Author // Daniel

We have always known that stories shaped culture, but why?

Whether it is a country song about a break up, a painting about a family whose son died in war, or a paranormal romance novel about your teenage years, these all do something to us; impregnating our imaginations with ideals of each of those scenarios.

Look at Gandalf

I was reading Lord of the Rings today, where the ents (giant talking trees) had taken Isengard, and Saruman was trapped in his tower, and I was thinking, “What is Gandalf going to do with the evil Saruman after what he has done? What is this wise, righteous figure going to do with the age old question of crime and punishment?” And I realized this was posing a more critical question: How was this story going to portray justice?

Here in this moment the author finds himself with the pen of power, where if the story takes with the masses, the decision of this ‘good’ man will be the standard for generations of young readers to look to as the heroic choice when facing similar situations. And we see this opportunity for every story ever written, whether the author was aware of it or not:

Superman’s response to crime and punishment? Eternal imprisonment, never death.

Sherlock’s? Death if necessary.

Inglorious Bastards? If they have done evil enough, torture and kill them all. Brutally.

Inception

This is the importance of the story: it’s inception. The act of implanting an idea in someone’s subconscious–subtly convincing them to believe, and ultimately live out a value, characteristic or belief that originally was not theirs. Read it in Leonardo Dicaprio's character’s words from the movie Inception:

“What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? No. An idea. Resilient…highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it’s almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed–fully understood–that sticks; right in there somewhere.”

This is why songwriters, authors and movie producers form our futures, not our politicians. A story is more pervasive than a speech from a politician, sermon from a preacher, or lesson from a teacher. We can place ourselves within their stories, like a kid on a Disney ride. And once that story has our trust, we let it take us somewhere. Maybe taking us to a place we would have never gone before, or showing us a different perspective on something we have seen a thousand times.

Thermostats and Thermometers

Storytellers are the thermostats. Setting the standard. Politicians are merely the thermometers. Reflecting the status of the influenced multitudes.

Where do we look to for how to have friends? Gossip girl.

Where do we look to for humor? Buzzfeed.

Office life? Parks and Rec.

Sex life? 50 Shades of Grey.

Justice? Marvel Studios.

Women? Beyoncé.

God? Coldplay.

This is no game. It’s not just entertainment.

Tickling Ears

Scripture says the last generation will have tickling ears, hungry only to hear what will affirm their perverse lifestyle (2 Tim 4:3). And we are here. The bar has not just been set low, it hasn’t been set. It is the postmodern age of relativism. Your truth is your truth, and who am I to say otherwise? Instead we have given the bar to the individual, made autonomy king, and left the true King in the dust. There is a bar at any level you want. Take your pick!

The storyteller’s role is paramount (no pun intended), and we are in need of great storytellers to arise who know their importance in the world. Who are not afraid to give a backbone to a generation. To speak unabashed truth. To give standards. To stand up when everyone else is sitting down, to get on our knees when everyone else stands proudly, and to have the wisdom to know which in the moment.

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