change much, so why are we addicted?

Or, if Bond is not to your taste, maybe you have kept the Archers running for 70 years, Coronation Street for 61 or EastEnders for 36?

I’m currently hooked on Line of Duty but I can’t see that stretching out for decades, though Shakespeare, Tolkien and P G Woodhouse, to name just a few, have been with me since my teens and will stick.

What is it about stories? Escapism? Well, if the world, your world, is grim, painful or just boring, a temporary escape might well be a good thing.

We can get enough realism from our 24-hour news coverage.

Inspiration? Very likely — a novel, play or poem can show us what it means to face life and its joys and struggles bravely (or not), graciously (or not), with ingenuity (or not), and can open our eyes to human possibilities we might otherwise miss.

Catharsis? Being “purged with pity and with fear”? Aristotle’s idea of the purpose of dramatic tragedy is good for us in some ways and explains the popularity of horror films and tear-jerkers.

Whatever the reason, we humans are addicted to stories, including the tales we tell about ourselves to ourselves.

Are you the hero in your story or the villain? Is your story a tragedy, a comedy, an adventure. a romance?

How would you rewrite it if you could? Can you see your way to the happy
ending?

On Easter Day, we Christian types were celebrating the story whose hero is a man who died in agony, was hated by the authorities and denied by his (male) friends, although the women stood by him.

He taught and lived by love and forgiveness, while being very clear about human failings, and was utterly honest — always a risky strategy and for which he paid the price on a cross.

He was raised from the dead in the very city where he died, among the very people who had crucified him and the self-same friends who had denied him, not demandng compensation or complaining about systemic oppression but still preaching forgiveness, still promising heaven to those who trust him and let him turn their lives around.

It’s a great story, it’s a story in which we can all of us have a part, with the massive added advantage of being true.

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