The Plot Thickens

jesus-weptSo, I don’t know how deep today’s message will be, but at least it has a spiritual bent to it.

Thing is, on the way to Little Girl Blue’s daycare today, I was thinking about some of the novels I’ve been reading lately. And, for that matter, thoughout my life. And it struck me that many of the novels I read have a “hero” or a very small number of heroes. That is, there is one person or a couple people who hold the fate of the plot in their hands. It might be the prophesied deliverer in a swords and sorcery epic or the brilliant tactician in a space opera or the detective who puts all the pieces together in a crime novel.

And then there are other novels and series I read, where it is more an ensemble thing, much like I am doing in my own novel. There are key characters, but no single person is the lynchpin and in some cases, critical characters will never meet or have any reason to interact.

I don’t prefer either type of novel, really, though I do appreciate the reality and complexity of an ensemble piece, even as I relish the focused drama of a hero-oriented story.

The Bible, my friends, has both aspects. Now, I’m not calling the Bible a fiction, mind you. While I think some elements are symbolic or metaphorical, overall I think it is an honest account of God’s plans and the history of humans. Yes, you can quibble over whether God really created the Earth in seven days and made Adam from the dust of the Earth, but then you’re just arguing semantics. Some very complex things are couched in simple terms. But the fact is that God created things, God has a plan for us, we have gone astray from that plan, and He made a way for us to get back in line with it.

But getting back to my original observation, the Bible gives us an epic ensemble piece in the Old Testament, and a hero/savior one in the New Testament.

The OT gives us this sweeping account of where we went wrong and all the missteps we took along the way. There are victories and defeats, successes and failures, love and anger, joy and sorrow, and so much more. Many players, some more effective than others, shape the flow and direction of the story.

And yet it is all a set-up. It’s really a prelude to the NT, when Jesus arrives. Because then we have the hero that everyone else has been paving the way for. The story God gives us takes a sudden and dramatic turn, and becomes very focused. What we end up with is Jesus’ story, and even though there are other people in the NT who are movers and shakers, they are all responding to (and uplifting) Jesus and his role in things. It’s all about the Christ and the fallout from his arrival (most of that fallout good, but with its bitter and bittersweet aspects, too).

It’s interesting that the Bible gives us the harder to absorb and more thorny ensemble piece first, and only gives us the more personal and in some ways easier to digest hero tale last.

I don’t know what that means, if anything. I just thought it was interesting to note.


8 Responses to “The Plot Thickens”

  1. June 2, 2009 at 10:53 am

    Interesting way to approach the Bible.

    I know I used to love to read the Old Testament when I was kid. The stories always had me interested, despite the archaic language.

    You know what would be a good topic? The different translations of the Bible. My minister taught on this a while back, but I’d be interested to hear your take. I find myself clinging to the King James version despite it’s confusing nature because in my mind that’s the “real” Bible. Yet, logically I know that it’s just a translation, and a translation that uses languages structure that none of us use now.

    It’s funny how we cling to certain traditions even when we realize they might be pointless or less helpful than a new way of doing things.

  2. 2 32B
    June 2, 2009 at 11:06 am

    It seems that with the ensemble of heros the Bible was easy to accept but when there was one hero then it became the topic of discussion and controversy. I like the stories of the OT too and never thought to question the different people who said they talked to some man in the sky but often times some will question Jesus and his relationship to that same man in the sky.

    And I like the NIV translation for personal reading but the KJV sounds better out loud. Don’t know why but it does to me.

  3. June 2, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    Well, Big Man, you might just have given me my topic for tomorrow…or the day after if I get off my ass and write the next installment to my novel for tomorrow.

  4. 4 Deacon Blue
    June 2, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    And 32B, I agree with you that the Bible became a whole lot thornier when the NT came to be and early church leaders distilled the Hebrew canon into what we have as the OT books.

    I think the NT is easier to absorb and follow, but harder to accept, as you have suggested. Except for general philosophy. Those who see Jesus as merely a learned and spiritual man and not the son of God can get behind most of his teachings with little problems.

  5. June 3, 2009 at 1:01 am

    and then there are all the books of the bible that didn’t make it into the bible…

  6. 6 Deacon Blue
    June 3, 2009 at 11:38 am

    Very true, robyn…the thing that heartens me there, though, is that the early formalized church could have done picking and choosing in such a way as to very much advance a clear agenda and personal desires. And yet, in choosing the way they did, they left a lot of stuff in that uplifted things NOT in the best interests of folks who want to totally control a populace.

    So, that, at least, makes me have faith that some divine inspiration was guiding them.

    But it would be nice, I think, if Hebrew books that didn’t make the OT and if early church epistles and such that didn’t make the NT were more readily available to the Christian faithful.

  7. June 3, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    You should check out Joseph Campbell’s “A Hero with a thousand faces”

  8. 8 Deacon Blue
    June 3, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Sounds a lot like Michaal Moorcocks’ “The Eternal Champion.” 😉

    Seriously, though, I’ll look into that.

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Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

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