Will Smith was on Good Morning Texas talking about his new movie Seven Pounds yesterday and he began to talk about his value on the idea of “story” as in relation to his movie choices. I then sent out this Tweet:

listening to Will Smith talk about the importance of “story.” he also has a premier tonight of 7 Pounds about 2 miles from me tonight.

Following that Tweet a lot of great discussion ensued about “story.”

Depending on the context of how one uses the word “story”, that word can come to represent various things. In the context that I often use it, and am most familiar with its use…is around the idea of story, or narrative in the Bible. Or story, as that which is the sum of someone’s life. How they are living it out. I tend to be around a lot of people in ministry, the helping professions (counseling, medicine) and the arts (movies, writing, photography)…so that is how I am most familiar with it.

When I talk about “story” I am suggesting the importance of it…sometimes over and against simple fact giving and non-narrative. As a Christian I think we have sometimes lost the importance of “story” in the Bible, the Gospel, the Christian message. We grow up on “story”, hearing all the wonderful and frightening Bible stories as children or the other stories that parents read to us as well. But as we get older, something happens, and we drift away from “story”…we drift away from mystery…instead choosing to live more in facts and truths and apologetics that is detached and not driven by narrative.

I think we have lost something valuable when this happens.

There are two messages that come to my head when I think about this idea of story and mystery.

First, Donald Miller’s sermon at Mars Hill Church, “Story.” Awesome! My wife and I listened to it sometime this last year, and it really challenged us about whether or not we are living the “story” God wants for us. What kind of “story” are we telling with our lives? In fact, it was the final impetus for getting us over the hump of moving from Los Angeles to Dallas this year. (Joshua, thanks for finding this podcast link for us yesterday).

Second, J.J. Abrams: The mystery box which he gave at TED. (HT: Thanks John Dyer for the reminder about this video.) I love this talk. In fact, he makes an interesting statement:

J.J. Abrams:“What a bigger mystery box than a movie theater?”

I sometimes wonder if in our attempt to explain everything in the Bible, we have removed mystery, and therefore, have removed a very valuable component to the narrative. I guess it’s not a surprise that many call movie theaters the cathedrals of the 21st century, and that many churches meet in theaters or design their churches like theaters. Check out his talk…and sorry, he uses a few “choice” words.